Interview: Money, Desire & Power: The Alchemy of Transformation ~ with Nishta Matarese and Evangelos Diavolitsis

First things first, why ‘Money-Desire-Power’? What inspired this provocative trio as a theme for your upcoming retreat? 

It’s not a trio, it’s a trilogy or a tragedy because, if they are unconscious, they create pain and chaos. They can also be enjoyable and transformative tools depending on the view and approach. 

Look, life is provoking us all day long. It is part of moving from a life lived from somatic-emotional reactivity to clear adult responses. We simply need to get better at navigating how trigger patterns around money, desire, and power reveal themselves in our being and how it affects our state of mind. At Four Ways to Freedom, we get behind the things that provoke us so we can liberate them. 

There is so much there for us to work with and that inspires our teaching and how we best can convey it to students with a sense of lightness – with joy, humor, and support. It provokes a lot of creativity in us as teachers.

MDP are juicy topics! There is so much there for us to work with and that inspires our teaching and how we best can convey it to students with a sense of lightness – with joy, humor, and support. It provokes a lot of creativity in us as teachers. We study them, dance with them, process them, and offer universal teachings to expand upon them. 

Many of the great masters in the last 100 years and certainly our personal teachers, emphasized that developmentally, we need to awaken to potent hidden messages underneath MDP. The work is to move as a whole from an egocentric perspective, to an ethnocentric, world-centric, and ultimately, a cosmo-centric existence. We need to know where we are on the map so that we can traverse along the path with confidence and know how to help others move along the path as well. 

War, competing economies, domination over natural resources, politics, religion, sex trafficking, etc… Much of the horrors that occur in these arenas have MDP at their roots. The game is rigged and we no longer can delude ourselves – so we do the work of coming to terms with them in our personal lives first so a collective healing can be facilitated. 

What makes them so taboo? 

The intensity of the force and influence they have over our ability to reason what is useful and wholesome and what is useless and unwholesome. The dictionary defines the meaning of taboo as a social or religious custom prohibiting or forbidding discussion of a particular practice or forbidding association with a particular person, place, or thing. 

There can be a lot of shame related to money, desire, and power. We feel ashamed if we have not become skilled money hunters in this money-obsessed world. Some are also obsessed with rejecting money. We feel shame when we cannot afford some of the necessities of life.  

Regarding desire, we are afraid to admit our heart’s desire as we fear judgment from others or have some sort of spiritual guilt. There is rarely a moment when humans aren’t desiring something. It’s important to desire the things that actually create a positive outcome.  

Power gives us a sense of control as well as strength and clarity. Knowing what we want and knowing what we don’t want and how to honour that.  

Power can range from impotence to tyranny. Some are afraid of too much power and others are afraid of too little power. Power becomes confusing when our authority to lead outgrows beyond our ability to embody the responsibility of it.

What are some ways we can destigmatize these topics? 

Simple, bring them out in the open through dialogue and then transmute the energy of them – redirect the energy that is making them so potent in the first place. First, we must peek at them, touch them, and understand them! 

Coming together as a group body is the fast path of destigmatisation. We co-create a field together to blast the lid off of the mystery of MDP. We want to recognize MDP for what it is and be able to have healthy discussions around them as if we were talking about the weather. 

How are each of these topics related? What is the intersection?

We can spend our entire life oscillating between contraction and expansion around our personal lovability in terms of money, desire and power.

As Dharma teachers, conscious movement facilitators and behavioral money coaches, we see that much of our survival responses are set in us by the time we reach grade school. Society goes on to overlay a message that our self-worth is linked to our net worth. We can spend our entire life oscillating between contraction and expansion around our personal lovability in terms of money, desire and power. They are intricately intertwined in terms of knowing when to lead and when to follow, how to give and receive as an act of sharing, and the success at which we can resource ourselves in a balanced way in both our inner worlds and the outward expression of that, while in the world. 

How has your personal relationship with money evolved over the years, and what lessons have you learned about its impact on your well-being?

All the lessons have resulted in cultivating a conscious and healthy relationship with an energetic frequency that has its own language, direction and attitude.  When we were younger, money was an elusive mystery but by making peace and forgiving our personal history, our relationship with it has become much more fluid. Biggest lesson: Don’t blame others for your lack of abundance and success. You and you alone can change the story by befriending the energy of money.  Whether it is an ally or enemy depends on the user’s mindset. 

What is the difference between healthy desire vs. unhealthy desire?

Healthy desire has a texture of certain qualities: There is balance in the nervous system, an ease with the way things are. You are not chasing to escape but to expand and feed a curiosity.  Food is a desire we all share in common.  Healthy desire is that I listen to when my body tells me to stop. Unhealthy desire, on the other hand, comes with an obsessive, keep going, attachment attitude which leads to resentment, confusion, and disappointment. 

What is your definition of ‘power’ in the context that you teach it? Can you expand on this?

True power is resting in the ground of your being with calm, clarity, and compassion for yourself, others and the situation presenting itself to you. For this, we need training in mindfulness practices and an understanding of what meditation IS and what meditation IS NOT. You are a more powerful person when you are no longer subject to the fears that bind you.

True power is resting in the ground of your being with calm, clarity, and compassion for yourself, others and the situation presenting itself to you

Redirecting fear energy alleviates somatic-emotional distress. Claiming back our bodies wholeheartedly requires trust. We learn to trust as babies. We were utterly dependent on another, a guiding authority to meet our basic needs. 

