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Every day a mini holiday gives mental peace and balance

Experience what meditation can do for you

Why a retreat?

Learn here more about what a retreat is and can do for you!




Retreat means taking distance from your daily life. Not to escape from the external world, but to explore the internal world. This gives you the opportunity to restore the balance between the two, because nowadays our attention and focus often is for the biggest part (if not completely) absorbed by what happens around us.


Meditation training camp


By deliberately abandoning your regular life for a while, you can disconnect from all the obligations, roles, patterns and other things that keep you busy and distracted. Turning your attention inwards puts the focus on what is going on inside of you and how you react to all the things that draw your attention. That’s exactly what you do and happens in meditation. In a retreat this isn’t for just one session though, it is something you do for multiple sessions a day and without too much distractions in between.

Retreats are training camps for the mind. Like with training camps in sport you spend a certain amount of time to almost exclusively focus on improving certain skills and work towards specific results. To make that training period most effective, it is done in circumstances that are optimally fit for the training you want to do. For meditation that’s a serene and quiet location without too many distractions.


‘All you encounter in meditation on a remote mountaintop, is what you did bring up there yourself‘


This is a Tibetan saying and means that it doesn’t matter where you meditate and the things that come up during meditation will not change too much by the circumstances. The most important distractions are thoughts, feelings and emotions and those come from within. So you do not necessarily have to go to a special place to practice effectively. A different location that is optimally suited for meditation, can make it easier though. When you are somewhere that is set up for meditation, quiet and with not a lot of possible distractions, the external distractions are less so it makes it easier to work with ‘just’ the internal ones to get past the superficial layers and to go deeper into yourself.In a retreat place you are there to meditate and nothing else. Also there is not much else you can do and that is different at home. There you can always find something to do, clean or fix (and maybe will even be looking for something to have an excuse to get out of meditation when things get a bit uncomfortable). A new environement without too many stimuli helps you to detach even more from your life and to focus on your practice.


Fixing the subconscious turmoil


Your attention normally is with the superficial layers of your consciousness because we are mostly focussed on external distractions. When that calms down, the deeper layers emerge and this is where the unprocessed stuff comes up. Stuff that is present in the background and prevents you from real relaxation. It hasn’t got the opportunity to be processed because it is constantly overruled by the movements in the superficial layers. The same happens when you have a busy day and the first moment of no input, when you lie down in bed, all the unprocessed stuff that happened in the day make their way into your consciousness. They come up because there was no time for it before and now interfere with your peace of mind, which is necessary to fall asleep. The same applies to life in general.Unprocessed things will surface as soon as there is an opportunity to and a retreat often is that moment. Away from all the distractions and things that kidnap your uncontrolled attention all the time, deeper layers emerge. Which kind of feels unwelcome because you want to relax, but is good because they are partly responsible for that you haven’t got the peace of mind you want in daily life. That they are present unconsciously doesn’t mean they don’t have any impact. Not only are they between you and deeper forms of relaxation, they subconsciously affect your present moment. It is like having the extraction fan on, ‘de afzuigkap’ in Dutch, while cooking. After a few minutes you don’t hear the noise anymore and it goes to the background because your attention is with cooking. When you turn it off afterwards though, you will notice the calm and quiet you suddenly experience and that wasn’t there before. Even if you didn’t notice the noise anymore.



  • Although it gives even a deeper form of relaxation, a retreat is all but a relaxing holilday



Just like in meditation in the evening helps you to process the impressions of the day and help you fall asleep better and easier, a retreat helps you to process the things that are in the way of a deeper peace of mind. It helps to calm down the things that keep you busy and make you restless because they are present in the background and that gives you more calmness and peace in your life. It is like turning off the extraction fan. Off course not all your worries and problems disappear with one retreat, just like not all the restlessness before the night disappears with the evening meditation, It does noticeably increase your mental calmness though.


Not just a holiday


After a retreat you almost always have a holiday feeling, that is deeper and lasts longer than after a regular holiday. That isn’t because a retreat is all so relaxing. Just like with meditation, the process itself isn’t always very smooth and serene. By a retreat you go deeper than in a single meditation and therefore reach deeper layers of calm and presence, the ride can be more bumpy and less nice, cosy and tranquil than in a meditation as well. Things that can be very confronting are less the boundaries of your patience and ‘concentration endurance’. The confrontation and frustration about all that comes up and the lack of control you notice to have about your mental processes can be hard work and ask a lot of discipline.

Although the ‘work done during’ is a bit more challenging every now and then compared to a single meditation session, the rewards are even bigger and make it worth while. Also it will helps you to improve your skills because you have to show more endurance and it helps you to make a leap in your practice. The progress is also much more than just the sum of the individual meditation sessions at the retreat. Not in the last place because you get to know yourself better because of observing how your mind works when things might be less pleasant and you have less of an escape to external distractions.

In a retreat you reach the deeper layers easier and work towards deeper relaxation. The result is that you achieve a deeper sense of calm, one that is definitely different from the ‘relaxation’ that people think they get from watching a movie or series. It is like the feeling you experience after a meditation session and than deeper and more stable.


Open versus closed retreats


Closed retreats means all the distraction by other people is avoided. That means no communication or even contact with others. Open retreats have breaks where you can talk or connect to the people around you. The last version is less hard-core and easier to process and that’s also the form of retreat I use in my retreats. By breaks between the sessions, time to talk about your progress and guidance by an experienced person, things fall into place easier and better when you don’t have a lot of retreat experience yet. And although closed retreats go deeper when you know what to do, open retreats will also bring you a lot of insights and relaxation.


