Tag Archives: mental-health

Lessons learned on the Camino

Why walk several hundred kilometres on a path in Spain with a back pack? For an outsider it seems difficult to understand why thousands of people from all walks of life are resdiscovering this ancient pilgrimage route as a personal journey of self-discovery.

After walking the Camino Primitivo from Oviedo to Finisterre this year I would like to share some of the insights that might motivate you to put the Camino on your bucket list. First and foremost I see a walk on the Camino as a fast-track opportunity of learning many of life’s important lessons:

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  • Walking alone for hours a day in nature is the perfect opportunity for self reflection and to disengage from daily distractions that under normal circumstances prevent you from looking deep inside of you. You will go into sync with your own rhythm at a deeper level. What thoughts, fears, emotions are you dealing with at this moment in time?img_3781
  • Walking with a back pack forces you to slow down. If you go too fast you will lose your way and you will take much longer to get to your destination.You might even have to end your journey because your feet, back and knees have been over-exerted.
  • If you see it as a mere physical exercise of doing so many kilometres each day and reaching a certain destination by a certain time, you won’t see and discover any of the miracles around you. Its the difference between head-mind and heart-mind.
  • Every day is walking into an unknown territory. You don’t know what will come around the next bend and what you will have to deal with. The weather sometimes changes every hour and you just have to deal with the situation that is at hand and that you don’t have any control over.
  • There are Highs- and Lows every day in life. You just have to accept this as a natural order of ebb and flow. Attachment to either is a cause of unhappiness.
  • The more you carry with you the harder your walk. Free yourself of the clutter that you don’t really need. Focus on the essentials.
  • If you get lost don’t hesitate to ask for help. Most people are only too willing to be of assistance.
  • Be humble and the Path will lead you.

Last but not least: Why are you here? What is your soul purpose and what are you doing for the rest of the days in your life that is of service to the bigger WHOLE? You have all the time in the world and yet no time to lose!

Reino Gevers – coach, trainer, author

http://www.reinogevers.com

 

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Which side are you on? Lessons from Brexit

Losing Brain Function

I have learned a lesson from all the controversy surrounding the British Brexit referendum to leave the European Union. When people have made up their mind on a highly emotionally-charged issue, there is nothing in the world that you can do to convince them to think otherwise.

When strong feelings such as national identity and perceived lack of sovereignty override any logical argument that economists, bureaucrats, mathematicians, historians or political scientists put forward, the emotional argument always wins hands down.

Every so often I fall into the same trap of participating in some social media debate, realising afterwards that it was a complete waste of my time. I will not convince someone else to change his or her opinion. Its like trying to persuade someone to give up a religious faith.

We are constantly being manipulated by  emotion. You will hardly sell a soft drink by revealing how much sugar and other toxic ingredients it contains. You call it an “energy drink” and nurture an image advertising it in the hands of handsome and beautiful sport or movie stars.   Its the image and emotion that do the trick. The cigarette industry was a master of such manipulation and so are the political demagogues.

The human mind works like this: Once a thought or an idea becomes an “emotionally charged” belief it will find examples from past experience,  the Internet, chat rooms or from whatever source available to confirm that belief. You will choose friends and associates confirming your viewpoint. That belief becomes unshakeable.  Any other information that contradicts your opinion will be censored by the mind, ignored, attacked or denied because it is perceived as a threat to self-identity.

Amazingly you will find  that many people believe the twin towers collapsed  because of explosive devices and not because of the planes that crashed into them. A significant portion believe the moon landing was a hoax. And so it goes on.  Simply dismissing these folk as a lunatic fringe is too simple. It just tells us that we all are victim to emotional reactions and responses in different forms and patterns and that we are susceptible to falling into the “belief trap” even if all the evidence tells us otherwise.

There is obviously a deep alienation between a large section of the population and what is deemed as the “establishment” – those up there making all the decisions. Or those scientists or mass media knowing all the answers. You will find few dissenters in groups and communities holding the same view because of course you want to “belong” to your tribe or group.