At times, the babies’ needs are not met. There are thousands of examples of disruptions in the process of pair bonding and learning when and under what circumstances one can trust. Each disruption creates a unique response in you. As one of my teachers used to say, we are all just walking wounded hearts. 

When needs are not met, life is asking you to not only survive but learn to figure this shit out and thrive. We become more intelligent as our urge to thrive grows. We greatly evolve our resilience when we are babies. 

It requires tremendous trust to take full responsibility over one’s own sovereign being and not outsource it to others – we are conditioned that our power depends on mommy and daddy. It means harnessing the power of one’s own body-mind. True power is attending to the needs of one’s own awakening heart. The greatest power is having every reason in the world to react with a harsh strong response and choosing not to. Saying ‘no’ to our own negative responses is powerful.  

What do you hope retreat participants will take away with them after exploring these topics with you? 

A sense of inner revolution. To become a rebel with a cause. To leave the fight behind. That is what revolution is about – replacing an existing way of being with a better way of being – one that is more illuminated.  To embody imagination, archetypal energies and confidence to dream YOUR life and to recognize when you are living in someone else’s dream. 

Success to us, is when you are able to go to bed at night with an ease of heart and capacity to restore. To collectively remember there is an unknowable mystery calling us to upgrade – to evolve. To include, to fold into the being all that has come before and make room for what is to come. 

Ultimately, we hope participants transition out with a sense of peace and composed awareness when addressing the topics of Money, Desire and Power in their daily lives. 

Do you have any advice for setting intentions to be more mindful in the new year around money/desire/power? 

2024, here already? 

“ There is no end. There is no beginning. There is only the passion of life. “

The great Italian movie director, Federico Fellini, said “ There is no end. There is no beginning. There is only the passion of life. “

If there is no beginning and no end to be found then what is there? Who is there? How do you settle into the ever-changing continuum awareness that you are?

If passion is the way then let’s agree to call it what it truly is — COM-PASSION (our actions aligned with our innate loving aliveness for the health of the whole)

This urge to live, love, and thrive is ours for the taking. 

Let’s live the best version of ourselves for the uplifting of all beings! 

Evangelos and Nishta are international Dharma, meditation, and movement teachers and the founders of Four Ways to Freedom. They will be facilitating the retreat Money, Desire & Power: The Alchemy of Transformation in Mandali on 23-29 March 2024.

When Did I Become So Boring? Finding the Spontaneous You

Have you recently wondered, “When did I start being so boring?” It’s a question that creeps into our minds from time to time, and it’s worth exploring. What’s your secret daydream? That one thing you’ve always wanted to do, but you’ve kept safely tucked away, hidden from the world. Perhaps it’s dancing in public just for the joy of it, skydiving, or starting a new hobby. What’s holding you back from experiencing the joy, spontaneity, and curiosity that you know you have, but seems just out of reach, a little dormant?

As children, we naturally pushed boundaries, tested limits, and did things simply for the joy of it.  Yet, somewhere along the way, we may feel we lost touch with that side of ourselves. There can be many reasons for that, disappointments, fear of rejection or being made fun of, being scolded or told off. Life happens and piles on, we get told what ‘adult responsibilities’ are, what we need to achieve, and bury our free, innate ‘soul-child’ on the way. 

Can we have both, some kind of balance between spontaneous and free, and structured and ‘adult’, and use it to our advantage? Wouldn’t life be so much more rich? 

‘Once we believe in ourselves, we can risk curiosity, wonder, spontaneous delight, or any experience that reveals the human spirit.’ ~ E.E. Cummings

The practice of self-inquiry is the action of looking inward and asking ourselves fundamental questions that reveal our inner essence, and aspects about ourselves that are hidden. It is commonly done as a process with others, or guided, but you can also do it by yourself in contemplation or by journaling, which can lead to insight and greater self-knowledge. 

For example:

  • Contemplate something you really want to try but never give yourself the freedom to do.
  • Notice what comes emotionally when you think about it, fear, embarrassment, a feeling of imminent failure, dismissal, it’s not worth it, ‘nice idea but not relevant’, ‘I’m too old for this’… and so on
  • What does this ‘want’ really symbolize, and where does it really come from?  What does it represent? 
  • Can I sit with these emotions, feel them in my body, and breathe with them? Ask yourself, What would be the worst outcome if I did try this? Maybe you realise, despite your story: ‘This too, I can get through.’
  • How can I integrate this in my life, what would be fun to try this week, this month and what will I get out of it?

This practice may give rise to understanding something about yourself, and give you hope and incentive to move on from it. The key is integrating your desires into your life in all areas by taking action, like re-training yourself towards joy and spontaneity. Start small, and little by little bring these long-lost dreams into your daily life. This week, this month, take a step toward something you’ve always wanted to do that makes you happy. Or say yes to a crazy idea that is outside of your routine. Do something unusual. Expand your appetite for life and let it inspire you!

Becoming friendly with our inner wildness can be an important and life-changing path. It’s about rediscovering the innocent, free, wild, and open part of us that once made us feel truly alive. It’s not about acting “childish” or being overly “adult”; it’s about finding a balance and connecting to the essence of our soul-child. It’s time to release it, give it the freedom it needs, and use its energy to your advantage.

So, the next time you ask yourself, “When did I start being so boring?” remember that it’s never too late to reconnect with your inner wildness and live life to the fullest.

