Creative Meditation

Nowadays our Lives are a lot faster and full of events every single day! As a result- Our minds are constantly running and trying to keep up with that pace. This often results in Stress and Unhappiness.

Meditation has been helpful to find mental peace and clarity. But sitting down to actively meditate is extremely hard for most people. Maybe it is time to find an entirely new way to meditate!

What is Meditation?

Many consider that we meditate when we sit down and focus on our body and breath. Some say Meditation is something that brings peace by mentally concentrating on one thing.

I think it can best be best described as a state of thoughtless awareness. When meditating we do not actively think about what happened 5 minutes ago or what is gonna happen next week. We are in a calm state of mind and yet fully aware of the present moment and of the way our body feels.

This state of thoughtlessness goes along with a feeling of deep happiness that does not depend on any external sources.

Why is it so hard?

If the benefit she are so clear why don’t we all meditate more often?

Our minds have been conditioned to be busy. Our society has created a constant pressure to be productive and sitting down almost feels like a sin. After 3 minutes most people feel the urgent need to get up, move or check their phones.

I personally find it easier to motivate myself for a workout at the gym than to simply sit down and think nothing for 10 minutes.

After practicing for a while I got better but over the Easter Weekend I realized that there is a completely different and more effortless approach to Meditation.

Easter Egg Realization

As an Easter tradition I met up with a couple of friends in New York for a Brunch and had been running around all morning studying lines for an important audition.

Even when with my friends I felt a little stressed and caught myself thinking about the audition and what it could mean for my career.

Then we all decided to sit down and paint Easter Eggs- something I hadn’t done since 3rd grade. From there in everything changed. A group of 10 people spent over 1 hour in absolute silence- both verbally and mentally!

There were no thoughts running through my mind I got lost in the colors and in the creative process of painting this egg.

Creative Meditation

Even though I didn’t realize it at the time I had just gone through a meditation and felt the same mental focus and general feeling of happiness, empty of negative thoughts and worries.

Meditation is more than actively sitting down. It lives in every Creative Process if we allow our minds to completely get lost in it.

For some people it can be playing and instrument or painting. For me it is even the way I cook new dishes without any thoughts fully committed to the Creation of something beautiful. Even running or swimming can result in a meditative state when we are fully aware of our body and the movement we are going through.

If we all make some room for Creativity in our every day Life-Meditation can become effortless!

Do You Take Warm Showers?

Last weekend I jumped into an ice-cold ocean in New York and thought I was going to die. But Trust me- when I went back home, took a shower and was able to put on some warm clothes I was the happiest kid in the world!

Why could something as simple as a shower give me that much Joy?

Why we stop feeling Joy…

We all know this from our childhood. When you’re young $10 you get from your grandparents seems like a lot of money and you are happy and excited for all the things you could purchase. Once you start making your own money though the same amount will probably not affect you at all. Our perspective changes. As we get richer, wealthier, stronger we start to take things for granted.

I remember when I first started modeling I was so happy about my first paid shoot for a magazine- now I need more prestigious jobs to get excited.

Realizing this made me very sad. Does is mean that there is nothing we can achieve that provides unconditional and long-lasting happiness? Does our perspective always change and even huge achievements or wealth are eventually considered normal?

This definetely explains why a lot of successful Hollywood actors end up unhappy even though they have everything they could possibly dream of.

How can we change that?

As the word perspective implies it is all about your point of view. When you change the point of view from somebody who has it all to somebody who is struggling the same reality will look a lot brighter and can trigger joy and happiness.

Going to extremes has been an amazingly rewarding way for me to bring my focus back to the things I have. I lived without electricity on an island on the Titicaca lake for a couple of days when I was 15 years old in Peru. Being able to have light in my living room seemed like such a privilege after my experience with this local family in Peru.

Unfortunately the human mind works in a way that we are never aware of what we have until we lose it.

What you should do now!

I am not saying that you should risk your life searching for the extremes in order to find joy in the things you have. It can start very simply with small challenges every day.