Try it yourself!


To sum up, retreats are more effective than weekends off or holidays when it comes to relaxation and working with yourself. I wanted to be upfront that they are challenging even now and then. The rewards are more than worth it though and it is quite probable that you can’t really remember the last time you felt so relaxed and recharged in the days afterwards. The results are more profound because the investment also is. It is like running a marathon when you normally do ten kilometre runs. The training process and challenge of the retreat is thereby bigger than the sum of the sessions alone and effectively deepen your skills and your development and understanding of yourself and how your system functions.

Give yourself the present of a retreat every now and then and make the next step in your practice with the profound results. It is more than worth it!!


If you are looking for a retreat, let me know or check my agenda when the next one is planned! Of course you are alos welcome for courses, workshops, the open meditation evenings. Even if you want to dive into meditation without leaving your house we have options like the audio meditation here on my website, my blogs or my book ‘Meditatie, je dagelijkse minivakantie’ (that unfortunately is only available in Dutch). We love to help you!

A meditation or a mindfulness course?

Meditation has many effects for as well the mind as the body and is being practised for tens of centuries in different forms all over the world. The origin of meditation as we know it lies in Asia. When scientists discovered the many interesting effects of meditation in the sixties and seventies of last century, mostly by studying the brain of buddhist monks, the interest in the western part of the world was awakened. Because meditation nowadays connects perfectly to many of the biggest challenges for the modern human being, it only grew further the last years.

In the Asian traditions meditation originally was used exclusively for personal development. Is was a tool to come to maximal realisation of the inner qualities and to obtain an optimal mental health. In spiritual traditions and religions it is still mainly used for that purpose. People that start meditating these days are mainly looking for inner peace and balance. Which makes sense looking at our busy and demanding jobs and scedules and growing numbers of stress and burn-out.




When scientific research started in the West in the seventies, meditation wasn’t a very ‘sexy’ word.It was strongly linked to religion and ‘mindfulness’ was much more neutral and therefore a lot of the research of meditation was done using that name. Mindfulness became a sort of seperate practice that arose from that. This is mainly because of the work of Jon Kabat-Zinn. Inspired by the effects of meditation, in 1979 he designed the eight week Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction program to give the medical world access to the effects of attention training. The mindfulness courses that we know today are almost all based on that. Now, forty years later, there is a lot of scientific support for the positive effects of this program for people with chronic pain, stress, anxiety and other problems and it is the best researched form of meditation by modern science.

Mindfulness mainly focusses on what the Western world is mostly looking for; peace of mind and internal balance. The word mindfulness means as much as being consciously present with what is in this moment. This very important basic ingredient of every form of meditation, is for a big part responsible for the calming effect of meditation on the mind. When you leave everything that has been and still has to come for a moment and only focus on what is actually here in this moment, the mental activity decreases strongly.


  • Mindfulness is a basic ingredient of meditation and meditation is the training of mindfulness


Mindfulness and meditation have many commonalities. Without mindfulness there is no meditation and meditation is training of mindfulness. The training to come to the present awareness in the now is very important. To be mindful isn’t that isn’t very hard. To remain in that state is a whole different ball game. Everybody that ever meditated will recognise and confirm that. Even being present for a few seconds without being distracted is almost impossible if you have no training in meditation or other form of mental or attention training. And even with experience it is a big challenge. That’s why training is so important. If you start with it you’ll notice how quickly you run into the limitations of your capacity to rest your attention in one place. Just like you run into your physical limitations when you start running. In both cases though you’ll notice that if you train it, you will quickly get better at it and able to do it for longer.



A mindfulness or meditation course?


Mindfulness is an excellent way to come to more peace of mind, what a lot of people in our modern society are longing for. I myself did the eight week mindfulness course and thought it was very good. In my first book, ‘Meditation, your daily mini holiday’, I offer people that want to start meditating mindfulness exercises for daily life because it is an excellent preparation for meditation.

Mindfulness courses focus on becoming more consciously aware through meditation as well as by integrating and applying that in daily life. The second is called ‘informal practice’. Most people that do the mindfulness course work most with the applying it daily. The ‘meditation homework’, which is at most mindfulness courses between around 45 to 60 minutes per day, often is skipped. Which is kind of understandable due to the busy schedules we have. Without propper training it is amost impossible to get to real results though. You can compare it to the effect of a moments of five push ups during the day or to translate a word into a foreign language every now and then. It will bring the focus to your goal and also benefit you, but without proper training by going to the gym and train till physical fatigue or taking a complete class emerging into a language, it won’t result in a lot of results. Same goes for meditation.

The power in the mindfulness courses is in the training by meditation, but in my opinion that often doesn’t get enough attention. People naturally tend to chose for the quick fix (wherefore there often is more focus on the short working medication like the ones that lower cholesterol and blood pressure, in stead of the more structural solutions like lifestyle changes) and applying the short mindful exercises during the day give you short feeling of calmness and wellbeing. Especially if you are asked to do an hour of meditation daily. Which is often less during meditation courses. Also mindefulness courses offer in my opinion a lesser quality in meditation training. The criteriumto become a mindfulness trainer often isn’t years of meditation experience, especially now it became so well known and commercially interesting. The part of the informal practice is often easier to learn and teach. I defenitelly am not saying mindfulness instructors aren’t skilled in meditation, with meditation teachers there is more guaranteed of that.