Emilio Mercuriali is a visionary leader in the field of self-discovery and personal growth. Specializing in the Essence work and the Enneagram, Emilio’s retreats offer a unique blend of ancient spiritual wisdom and modern psychology. He will be leading the Joy of Living Retreat in Mandali this coming December.

Posted in Mind, SoulTagged emotions, habits, mindfulness

The Dance of Movement & Stillness

Today, we celebrate MOVEMENT! There is something magical that happens when we consciously move, whether it’s in a yoga class, walking, hiking, dancing or whichever way you love to shake and wiggle your being. Movement of all forms plays such a big part of our spiritual and wellbeing practices, and also in what we offer at Mandali. In this article, we asked some of our teachers and guides: “In your discipline, what is the connection between movement and meditation?”, and we got some insightful and interesting answers.

Silvia Eriksson – Yoga Teacher

I think movement can be seen in yoga in several ways: First, as a way of purifying and strengthening the body (Tapas), moving our energies, becoming aware of and training our breath, in order to prepare ourselves for meditation – sitting still and resting in awareness. When I don’t move, meditation becomes an effort, and is not only hard on my body, but the excess stagnant energy can lead to restlessness or being caught of in stories of the mind. On the other hand, when I don’t allow stillness, my energy remains a bit scattered. So it’s all about balance.

Movement is also healing on so many levels. Dancing helped me overcome social anxiety and brings me immense joy, Pilates and yoga asana helped me heal injuries, trauma and corrected my posture, a bonus being a strong back, and supple hips, help me sit upright comfortably for meditation. It was movement that changed my life ultimately and led me to a spiritual path.

Alas, meditation and movement practice ripples out into action and creativity.  A great way to bring meditation to everyday life is through being aware and present of movement. So now, movement becomes meditation itself. Moving consciously is about becoming intimate and friendly with yourself. Being open, undistracted, tuning into the body as we move and riding the wave of the breath, emotions, clearing out internal barriers is like a dance, cultivating presence and closeness with our physical body. We close gaps of separation. Feeling in, listening, without judgment – some might call this self love, authenticity.  As I often tell my students, what we learn on the mat practicing Asanas, we take into our lives. Like the balance between ease and effort, when to push, when to let go.

Moving consciously is about becoming intimate and friendly with yourself. Being open, undistracted, tuning into the body as we move and riding the wave of the breath, emotions, clearing out internal barriers is like a dance, cultivating presence and closeness with our physical body. We close gaps of separation.

Nishta & Evangelos (Four Ways to Freedom)  – Conscious Movement & Meditation

In ancient times, seekers who wished to understand the meaning of life would lay down at night and watch the movement of stars and planets. During the day they would observe the movement of the clouds and the sun as well as the changing natural landscape through the seasons. When you look up at the sky, you feel a sense of stillness and eternity. It’s quiet, unborn, and full of potential but not static. Sometimes a storm comes to disrupt the quiet sky.  It’s a natural fluid tango. In tango you pause and then move. 

You can’t have movement without meditation just like you can’t have stillness without action or chaos. They are codependent lovers.  Healthy movement emerges from stillness and if it isn’t born from the still womb of tranquility, it manifests as frantic unstable energy.  Too much stillness can make you dull while too much non-stop movement can exhaust you. Finding the balance of how they work together can revolutionize your life.  

Meditation is the art of sitting with nothing but the quiet mind and watching the movement of life. When we sit and get really still, we see that movement is simply a declaration of change, creativity and evolution. 

If we wish to be a master of our own lives, we must master the art of meditation as well as the art of moving gracefully and mindfully through life.  They go hand in hand.

If we wish to be a master of our own lives, we must master the art of meditation as well as the art of moving gracefully and mindfully through life.  They go hand in hand. The deeper your movement practice, the greater the stillness of mind. The deeper you can go into silence and meditate, the more you can confidently move with life’s unpredictable events. You are here to explore polarities. Some call it the cosmic dance of life and whether you know it or not, it is moving through you right now but you might miss it if you can’t be still for one tiny moment!

Prafulla Giuseppe Carnaghi – Nature walk guide 

To me ‘spiritual practice’ means bringing meditation into the small “movements” in my daily life.

Meditation cannot be confined to the time I sit cross-legged with eyes closed.

It’s the moment I get up and start moving in the flow of everyday life that my meditation is challenged. It’s reminding myself to be present in small movements like washing my hands or peeling an apple.

When I walk in nature, listening to its sounds and to its silence, I find a deeper sense of stillness, and this becomes my spiritual practice, a precious doorway to inner silence, a space beyond thinking. This way I’m the ‘space’ in which all movements (my body, my thoughts, my emotions) happen.

When I walk in nature, listening to its sounds and to its silence, I find a deeper sense of stillness, and this becomes my spiritual practice, a precious doorway to inner silence, a space beyond thinking

Gijs Fermie –  Kum Nye (Tibetan Yoga)

Movement can serve as a preliminary to meditation, a state of present pure awareness. In Kum Nye practice (Tibetan Yoga) we integrate movement, massage and meditation into one holistic discipline. Here we first practice movement exercises in order to stimulate energy within the body. Now the feeling-experience in the body, linked with the energy of the breath, will massage our being from the inside out. This inner massage in turn will allow us to relax more and release tensions.

Kum Nye practice brings us to a calm, clear and creative state of being, which is the heart of meditation.