  • Spend a full day without using any electronic devices.
  • Completely cut sugar out of your diet for a full week.
  • Ask a homeless man for his story.
  • Go on a hiking trip with nothing but a sleeping bag.
  • jump into an ice-cold ocean in February.
  • Go on a 24hr fast and only drink water.

Through social media and the news We are constantly reminded of what we don’t have so it is easy to lose awareness of the positive things in our lives.
Being open to new challenges and embracing the unknown and uncomfortable will bring back the awareness and gratitude for what you have.

And You have a lot. Know that.

The Long Game

We all have certain goals and things we want to achieve. Some want to become writers or singers, some want to own businesses and make a lot of money. Whatever it is we want to do, the motivation is usually always the same…

I) The Problem

Nowadays it is all about recognition. A number of followers or a balance on a bank statement define who we are and becomes the main purpose of our efforts.

If you are a singer and only a few people listen to your music you might feel discouraged and quit your job. Especially through social media we are constantly reminded of what we do not have and being exposed to all these success stories makes us feel like we failed at what we are doing just because things are not moving fast enough or we don’t get a lot of attention.

II) The Truth

Media in general draws a false image and doesn’t show the unglamorous failures and the hard work of these succes stories.

– J.K.Rowling was rejected 12 times by different publishers and was living in poverty with her daughter before Harry Potter earned over $ 400 million in book sales alone.

– Leonardo Da Vinci was considered a ‘loser’ and barely sold any of his art until he was 46 years old before his break with ‘The Last Supper’ in 1482.

I honestly don’t think that I would have not had the power to keep going after such a long period without any recognition so what made them continue their work for such a long time?

III) The Solution

The Secret is called Passion. Their main motivation to create was not to reach an audience or to get recognized and respected for their work. The purpose was in the work itself.

This is also called autotelic– a quality shared by almost everybody who is considered to be succesful: Van Gogh and Stephen King both spent years working and creating something every day without anyone ever noticing. Just the creative process of writing a book or painting was rewarding enough for them to continue.

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What WE can learn from Children

On my last day in California  I went to Laguna Beach to play with my friend and her niece, Charlotte. While I was watching her explore the playground I realized that Charlotte was able to do something that most of us are uncapable of once we get older.

The Ability to Play

She was running around so fascinated by small things and was able to fully express her Joy. There was absolutely no filter and nothing that could hold her back. This Freedom of Expression goes both ways:

When she found a beautiful plant she was smiling and wanted everybody to see it.

When she was upset and did not want to go home she stomped on the ground and told us that she did not like that!

She just followed an Impulse and could express whatever she was feeling. In these moments she was absolutely Authentic!

Why can’t We Play?

Unfortunately most of us-including myself lost that Ability to Play effortlessly. We tend to tink about the consequences of our actions and always have to take into consideration what social environment we are in and what role we are currently playing.

As serious businessmen we are not expected to be joyful!

As good girls we are not supposed to reveal our anger!

Our Society has imposed so many standarts on us that put a filter on every step we take and every word we say! Children do not rationally understand these guidelines and are therefore a lot more free and authentic.

What if we didn’t give a Sh**t?

Unfortunately this is never going to change. As children get older they conform and learn to behave approprietely and according to the norms of society.

Having these norms and filters is important to survive in this world but every once in a while it is healthy to create some time and space to play and express whatever we feel without judgement!

Sharing our true emotions and playing like a child will also affect people around us in a positive way and encourages them to do the same.

I found out for myself that Being Authentic is what makes me happy!

 

The Law of Attraction

IMG_2989.JPGI was backstage at a Fashion Show in Milan when I first heard another model talk about The Law of Attraction. Even though I have always been curious about that concept it took me until last night until I actually watched a movie called ‘The Secret’ on a 13 hr flight from Los Angeles to Berlin. This is going to be about my understanding of ‘The Secret’ and what I take away from this concept.

What is the Law of Attraction?

According to the movie the Law of Attraction is a universal rule saying that everything we have in Life- good and bad- has been attracted by us. Therefore if we think about the bad things that happened to us we will attract even more of these things. On the other hand the movie suggests that by Visualizing and Believing the things we want to have will automatically attract them into our lives.