Personally I choose to give meditation and not a mindfulness courses. The main reason for that is that meditation brings you quicker to a deeper level. By really taking the time to develop the skill to the max, is the fastest way to results. That often also aim a bit wider than just the reduction of stress or mental relaxation. In the words of an old meditation teacher : ‘to use meditation only to calm the mind, is like using a diamond to support an uneven leg of a table’. The break that meditation gives you also leads to the calming of the mind, but because it often is more aimed at training, the effect often is stronger and deeper.


Choose what fits you best


As well meditation as mindfulness are excellent tools to work on yourself. Meditation still is a bit less mainstreamand that often prevents that the focus shifts to short term relaxation in stead of the deeper effects of the methods that have developped itself over the many centuries. And also with meditation training you’ll experience quick results in your daily life. Just like in a short time you will notice you feel better and fitter after you started working out. As well as you feel less tired with cycling to work and climb the stairs easier when you do physical training, you’ll notice that you feel better and have more overview, clarity and balance in your life when you do meditation.

Investing in yourself also is an ongoing process. What I often miss with a lot of the mindfulness and meditation courses is the aftercare. You received excellent tools and by applying them and mainly keep applying them, you’ll get more and more results. But what happens when the course is over? Often it is not easy to maintain a regular practice. Also meditation stays a challenging training with many pitfalls. Like with every skill, guidance by someone with experience will keep you on the fastest and most direct path to results. For this reason I organise weekly meditation evenings where there is a low treshhold for people to maintain their practice and get answers to their questions. They are of course also accessible for people that did a mindfulness course. You are always welcome. Maybe until soon!


For courses, workshops, the open meditation evenings or meditation for business, here at Meditatie Amsterdam you can find it all. Even if you want to dive into meditation without leaving your house we have options like the audio meditation here on my website, my blogs or my book ‘Meditatie, je dagelijkse minivakantie’ (that unfortunately is only available in Dutch). We love to help you!

Do you have a question about meditation?
Mail me and who knows it will be the subject of my next blogpost!

Meditation makes you happier

Meditation isn’t something buddhist. That means, it is as much ‘owned’ by buddhism as singing is to the catholic church. They both use it but it is a separate method and buddhists will confirm that. It is a tool being used to reach the ultimate goal of buddhism: complete freedom of mind and being unconditionally happy. And there is a good reason for meditation being used for that. Not only is there centuries of empirical evidence that meditation makes you happier, it is also found by modern science.

Your experience of happiness is measurable in the brain. If someone has a happy  feeling there is more activity in the frontal part of the brain and then on the left side. This left prefrontal cortex as it is called, is activated when someone experiences something positive, while the right prefrontal cortex is active when someone experiences a less pleasant thing. Researchers found that there is a transition to the left of the brain activity in the prefrontal cortex with people that meditate. And that with people that have a lot of meditation experience there is a continuous activity in the left part of the frontal brain region. Which points to more and more continuous happiness.


The ´happiest man on earth´


If you search the internet for the ‘happiest man on earth’ it will lead you to Matthieu Ricard. He got this ‘title’ after his brain got examined by neuroscientists at the University of Wisconsin. This French born monk was connected to brain examining equipment, together with other very experienced meditators, through 256 sensors. The scans during his meditation shower brain activity relaxed to awareness, learning ability and memory that were never reported before in neuroscientific literature.

Especially striking was the activity in his left prefrontal cortex which was ‘off the charts’, where activity on the right side was extremely low. Because of his enormous capacity for being happy he was unofficially ‘crowned’ as the happiest man on earth. As explanation for this he pointes to his years long training of the mind through meditation. For scientific research for this and other articles that link meditation to happiness, click here and scroll down to the section of meditation and mental well-being and meditation and happiness.


Strive for unconditional happiness


But you don’t have to do brain research to experience that meditation adds to being happy. If you meditate you experience yourself that you will manifest inner happiness more often and more deeply, an experience that comes from inside of you and can be triggered without an external cause. Because although people are very busy searching for happiness in external factors like possessions, things you can buy, a relationship, a job or whatever external circumstance, happiness is always something that occurs in and comes from the inside. External triggers might evoke it and always work temporarily. Because that new partner also has things that make you less happy and that new item you bought is not as new anymore after a short while and therefor not very special anymore. That new car is a source for happy feelings the first few days but turns into an object you just use pretty quickly.


  • Things and situations that can change never bring stable happiness


Also you can probably imagine your qualify of life improves if you are less dependent on automatised reactions on what happens in thoughts and emotions to what happens from outside and you experience through your senses. That your attention is time after time involuntarily pulled to everything that happens. By meditation you gain control over where your focus goes and you determine how important which stimulus is. By distancing to the stimuli that enter your awareness and by the insight that occurs from that, freedom of mind is created. And it gives space for the source of calmness, balance and energy inside of you to surface. In this way meditation offers you the key to unconditional happiness. Use it to your advantage.

Final tip: don’t go looking for happiness during your meditation sessions. There all is like it is and is neutral. Happiness is a result of meditation, an outcome and not necesarially an experience during the practice. Let during your meditation everything go and be as it is and the results will arise naturally.


Do you want to learn quickly and effectively how to meditate? We would love to help you. Follow one of our meditation programs or follow the easy step-by-step plan in my book: Meditation, your daily mini-break (unfortunately only available in Dutch). It’s very easy and won’t take much time. Try for yourself and experience what meditation can do for you.

I hope this blog helped you get a better understanding of the what meditation is all about. Do you have a different question regarding meditation? Send it to me and who knows, it might the subject for my next blogpost!