And at the same time it will create more space to embody this free flow of energy,  expanding our presence in space. In the end this process will open-up within us a warm and deep, sacred space of infinite awareness. Kum Nye practice brings us to a calm, clear and creative state of being, which is the heart of meditation. Movement can serve as well as a form of integration; meditation in action. For this to come about we would need to bring movement, stillness and awareness together. And in this way, by practicing body-awareness that leads into space-awareness, movement becomes meditation.

How do you feel movement intersects with your discipline? What’s your favorite way to move? Drop us a note in the comments, we’d love to hear!

Keeping our Cool during Summer

Summer is upon us and we are feeling the heat of this especially warm year! It can be challenging to find energy and can become a little overwhelming, especially if we are not on vacation and have a busy day. Here are some suggestions from our beloved yoga teacher & wellness coach Julia on how to keep cool this summer, as well as a delicious, refreshing recipe:

  • Choose to wear loose, natural and breathable fabrics such as linen or cotton and wear light colors.
  • Drink lots of good quality water (tap water is not the best idea). Spring water is the best. Herbal teas are also great in summer, especially fresh mint tea. 
  • Avoid being in the sun between 10am and 2pm.
  • Plan doing sports or other activities during the cooler time of the day.
  • Limit consumption of animal products as they have a warming effect on the body.
  • Include more raw foods in your diet such as salads, local fresh fruit, vegetables. Green juices are loaded with vitamins and minerals and have a cooling effect on the body but make sure it is not very sweet.

Additionally, here is a quick and easy green soup that you can have any time of the day and it will keep you cool, full of energy and healthy. Feel free to experiment with the ingredients and measurements to make it to your liking.

Green Gazpacho

Yields- 3-4 servings


1 ripe tomato, cut into quarters

2 medium cucumbers, cut in manageable sizes

½ zucchini (optional)

1-2 stalks of celery (optional)

1 small avocado

1 bunch of any greens (lettuce, kale, parsley, spinach, etc)

1 lemon juiced or apple cider to taste

a handful of basil leaves

2-3 cloves garlic

Sea salt to taste

1 ½-2 cups water (adjust to your liking)


1 avocado diced (optional)

1 cucumber and or radish diced

1/4 cup freshly chopped cilantro or parsley


Combine all the ingredients in a food processor or blender; puree until smooth. Cover and refrigerate until slightly chilled. Garnish each portion and enjoy.

Stay cool and share photos of your soup with us in the comments below!

The 6 Keys to Happiness

Real Happiness is not based on external circumstances.

This is one of the main lessons we receive in our studies of yoga philosophy, so how can you feel more happiness even if life is not always up to giving it?

These are the 6 keys to happiness:

1. Know Yourself

Get to know yourself on deeper levels. Use your yoga practice to connect to the part in you that is everlasting, permanent through all of life’s changes. Your soul’s essence always remains at ease and in peace, you’ll get to know it with meditation and a calm mind, mostly in moments of stillness.

Knowing yourself also includes getting to understand what triggers you and acknowledging your “dark sides” and your limitations. Yin Yoga is a wonderful practice for this.

2. Fulfill Your Potential

Seeds need sun, water and nutrition in order to grow. In the same sense you need to gather your forces and your power to fulfill your potential, your desires. Who are the people who see you and support you to grow? What practices help you gain more confidence and courage?

3. Be Courageous

Choose to live from your heart, no matter if life’s circumstances are pleasant or challenging. Cultivate your intuition and follow it. Become aware of the power of intention and resolve, it will help you push through any obstacles. You are committed to stay true to yourself and this will make you feel proud of yourself.

4. Serve The Greater Good

Remember that you are a part of the bigger web, you are not isolated. Whenever self doubt and fear creeps in remember the greater good and how you can serve with what you have to offer. This will be stronger that your ego which might want to keep you small. Your playing small doesn’t serve the world, so keep sharing your story and your light.

Here’s a wonderful quote by Martha Graham:

“There is a vitality, a life force, a quickening that is translated through you into action, and there is only one of you in all time, this expression is unique, and if you block it, it will never exist through any other medium; and be lost. The world will not have it. It is not your business to determine how good it is, not how it compares with other expression. It is your business to keep it yours clearly and directly, to keep the channel open. You do not even have to believe in yourself or your work. You have to keep open and aware directly to the urges that motivate you. Keep the channel open.”

5. Non-Attachment To The Outcome

Ever felt a deep inner calling? Maybe you didn’t follow it because you were to concerned about the outcome? Let go of the attachment to the outcome, do what you need to do because it’s your inner calling. You will find a deep satisfaction in doing so and inspire others to follow. The universe works in magical ways!

6. Have Faith

Cultivating faith is the understanding that life is perfect in all its imperfections. It doesn’t need to be any different for you to be happy. Trust that life reflects back to you exactly what you need to learn to grow. Imperfection leads to Evolution. Your affirmation: I may need to change, but Life does not.

Which of the 6 keys resonated most with you? I love to hear from you in the comments. And if you’d like to listen to these 6 keys in a yin yoga practice please head over to Dagmar’s YouTube channel for the video. Enjoy!

6 Tips to Improve your Meditation Practice

The fastest way to improve your meditation practice is to see everything you do during the day as an opportunity to cultivate pristine awareness. Show up for life with eyes wide open! Show up for the small stuff especially. That’s where you want to fall asleep. It’s easy for the mind to wander when you feel bored by a small task.  