What makes the current situation so dangerous is that in a world of information overload – and often an overload of unsourced and misleading information – more and more people are  following “false prophets” offering simple solutions to complex problems. We seem to have forgotten how all the  “belief systems” “isms” and thin ideologies have so tragically misled humanity in the past.

ITS TIME TO WAKE UP and lift the veil behind all the delusion.

Reino Gevers – coach, author, trainer

http://www.reinogevers.com

 

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The healing power of language

Thank You Word Cloud concept background in many languages Monks and wise teachers from the times of yore knew of the power and resonance of language in formulating the first mantras and healing prayers.

Recent psychological reasearch has confirmed that there is a direct link between the use of language and health. Thus there seems to be a correlation between cardiovascular disease and the use of negative language found on Twitter accounts in the northwestern United States.

Language patterns reflecting negative social relationships, disengagement, and negative emotions—especially anger—emerged as risk factors. On the other hand positive emotions and psychological engagement emerged as protective factors.

It’s sad to observe a growing lack of mindfulness in the use of language, especially on social media sites. I have taken to blocking those people on facebook who have a habit of constantly posting “negativity”. Hate speech, gossip and xenophobia seem the norm. Extremist politicians, following their own agenda, are feeding into this shadow side of human nature, especially in countries where the issues of migrants, religious tolerance and wealth distribution are being debated with strong emotion.

Why not focus on those postings, information and images that serve  the common good, that create a positive wave and healing enerty. This too is part of our reality.

In this context I find the words of the Kalu Rinpoche (excerpt from the Dharma) particularly poignant:

“Mere words, which have no ultimate reality, can determine our happiness and suffering. We create pleasure and pain through our fundamental clinging to sound and speech.”

Ancient languages such as Sanskrit, Latin and Aramaic, the lingua franca in the Middle East during the time of Jesus, are particularly powerful. Mantras and healing prayers in these languages are known to create a strong healing vibration in the body.

In the ancient Chinese body arts of Qi Gong we have the healing sounds for each cycle of the Five Elements:

  • Tzue for the element wood (liver)
  • Haaa for the element fire (heart)
  • Huuu for the element earth (spleen and stomach)
  • Zzzzz for the elemnt metal (lungs)
  • Chuwayy for the element water (kidneys, lower back and bladder)
  • Seeee for harmonizing the central meridian

On the mindset level, the mantra Om Mani Padme Hum, has a particularly strong cleansing effect:

Om – representing the divine universal energy

Mani – the pure jewel of compassion and love

Padme – the lotus symbolizing wisdom

Hung or Hum – establishing wisdom and removing attachment to hatred.

 

Reino Gevers – coach, trainer, author

http://www.reinogevers.com

 

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Why you need to take a break

IMG_1197With work pressure increasing in practically all sectors its not uncommen for people to remain stuck at their desk for hours and taking their “lunch” while tapping away at the computer or taking a call. On the long term this is wreaking havoc on concentration levels, health and productivity.

Under stress your sympathetic nervous system is on alert flooding your body with stress hormones that accelerate your heart beat, increase your blood pressure, dilate your pupils and inhibit other body functions like your digestion. At some stage however the calming side of your body, the parasympathetic nervous system, will want to reduce the arousal system, bringing everything back into balance and tiredness creeping in. Its a natural body reaction that you can’t control.

We need a good balance between the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous system – between the arousal and recuperation phases.

Research has indicated that most concentration levels start sinking rapidly after about 50 minutes of uninterrupted work on a computer. At the latest after 70 minutes your parasympathetic nervous system will start taking over. This is the time to take a short 5-10 minute break. And a break is only really a break if you interrupt your work and do something completely different, like opening a window, taking a deep breath, looking at the bird in the tree across the road or chatting to a colleague.

If you have an office job you will have spent some 80,000 hours of your lifetime in a sitting position until you reach retirement age. This is an enormous strain on your back, neck, skeletal and body alignment system. Interrupting your work for 15-20 minutes a day to do some active stretching movements, will work wonders for your health, your mood and your concentration and work ability.

