A: Thank you very much for taking the time today for this interview during the congress of the Akademie Heiligenfeld. You are the initiator of the congresses that have taken place almost every year since 2002. This year’s congress has the big themes mindfulness, evolution, consciousness and being human. What do these terms or qualities mean to you? I think that you have placed it in a very specific context, in a certain field.
B: Yes, we just wanted to express that we have mindfulness beyond the methodology that is now being practiced and communicated everywhere, here as a kind of health promotion or stress regulation or also cognitive competence development, that mindfulness there has a deep potential in promoting the development of consciousness of us humans, as well as individually and collectively, in which one makes oneself aware of how one can deepen mindfulness or apply it in such a way that individual or collective consciousness is further developed. And since we humans are an expression of evolution, mindfulness may also make a positive contribution to our humanity or human being development as a positive contribution to evolution.
A: There are many interpretations or definitions of the term mindfulness, what is the difference between mindfulness as a stress-reducing measure and mindfulness with quality as potential as a profound inner and outer process of change?
B: Mindfulness is always mindfulness, yes? This means it is an attitude of mind, openness, attention, awareness. So one could also say of awareness, which is either focused or open in the vastness to all sorts of things, which brings something to mind. In the sense that it is not judgmental, neutral, and first realizes and realizes what is there. And this attitude, this quality, one must or can practice in order to gain security in being able to apply it. And actually “be mindful” means simply expressed, “wake up”. That means go out of your everyday trance, go out of your entanglements and out of all your ideas and just perceive, e.g. that it is so. And in the inner areas and feel where you are right now. And waking up to this quality enables you to gain a certain freedom from being trapped in all the things you are so trapped in in everyday life. With this, a potential of mindfulness begins to emerge, namely the liberating moment. Which only gives us the possibility to orient ourselves differently than we otherwise somehow run through the world in our being driven.
A: You also developed this very impressively and extensively in your lecture yesterday, now your entire company, the various hospital areas is permeated by mindfulness of silence of certain meditative characteristics. How would you notice that someone, let’s say such a patient, who returns to everyday life after 6 weeks, if he had actually been awakened to this inner wakefulness in addition to the therapeutic accompaniment or if he had at least approached it a bit more, there would be 2-3 characteristics where you say, that does a difference, in the comparison to 6 weeks of course there is no time around.
B: If a person practices mindfulness, e.g. in a kind of meditative practice, then it develops because I find mindfulness again and again, so I don’t lose myself anymore, then wake up again, then I am mindful again, and then in the course of a certain time, a certain stability can be developed. We call that the inner observer. This means that one is continuously able to be conscious with and with what is happening. This attitude of observing, of observing mindfulness, one could say, is not identified or at the mercy of any emotions with any patterns. This means that the patients, when they learn to be more and more mindful, have a position that is not characterized by depression, the depressive pattern, everything is bad or has no purpose anyway, I can’t do it etc., or by the fear avoidance pattern or by the addiction pattern. In other words, they can look at it. Otherwise, all thinking and feeling is depressive, you could say, or anxious and dominating my life, everything revolves around a trauma that is not processed or an addictive behavior or a compulsion. If I develop a stable mindfulness and mindful attitude, then suddenly it is not trapped in it. That is, what people experience.