Meditation in action also known as mindfulness, is an opportunity to practice continuum awareness. To stay connected to the present moment, you want to turn every activity of the day into an opportunity to deepen your practice.

Meditation is not just about sitting on a cushion with your eyes closed. It’s about being alert, awake and open to the moment you are living in. When you meditate on the task at hand, you are creating a conscious relationship with your experience as it arises.

These are the six areas we advise would be beneficial to train yourself not to let your mind wander off. 

1)    Dishes – Pay attention to how you scrub the food particles and the order of which dishes you wash first and how you stack the dishwasher. Are you slouching? Are your feet squarely grounded on the floor? Are your body and spine straight? Notice if you are resisting the task. 

2)    Taking a shower – Activate your sense of touch and feel the temperature of the water. How do you touch and wash your own body. Slow down and be present to the foam, the bubbles and how you scrub yourself. Are you rushing to get to the next moment? 

3)    Folding laundry – Practice precision awareness. Make elegant folds and breath into the experience. Learn to master space in your closets and feel how different textures require different handling. 

4)    Driving a car – Practice multi-directional awareness. Be aware of the space in front, behind, left, and right – Pay attention to your breath as you inhale and exhale. When your mind wanders, gently redirect your attention back to the breath and the road. At every stop sign and light, take a conscious breath. Are you rushing to get somewhere?

5)    Sweeping – Find your flow. Connect the body to breath. We call this the dancing meditation. You aren’t sweeping. You are dancing with life and with every swish of the broom, the past is being released. 

6)    In Conversation (advanced practice) – While talking or listening, focus on their eyes primarily but look at their lips once and awhile. Be aware of your heart when you speak and your inner ear lobe when you are listening. Pay attention to how ideas, opinions and words cause emotional reactivity and stay cool. Keep returning to insight questions: Do I have all the facts? Is this true? What is this person really wanting to share with me?

by Evangelos Diavolitsis and Nishta Matarese

Evangelos and Nishta are international Dharma, meditation and movement teachers and the founders of Four Ways to Freedom.

The Art of Journaling

We are living in some unprecedented times. Many people are struggling and words like pressure, rush, mental health, suicide, social media, addiction, drugs – these are almost the new normal.  As a result, more and more people have trouble with finding themselves in a good place emotionally and mentally.

What is that feeling that something is not right?

It is easy to lose the connection with ourselves and our feelings, in a world where we are over-stimulated 24-7 by work, social media, expectations, etc. We are not aware of our thoughts and our behaviours, se we lose touch with our inner world. We live our lives the best we can, we go go go. Many people have trouble saying no and with standing up for themselves. In these hectic times we have so many options and choices, it’s hard to know where to go. We continue to run and we don’t stop.

So what can we do?

Press the “pause bottom”, as Prema from Mandali always says. We are looking for happiness and peace and balance but we don’t know how to get there. Because we have not learned how to deal with emotions and feelings and we are not self-aware, of our behaviors as well as our thoughts.

This is where journaling comes in. Taking time out to sit down and think and write down your thoughts is extremely healing, and also empowering. That moment to pause. Writing is literally letting go. Letting go of our thoughts is like an instant relief.  Like a tire that loses its pressure. We feel safe when we write, and a bonus is that we are in the present moment while doing it 🙂To be in your own mind in your own time is just an incredible feeling. It gives ourselves the attention that we so much need, we put ourselves first. It is an act of self-love, real Me-Time.

There are many ways of journaling

  • Intuitive writing (writing what-ever comes to mind), a story that needs to be told 
  • a life plan, wishes and dreams
  •  writing about your behavior and feelings,
  • writing about day-to-day life, your daily thoughts.
  • writing when you are sad or angry

All of these forms are good. They allow us to release what is burning inside of us, and by letting it go, we start to look at our thoughts and patterns in a different, more lighter and neutral way.  

While writing, we begin to see things more clearly and honestly, and “open for change”. We can change perspective on the way we see our own lives and the world – which has often been distorted. We start really being our own best friend, and take control of our lives. Like in an aeroplane, we need to take the oxygen mask first before we can help other people. Once we are there you will understand that your thoughts are not true, often on repeat,  we can change them into new and better ones. So we can start to live our lives authentically – YOUR dream life that you always dreamt of.

After a difficult time in my life, going through a depression, and finding my way slowly again in new and better circumstances, I was looking for a way to share what I learned to help others. I especially wanted to help young people living in these times, where it’s so easy to get overwhelmed and lose touch with themselves, by giving them tools which will help make their life easier through self reflection. That’s why I came up with a simple and fun 4 step method that I have combined with a journal, called MY JOURNAL. It guides people to reflect, write and find themselves so they can create their own manual and start doing what is right for them so they become balanced, whole and happy. Because we all want to feel peaceful and in the present moment, because that is where the magic happens. The reactions up till now have been really impressive. 

I wrote this book with the purpose to heal the world a bit. Since I believe, as all the teachers at Mandali do too, that if we like and love ourselves (self love) we will automatically be kind to others. So let’s all do that, in our own way, let’s spread some love.