Pushing your break of say half an hour until the end of the work day practically has no recuperation effect. Regular shorter breaks after every hour are far more effective. Taking a power nap of between 15-20 minutes in the early afternoon works very well for some people. It should however not be longer as you then fall into the deep-sleep mode and will wake up more fatigued.

If you have had days, weeks or months of high stress, your body will very likely have high cortisol levels. It means vital organs in your body are being undernourished because your body is in a “fight or flight” mode. You need recuperation, a time out, to bring those stress hormones back to normal. Best you choose a place where you can lock away your cell phone and focus your mind on anything else but work. Check out also our outdoor coaching programmes.

Reino Gevers, coach, trainer, author

PowerBodyMind – Gevers Consulting

http://www.reinogevers.com

 

 

 

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Who is in your home?

Business person looking at wall with light tunnel opening

There is a saying that it takes a village to raise a child. “Ubuntu” is an ancient African term meaning  ‘humanity to others’ because it is those “others” who have made you into that individual who you are.

It means the persons you surround yourself with make you into the person who you are. The village, the individual and the tribe are ONE. So it is worth reflecting on who those five people are who you are letting into your “house.”

It will determine how upbeat, optimistic, healthy and successful you are. Are you surrounded by people who are supportive of you on your soul path or do you have people around you who use every opportunity to pull you down?

It is worth reflecting every now and then on those five people who really appreciate and serve you. As you disassociate and realign yourself you will inevitably be confronted by push back.

So how do I determine who is good for me and who isn’t?  How do I know that the person I let into my home is not going to “trample over my clean white carpet with dirty feet?” It is a question I often hear from participants in my workshops when we talk about boundary issues.

And, its basically quite simple:

  • Do you constantly feel drained and emotionally exhausted after spending time with a particular person or groups of people?
  • Have you had this feeling for some time that a relationship is one-sided?
  • Are your conversations with that person or persons  centred mainly around negative issues?

If so, it is high time to start disassociating yourself and to move on.

Open yourself to  those people, who, when entering a room, emanate an aura of good energy. I admit those people are few and far between. Most of us are so preoccupied with our own baggage and issues that we no longer notice the true nature of the people around us. True, we cannot always be upbeat. That is not what life is about. Its how we deal on a day to day basis with our ups and down in the knowledge that nothing stays permanent.

All great teachers of Mysticism will tell you that the art of happiness is the ability and wisdom to accept life’s preciousness in the here and now. Impermanence is one of life’s great lessons. Ask anyone who has suddenly lost a loved one, gone through a traumatic divorce or been confronted with a life changing situation, like losing all ones savings on the stock market.

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The only truth is that life is a constant flow of yin and yang, birth and death, light and shadow, good and evil, expansion and withdrawal. Sorrow, grief and despair are as much part of life as happiness, joy and exultation or loss and abundance. Discipline of the inner mind and thought process by means of meditation, the body arts or other rituals will help us deal with this ebb and flow.

What we can control is the practise of mind-setting, the choice of the people we surround ourselves with and who we invite into “our holy chambers.”

Reino Gevers, consultant, coach, mentor, author

http://www.reinogevers.com

 

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Employee vitality – the human factor

Happiness and joy. Young happy female

Its a common fallacy that technology alone and the cost factor are key ingredients on the global corporate playing field. Yet when looking at highly successful companies its the vitality and positive-mindset of its people who have that slight but crucial edge.

These are the corporates with a high stress resilience in rough times, open to innovation and change and who go into positive resonance with clients.

The mindset of key players in a company is crucial. This means having a permanent learning culture of self-development, reflection and positive feedback. Investment in the well-being of employees makes itself paid on all levels.

As the lines between work, family and leisure time become increasingly blurred in the digital world of today, it is all the more necessary to keep in mind essential human needs. We are social animals who feel a great need to interconnect positively with those immediately around us. It gives us a feeling of safety and security because humans have depended on each other for survival since the earliest of times.

