Year Review 2021: Keep on moving

2021 was about not letting myself off the hook. Persistence had a lot to teach me about inner freedom: There is no need to identify with the unconsciousness being transformed within ourselves. We can be beacons of light and unique embodiments of living freedom, the freedom that is in a constant state of unfolding no matter the structures or struggles at hand.

What did I have planned for 2021, and how did it go?

  • Start of ‘Alchemy of Self’: We’re offering a two-year program for the first time. The course will be a ‘dive deep’ soul growth journey, mutual awakening based on wisdom teachings and grounded in practice and experience. And yes, we did it. So we’re off to an excellent start. To be continued in 2022.
  • Kick-off a new cycle of the Kundalini Awakening Training: our Level 1 program, which we first launched in 2020 as an independent Kundalini Yoga Training. Well, that did not come together. So, with ‘Spirit Accelerator,’ we spontaneously created an onboarding program for people to join the Alchemy of Self tracetory.
  • Start a regular online class. Yes, I got that going, too.
  • Relaunch of the Heart First Yoga Website. Let’s say some things take longer than you’d anticipated. There is a first draft. Somehow it is not right yet. There will be a slightly different focus because we do not want it to be just a nicer-looking version of what we have. Stay tuned.
  • Get to know the area where we now live better: We love it here at the crossroads of Netherlands and Belgium, Brabant and Zeeland. Best decision ever to move to Bergen op Zoom! We’re exploring our new home on foot or by bike at least once a week, and of course, go for daily walks.
  • Continue ‘The Path of the One Heart School’ . Yes, I finished Level 1 in August. I started Level 2 in October. Made wonderful new friends from all over the world and learning, growing, discovering. Keep on moving 🙂

My year review 2021:

My North Star in 2021 was Persistence.

2021 started on a gloomy December afternoon in 2020. I sat down and asked to be shown what 2021 would be about. What would be its dominant energy? Through which growth cycle would I be taken?

I got an image and a word. 

A woman is holding a staff with an eight-pointed star. 

Persistence was the accompanying word.

Drawing, or doing anything really with my hands, brings to life more fully what starts as an initial sensation or mental image. The process I go through is like planting a seed into its earth bed to bloom into its full potential one day—nurturing ground where a first inkling becomes more palpable. And all parts of me start aligning with the guidance received. 

This ritual is something I do every year. I am closing one cycle of transformation, opening up to a new beginning, moving through the seasons of growth in my life. The time between the years, the sacred nights, and the timeless time offers an opportunity to integrate what has happened and show us how the old year and the year to come are related. 

2020 was all about learning that I do not have to know where life is headed to see that I am supported. It marked a turning point – as it did for many of us. 2020 was about shedding old identities, saying farewell to visions that had outlived their purpose. Or, more precisely, letting go of how this vision needed to manifest in my life for it to be accurate. I was shifting from a sense of failure and loss into an understanding of potential. 

The first drawing I made on that gloomy December night 2020. The eight-pointed star appeared later.

Potential – and now what?

That was the starting point of 2021. Persistence would bridge a new level of self-empowerment and a higher potential for me. That said, I could also feel quite some apprehension around the attitude of persisting, no matter what. For the better part of my life, “pushing through” had led me down the rabbit hole of working relentlessly on a better version of myself or the greater good, whatever I made that out to be at the time. So much exhaustion, pain, and struggle had derived from this twisted sense of determination. The memories were still fresh. The wounds are still healing.

There was the part of me deeply appreciative for this journey. And then there was the part of me afraid to move forward with dedication. Persistence seemed to be something for the success-hungry, the goal-accomplishers, tough-minded and push-through-everything folks. Nothing I wanted to be associated with. What about creativity, spontaneity, joy, and wonder? Isn’t that where the true potential lies? 

Deep down, I knew that 2021 would teach me to dissolve this polarity within me. To activate my spiritual core deeper than ever before, touch parts of me that I had not contacted yet.

My 2021 started in December 2020 with my Sacred Nights of Winter yearly ritual

So, on this gloomy late December day in 2020, Persistence knocked at my door. I opened it, and I was surprised I did. Us two journeying through 2021 together? 

Yes, Persistence said, I am here to stay. We have much to explore. There is more to me than meets the eye. Do not let yourself be fooled by those who use me as a cover-up for their fears. They will learn through pushing and struggling. Their path is not to be judged. For you, I have other lessons to learn, dear one. That is if you agree. I nodded with apprehension and excitement equally running through my veins. 

Persistence, hmmm. Who would have thought that we would become travel companions? 

But here we were, at last at the point of sharing a whole year. 

Persistence got up and handed me a wand with an eight-pointed star. 

I felt like the heroine in a story that still needed to be written. So let’s head out into the woods, I said. All the places we have never been to before. And let’s revisit the ones we got lost the first time around. 