”Let’s allow journaling to be our meditation. Nothing more, nothing less.” – Beth Kempton

About Maggie Maris

Maggie is a friend of Mandali and shares our vision being a point of light in the world, helping others through her work. She is the author of MY JOURNAL and MY WAY, beautiful journaling tools to help to self-reflect and grow in your journey of self discovery. Her books are published in Dutch and soon in English, for more information please go here: www.maggiesway.n IG: @maggies.way

The road to Freedom is a long game, but there are shortcuts…

Freedom is a word, a practice, an action, a feeling, and a state of mind. We often speak of our right to live in a free environment but what exactly does this mean? There are precious moments where individual decisions can really make a difference to society at large. The wrong word or action can destroy everything in an instant. Where do you personally lose your awareness and kindness when it’s most needed? 

Do we believe that implementing government policies focused on freeing a country of injustice, prejudice, violence, or poverty will miraculously heal a community and empower us to make healthy decisions on an individual moment-to-moment basis? Countries and governments are made up of individuals who make countless decisions. Many of them are irrational and destructive. What state of mind are these powerful decision makers in when deciding the fate for all of us?  Using war as a solution to life’s problems reflects a group of leaders who are at war with themselves. How many wars (arguments) did you start this week with your lover, neighbour, friend, or work colleague? Were you equanimous or acting out old story lines?   

Is it possible in a world where people have very little time for inner work, for socially conscious policies to change a person’s ability to make virtuous decisions in the heat of the moment? Even if changemakers are full of altruistic motivations, can they implement individual change from the outside in?  Thus far it seems that global decisions keep sliding into ‘me” versus ‘you’ psychic warfare. The common struggle is the unaware ‘me’ versus the emotional ‘reactive’ me. In this dialogue, the conscious self gets buried in a battle of unconscious inner dialoguing. If people were truly aware and digging, they would not be ignoring how inner conflicts between body, speech and mind waste time and energy. Admitting the inner discord is the heart-core of our work at Four Ways to Freedom.

The truth is that we are a planet in pain, and we must get to work. The planet is one day away from mutually assured destruction. We know it but many of us feel helpless. How do we change the world? How do we create a road towards loving one another, working together, and living in peace? It starts with individual responsibility.  We all have a responsibility to first heal ourselves and help heal the hearts of the many wounded walking on earth, lost without a path or an understanding of ultimate freedom.  We keep putting political band aids on societal pain without an understanding of the fundamental causes. Human pain is the result of an unexamined life. As Socrates once said, “The unexamined life is not worth living”.  The road to freedom requires radical self-honesty before any type of outer freedoms can be successfully implemented by a collective.  

America is supposed to be the land of the free but if you pay close attention, with all their freedoms written in legal code, what freedoms are being enacted? Thus far in 2022 there have been 576 mass shootings.  Without deep inner work, can a society free itself from the madness of one another’s entrapped anger? We are a species in deep hurt.

Step one – Admit it.

Step two – Do something about it and don’t dwell on being a victim, a rescuer or pointing the finger at the perpetrator. On the road to freedom the most precious resource is time!  Spend the time cultivating a loving heart of creative compassion.

The road to freedom requires profound investigation. Many of us live in a state of frantic self-imprisonment and even when our outer conditions change for the better, we barely notice because we are so busy fighting our own agitation.  We’ve inherited an old world of egocentric tribal values through our parents and a myriad of outdated organizational models. We barely recognize that how we choose to respond to a world of conditioned phenomena is painfully predictable and not at all in the spirit of free choice.  

Stated differently, our ingrained conditioned negative habits create our perception of a hostile outer world. Of course the world is often hostile but that does not mean we need to behave the same way.  Worldly material conditions might be improving but do we take notice given our simultaneously inner mental stresses are dramatically increasing due to over stimulation. The news and social media are a good mirror for our madness which is why we recommend that people take time for retreats and practice digital detoxes. The solution to alleviating the endless struggles…Practice continuum awareness without reacting or adding to the madness.

The road to freedom requires that you show up with eyes wide open

We work with a lot of people who are not so certain of the path they are on and where it is supposed to be leading them. Some will say: “I just go with the flow of life”. This is dangerous as mob mentality can easily influence directionless people on a road to the lowest common denominator. Some say to us: “I have not really thought about a path to freedom and don’t really have the time”. A sound piece of advice – Make the time now! The world needs you.

If we really pause and contemplate our personal road to freedom, we have been trying to free ourselves since conception. We free ourselves from the womb, we free ourselves from our parents at two years old because they keep saying no, we free ourselves from the constraints of schools, governments, countries, ideologies, challenging habits, from our bodies at death… The list could go on, but we are freeing ourselves from the habit of overly stating the obvious. There is a road to freedom that we are all walking, running, dancing, and skipping towards. The road is paved with tests, challenges, temptations, betrayals, rewards, triumphs, enemies, and allies. Where is this road leading us? Some say death because death, for some, is the ultimate freedom from life, but is it?  We might free ourselves from the burden of the body, but will we free ourselves from disturbing thoughts, emotions, and perceptions? People who have had near death experiences would argue that in death there is recognition, emotion, and old stories to resolve and release.  The road to freedom requires a solid look at how we liberate ourselves in life so we can die with dignity and a lightness of our being. This is one of the many benefits to doing inner work now. It paves an unobstructed wondrous road through life and death.

What inner delusions and attachments need to die on your road to freedom and what needs to be nurtured? Death is a transition point and the ease with which that happens depends on our ability to free ourselves of as many things as possible… freeing ourselves from anger, greed, confusion, jealousy, pride, unexamined beliefs, outdated concepts, the inner critic, and unreasonable expectations.  Letting go of something we really want is the road to freedom because you can’t be free or happy unless you are able to surrender here and now to the mystery. To be free, one must learn the ancient skill of interrupting their wild mind, their volatile emotions, and their reactive speech.