Old style management that leads with fear and intimidation creates an environment that stifles all form of healthy human communication, inevitably stirring basic human survival instincts that lead to mobbing, burnout and other psychological fallouts. On the long-run companies that rule by fear are doomed.

A healthy work environment has room for recuperation phases and encourages them. There needs to be a healthy cycle between intensive work sessions, times of stress and rest periods. Its old school thinking not to include private issues at the work place. Immediate colleagues are often the first support network we fall back on when we have tough times at home. So how do you create a healthy corporate culture?

  • Its a long-term learning process. Supervisors and managers need  to keep their ears close to the ground in addressing the needs of their employees. Listening is one of the most important yet least found ingredients among leaders.
  • Self-development, team training and investment in soft-skills training is a crucial element.
  • Self-responsibility on personal health, nutrition, recuperation and lifestyle management can be actively nurtured in a learning environment.
  • Creating a culture of mindfulness and attentiveness is a high ideal but can be learned and creates a highly positive resonance with clients. We are after all dealing with humans.

We spend most of our lives at the workplace and it is sad to see that so little effort is being made in investing in the “human factor”. Do we live to work or work to live?  To quote Studs Terkel:

“Work is about a search for daily meaning as well as daily bread, for recognition as well as cash, for astonishment rather than torpor; in short, for a sort of life rather than a Monday through Friday sort of dying.”

Reino Gevers – coach, author, trainer

http://www.reinogevers.com

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Are you into conspiracy theory?

A broad cross-section of people I have come across lately believe in conspiracy theories.  The argument mostly goes like this:  The world is being ruled by a small group of people who decide and control most of the things that happen in the world today from political decision-making to technological invention.

conspiracy-theories

Conspiracy theorists seem to have moved from the fringe to the mainstream.  Here is the top 10 list of conspiracy theories compiled by Time magazine:

Some conspiracy theories in history have in fact been proven true, like the Nixon cover-up in the Watergate affair, the Iran-Contra affair and the Libyan involvement in the terror attack on the Pan Am Flight 103 in December 1988.  One of the most absurd allegations during  South Africa’s apartheid era also turned out to be true many years later.  Research was actually being conducted on a virus that would only kill the blacks.

But there is a need to be a bit more  sceptical when it comes to some of the conspiracy theories out there. The common thread seems to be to find a way to explain in simplistic terms many of the events happening in a world of growing complexity. A lot of people have the tendency to form an opinion and then verifying what they believe with some information on the Internet. On closer scrutiny the article or website turns out to be a badly written diatribe of a single opinion without any valid sourcing or solid evidence

Take the story on the so-called “fake moon landing”. I cannot possibly imagine thousands of people working on such a complex space project over many years and all of them keeping a “fake made in a Disney film studio” a secret for decades. The world is so intricate and complex that the truth in the end always comes out. A cover-up, especially if many people are involved, simply doesn’t work. It is a human tendency to tell their family and friends “a secret.” Someone will always spill the beans.

The issue that needs to be addressed is the gullibility with which every half-truth, speculation and downright wacky theory is being claimed as truth while sound investigative journalism, scientific study or a judicial finding is being ignored or slammed as being part of this conspiracy thing. Part of the problem is that established media is not doing its job and has lost credibility by placing emphasis on superficial entertainment instead of being a watchdog on society and itself blasting some of these theories into the world without verifying the facts.  A growing number of people feel alienated in a fast-changing society and are seeking simple answers.

Conspiracy theories first and foremost feed on fear. Here lies the bigger problem. Fear breeds irrationality and a victim mentality. It is just a short step away from blaming a religious or racial minority, the politicians, the media or anyone else for all that is going wrong in the world.  It’s a “cop out” mentality of refusing to stand up and taking responsibility.

We have the freedom of choice on most things that matter. Health and personal happiness is a choice. It is a  choice of what we eat, how we exercise, what we read, what people, family and friends we want to spend our time with and especially what information we are feeding our minds with.

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