We call that the inner observer. This means that one is continuously able to be conscious about what is happening. This attitude of observing, of observing mindfulness, one could say, is not identified or at the mercy of any emotions with any patterns. This means that when patients learn to be more and more mindful, they have a state that is not characterized by depression, the depressive pattern, everything is bad, has no purpose anyway, I can’t do it, etc., or the fear avoidance pattern or the addiction pattern. In other words, they can look at it. Otherwise, all thinking and feeling is depressive, you could say, or anxious and dominating my life, everything revolves around a trauma that is not processed or an addictive behavior or a compulsion. If I develop a stable mindfulness and mindful attitude, then suddenly it is not trapped in it. That is, it sees that. It allows to see, aha that is my depressive pattern and there is something in me that is beyond that. So what is healthy in the sense, not disturbed, not involved, what is healthy, what is free. This is an incredible benefit for someone who is otherwise lost in this pattern. And now, in the course of therapy, this attitude can be further deepened and processed, not only through mindfulness exercises, but also through response at all, which is that the patient is more than his disorder. The inner observer is already more than the disturbance, but there is much more than we are, than this is circling around ourselves or circling around the disturbance. We are humans with a great depth with all possible character traits, qualities with deep values, with visions and hopes. We are human beings who in the end cannot even be defined, because every definition is too narrow for such a miracle of what a human being is. And to feel this in the course of the therapy, that one always gets answers from his depth, that one notices “Oh, my voice of my soul or my heart tells me this now” . These are typical metaphors. To make patients feel again and again how valuable it is to live and to be human actually triggers in them something else to which they can orientate themselves, other than becoming determined by the disease process and by trying to cope with it somehow. Suddenly they realize, yes, my life is something much bigger or myself something much bigger than I thought until now, as defined by the disorder. Mindfulness is just a method or a help to initiate such experiences. So I would realize at the end of the therapy that this person radiates something. And they can see that in the eyes of people, as they look, in the way they say goodbye. Do they now have a new concept of the world? Or are they feeling their soul, are they happy, hopeful, are they open? Do they now have a new idea of the world? Or are they inspired, are they happy, hopeful, are they open? Do they have a deeper anchoring in themselves somewhere?
A: Fine, that’s very descriptive. If you remember the quality of the first congresses, starting in 2002 – what has changed since then? We now have 2019, 17 years of process.
B: What do you mean? In society?
A: In person, in society, individually, collectively, evolutionarily.
B: Yes, of course it’s a question of age, so it doesn’t necessarily have to do with the congresses, but also with age. I am now turning 65 this year and I started 29 years ago, that is Heiligenfeld, and you have now addressed the 10-12 years later. I cannot look at the last 17 years now, but if I just look at this time at all, then I would say we have experienced an enormous acceleration, of the processes of social change. These are very strongly influenced by major movements, such as the fact that people live much more in urban contexts and thus have a certain alienation from nature, that the functionalisation of people in economic processes has become much stronger than it used to be, which means that staff are deployed more consistently with all their light and dark sides. So, all the things and processes you see there, the acceleration of change always have advantages and disadvantages. And you simply see that people are incredibly at the edge of such processes. Now in the last 10 years, the digitization, the virtualization, which almost overfeeds us with information much more and much faster. In other words, we can also say that overall there is an increase of stimulation, certainly also for many people an increase of sensory overload. In relation to our field of expertise, the individual competences to deal with all these changes are increasingly overwhelmed. In other words, there are people who can handle this well, but there are more and more people who are overwhelmed by the speed and complexity of social phenomena. A very strong phenomenon compared to the past is loneliness despite networking. This means that networking is so superficial that it does not allow the depth of connection through mobility. And through mobility and digitalization, people are much more challenged, let’s say, to give up social connections. And then again and again to enter into very fleeting new relationships and that naturally leads to a certain feeling of loneliness and a feeling of lacking social embedding, or of being removed from a human context, would perhaps be a nice words. This leads to people being able to compensate for less and less difficult life situations or being able to live well together. This is again my area of expertise, that we see again that the mental overload has also increased in any case. I have made invitations about this topic, “Hello world, we have to talk about it”, because that is so in all social levels, age groups and so on. Aging has become a lonely process, now with the new aging and my generation a new creativity arises and we will also have to try again to find out which form of life and living together we want. So my generation, which is now retiring, are enormous challenges. We have somehow lost the overview. It used to be different. We used to be, the world was smaller and more limited in that sense. Maybe it wasn’t, but we humans experienced it that way. In these 30 years this has accelerated enormously, this change and the raising of awareness, the culture that carries this hardly comes up to it. You can see that quite clearly on the Internet and in digitalisation. We all have to do that somehow, but how we deal with it best is not something we can keep up with. I have the feeling that it is a bit like the quantum physicists who discovered nuclear fission and suddenly applied it in nuclear power stations or in nuclear weapons when it was recognised that we do not yet have the competence to deal with this technology in such a way that it is not dangerous for us humans, and that is how it is now. We do not yet have the competence to know how to deal with genetic modifications, with artificial intelligence, with transhumanistic things, in other words, how we produce hybrids, in other words, how we should or want to deal with it. That is already possible, but social and cultural consciousness has not yet developed a sense of security. And these acceleration processes are enormous, I would like to say that they have already changed a great deal.