Meditation at the dentist

Entering the waitingroom I was pleasently greeted by my book that was on the table. Cool! My dentist Marlon was one of the first to purchase it and now the people that visit him are able to enjoy the result of my time and energy. Sitting in lounch position in the dental chair he started working on my teeth. My thoughts went to Eva, one of my most important meditation teachers so far (yes, also the mind of a meditationtrainer still wander off in free associations on a very regular basis). She meditated herself through a dental treatment before. Not just a thorough cleaning like I had, but drilling into a grinder all the way till the nerve. Without any anaesthetic…. I consider myself not an unexperienced meditator after the hours of practise I put in so far, I decided to try how it is to meditate during the treatment of my dentist.

I realised once more how hard it is when the distractions are so very present that it is hard to keep seeing them as part of the bigger picture. Especially when they are sometimes a bit painfull, or at least sensitising. Sure, noises of the neighbours, an itch, distracting thoughts are always hard to leave without reacting on them. But sharp and drilling instruments in of the most sensitive areas of your body is a different experience. And very good practice. Although I was no where near the impression I am ‘there’ yet in the meditation practise, it gave me a good indication how much there still is to win.


Observing without reacting


What you train with meditation is the understanding of the working of your mind and learning how to work with it. Understanding how the mind works is being aware of what manifests in your awareness. No problem in the dental chair. Although it’s about that you are aware that things are occuring and not becoming them. We pretty automatically tend to hold what we experience as pleasurable and push away what is not. Which one is present in the chair at the dentist is obvious.


  • Realise you have the ability to just observe it


While meditating we not only try to be aware of what we experience, you also try to observe it without reacting to it. In the dental chair that means being conscious that you experience an unpleasant sensation but in stead of trying to disconnect with it, you try to see it as it is. No judgement, no action, no respons physically or mentally. Thats it. Not only you often experience that things become less uncomfortable if you just observe it without judgement. Also you recognise that thoughts and feelings come along about what is happening and that they re the ones making things worse. Also you become aware how your mind tends to automatically interpret and react to it and even more important, how you can control it. How you can be in control of your reaction to a stimulus and get to decide what to do.

Even in the chair at the dentist.


Overruling the old paterns


You train your mind and with that not only your awareness and attention, you also strengthen your control about what you say and do. You don’t unlearn something, like in the case of pain a deeply rooted survival mechanism. You learn a new and stronger one that overrules the original. Just like woman succeed to put on mascara without blinking. And the same way that a fakir can sit on a bed of nails. Or people can walk barefoot on burning caols or sit in a bath with water and ice cubes without any problems. The last two I experienced myself and gave me massive insight about what the power of meditation can do for your control over mind and body.


It is possible almost everywhere!


Lesson of the day: try yourself how you can turn a not to pleasant 15 minutes of dental work into a practise for your mind. And maybe give meditation a try in a different place, one you normally don’t think about meditating. Airports and flights, where there often is not that much to do anyways, are great opportunities. But it is also good in places where you dont close your eyes, like during your commuting to work, aware of all there is and you normally often miss because you are distracted by thoughts that make your attention wander off. Or during a wait in a waitingroom or in line at the supermarket or before a red light. Take the max out of it and train yourself optimally! Good luck!


Do you want to learn quickly and effectively how to meditate? We would love to help you. Follow one of our meditation programs or follow the easy step-by-step plan in my book: Meditation, your daily mini-break (unfortunately only available in Dutch). It’s very easy and won’t take much time. Try for yourself and experience what meditation can do for you.

I hope this blog helped you get a better understanding of the what meditation is all about. Do you have a different question regarding meditation? Send it to me and who knows, it might the subject for my next blogpost!

Unexpected meditation lessons at the cinema…

A visit to an action movie learned me two things:

  • We can easily concentrate fort wo hours without getting distracted. Concentration abilities are not the problem.
  • How a large amount of stimuli can make you loose the connection with your world.


The first point was already clear to me before but got proven again; the problem with staying focused during meditation isn’t the ability to concentrate, it is ability to aim our attention when there is no attractive stimulus around.


Losing yourself


What struck me the most was how it lasted a bit before I ‘was myself again’ after leaving the cinema. The enormous amount of stimuli of the explosions and fighting scenes during the movie for the eyes and ears got my system a bit overstimulated. Which made sense because in the two hour summary of two weeks in the life of a fugitive there is a lot more going on than in my regular life. It took me a bit of time to realise my own reality again. Exactly as the filmmaker probably intended I was soaked into the world in the movie.

Actually, this is what happens to us all the time. We are so pulled in to what is going on around us that we lose touch with what is happing with us. All the input from the people around us, our jobs and things we have to do, our busy schedules and especially the many screens and smartphone gives us a lot of distractions. A few decades ago the amount of stimuli we endure now daily existed almost nowhere. We had a lot more time ‘off’. Now even there we are bombarded with input. We even seek the distractions on our devices that are within reach all day long. Where the input from the moviescreen distracts us from our daily life, the stimuli there do the same thing with the awareness of our own world.


Relaxation or distraction


Real relaxation is scarce nowadays and we are overstimulated more and more. Diseases like ADHD/ADD or burn-outs are very normal today and connected to that. In 2014 for the first time in history the cause of disability to work was more because of mental problems than of physical ones. The type of stress is shifting and that this generation has an exponential bigger mental stimulation is pretty clear I think. Ten years ago the first smartphones appeared and Facebook was still small and it is only 25 years ago that the computer became accessible for ‘normal’ people. Times have changed.

Meditation is a very effective tool to help with the challenges of modern times. It’s one of the only things where you look for less stimuli in stead of different ones for relaxation. Relaxation and no distraction, what is the case in almost every for of ‘relaxation’ people choose nowadays. Relaxation is not more of different stimuli, it is less stimuli.