An example: If we want to have financial succes and drive an overprized German car with a blonde girl sitting next to us we don’t focus on the fact that we are currently in debt or haven’t received any matches on Tinder. Instead we say: “I do have money!” And we visualize the car and imagine how it feels to sit in that car with the woman of our dreams.

By Visualizing what we want and feeling like we are already there, the Universe is going to provide it for us.

Why I am sceptical about the Law of Attraction

At first that sounds very plausible and I truly do believe in the Power of a positive mindset and optimism. What the Secret does not explain is: How exactly does a thought attract something tangible? In the movie it is shown as a Magical Impulse that goes out to the Universe which then acts as a Genie who makes that wish come true. But why and how does the Universe do that?

The Law of Attraction is introduced as a ‘Law of Nature’ but accepting something as a given fact without understanding the mechanisms and motivations sounds more like a Religion which is beautiful and provides hope- but solely based on Belief.

What I take away from the Law of Attraction

Even though I can not accept the Universal Mechanism that the Universe is going to provide what we think about but there are two main concepts that really inspired me in this Movie!

I) Awareness:

Thinking and Visualizing our Dreams is still very effective! It gives us a purpose when we walk around being aware of what we want. All that can happen on a subconscious level!

Example: We still want our car and are eating oysters at a restaurant. In that moment we are aware of our goal of making money and a business idea to sell the oyster shells as an exclusive piece of Art comes into our mind. This thought would not have been triggered without Visualizing and knowing exactly what we want.

II) Grattitude:

In my favorite section of the movie the narrator introduces a Grattitude Stone that he puts in his pocket as a reminder to be grateful. Whenever he touches it he thinks about all the things he is grateful for. Being grateful switches the focus from what we want to what we have! This was a great reminder for me. There are so many things we take for granted and acknowledging the fact that we have a lot creates a positive energy and attitude which then will attract more positive things.

This is not a Law of the Universe but a basic principle of Psychology. Being positive will be noticed by others and makes us more open to new opportunities and risks.

 

How Conformity is holding YOU back!

We all comform. We stick to dress-codes and trends and have similar habits, beliefs and mindsets. Let’s talk about why this can be a bad thing and how you can break out of it.

What is Conformity?

In general Conformity can be described as a tendency to align your beliefs and your actions with people around you. In short: We yield to group-pressure and end up doing and even believing things simply because other peopleare doing the same thing.

Why do we conform?

Conformity is a very human phenomenon. In the history of mankind it has always been a safe choice to go along with a group especially in times of uncertainty. Even as kids we are usually rewarded for following the dynamics of a group and this positive association has remained until now. We conform because we want to be part of a group and are afraid of being different and therefore rejected by others.

Why is this a bad thing?

Conformity itself is not a bad thing. It provides orientation but also stops us from stepping into our uniqueness. We all have different needs, talents and dreams. By chosing the convenient path of conforming to a group we will not do what makes us happy. If we all follow eachother there will never be room for innovation or progress. It needs people who have the courage to break out of the ordinary to bring this world forward, scary though it may seem!

What happens if we don’t conform?

For the longest time in my life I would suppress my needs and ambitions because I wanted to fit in with people around me. I didn’t want them to look at me as an outsider. The funny thing is that most people actually wish they had the courage to do something extraordinary. And they want to bring you down to cover their own frustration and insecurity. If anybody rejects you for being yourself you do not want to have these people in your life anyways.

What will happen to You?

A lot of psychologists agree that everything is a habit. So even our fear of being ourselves is conditioned which means there is a way to turn it around! By going out and doing things that nobody expects you will get used to following your own impulses when they come up- No matter how crazy they are. After going around Times Square starting a fitness-class with random people or challenging strangers to a ‘staring-contest’ I felt free and in touch with myself. Expectations of others and norms that have been holding me back a lot in my life didn’t even seem to matter anymore and I could be myself.

How can I break out of Conformity?