A: In England, for example, there is a ministry for loneliness, so it is properly docked to ministries, rules…
B: Does it exist? Which ministry? For loneliness?
A: Yes, actually, I haven’t researched it yet. I did the other day … someone had told me. So there are real structural cottages, above all they also treat many spouses who have to live together with a demented spouse. Here, too, the question is whether it makes more sense to come together in an environment than to carry it alone?
B: Yes, we need new social aspects in the generational fields, we urgently need that.
A: I am also from the generation and I have actually grown up with the image that from the middle of my 60s you go into retirement and I think we all live this 3rd phase of life correctly, as far as health enables us, with full strength, again with vision and rebellious as it was defined. Well, what is it with you, you formulated it that way, when I listen, I think again, what is your personal approach in view of artificial intelligence, in view of this acceleration. You are right now in this stage of your life. We had an interview 3-4 years ago and there was the retirement already actually pending, now 4-5 years further you realize that? What is now your personal way and out of your professionalism, with what now lies before you or before us, as a piece now wiser, more mature, more grown-up?
B: Well, when I look back now, I have said a lot about what I think is necessary. My topic has always been to bring into the world consciousness that deepens towards spirituality, into professional action, into private life. And finally to bring it into life, to the point that I am talking about a spirituality of life that tries, so to speak, to recognize that the life itself that we lead can be penetrated, can be deepened, so that we feel that we are expressions of life, of the great life, of the living, let’s say. I have always done that and the last part, I want to deal with it further. And as far as I personally am concerned, I am happy to enter a phase that I do not yet know. That is, in which I am not bound in everyday life and in which I am free, so that I can face life so openly and give it the dignity it actually has, which it actually deserves. In this phase of life, at this age… in the end I believe that there could be a chance, I would try it out and see what it is like to have nothing more to do now, nothing more to take responsibility for now. Basically, I am obliged to be and do something and just look, what does that mean when I encounter life in such a way, pure, free, open. And then look, what does that mean? Does life lead me somewhere again or does life give me a new chance in any case? Will it lead me to face it in a purer way. And perhaps the task of the new young old people who experience this is that they do not simply go into the new age with a new program, but with openness to life. And perhaps through this in a connection and appreciation and appreciation of this great gift, this great evolutionary achievement to have so produced human life, to do justice. And from there perhaps a wisdom emerges which we are now acting and doing for those we are responsible for and therefore naturally in a certain narrowness, which can give depth or orientation. Because in this time, in which we are today, many people do not know what is good and where it actually goes. But perhaps our generation can say that if you learn to appreciate and appreciate life and feel and taste it from within, then we can provide you with a few criteria.
A: And now you think about it, that this is not only an individual process, but perhaps also a process, which you can start with the ability to reflect the inner understanding, simply … so if others can participate…?
B: So I will certainly continue to hold congresses and I will certainly, if I come up with something good, formulate it and make it public.
A: That’s certainly very important for many people now. So many people experience it as a vacuum, combined with great fear. And that, as it has been so beautifully formulated, to face up to it, i.e. to let something arise out of it for everyone in his or her own way, without something having to arise out of it now. So, this balancing act between the space that is there and simply the endurance, this shaping that may perhaps show itself from a higher intelligence.
B: Exactly. So many who ask me now, what do you do now, but those are the ones who are in life, who believe you always have to do something.
A: I think that was so nice and complete now, I’d like to stop at this point.
Interview made by Patricia Lünning-Klemm.