Life is an opportunity to master death. Most of our intimate relationships die, our jobs die, ideas die, our neighborhoods die, our beloved pets die… We are in a constant training of letting go without much awareness or gratitude. A good state dies, a difficult state arises to take its place and vice versa.  The road to freedom requires that we keep our positive states flowering for longer periods of time. These wholesome states need to be nourished and protected with love and practiced with others doing the same work.

The Road to Freedom requires 6 Essential Ingredients:

1) Learning to Pause – Our ability to stop the train of overwhelm and resetting our nervous system.  It means getting up off the work chair and breathing or going for a walk.  If you can do this, you start to free yourself from the pressure of always ‘doing’ and move towards ‘being’.

2) Meditation – This is the art of watching your inner world without reactivity

3) Physical Exercise – If your body is full of tension and pain due to inertia, you need to sweat it out.  Don’t expect to feel free even if the world is conspiring to give you all your material demands. You have a body that wants to be used in every way possible.

4) Compassion – Learning to be kind and caring for yourself under pressure filled situations.  How you talk on the inner plane matters. The subconscious is kicking up a cocktail of various inner critics, so you need to counterbalance this with a loving voice.  You can’t be free if you are beating yourself up. Remember the journey is to fall in love with everyone and everything, including yourself in every moment. If you can do this, the natural result is liberation from angst.

5) Curiosity – This means being able to ask questions rather than drawing unexamined conclusions about a situation: What is going on here? What am I missing? What is the truth? What are all the angles? What am I misunderstanding? Freedom needs investigation. Freedom from what? Freedom from whom?

6) Tranquility – If we are social justice warriors but go home to a hostile home environment what do we bring to work the next day…and the day after that?

If you follow the 6 essential ingredients to freedom, you will have mastery over yourself. You will feel free when the rest of the world is creating division and compartmentalizing. Eight billion people are waiting for political change to happen to live freely.  If you look deeply, freedom on the inside, means you start to have a positive impact externally one person at a time and that can spread like a social wildfire.

“By abandoning unhealthy inner views and attachments, you change how you act in the world and consequently you transform how you see it.”  ~ Four Ways to Freedom

Having mastery over oneself is what we call Absolute Freedom.  This requires training and recognizing the truth of the present moment…not spiritually by-passing selective things like money, sex or power but learning to feel and face the sticky truth, integrating it and moving on gracefully. Great freedom also comes with overcoming our own self-obsessed bullshit.  The path to freedom is moving from ME to WE to US to THIS moment.

This moment is where freedom lives and ignoring it is a betrayal to our most evolved self. Implementing political policy is a dicey and unpredictable road to freedom but doing individual inner work on oneself with a group of determined practitioners is the shortest path to mutually shared freedom.

Be Well! 

Evangelos Diavolitsis and Nishta Matarese

Evangelos and Nishta are international Dharma, meditation and movement teachers and the founders of Four Ways to Freedom. Join them for their next retreat at Mandali:

The Road to Freedom – Feb 2023 – 6-day Mindfulness Healing Retreat 

Meditation – Dharma – Movement – Art 

The Anatomy of a Morning Ritual

Do you imagine yourself having a yoga, meditation, walking, writing, prayer or self care  practice in the morning, but it remains  a beautiful and serene idea, life seems to work against you in materializing it? You’re not alone.  

When I  do my morning practice it feels like a soothing balm, gives me energy, colours my day, and an overall feeling of satisfaction mostly stays with me…. More than once after a great practice I thought ‘why on earth don’t I do this all the time’!?  For years it’s been an off and on relationship with my mornings (I love to meander about), but now I think I’m closer to nailing it down. It’s a tough habit to form though, but once you got it, it flows naturally and easily, I promise.

Why a practice in the early hours? Mornings are energetically pure, our ego, analytical thinking mind, digestion, are peaceful, rested, and we are more open to more subtle, intimate and quiet energies. It’s the perfect time to be with yourself, spend a little time in your inner world before you engage with the outer.

Let’s call it for what it is,  a RITUAL rather than a habit or routine. It gives it a more precious significance, because that is what it is, precious time dedicated to just you, your practice. This is called a Saddhana in Sanskrit, meaning a daily spiritual practice.

So how do we give this gift of a Ritual to ourselves? Each of us live differently, some of you have children tickling your feet pre-dawn, some of you might have to be at work very early, or have a night shift, so let’s stay a bit flexible in our endeavours.

Firstly, I can’t believe I  almost finished writing this without possibly the most important point, so I will add it here on top. YOUR PHONE! Keep it off, airplane mode, no wifi, data, when you wake up, until the end of your ritual. This may be a bit anxiety inducing at first, but trust me, it’s so worth it. The phone is so sneaky, it can distract you before you even begin. Just… there’s no way around this.