A new dimension of clarity


All these stimuli distract us from ourselves. What we feel and experience and how to cope with that optimally. It distracts us from reality as we perceive it and get lost every now and then. You don’t have to go to the cinema for that. Meditation brings you back to a clear view on and presence with that what is happening. Just like you have to ‘come back’ from the world in the movie, it takes you a bit of time and awareness to come back to the reality of yourself in your own life in your meditation. To experience again what is going on with you, on a deeper level that you are used to. A level that became unknown for a lot of people but is there for everybody. That is also why meditation isn’t easy at first. To get from our normal lives to the level of clarity and peace of mind, we feel as disorientated as we leave the cinema. At first that feels restless and we become very aware of our almost compulsory urge to do something.

It is more than worth it though. Below the superficial restlessness you will find clarity, overview, balance and peace of mind because of which you are able to function more effectively. Life becomes more easy and pleasurable, in every facet of your life. Through meditation this world also opened for me. The serenity of Buddhist monks, that mental balance and peace of mind, is something that always attracted me before. Their lifestyle a bit less though. With meditation I found that you don’t have to become a monk to access what they are expressing. That it is achievable for everybody, also for you! You have to invest in it though: you have to train your mind to gain control over what happens with all the stimuli that reach you all day long.


So instead of seeking a screen in your spare time, see what meditation can do for you. Quickly this will result in more peace of mind, balance and clarity, which people even already experience after their first session. Practice it and it will increase and integrate into your life more and more. You’ll find that you have a choice about how clear you want to be in your life. Enjoy!



Do you want to learn quickly and effectively how to meditate? We would love to help you. Follow one of our meditation programs or follow the easy step-by-step plan in my book: Meditation, your daily mini-break (unfortunately only available in Dutch). It’s very easy and won’t take much time. Try for yourself and experience what meditation can do for you.

I hope this blog helped you get a better understanding of the what meditation is all about. Do you have a different question regarding meditation? Send it to me and who knows, it might the subject for my next blogpost!

Learning to meditate with an app, does that work?

To begin with the first question, I think an app can help you with meditation. There are a few good apps available with guided meditations, just like you can find those on YouTube. Meditation apps even have advantages like a quick and easy accessibility and because most people have it always with them, you can meditate whenever and wherever you want.


The advantage of leaving the house


If meditating through an app is as effective as meditating in the presence of an instructor remains to be seen. Even though you have to go out of the comfort of your own home and you have to be there at a certain time, this can have its advantages. When you are in a different place or environment to meditate it can help your meditation. Often the place is more equipped for meditation and also there is not too much else to do for you. There are a lot less distractions than in your home surroundings. You are there just too meditate and the only distractions of that are inside yourself. At home there is always something that can be done like clean something or do a quick chore. Also there are the distractions caused by the other people in the house like a partner, roommate, child or pet.




Also that what guides you is important. The advantage of an instructor is that he or she can apply changes when it is necessary and can adjust to what is needed that day for you. The smartphone or tablet of the app itself is often a source of distractions and can even disturb your meditation. The smartphone even is the cause of most restlessness and distraction nowadays. And even if it is in flight mode, the apps, mails and social media are within reach any time and the temptation to check them before, after or even during the meditation often is big.

Especially because during the meditation it is very well possible that you are faced with restlessness in the mind and things like impatience, boredom and fatigue. The normal ‘cure’ for that is for many people their smartphone or tablet. When there is an alternative to trigger the reward centers in the brain that close, to resist it is often very hard. Meditation through an app takes more self-discipline than in a group or under guidance. An app is also easy to switch off, walking away during a guided meditation is something people less often do.


Personal guidance


An app often doesn’t answer your questions directly or indicate where you are heading in a wrong direction. Not like an instructor does at least. A custom made solution is easier available through a live instructor. And maybe he or she even points something out you didn’t notice yourself in your own practice. For example in your posture or a certain restlessness in your meditation. Also an instructor most likely doesn’t read out the meditation and in this way keeps it more ‘fresh’ for you. Next to all of that there is the power of meditating in a group or with an experienced instructor. In that presence often a certain ‘vibe’ arises through which it is easier to point your attention. Everybody that meditates in groups more often will probably recognise this and find that it is easier than meditating by yourself.


Try it yourself


Like you can quicker learn how to do a sport, play an instrument or speak a language with a live instructor compared to a guide or book, it is more effective to learn how to meditate under the guidance of a live instructor than an app. But like I think is important for everything, try it yourself and see what works best for you. Meditation apps can be very useful and there are some very good ones out there that benefit a lot of people. Personally I choose more personal guidance, especially with something as meditation that isn’t always easy to learn.


If you want to try it out yourself and live or work in the Amsterdam area, check out what we can do for you. The first session is for free!

Do you have a different question regarding meditation? Send it to me and who knows, it might the subject for my next blogpost!

Need relaxation? Try meditation!

That meditation results in relaxation is something you can easily experience yourself. Directly after your first meditation session you will probably notice a more relaxed feeling than before the session. Although it often doesn’t stay too long at first, it’s a good indication for what is possible. Research shows that meditation gives even more relaxation than relaxation exercises (Tang Y. et al.) and is also more effective to reduce stress that relaxation exercises (Levy D. et al.)