Slowly, slowly. For now rest, Persistence replied. I will meet you on January 1, 2021. 

The first lesson learned. 

Persistence is not about pushing ahead at all costs. Psychology even coined the phrase ‘negative persistence’: For some of us, being tough-minded has been such a strong survival trait that we may not be aware when pushing ahead is backfiring. Eventually, you will only exhaust yourself. Relax and have patience. 

Winnie-the-Pooh, the wise Bear, has something important to share here with us:

“Rivers know this: there is no hurry. We shall get there someday.” 

Winnie-the-Pooh

Our minds feel the excitement of possibility. It is in their very nature to travel anywhere, really within the blink of an eye. Musings of the mind, a place I know all too well. However, I have also learned that the idea of possibility is not the same as the living experience. Persistence was here to deepen that knowing within me. The more we embody possibility as our natural state of being, the more we honour the evolving nature of our souls.

We are made to persist. That is how we find out who we are. 

Alchemy of Self: You cannot create something new if you have it all figured out.

Let’s leave it here for now and follow the course of events as they unfold. January came, and with it, the launch of a new course we’ve been prompted to offer in response to the energies of change we’ve all been experiencing and navigating lately. It would be a two-year trajectory to support people’s shift into soul presence on earth. The modules would provide a structure for metamorphic change through the power of inner alchemy. Each module would work with a principle of consciousness which we would explore through wisdom teachings, activations, rituals, sharing, healing practices, and other breakthrough sessions. Hence the name ‘Alchemy of Self.’ 

After 14 years of offering training, primarily based on the teachings of Kundalini Yoga, we allowed ourselves to be fools again. Dissolve all we thought we knew and let a new cycle of manifestation begin. 

To be honest here: If it hadn’t been for the people who did the Level 1 Training Kundalini Awakening with us in 2020, the program might not have seen the light of day. They simply kept prodding us into doing this. And so we did.

Thank you, folks, for seeing this through as it has been and still is a fantastic journey. 

The team at our only live event in August 2021, Netherlands. We stayed in a tiny gypsy wagon. Everything else was booked. And the seminar house was for the students 🙂

A willingness of a dedicated group to go deeper is what kicked everything off.

We had a rough outline when we embarked on this adventure together. Barebones and the excitement to birth this all the way through. Enough to get us started. How can you create something new from a place of having everything figured out, right?

Through my 15 plus years of teaching Level 1 Kundalini Yoga Training, I came to understand that the teachings will change you as much as they do the people who enroll in a course. Wisdom needs to flow in a certain way for a particular group at a specific time to receive it. And as a teacher, you cannot stand on the sidelines. Every new program you birth will bring forth parts of your consciousness which you have not fully embraced yet, enlightened parts of you and the parts that sit in the shadows. It is a unique opportunity to acknowledge more of who you are, heal the divides, and integrate these new parts by unwrapping the gifts they hold. 

Needless to say. It was no different this year. We choose the Tarot to provide us with a framework of transformation. The first module was Empowerment, followed by Focus, Flow, and Intuition. We’ve created the course as we went along, and here we are. The first year is complete. Many transformations happened—the second year about to unfold. But, for now, we know what the first module in January 2022 will entail. And that is enough.

The highlight undoubtedly was the week we spent together in-person—community living, mutual awakening, and healing at its best.

How to turn an initial spark into a path to walk with confidence?

While writing, I am reflecting on the learnings of this journey and how they are related to Persistence. As it has never been difficult for me to jump right into any situation, to say yes without having the complete picture, a safety net, or guarantees in any shape or form, this is not the place to look for the gold. The part that loves nothing more than exploring, full of childlike faith and wonder, has taken me on many beautiful adventures. I’ve always been very grateful for this innocence, often labeled as naïve. This beautiful childlike spirit tends to get lost in the woods, though. How to turn the initial spark into a path? How to move forward with confidence? 

Again, Persistence had much to teach me.

She was unequivocal. “True power comes from moving forward,” she pointed out. ‘Your original-to-you ideas are conversations with the Universe. You need to engage with the creative force for it to move through you. And the actions that are taken concerning those ideas then mold the evolving nature of your soul into shape. Daring to do what you are guided to do creates the bridge that joins our heart desires to this moment and then the next. Inspired action is how you plug into divine source, my dear.

Set something in motion and follow the movement.

Stop trying and doubting yourself. Stop controlling people, situations, and outcomes because you feel overwhelmed by the force we call life. Just follow the movement. Start persisting, and you will start existing. When you exist, you start trusting yourself and trusting the Universe.

“The key of persistence will open up any door that has been closed by resistance.” 

