Sunday, June 16, 2013

Pranayama and Freedom From Stress Workshops at Amsterdam

 Amsterdam. When I was here in 2007, this city made an impression on me. Somehow it was distinct. It was enigmatic, interesting and expensive. I wanted to come back here to experience it. When I was contemplating the trip to Europe, I asked Lisbeth, one of my friends in  Auroville for help as she has been very supportive of my workshops . Lisbeth responded warmly to my intention to be in Amsterdam and do workshops. She reconnected me with Anna van Remundt, who lives in The Hague and suggested that I also contact Marlenka, another Aurovilian.
Marlenka introduced me to Josie, who runs Center for Being in Amsterdam.
Josie has agreed to allow me to do all the three workshops I proposed in the lovely space she created in “Center for Being”. Anna connected me with Mundo, who has so generously offered me to stay with him in his flat, which is quite close to Center for Being. These are miracles as I never met either of them and when I did meet them, I could see in them, a reflection of the spirit of Amsterdam. Love for freedom and adventure, open and willing to explore, trust everyone to bring forth a better and harmonious world.
 Josie  quit her professional work to start this wonderful institution called Center for Being. “This life is just a refresher course. Life is a temporary school where we learn and discover who we really are”. Center for Being’s mission is to support this journey through life, in a way that we share presence and enlightening tools that are both fun and inspiring. It was wonderful meeting her and she has that radiant smile with infectious enthusiasm. She not only agreed for the workshops but also offered to promote it on the web and her network. I was more than delighted before I met her and was grateful to get know her as she participated in all the 5 Pranayama sessions  and I enjoyed a wonderful afternoon of interesting and inspiring conversation when she invited me to tea.
One of the unforgettable experiences for me is to meet Mundo and I was so fortunate to enjoy his generous, caring and mindful hospitality for a week.  The best way I can introduce him is to point you to his blog post on his recent trip to Namibia. /It reminded me of Paulo Coelho’s “Pilgrimage”. He is just 30 but he has a wealth of experience in his explorations and journey of transformation that is so very inspiring to me. He let go of a company he started and is the Co-founder and Creative co-director of Hartwerkers.  - Heart Workers, whose motto is “Work is love made visible!”. This has the possibility to transform the way world is relating to work as separate from life and as means to make money in order to ……… When a critical mass of people do what they love, this world will be filled with Love and rediscover who we are.
I was blown away when I saw his welcome note in his flat that began with – “Dear JV, Welcome to Amsterdam. This house is yours for the duration of your stay……”. The flat itself is small but comfortable, beautiful, with lots of character and interesting artifacts in every nook and corner. A miniature reflection of Amsterdam. Mundo is not only a vegetarian but also very conscious of the ecology and nature. He is the first person I met who has a personal compost system in his flat and he meticulously puts all the organic waste into it. He is also a wonderful cook and the welcome meal he gave me, the bread he baked, the salads are divinely delicious. He makes an anti-oxidant packed power breakfast that is closest to Ambrosia that I have ever eaten. He also encouraged me to cook and I discovered the joy of cooking with his gentle guidance. He arranged a cycle for me to ride and I was able to enjoy this cycle-friendly city. He also introduced me to the Vondel park, which is wonderful and rather unique in its pristine appearance due to the absence of the sign boards. The park serves as lung space, recreational space and is also some kind of hum for cyclists with zero motorized vehicles. I went there every day. Josie suggested and Mundo helped me to cycle to Amsterdam Bos(Forest) – an incredibly beautiful place. It is in this part that the penny dropped for me. I can Be care-free and flow with unfolding life. Just Be. It was a gift for me that he attended the Pranayama workshop and made “Freedom form Stress” workshop happen by attending and bringing 3 of his friends! he also took the initiative to organize an impromptu practice session at his home on Sunday- the first such ever session for me.
The workshops themselves were very special for me with Josie and Mundo participating in them -my precious connections in Amsterdam and two people I like and admire so much. I continue to be surprised by the fabulous participation of people in Europe. I feel very satisfied, fulfilled and grateful for the privilege of sharing the time and space with them. I will always remember Julia for her bubbly effervescence and the way she created value for herself and for her life is awesome. Roland, a Yoga Teacher in Amsterdam, invited me to come back and he would help in reaching more people to participate in the workshops! Josie and Mundo are inviting me to come back. Will I come back? Yes, you bet I will.
  I want to share my experience of Amsterdam. Amsterdam for me occurred to be a symbol of the emerging new world. Freedom loving and eco-conscious with respect to others. Acceptance of the multi-cultural and multi-racial humanity and creating a harmonious community. You take a one hour walk in Amsterdam and I am sure you will see my point. More cycles than in any other city and everybody is riding cycle. Children, young, elderly and everybody else.  The cyclists and trams and the few motor vehicles (including heavy vehicles)share the common resource of roads with so much ease, grace and no hiccups. It looks to me that they are collaborating in Life, sharing the space, giving each other space, with respect. You don’t see road rage and traffic snarls here. My guess is that the obesity percentage and per capita foot print would be the least in the developed world. I left Amsterdam full of hope and was inspired by the manifesting Human Unity – the ideal of Auroville.
In Germany, I discovered the extended family of Auroville and Integral Yoga. In Amsterdam, I discovered the Universal Family of Human Beings. I have a sense of exhilaration to learn that I belong there and would be welcome with open arms anywhere and everywhere, thanks to the awakening consciousness of Human  Unity in so many people
I would love to back here, again and again.


  1. Wow, JV, I'm a bit speechless. But I'm writing a comment, so I'm not really:-). But the only really clear thing that comes up is gratitude. Gratitude for meeting each other, really connecting and understanding. gratitude for the wonder in your experience of Amsterdam, as a hotbed for the awakening of new consciousness, which helps me see it with new eyes. Gratitude for our long talks, in which I learnt so much from you about the gift of giving. Gratitude for just being in each other's company, just being.

    I've come to know you as someone who simply loves sharing the wisdom you've acquired, whether it's with one person who shows up to your workshop, or 50 people. And that really reconnected me to how, upon finding your true calling in this life, the doing and the sharing is the gift, is what brings you energy, not the recognition and the appreciation (recognition and appreciation are still a nice bonus though:-).

    And, like I told you, there's not a hint of guru-ism in your teachings. You keep them so wonderfully to yourself: they're yours and you share them from your own experience instead of preaching 'absolute truth'. Which makes attending them a blissful experience.

    But most of all, I'm just grateful for our time together, in which we both added some fuel to our own and each other's fire. I'm blown away by your warm words, and I'm comforted by the realization that none of what I've done felt like 'work', or like 'hospitality'. And I guess that says as much about you and your presence as it says about me and mine. It takes two to tango:-).

    I wish you all the best JV, and I really look forward to welcoming you back in Amsterdam, and/or meeting you in Auroville!

    With love, Mundo

  2. Dear Mundo,
    Thank you for who you are!
    I cherish the connection with you and look forward to making it closer, deeper and enjoy every moment!
    Thank you,