An important misconception that people have is that relaxation is something that has to occur during the meditation session. Everybody that has some meditation experience knows that often isn’t the case and that this also isn’t a problem. People with no or minimal meditation experience often have the impression they do something wrong when they do not experience a feeling of relaxedness during their meditation and can experience the restlessness they encounter in their mind as frustrating. I also often hear that people seem to experience more thoughts and feelings in their mind after a few weeks or months of meditation, compared to their first meditation sessions. Also this doesn’t mean you are doing something wrong, it actually means that you have become better in observing of everything that is going on in your mind, that you experience the things that were already there and you didn’t notice before.




It is important to not look for relaxation during your meditation. If it occurs that is fine of course, if it doesn’t and there is a ‘storm inside your head’ that is okay as well. During meditation the only thing that counts is that you experience what is and accept it like it is. A ‘fight-meditation’ like I sometimes call it, when you are just busy getting back from distraction after distraction, maybe even is a better training of your awareness that the meditation where you only experience ‘zen’.

The more you meditate, the easier and more relaxation you will experience during your sessions. But there will always be the ones that you don’t experience a lot of ‘peace and calm’ and you are distracted a lot. Just like an athlete sometimes has a good day and sometimes an off-day, your ‘meditation ability’ can vary. In the end it isn’t important what you experience during the meditation, it’s important that you observe it. After a meditation almost everybody experiences a clear relaxation, how ‘stormy’ the meditation might have been. If you are experienced or not doesn’t matter.




So be careful with expectations about what ‘has to be or happen’ during your meditation. False expectations are in my experience the main reason why people come to the conclusion that meditation doesn’t work and quit. Give it some time and observe what happens to you more in general. Relaxation after meditation can be short and whit more practice it will become longer and occur more often in daily life as well. Learning how to meditate isn’t easy, just like learning how to ride a bicycle or car. Also there it is important you get to master the technique first before you experience the results. And do you invest time and energy so that it eventually helps you to get from A to B, without leaving the method as soon as you fall once or have problems with the clutch. To learn it almost everybody needs a certain amount of training. The same goes for meditation.

Train it and don’t judge the quality of meditation too much and you’ll see that the results emerge automatically. By learning how to distance yourself from what is happening by simply observe without judging, interpreting, wanting to stop or change anything, the things that occur in your awareness will have less and less influence on you and you can detach from it more easily. That leads to relaxation because you are not busy all the time with everything that happens in your awareness anymore.


More than a relaxation paracetamol


Meditation does actually a lot more for you than just relaxation. Like a Zen teacher explained it: to use meditation just like a tool to relax, it is like using a diamond to support the uneven leg of a table’. By structurally using meditation as training of the mind and not to use it as a ‘relaxation-paracetamol’ in moments that you are stress or restless, you will also receive the many other effects like more productivity, creativity, energy and clarity of mind. Use it to the fullest I would say!


Do you want to learn quickly and effectively how to meditate? We would love to help you. Follow one of our meditation programs or follow the easy step-by-step plan in my book: Meditation, your daily mini-break (unfortunately only available in Dutch). It’s very easy and won’t take much time. Try for yourself and experience what meditation can do for you.

I hope this blog helped you get a better understanding of the what meditation is all about. Do you have a different question regarding meditation? Send it to me and who knows, it might the subject for my next blogpost!

Why are there meditation methods?

Meditation is ‘not-doing-anything’. With the emphasis on not doing. It’s no more than being clear and relaxed present with what is in this moment. This should be the most easy thing there is right? It turns out to be very difficult to do. Where most people are able to relax physically in the place they are, it doing that for the head a whole different ballgame.


Moments of relaxation


We are so in our ‘do-modus’ that it is extremely difficult to detach from that. Even if it’s only for a short amount of time. Just see how often you actually do nothing. And don’t tend to fill up every small free moment with reading, eating or cleaning something, with turning on the television or activating your smartphone. Even while waiting in line at the shop or for a red light people tend to grab for their phone.

We hardly manage to really relax. Even if we do our best to do it, our ‘head’ takes over quickly and we wander off in thoughts to the past, future or associations with what is happening in the now. That’s why meditation often seems as an impossible thing to do. Everybody that starts meditating finds that our minds habits of wandering off are very strong. Notice how quickly your attention is pulled away of what you are doing when you smartphone makes a sound or buzz.


  • You are either ‘present’ or distracted in your meditationsession. A meditation method helps you with the being present.





Because it’s so hard do undo yourself of all the movements in your awareness, meditation methods are developed to help you focus your attention. They are designed to help you rest in simple and clear presence. The method helps you time after time to return to the simpleness of just being in the moment. Also guided meditations aim for this. Every time I guide a meditation I give the participants an anchor to bring their attention to so that they quicker recover from being distracted, which is inevitable.

In this way you learn to focus your attention with a small help as a starting point. You also don’t throw someone in the deep end of the pool when that person never swam before. The meditation methods help you to not drown in the stream of thoughts and other stimuli that continuously draw your attention. If you manage to keep your attention with a simple thing, then you can see if you can also stay present without a form of support. Before you reach that state it takes a lot of practice though and meditations with support are very usefull. And just as effective when you look at gaining the positive effects, because it is not so that a meditation with support is less effective as one without it. People with a lot of meditation experience and realization often ‘still’ use a meditation with support.


Meditation ‘with support’


There are many forms of meditations where something supports you to keep you present. The most common one is the meditation on the breath, but also the use of a tone, a mantra, an object or simply a guided meditation that helps you to stay in the here and now can be useful to help you to focus your attention. All these things aim for giving your mind something to do, to point it towards so that you are distracted less easily.

Whatever form of support you use, as long as it’s simple and keeps you in the present moment, it is useful. Choose the meditation method that support you best to reach the meditation state. In the end it is very simple: during your meditation session you are either meditating or distracted. It is one or the other. The support techniques help you to be more often and longer in meditation during your meditation session. The goal is to remain as much as possible in meditation during your meditation sessions.