The idea is very simple: ‘Do one thing every day that scares you.’ Walk backwards on the street, dress the way you wanna express yourself, ask your busdriver how his day was. Invite new things into your life and see how people react and most importantly how it affects you. After just a day with my friend Reuben McKechnie (Video) I felt much more open and connected to my needs. It is a feeling that often gets lost simple because we want to fit in. Doing the things you want is one of the best feelings in the world.

Unleashing that Freedom is a Choice that you can make. 

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Talk about it!

Do you think Conformity has been holding You back? Let us know how and share your thoughts in the comments as well as on Youtube, Facebook and Instagram.

How sharing Joy will change your life

I know it sounds very simple. But through my experiences in the last couple of years I have realized how small changes in our perception and in our habits can have a huge impact on the way we live. It is not a drastic measure, you do not have to pay for it and it starts with small things- every single day.

What is Joy?

According to the most common definition Joy is: “(…) an emotion evoked by well-being”, and the source of this feeling is different for everybody. Some find it in small things like a gesture of love or a smile, some in financial succes, some in God or religion. No matter where it comes from- in its purest form joy is just an internal emotion.

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Why do we feel Joy?

But feeling it is not enough. Joy does something to us, it changes our perception and our behavior. Have you ever felt the impulse to just smile or laugh when something makes you happy? If we just organically follow that impulse it makes everything seem easier and we signal to others that we feel good in this present moment.

Why do we keep it to ourselves?

Nowadays, sadly what we feel is not always revealed and the emotion stays internal. Our social environment and the role we play comes along with expectations and guidelines about how to behave. These roles can be defined through a job-title like the CEO of a big company or also a role we chose like being the tough guy in high-school. In both cases we would probably not openly reveal our emotions and it seems like a lot of times Joy is even considered to be a sign of weakness!

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Why do we need to share it?

But here is what happens when we share Joy: Nobody is going to think you are weak. Instead people will get affected by that positive energy and take it out there to the next person they see. This all happens on a subconscious level. Have you ever seen somebody who is joyful? We do not rationally think about it but when we see a picture like this we just can’t help but smiling.

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How will it change your life?

So why should we care about making other people happy? Besides from the fact that giving something positive away to others has been proven to be very rewarding it will also benefit our influence on other people . The positive feeling that we evoke in others by truthfully revealing our Joy will be automatically associated with you as a person. Just because of this connection they will be more likely to remember you, consider you for a job, buy your product or help you when you need it.

How can we use Joy every day?

Some people say there is no joy in their lives that they could share but it all starts with the small things: A song that is playing puts you in a good mood? Don’t keep it to yourself! You enjoy someones company? Let them know! Sometimes we think it is stupid to tell people about things like that but everybody loves to hear that. Express verbally, express through a gesture, express through a smile and let it come back to you.

 

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Talk about it:

Let me know your thoughts on Joy. How do you react when somebody openly reveals Joy? Have you ever caught yourself not expressing Joy? What brings you Joy and have you ever been inspired by someone elses Joy?

The Reality of being a model

A lot of people ask me what life as a male model looks like and I realized that there is a huge difference between how it is perceived and the reality of everyday life in this industry.

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Reality vs Perception

I) Fashion Shows

Runway shows are probably the most overestimated aspect of this industry. During big shows in Paris, Milan and New York designers show their new collections and organize spectacular events to be seen by clients, bloggers and magazines all over the world.

The media-hype contributes to the general missconception that walking the runway is the main occupation for a model. In reality only a small group of models with a specific look qualify for certain designers which limits the number of potential jobs for each model. There are many models who are working very succesfully making more money without doing any shows. In that sense they become a gateway to other jobs through the exposure of representing a well-known brand. This is why designers during fashion week don’t necessarily have to give models a financial incentive.

They walk to be seen.

imageII) Pay

Unfortunately no one can just survive on the exposure and the glory of fashion shows. Compared to commercial print jobs and campaigns, shows pay only a fraction not even considering the extra time and effort for castings and fittings during fashion week. What actually pays the bills is print-work: big ad-campaigns and very consistent shootings for catalogues and lookbooks. Especially for big clients like department stores these shootings don’t only happen twice a year like fashion shows but all year round every single day.

