My journey – the road to self-development

“Somehow it feels like I’ve just started out on this journey of self-development, yet as I’m looking back, I’m realising that I’ve walked this path for half my life.”  

It started with yoga, and grew into martial arts, then back to yoga, into tantra, spirituality, to relationship stuff, sexuality, movement culture and men’s work. Which is where I am today. I guess the headline is; movement culture and self-development. However, the poet in me wants to say it’s all connected; mind, body, heart and spirit. And that it’s all self-development.

In my early twenties I stumbled over Hatha Yoga in an old gym during my studies in Australia, and it really resonated with me. I was looking for a system that would give me a complete body and mind “workout” if practiced daily. Strength, flexibility, focus and calmness. Yoga seemed to fit that, yet at the same time my curiosity of martial arts was also growing, and it eventually took me to the mountains of China. I originally wanted to immerse myself in the Nej-Gong (inner martial arts), but I got swept up in Wushu and all the stuff from the kung-fu movies I used to watch as a kid. I gave up on yoga and for a while as I became “the karate kid”. Still there was something about yoga that kept me coming back to the mat and before I knew it, I became a “yogi” again. 

In the beginning I mainly used yoga as a counterbalance for the taxing effect that office work had on my mind and body, but I slowly dove deeper. Through the practice I realized how much my mind affected my body, and my practice increased. It became my main thing. I’ve always had an interest in the body and how we move, so bodywork also followed quite naturally, with Ajurvedic Yoga massage and Thai massage being the focus of my studies. 

Then spirituality came knocking on my door.  

Discovering Ekhart Tolle’s work, and at the same time deepening into the yoga philosophy and meditation, it all eventually led me to India and the yoga teacher training.  Advaita vedanta, oneness, and enlightenment. I was a seeker and I wanted to find answers. It did for a while. Albeit something in me always resisted, so I never felt fully committed. Egoic attachments that I’m still with today… No matter how much I tried to let go of it, the notion of going beyond the body didn’t resonate completely with me. I longed for a deeper connection to my body and it also seemed like my sexuality didn’t have a space there. At least not in the ashrams I was staying at. I was also way too interested in relating and relationship stuff to “go sit in a cave”, so my monkey mind kept seeking and looking further.

Whilst in India I also discovered tantra (neo-tantra), and for the first time I saw that sexuality could have a role within spirituality, and I resonated with the notion of the body as a temple. The principle of polarity and the inner anima and animus spoke to me, and I  I read and listened to David Deida, John Wineland, and others that spoke about masculinity and a way of showing up as a man that also piqued my interest. Everything was pointing at some needed development in me. . Could I eventually be “the superior man”? However it didn’t solve my relationship struggles and I wasn’t able to “fuck her open to God” no matter how many tantra books I read or workshops I attended, so I started binging on relationship and communication tools to develop the relational aspect of myself too. 

During the following years I consumed as much as I could from radical honesty to NVC, through books, podcast, talks and workshops. I started gaining some understanding of relationship dynamics and communication. And more than anything I was self-developing. I also started to see that all the paths I’d been on was continually serving me, and that they all intersected. By chance I also heard an embodiment podcast referencing the artificial zoo we’ve created for ourselves, limiting our movement vocabulary to laying, sitting and standing. Suddenly something clicked in me; “I don’t want to live in that zoo!” Overnight I became a “mover” more so than a “yogi”. That was another track leading towards natural movement, locomotion, and movement culture. What actually happened was a shift into an innate freedom within my body, and a more profound sense of body awareness that I could utilize when tracking my triggers and emotional states as they occur.

Finally I could move. And I could relate.  

Or so I thought.. 

Being placed in a men’s workshop at a tantra festival I realized I didn’t know how to relate as well as I thought, at least not to men. I didn’t see brothers amongst the other men, I saw competitors. And since I was denying my own shadows, I also had lots of judgements of men and general masculinity. “Victim mentality”, “Womanizer”, “fuckboy”, “selfish nihilist”, “insecure bully” etc. So many judgemental labels towards my fellow men. And off course I was the “saint”. That realization sparked the journey into men’s work. I wanted to heal my relationship with men. With masculinity. With myself.  

The journey is not done. Not by a long shot. There are days I feel like an infant. Days I’m not able to “walk” at all. Yet I’ve gotten to the point were I can actually see that I’ve developed in a lot of areas. I want others to have this too. I want to share these tools. 

I want everyone to be able to move naturally and to break out of the artificial zoo. I want relationships to heal and for everyone to relate “better” in all aspects of their relationships. I want men to come into their own power and to become their own leaders in all aspects of their lives. 

So now I put my self doubt aside, slap on a hat with a nice title, and do my best to show up as I am. And share from what I got. 

-Anders Wilmann