You definitely don’t have to try all the methods available to find the one that is best for you. Just find one that works for you and that’s it. Do you want to try the method I teach in my trainings? Click here for for a free audio of one of my guided meditations. Enjoy!


Do you want to learn quickly and effectively how to meditate? We would love to help you. Follow one of our meditation programs or follow the easy step-by-step plan in my book: Meditation, your daily mini-break (unfortunately only available in Dutch). It’s very easy and won’t take much time. Try for yourself and experience what meditation can do for you.

I hope this blog helped you get a better understanding of the what meditation is all about. Do you have a different question regarding meditation? Send it to me and who knows, it might the subject for my next blogpost!

The 5 tips that help your meditation practice

Meditation is training the mind. Getting it to be present and not distracted. This is something we are not really used to anymore. Meditation is as learning a new activity and that is never easy. Just like learning how to ride a bike, walk, read, write and speak a foreign language aren’t easy at first. The time and energy needed to learn how to meditate will repay themselves quickly though because results as more energy, peace of mind and stability are already noticeable after a few sessions.

To make the taming of the mind a bit easier, here are five tips that will help you to enhance your practice..


1) Posture


The bodily posture supports the mental exercise. You don’t have to sit in a fully erect lotus posture though to meditate. When you find a more or less comfortable (sitting)position that you can maintain for a while, that is enough. Make sure your back is straight because an aware mind needs an aware posture to support it. That´s also why I wouldn’t advise to meditate lying down, because the body associates this posture quickly with sleeping. And a snoring meditation probably isn’t what we are looking for. For a good straight posture you can start to sit as extended as possible and then let go for about 10%. See if you can remain seated like this so your posture supports you mental awareness.


2) Surroundings


Find, where possible, a fairly quiet place to meditate. Just like a flame is unsteady in the wind, so is the mind when it is surrounded by outside stimuli. Normally most distractions from the outside comes from sounds. If it´s noisy where you live you can maybe try to meditate a bit earlier or later on the day when the activity is less. It is not necessary to have complete silence though. You even train your mind a bit more when you practise to stay calm and focused surrounded by stimuli.


3) When


Take a set time a day so meditation more easily becomes a habit. What time a day you choose for that is not very important. Take a time that is easy to plan for you. And believe me, it is more a question of priority than time. Take 15 minutes off of your TV or Facebook time for example. And what do you do the last hour before you go to sleep that is more important than doing something by which you invest in yourself?


4) How long


You don’t have to meditate for hours to achieve results. The first five minutes normally are the most difficult and often you need them to get into it a bit. If you choose to meditate for five minutes a time, that means you always do the hardest part. I recommend 10-15 minutes to start with and if you want, gradually make it longer.


5) How often


Daily! This way it most quickly becomes a habit and a regular part of your day. Just like showering and brushing your teeth. Meditation is your mental hygiëne. Gradually it will even become your daily mini holiday. Like with every form of training, regular practice is the key to success. Doing sport once a month or skipping one meal to loose weight, doesn’t bring results either. Give yourself the present of optimalising your mental as well as physical health by taking ten minutes every day to meditate.


Integrating of these tips will benefit your practice and with regular practice, the activity will become more easy. There is no such thing as a bad meditation by the way, every training session helps you forward. If you consciously try to be present and try to come back from every distraction as much as possible, you will improve your peace of mind, your energy level, health, productivity, creativity an more. Meditation simply makes your life a lot easier!


Do you want to learn quickly and effectively how to meditate? We would love to help you. Follow one of our meditation programs or follow the easy step-by-step plan in my book: Meditation, your daily mini-break (unfortunately only available in Dutch). It’s very easy and won’t take much time. Try for yourself and experience what meditation can do for you. You can click here for a free meditation audio. Enjoy!

I hope this blog helped you get a better understanding of the what meditation is all about. Do you have a different question regarding meditation? Send it to me and who knows, it might the subject for my next blogpost!

Stress and how to deal with it

Stress is ‘programmed’ into our system. It’s aim is to deal as effectively as possible in times of crisis. In dangerous situations the so called fight-or-flight mechanism is activated, is everything aligned to survive by fighting or fleeing. Therefore body and mind need all the energy and awareness.


Stress brings the body in the highest state of readiness: your blood pressure and heartrate go up, your muscle tone increases, you are completely focused and you are ready for action. Stress activates the body to achieve more than normal. So far so good. Why is stress such a worrying topic then?


Acute versus chronic stress


If you are stressed you kind of drive 100 km/hour in second gear. You are able to react and accelerate very quickly, but also use a lot of fuel. Being in stress mode uses a lot of energy. That is fine as long as it is only for a short period of time and you are able to recover of it afterwards. Exactly wherefore the mechanism is ‘installed’ originally, for acute emergency situations. These normally last for a short period of time and whenever you are safe again, you can ‘let go’.

Nowadays we hardly find ourselves in a life threatening situation.  Nevertheless we are more stressed than ever. This is because we convince ourselves that we are ‘surviving’ sitting behind our desk at work or in our daily life. Especially through all the modern technology we are exposed to so much stimuli and expectations, that it actually feels like surviving. And mentally we are sort of surviving in our role or position. Also young people have to deal with this. Here it is not an employer or colleague that give the input, social media can bring minimally as much pressure as that. The ‘fear of missing out’ is always around the corner, as we adults also know, and that can bring a lot of pressure and stress. Just like the being reachable continuously by the mobile phone and the enormous amount of stimuli.