But even though the rate for one shooting day is usually a four-digit number that doesn’t mean that every model can afford the stereotypical “Bitches and Cocaine” Lifestyle. The expenses and fees that are deducted every month are extremely high. Depending on the market, agencies charge a 20-70% commision for each job, website-fees, flights, taxes, legal-fees and rent which in places like London or NYC can easily be over USD 1000 per month. As a result a lot of models work different side jobs simultaneously so they won’t have to depend on the uncertain paychecks from their agencies.

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III) Stereotypes

The extraordinarily glamorous and expensive lifestyle is not the only stereotype about the modeling industry that doesn’t live up to reality. Here are the four things that surprised me the most.

1) Models are not stupid

Especially since “Zoolander” came out, most people think that models can only look good. Ther are always exceptions but I have had some amazingly deep and inspiring conversations besides the general small-talk. A lot of friends I’ve made in this field are studying at the same time, run their own businesses and are eager to learn on their journey as a model.

2) Beauty is not perfect

I was surprised to see that some of the most succesful models walking the big shows for Prada, Saint Laurent or Louis Vuitton are not necessarily considered to be good-looking in real life. They have an edge, a brand, something that makes them unique and stick out. In that sense beauty becomes a vague concept that can not be generalized.

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3) Models do eat

Coming from a Bodybuilding background where I was counting every single gram of fat I was really surprised when I first met other models who were eating Stone-Cold Ice Cream with chocolate-chips and peanut-butter. Especially girls who don’t need to be very strong or muscular surprised me a lot with their healthy appetite. Up to this day it is still a mistery to me.

4) Positivity and Love

The most pleasant surprise for me was definetely the positive energy that I get to experience almost every day at castings and jobs. Even though we are all competitors for the same jobs, nobody takes themselves too seriously and having a good time and fun still remains the number one priority.

During New York Fashion Week I took my video camera to capture some of that energy.

What I take away

No matter how glamorous this life actually is whether you like fashion or not and regardless of how much money you make, one thing is definetely true.

Modeling gave me the opportunity to travel, to be challenged, to be inspired by different people from all over the world which gave me a new perspective on life and made me realize who I am and what I want.

But modeling is not the only way to make these experiences. Exploring, embracing every opportunity, opening up to other people- all of that is an Active Choice. All of that is Universal and not limited to one industry.

Never Stop Exploring.

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Why I think everybody should act.

What is acting?

Most people believe acting is nothing more than mimicing someone elses emotions. They think actors just know how people express emotions and are able to replicate their stereotypical facial expressions, the tone of their voice and their body language.

But real acting is not about actively changing the tone of the voice to show anger or about forcing a smile. Smiling, crying, laughter, even tears are a result of a truthful emotional experience. Therefore actors are actually going through the emotions of their character and make them look real to us.

How can I be truthful?

Knowing that good actors don’t fake their emotions the question remaining is obviously: How can I access these emotions? There are many different techniques and schools of thought but they all have one thing in common which is the exploration of our own emotional life. Understanding where our emotions come from will make it easier to reveal and to control them. This also involves confronting our past, our fears and insecurities and our deepest needs that are not being fulfilled. This process can be very painful at first and a lot of people are afraid to go back to their past or they prefer to deny their insecurities instead of facing them.

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How acting changes our life

In real life we actually do the opposite. We do not confront our fear and do not reveal our truthful impulses. Instead we play a role, a character formed by the expectations of others. This mask that we put on helps us to survive in our social environment as a doctor, a student, a loving husband etc. The danger is that we get too consumed by this role and forget who we actually are. Acting is a way of getting to the core to understand and release true emotions that have been surpressed by our public persona. In a way acting is a lot more real than living in our everyday life.

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That is why I think everyone should act even if they have no ambitions to pursue a carreer im acting. It gives us a chance to express whatever is going on, no matter how painful it may be. On the long run it will make YOU a stronger and more authentic person in real life!