This topic has accompanied me for almost half my life. In the early 80s, I got in touch with yoga during a stay in Great Britain. It has never let me go. Even though I have to admit that I no longer practise it as intensively and regularly as I used to. But yoga is a wonderful way to keep your body supple and the mind alert. And at the same time to bring the thoughts to rest.
A decade later, for health reasons, I came into contact with the subject of therapeutic fasting. An intense encounter with one’s own habits and addictions that need to be left behind – even if only for a few days. Fasting is not starvation, as many think. It is a conscious renunciation. And a purely mental thing. The feeling of well-being afterwards is simply overwhelming; the certainty of having done something good for body and mind feels great. Physical symptoms are relieved or disappear completely.
I attended kinesiology seminars, studied shiatsu and acupuncture. But what interested me most after the fasting experience was the influence of nutrition on our health. So, in the mid-90s, I decided to do a part-time training as a health advisor. We learned about various medicinal herbs and ate exclusively vegetarian. Grain-based vegetarian diets and fresh grain porridge à la Dr. Bruker were very en vogue at that time – similar to the vegan diet today. I studied Ayurveda and ate according to the Chinese 5-element teachings. Over the years, I noticed that one diet hype followed the next. There was the Brigitte diet, the blood group diet, today it’s Paleo or low-carb. Almost all disappear over time. I have gained insights from all these teachings. But I have not adopted any of them unconditionally.
Today I am convinced that there is no one diet for everyone. As individual as we are, as different is the diet that suits us. Of course there are a few universal principles (high sugar consumption, for example, is certainly not good for anyone). But I have learned that preaching is useless. Everyone has to learn to listen to their body and to decide for themselves. Sometimes it takes the diversion of a disease.
During the training I learnt a lot about the immune system and stress and how they correlate. This topic still fascinates me. On the one hand, the connection between the gut and the immune system is so exciting (WE’re only beginning to understand the influence of the gut microbiome and the gut-brain axis); on the other hand, permanent stress triggers a flood of disease-causing processes and not enough attention can be paid to it.
This brings us to what concerns me most at the moment: the influence of thoughts on our (physical and mental) health. Our thoughts have the power to change matter. For me, the topic of neuroplasticity is directly related to this. Just as muscles can be trained even at an advanced age, it is also possible to redirect and rewire ingrained pathways in our brain. This also changes physical processes. Well, it’s not easy, and it certainly doesn’t happen overnight. I have danced flamenco long enough to know how many repetitions of a step sequence it takes until the feet practically perform it by themselves. But it works! That is the crucial message.
For me, studying meditation was a decisive trigger. I learnt that nothing changes if I don’t change. The decisive “kick” has to come from me – not from an external event or circumstance. If I keep doing everything the same way, there can be no change. And so it took a few years, but I turned my desire to become self-employed as an editor and copywriter into reality. A risk? Yes, certainly. But: “New paths are created by taking them.” (F. Kafka)