John Di Lemme

Go deeper when you want to drop out

Precious lessons drop in even deeper while I am putting them on paper. Reflecting on the course of the year, I realise that there would have been so many opportunities to check out and withdraw from life altogether in 2021, waiting for the external craziness to be over eventually. But, instead, this year did not let me off the hook. Repeatedly, 2021 lovingly put me on the spot only to invite a deeper engagement with life and with who I am. I needed to go through these initiations before going out into the world. They brought up much fear and despair at times. I was not sure if I had the strength to do this. 

My biggest fear was that of failure. I was potentially failing myself, essentially, failing at life. 

And as it with lessons to be learned, they tend to come in the guise of challenges, initially. All I could see in those moments were many dear friends of mine feeling more in command of their choices and lives than ever before. Smooth sailing into the Golden Age, so it seemed. But, in truth, they were only mirroring back those parts of me, believing they had nothing to give. They are not creative. They do not have what it takes to succeed in life. 

I have learned this year to love them back into Oneness, again and again, with the energy of renewal being the vibration of greatest acceptance. To choose movement, to choose opening, to get more intimate with myself and the life fore. Radically accepting what is and dissolving any polarity within myself, and then finding the freedom to make the decisions that reflect my highest values—the freedom to embrace the very choices I found the scariest to honour my Divine Spirit. 

Deer Medicine. Thank you Marlen Scharf for this deeply nourishing art work which sits on my altar now.

Growth on planet Earth often is experienced through polarities. While we use the power of ideas against ourselves we miss the unique opportunity to meet ourselves at that moment.

A friend of mine asked if I could talk about ‘how to deal with adversity.  I am happy to share my journey and my learnings along the way. What we perceive as adversity is the power of ideas we hold against us. 

Gentleness, kindness and compassion is the medicine. Deer medicine. Beautiful deer keeps teaching me about the power of gentleness and kindness – meeting anything in life. 

The blessings that drop in when you let go of expectations.

The year started on a very different vibe, though. I remember ongoing discussions with my partner about business strategies, a concept for new online courses, redesigning our website. You name it. Venturing out into the world in a more significant way was the order of the day during the early days of 2021. At the time, this seemed to be the logical next move after we’d spend most of 2020 setting the foundations for a new life. After living 1.5 years apart, I went back to the Netherlands. We’d found ourselves a new place to life and created a home: breathing, resting and coming to terms with everything that had happened during the years of 2018/2019, rollercoaster years for both of us.

When Persistence first stepped into my life, she would push me to venture out into the world, I thought. Little did I know that 2021 would be more of an inward journey of reuniting heart and mind. I was solidifying my core instead of cutting life in half. The more I could let go of the expectations I had for 2021, the more I received the blessings this year did hold for me – and there have been many. This year came to teach me about the inherent abundance of life and myself. Going from a belief that my dreams will never materialise to a sense of fulfillment and loyalty to myself, expanding the inner healer into an inner artist. Persistence was instrumental in bringing forth that shift within me.

Once you no longer use the power of ideas against yourself, you are ready to expand your inner healer into an inner artist who was born into a body to use its infinite capacity of creative energy for the greater good of all. This is the transformative power of consciousness in action.

Matt Kahn

Sometimes you have to ‘seperate’ to unite

On a side note, or maybe more than a side note, really. Because this is big for both of us, Gurprakash, my partner, has been venturing out into the business world. Since then, our conversations have revolved around start-ups, managing growth, branding, and cutting-edge technology. Right there at the breakfast table. What a change! We both did not see this coming while pondering about the future of Heart First Yoga in the early days of 2021. Remember, we’ve been in the yoga business for 15 years plus. And we went all in: From running a yoga center to living in an ashram. So what would be more natural than leveraging all the knowledge we gathered over the years and bringing them online?

Biking around Brabant in August. Oh, how I love your humour and curiosity. Never a dull moment.

The common thread through our 14 years together has been yoga. Still, we’ve both been feeling this phase of our lives coming to an end. Instead of easing into this, we pushed harder to make work what we thought binds us together. When we finally allowed ourselves to express individual needs and the guidance we’d received honestly, the friction between us dissolved. Gurprakash so enjoys his work. It is beautiful to see how he is appreciated for all he is and all he contributes. Suppose you do not know him. He is a revolutionary spirit. He is daring to ask the questions others avoid. He is daring to express the ideas others deem crazy. He loves asking questions – I assure you he will come up with the most mind-boggling types, the ones that stretch you. A few thousand, he asked on Quora. They got 8 million answers. People feel prompted to answer because his questions are compelling and always worth a reflection. This is his zone of excellence, his creative genius. He found himself a place to shine. Who says that you have to leave the corporate world to grow?

Now that I have taken you through the initiations this year brought, let me point out some highlights of this journey that pointed me in new directions.

