One of your recent Facebook posts says: “The key is to believe that we are precious enough to start creating our own worlds.“ When did you start creating your worlds?
At the beginning of my journey there was a huge crisis. This is a very common thing you can find in people who have undergone a major change in life. I found myself in the midst of endless circles of thoughts. I was feeling anxious and was filled with tension and self-doubt. I had a very traumatic childhood in many ways and had a hope that things must get better with time. But they didn't. It was the moment when I started to feel trapped in my own head. I immersed myself in experiences with meditation, holotropic breathwork, altered states of consciousness and more. I started exploring pieces of information from psychology, psychotherapy, neuroscience as well as Buddhism. I found out they have much in common. From there it was just a little step to starting creating my own inner beliefs and observing how it affects my own life.
In which world are you finding yourself now? How do you feel in it?
Right now I'm not afraid to say I'm in the world full of miracles. If you truly embrace the fact that you are not separate from your life experiences and from life itself, you stop to manipulate and push things around. You start to believe in yourself and in the process of living. I feel very grateful and blessed.
In one of your past talks you said: “I am currently in the scariest life situation which I could imagine, yet I am not afraid.“ What was the thing which made a difference for you and had you free from fear back then? Is it still the same thing today?
Exactly one year ago I found myself in a situation with no money, no plans, no work, no boyfriend and no place to go. I got into this situation because I had cancelled plans to move to across the world with my boyfriend. This huge decision came after I got back from a ten-day Vipassana meditation course. What made the change was my experience of ten days in a space between my thoughts. This is the moment you realize you are not your thoughts. You are not your past experiences and you are not your imagined future. You are the consciousness behind all of this. You are an observer of all of this. I have my fears and anxieties until today of course. But thanks to meditation and training of concentration I can manage my own mind little bit better. I successfully get back to my natural state of inner calm.
You also practice mediation. What is meditation to you personally?
To me meditation is getting back to who I really am. It means to stop thinking and just being yourself. These days people have no experience of pure being. They are constantly overwhelmed by endless thought patterns with no conclusion and no meaning. Meditation is a way to get to the space between thoughts. To your natural state.
What are the most frequent problems you help people with as a psychotherapist?
I have noticed some similarities among my clients. I call these people "neurotics who want more from the life". These people tend to have very conditioned thinking and strong anxiety inside of them. They have intense inner feeling to obey rules and make sure others will love them. They live in constant fear of failure and rejection. I was exactly the same.
Are there any new or modern issues which psychologists did not have to deal with say fifty years ago?
I think many issues in psychotherapy are very modern ones. We are living in the age of extremes, broad polarities and constant change. In our new world, we have very few things we can rely upon as constants. In this new world, only those who can make links between things and synthesize them can thrive. New issues are for example addiction to modern technologies and social media abusing. What I consider even more alarming is a fact we have no natural groups in our lives. No tribe, no sharing circle, no extended family around us. People are feeling very lonely and from loneliness come out all of the problems like addiction, depression and stress.
You once said that telling depressed people “get up and get hold of yourself“ is the worst thing you can say. Can you elaborate on that?
If you are depressed you see the world through a very dark lens. Everything seems to fall apart and a life makes no sense to you. Using a strong will to fight it and tough decisions are not very good ways to deal with it. When depressed you often have ruminations - repetitive thoughts with no end. Can you see we are again at in the battle with our own mind? With repetitive thoughts our brain does one thing only - it draws our attention to an area of our life which needs our attention badly.
You have been teaching a very popular course The manual for the brain. Do you still remember the first time you taught it? What were you expectations? Who was your audience? Has it changed as time went by?
Throughout my first seminar The Manual for the Brain my knees were shaking. At the same time I was so excited I could teach people the things I had found out. I surely didn´t expect such a great response to my seminar. My courses are fully booked ever since without any advertisement. My audience hasn't changed much. They are mostly women who are no longer willing to be trapped inside their own thought patterns. I teach them how to see maybe for the first time in their life their own thoughts only as thoughts. Then we learn about rules our brain follows and how to successfully break them. At the end of my seminar I teach people how to get into the space between thoughts in meditation.
Why do we need a manual for the brain? Have we lost the art of using it to our advantage?
Our brain is forced to process the biggest amount of information in its very evolution. Every day we are consuming more data than our ancestors ever did. But the brain still does the same thing – it analyzes our environment and tries to keep us alive. Today we find ourselves under a constant mild level stress of a fight for life. Some authors call it "an epidemic of beta frequency". This is a brainwave state we are in when are constantly thinking and evaluating possible threats. Meditation is the only way to stop just fighting for life and start really enjoying ourselves.