  1. LAY CLAIM to the chosen moment of your practice.  Tell the people you live with that this is your time. It just takes a little change of mindset. You go to work no matter what, right? Get the kids ready?  It’s easy to put everything aside to show up for your duties and to check the boxes for everyone else.  Reassign the same type of priority to your morning practice, piggybacking your dedication from something you already feel you must do . CLAIM the moment as something you absolutely do, no matter what. It might sound like an extreme measure, and it just might be for starting out….
  1. Remember, your practice also benefits others, as when you take time to navigate your mind, body and emotions, you become more patient, kind, and loving to others. So it is NOT selfish to do your Saddhana.
  1. Let go of how long you think your practice should be, but try to assign yourself a minimum amount of time. Can be 10, 20 or 30 minutes, whatever suits you.
  1. So what do we do? I would say choose 3 things for your ritual to start with. For example: Drink a warm beverage in silence. Do 10 minutes of movement and stretching. 10 minutes of seated meditation. It could be 3 totally different things, repeating a mantra, writing,  burning a candle, whatever you choose. It could be 5 things. Or 1 thing.
  1.  If you are not sure what stretches to do, what the meditation could look like, don’t give up! Choosing a framework like this will motivate you to search for a teaching that works for you.  You’ll find yourself  taking notes in the next class you go to, to watch a video to prepare yourself. Let it be your creative project to sculpt your practice. 

Lastly, I want to share with you a tool I use from the Bullet Journaling method, the habit tracker. This has completely changed my relationship to self discipline, gives me oversight, and is also quite fun. If you love grids, lists and colours, it may be a good idea for you. Here is an example, you can also colour in the grid instead of check marks:

This is a habit tracker just for a daily practice, but you could add any other habit you want to keep track of too. For more info about this you can look up the Bullet Journaling method by Ryder Carrol. My habit tracker has around 7 things on it, so you can get really creative.

Let your morning routine be like a homecoming,  a place of belonging. Something you get excited about when you close your eyes before going to sleep. It’s an intimate offering, a part of you, like a friend that is always by your side. Those kinds of friendships that  remain strong even if you are out of touch for  a while, when you come back, they are there again  with open arms, no strings attached.

And don’t hesitate to call it Evening, Lunch, Night practice if you like, it applies to all! We stay flexible, us yogis, no pun intended. If you have a morning routine you would like to inspire us with, or have any questions, feel free to write in the comments!

6 Ways to Cultivate a Summer Practice

Summer is here, and there is so much to celebrate. Travel season is finally open, the weather is amazing and I feel light, energetic and hopeful. People around me are smiling, I live in the South of France and the combination of rivers, mountains, beach (and the aperitivo) is simply intoxicating. All of life’s regular challenges seem easy to tackle, even work, as I actually I get the busiest during summer.

BUT, there is also a nagging thought “why don’t I feel like this all the time”?  I have to admit I get a little anxious about how short the summer is and that it might be over soon. I tell myself, well, let’s just be in the moment, and put away whatever is coming next. Just enjoy it. 

Its not a seasonal thing! 

Here’s the thing: I spent 12 years of my life living in a year around summer climate, and trust me, ‘The Blues’ can come anywhere, any time, and they are not seasonal! Our inner sense of satisfaction, our ability to be mindful and grounded in the present is something we can cultivate to be lasting year around. Actually, THIS is our practice. 

Our inner sense of satisfaction, our ability to be mindful and grounded in the present is something we can cultivate to be lasting year around. Actually, THIS is our practice. 

This time of year  is so rich and filled with beauty, its easy to feel connected to the earth, to nature, family and community. Summer time is a  great opportunity to deepen our practice, and at the same time can be distracting and we can completely fall out of it because we are in ‘vacation mode’. 

Ideas on how to bring your mindfulness, meditation, and yoga practice to life during summer: 

  1. Plan your practice. As you plan your summer, make an intention about your practice too. Schedule it in, allow it to be a priority.  If you are going on vacation, bring your meditation cushion and your mat. Inform the people you spend time with about it, and that you would like to be free of distraction during that time.  
  1. Honour the sunrise. If you have the chance, try waking up early and practice with the sunrise. There is something auspicious and peaceful about this time, and it IS easier to wake up early in the summer, so why not make the most of it.
  1. Write about it. My grandmother once told me that if you want to remember beautiful moments and make them a part of you forever, write them down. Even with photos, the moment could slip by.  When we bring writing into our daily lives, we might also see the world differently, notice more details about the beauty and wonders of our experiences.
  1. Connect to your creativity. Bring out the old pencils, colours, knitting, half written poetry, dusty instruments. Take it with you on vacation and spend some ME time with your creative outlet. There’s nothing like being in the flow of creation in the present moment, and you might even end the summer with a beautiful finished project.
  1. Listen to your body. If it is rest that you need, then take the rest. Let yourself connect to your natural rhythm, your own pace this summer. It’s ok to opt out, be ‘unproductive’, and just lounge about. I love getting sweaty and doing all the activities when I have time off and that’s all good. But it can be exhausting. It’s all about balance and what YOU need.
  1. Take some silent time. There’s a lot of social stuff going on, and we love it. Give yourself some silent time, even just an hour here and there. It’s a gift. Maybe you have some time off work, you can put the phone away for a few hours a day, or longer! 

In time with regular practice, whatever it is that your chosen lineage, school or teacher is, it will become a part of you and trickle into your daily life, no matter where you are or what you are doing. That’s the beauty of it, it just takes a little attention and dedication for a while, and then it becomes naturally inviting. Summer is a great time to start!

About Silvia

Silvia is a Yoga teacher, physiology enthusiast, and spiritual seeker. She is passionate about making the yoga practice accessible and functional for everyone and helping others find their personal expression with joyful movement.  Read full bio