All my many training grounds. Persistence Bootcamp 🙂

I cannot remember a year in which I’ve started so many training, programs, and new trajectories – preciouses chrysalises for growth. They’ve cracked me open, stretched me in all directions to eventually anchor myself within myself more deeply. 

It all began with The Path of Love School which accompanied me from 2020 through 2021 and will be completed in March 2022. The wealth of learning and growth this path has offered so far is beyond imagination. So here is the short version of an epic journey: Learn to hold and support me through deep love accepting all I am. And along the way, I am practicing new light healing modalities, which will find their ways into training and coaching to come after practicing on myself. Exciting!

In August, I enrolled in a program I thought only a few months ago I would certainly never do. The Open to Channel School, in my mind, was a program to train as a professional channel. It turns out to be a journey again of epic proportions to connect deeper with my spiritual lineage and open up to higher guidance on a whole new level. I find it supports me in letting go and clearing out all still lingering beliefs I hold around spiritual growth and spirituality in general. Concepts that have helped me through earlier phases of an initial opening to higher knowledge – but again have outlived their purpose. As the Path of Love, Open to Channel is a journey into the heart of Oneness, which again and again teaches me about the most loving way to move forward. Training ground. Let’s see where it takes me.

I also joined the Online Business University, a year program to build up an online business from scratch or bring your business online. It all began with a vision I received in early February. 

To build an online community portal that offers perspective, guidance, and meaning stepping into the learning of co-creation as one humanity. The platform is a catalyst for positive change, focusing on options, possibilities, creative potential, and connections. Encouraging creative self-expression in alignment with our planet, individually and in groups and organisation, will be at the centre of all we do – building a microcosm of co-creative practice. Through appreciation, inspiration, relationship building, and deep learning, we will do this. We bring out the best in people and give them a new vision of themselves and their contribution to a new earth. 

– to showcase what is already there and how we can contribute 

– valuing the ceremony of life through ritual, conscious transitions, and celebration

– creation lab

– wisdom and love circles

Artwork by Joy Shuliana: Anchoring your gifts on earth. This feels like the visual for the vision I received. Joy creates amazing art. Please check out her shop.
This collage I created in 2021 after a meditation.
This collage I created in November 2021 as part of a Vision & Values workshop with dear Mastermind Group friends.

Online Business University (OBU) Mastermind Group or circling a question

Not sure if I would have pulled through without these women and our weekly calls: Thank you, Ilka, Simone, Elisabeth, Katrin und Tatjana for cheering me on and propelling me forward. We all have different ways to gain clarity; for me, it is the process of revolving around an issue, and it can feel like I am going nowhere with the question at hand. But there you were, ready to listen. Prepared to think and feel along. Willing to offer your perspective. We finished, and the issues continued circling within me. The answers I received became the new starting point for digging deeper and coming back, asking again, maybe from a slightly different angle this time. And there you were again, listening, offering your loving perspective. This, to me, is the power of a mastermind group: supporting each other in finding what is most true to us, widening each other’s perspectives and ability to receive and stay open—nurturing a sense of deep trust that is both relieving and generative. There has not been one meeting that left me drained and exhausted. So here is to a new culture of gathering.

Shifting from a personal spiritual path to mutual awakening

Looking back, 2021 indeed has been the year of new nurturing connections. The year of practicing co-creation on a whole new level: Turning spirituality as a primarily personal pursuit into the power of mutual awakening. Path of the one Heart buddy groups, Open to Channel group, OBU Mastermind, our Alchemy of Self Circle, and another circle I will mention: The Mentors of Love and Wisdom, all have been instrumental in furthering the shift from me to us. I am immensely grateful to have these people in my life. These are spaces of profound togetherness. And most of them I have not met in person yet.

What else? There is so much to be grateful for!

I made three websites. And two more are in the making. This year I rediscovered my love for art, beauty, design, and accompanying people through growth & transformation in many different ways. In the case of websites, I call it web therapy. Yes, this is our second business. Thank you Shivdev, Sabine and Margit for working with me! I thoroughly enjoyed the journey.

Nature, Nature, Nature….

For the last two years, we’ve been living in a place with so much nature around us. We have woods, moorlands and the sea. Here are just some impressions of the beautiful place we call home.

Time with my daughter

My daughter mostly grew up with her father in Germany. Why is a story for another day. Suffice to say, she now lives and studies in Amsterdam, the closest we have lived together for a long time. And sometimes she comes to visit. This year in March she stayed almost for a month. All the courses were online anyway. Pure mother bliss.

And 2022?

Time to retreat now, dear friends. The Sacred Nights of Winter are upon us. I know I will get a glimpse then what the coming year will be about. For now, I want to thank Persistence for this year. Nothing is more powerful than following your guidance. Blessings to all of you.