It was by the end of my year at YIP, by the end of May 2014, when I summed up the process of my personal initiative. It’s part of YIP’s curriculum and an individual project in which I had chosen to start with meditation. I’m grateful to have been given the chance to explore something so freely and totally out of my own interest, it’s been of high value for me. Looking at the text below nowadays, I feel as if I was reading something from my (imaginary) younger sister, I feel clearly that time between then and now has allowed me to change and develop the way I think.
Personal Initiative – Exploring Meditation
‘Everything in the universe is within you. Ask all from yourself’ – Rumi
This is not my final report. This is for me.
This is not my final report. I will keep on working, learning and being inspired by this in the future. This is only a report about the start. I began to deal with meditation during YIP and will definitely carry it out, carry it on.
I decided to write this report in a personal form instead of the suggested, more official form – simply because it feels better to put this topic in a free form that allows my process to continue. I am convinced that this report will still bring my personal initiative down and will give me insights. This is for me.
I’m going for the new: I’m writing it in the form I feel like instead of a common structure. Not because I want to say ‘No’ to what is recommended but simply because I think this is the best for me. In the past, I tended to adapt to what was required from the outside but I realized that if I always followed this, I wouldn’t bring something new into the world. By following what is already given, I will not fully explore what actually wants to come out of myself. Instead, I want to express freely what comes out of my inner in whatsoever form it wants to be.
This is not meant to be conventional – this is personal. Here at YIP, I’ve learnt that to be free and to try out. I let my inner voice speak out loud without being judged. I learned a lot about the importance of form and process. A form that makes more sense to the topic and to myself, a form that benefits my thinking and feeling more. Over the past months, I’ve learnt that it is more valuable to first listen to myself than to others. Whatever comes from inside me is real and feels authentic – it is me.
I want to bring myself into the world:
‘Living the inside out’
as we, the Yippies, sang even before our official opening of YIP 6.
As I am writing these lines, I am realizing how my perspectives have changed, how much more I dare to put my thoughts, my words and my self out there. I still feel that I do it thoroughly and from time to time a little hesitating, but I don’t hold back anymore as much as I used to. I’ve learnt to give voice and value to my opinions, my concerns, and my questions. I own them.
To me exactly that is authenticity. My whole life, I always wanted to be myself but I was afraid of being left out and not belonging to the others. Yes, being different separates me from the others and it is sometimes uncomfortable to be on my own with a certain question, a struggle, a thought etc. and it makes me feel lonely sometimes. Yet, by going through this processes of feeling lonely over and over again, I experienced that almost everybody feels that from time to time. Now I know that I’m not the only one who has this feeling, and that’s what makes me feel united again as we have this feeling in common.
Now I start to feel good with being the only one every now and then. It is what makes me feel myself. In these times, where individuality increases, I see the potential that the new can be brought into the world. It becomes more interesting and more colourful. There are challenges for our togetherness that come along with a stronger individuality. The words from Contanza Kaliks’ talk on 22 November 2013 still support me:
‘Be interested in the otherness’
With that, I make at least one step towards the other one; I get closer and that makes me feel less separated. By being interested, I start a conversation that broadens my view which makes me aware of who I am and who I don’t want to be. Exchange makes me awake to what aspects I might agree and where I consciously draw a line between the other and myself. To come back the point: Drawing this line makes me authentic, makes myself.
Both my whole experience in YIP and my personal initiative helped me to get more aware and awake to my inner voice and with that to my boundaries. In the following, I describe how my personal initiative has become a practice of strengthening my capacity to listen to my inner voice.
I cannot remember the point where I decided for my personal initiative. I don’t know if there was actually a specific moment in which I took the decision to do my personal initiative about meditation and Steiner’s ‘Philosophy of Freedom’. Looking back, it feels as if the decision was made before I actually was aware of it.
I remember Thijs’ words in the beginning of the year when he spoke about the personal initiatives: He said he believed that we all knew deep inside what our personal initiative was. I didn’t believe him. I felt so far away from finding my topic. In the end, it actually found me and I realized what Thijs had meant.
I think, Pablo Picasso’s words ‘I do not seek, I find’ should actually say:
‘I do not seek, I receive.’