Stress is ‘designed’ for acute situations. That is good because it helps us to perform more when it is necessary. In nature acute stress is normal and chronic stress is rare. In our case it is just the other way around. Therefore the stress mechanism doesn’t fit to well anymore by the current circumstances. A good mechanism in an unfitting environment.


Disease provoking


If the stress state stays present a few things happen that harm our health. First of all the stress state costs a lot of energy as mentioned before. The amount of energy used is bigger than what we can ‘recharge’. Because especially our physical energy has it’s limits and our storage is becoming more and more empty, there is an end that can be reached. As we come closer to the bottom then the system starts to shut down. That is what is called a burn-out. Too long too much energy is used and it is necessary to function on a minimal level for some time to survive.

In stress situations our body prepares for action. For that we need energy and therefore we long for things that are sweet or fat because these give us energy quickly. It makes complete sense that the body reacts like that because there is an emergency and we have to be able to fight or flee. Energy is released into the bloodstream and muscles. Because we don’t actually have to fight or flee anymore the energy isn’t used and therefore stored. And that often becomes fat tissue. This way stress leads to obesity, one of the most important health threats in our society.

When we are in ‘survival mode’, the other systems of the body are not that important anymore. All attention goes to the muscles and brain, important for fighting or fleeing. The digestion system and everything related to ‘repair and maintenance’ of the body receives less attention and energy during times of stress. Which makes sense, how useful are they when you don’t survive first? All energy goes to the systems that help you to be mentally focused and physically optimally ready to fight or flee. This is also the reason why women that are stressed have more problems becoming pregnant. The body has other things to deal with and being pregnant in times of crisis is not a good idea.




In periods of having too much and especially too long stress, you exhaust yourself. That influences your physical as well as mental health. Burn-out is, excluding heart attacks or cerebral strokes, mostly the last station you reach. The storage is empty, all your mechanisms to compensate and survive failed and you are not able to do anything anymore. Mentally as well as physically.

Before that stage already problems arise. You’ll notice that absorbing information is less easy and you are less able to concentrate. As a ‘survivor’ you are opened up to everything that happens so you can react to everything that threatens you. Like an animal that feels trapped. All info is coming in at the same time. You don’t know anymore where to focus on and aren’t able to separate the important from the unimportant. Everything enters on the same level. Because of this it is easy to become overstimulated.

Being overstimulated is something that becomes more and more common. It seems to develop synchronic to the rise of the computers and smartphones and this is detectable in the statistics of sick leave and work inability.


 ‘Stress is occupational disease number 1’


This was in 2014 already stated by the government institution for social affairs and work in 2014. Sick leave because of stress was already 33% back then and around 12% of the employees was suffering of burn-out or close to it. The year 2014 also was the first year in history that mental problems caused more unemployment than physical complaints. This showed in data from the CBS.

Research by ArboNed under 1,1 million employees showed that between 2009 and 2014 the amount of sick leave didn’t change much, that due to stress in 2014 was eighth time higher than in 2009. Especially under young people this rise was big; in the group between 25 and 35 almost 30.000 people became unable to work due to psychological problems in just five years time.

The government declared in het year report over 2014 that: ‘since 1998 the number of people unable to work due to psychological problems grew gradually from around 30% to almost half of the total amount in 2013. More than 75% of this was caused by stress. There are no indications this trend will turn around. On the contrary, the inspections found clues that the risk on inability to work due to psychological problems will grow’.


Stress is expensive


The costs of stress for the corporate world and society are enormous. Also due to the fact that the average duration of being unable to work due to stress is somewhere between 5,5 and 8 months. This showed in research done by ArboNed in 2016. They added: ‘if you are aware that one day of sick leave costs 250 euros, it is time to recognise stress and psychological problems early on and do something about it’. ArboNed also found that of the group employees that recovered, around 28% had to take sick leave again because of psychological problems, often within twelve months.


The solution is…..


To reduce stress it’s important to balance out overstimulation. That means sufficient relaxation. Not in the currently common way to ‘relax’ by anything that involves a screen, but real relaxation. Everything that has a screen almost always guarantees a bombardment of stimuli. Relaxation is something that reduces the amount of stimuli.

And surprise surprise: this is exactly what meditation does for you. Meditation doesn’t make the stimuli in your daily life go away, it brings a way to deal with them in a different way. During meditation you are consciously aware of letting everything be as it is. Not to go along with whatever comes up and to find peace and balance within yourself. There are not many methods that bring more relaxation than meditation. Sleeping is definitely not one of them. It is more physical relaxation and everybody probably knows how tired you can be waking up after a night of dreaming. Research by Tang in 2009 even showed that meditation leads to more relaxation than relaxation exercises.

Also there are many scientists that found that meditation leads to relaxation and is very effective against stress. Not only it increases stress resistance and do people that meditate experience less stress, it also lowers acute stress, quickens the recovery of stress problems, influences the regions in the brain involved with stress in a positive way and is even applied as therapy with people that suffer from post traumatic stress syndrome.

Therefore meditation fits perfectly in the current time and society, maybe even more that ever.

Do you want to learn quickly and effectively how to meditate? We would love to help you. Follow one of our meditation programs or follow the easy step-by-step plan in my book: Meditation, your daily mini-break (unfortunately only available in Dutch). It’s very easy and won’t take much time. Try for yourself and experience what meditation can do for you. You can click here for a free meditation audio. Enjoy!

I hope this blog helped you get a better understanding of the what meditation is all about. Do you have a different question regarding meditation? Send it to me and who knows, it might the subject for my next blogpost!