There was another point mentioned from Thijs in an inspiring talk to the group:
‘What is it that you cannot NOT do? Build castles in the sky.’
As I hadn’t found my topic yet, it made me slightly nervous, it made me think I actually have to initiate a ‘big thing’ with this personal initiative. I couldn’t think about a castle in the sky I wanted to build. And by today, I’m still not sure I could name it. I was feeling doubts whether the themes I was thinking of were good enough and appropriate for my personal initiative at YIP. At that point, my mindset looked like this:
‘Shouldn’t it be something tangible that I bring into the world rather than just working on something that is interesting to me? I won’t serve the world if I deal with a topic that is interesting to me but that doesn’t actually create something new, I can’t change the world like this’.
I stayed with these doubts for quite a while but nothing else seemed to come up. Everything that I thought of didn’t seem to be important enough. The two topics that I eventually chose called me strongly though and I knew deep within that I would take something very important from them into the future. Both the first meeting with my mentor Thijs and the presentations of our first ideas brought relief and clarity. Many Yippies had faced difficulties in finding their personal initiatives; most ideas were also focused on an inner process rather than on something that is about building something up in the world.
I got to understand that the personal initiative is a chance for me to work with a chosen topic for a certain time in a very free but supported way. Here at YIP, I am given the frame and officially (haha) also the time to make my personal questions and interests a project, experiment with these and – most importantly – to follow my self-chosen thread to manifest my ideas.
As I started to work on my personal initiative it became clear that I couldn’t realize as much as I had planned. Besides reading the very first pages of ‘Philosophy of Freedom’, the actual work with the book didn’t take place. I took the title quite serious though and eventually decided to take the freedom to drop it and focus fully on mediation.
Up until today, I’ve been having this knowing, that I am dealing with the exact right topic. Every time I worked on my personal initiative, it empowered, confirmed and inspired me. It lightened me up, opened up and brought me back home.
To make meditation my practice it requires my initiative every day. It has become my exercise to strengthen my capacity to take initiative in any context.In the beginning, meditating made me awake and started the process to not get so attached to my thoughts and feelings but just to observe them. I started to be surprised by myself in daily life moments when I actively observed my thoughts and with that prevented myself to slide accidently into a bad mood. I found myself in a situation where I usually would have got a ‘negative’ emotion but both by observing my thoughts and by asking myself ‘‘what is happening here?’’ I could avoid getting into a bad mood. Instead, I’ve become more conscious about what happens and why I react emotionally in a certain way.
Now, as I’ve practiced meditation already for some time, I feel how it strengthens my capacity to listen to my inner voice. I gain a clearer sense of where I am and where I set my boundaries, where I draw the line between others and myself. I can stand more steadily in myself.
Practicing meditation means to have a regular check-in with my self. I explore how it really looks and feels inside me. It makes me connect to my real desires that are sometimes covered by all the other things that go on in the outer world. Every day life can be distracting from what I actually really want and what I actually need to do. While meditating, I witness my thoughts coming and going in a different tempos and movements. Observing my thoughts means to have a mirror of my inner life. It is like the weather -everyday is very different and unpredictable.
I am grateful for all the connections I was able to make with people because of my personal initiative. As I sometimes meditated with other Yippies, it brought me together with them in a different way. Our conversations before and after sitting together in silence for an average time of 20 minutes were really rich. I experience meditation as an unlimited practice that will always support my growth.
At this point, meditation seems to me like a topic where I can always explore more, both by doing and expanding my knowledge by reading about it. My personal initiative nourishes me and has started to form a new way that I deal with myself and how I face challenges in my life. I realized that I actually can change the world with this personal initiative as it builds a fundamental basis for how I interact with the world and how I stand in the world:
When I am in healthy contact with my Self,
When I listen to my inner voice,
When I am connected with my higher Self,
Then I stand more fully in my self and I serve the world in a much deeper way. My actions are more rooted and based in something bigger.
I reject the criticism intended to hold me down.
This shouting voice from inside and outside
Why would I listen?
Why would I believe it?
I reject the criticism intend to hold me down.
As I intend to move forward, intend to fly high
Without losing my ground.
I am walking the path that is mine,
Following the voice from within.
This one not shouting or mean
But knowing the truth that is real.