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Marjolein Wolf is a journalist writing freelance for Dutch magazines about spirituality. A Yoga practitioner for many years, she is particularly interested in ancient Hindu philosophy. She has travelled to India many times, visiting several ashrams, gurus and spiritual teachers. She has published various articles about these trips.
Marianne Laug had a great career in the IT-branch. Being a manager at Hewlett Packard in Boeblingen in her mid thirties, it looked like her life would be safe and clear until she would be sixty something. But an incident during a trip to Nepal changed her point of view upon priorities in life completely. Now she’s running her own company called ‚Spirit of Relaxation‘, making CD’s and DVD’s about spirituality.
Relaxation. That is what the work of Marianne Laug, who is now 51 years young, is all about. But her products are not just recordings of bubbling waters or easy listening New Age music. Her latest CD is something quite new and exclusive. It contains old Indian parables which express the knowledge of the ancient Hindu-scriptures. They are told by Marianne’s yoga teacher Sukumar Shetty, living in the state Karnataka in South India. For the recording of the CD Marianne went all the way to India. „A few years back I met this yoga teacher in Germany“, she tells. „I joined a yoga seminar with him. It was not the kind of yoga I was used to, the body-oriented style of yoga. Although some body postures and exercises were given, the main focus of the seminar was on Sukumar’s lectures about the ancient Indian knowledge called Vedanta. It was a very pleasant surprise to me that this seminar was more than just yoga postures. I enjoyed every minute of that three weeks seminar. One of the things I enjoyed most about Sukumar’s teaching was the Indian stories and anecdotes he told. The spiritual knowledge of Vedanta is passed there in such nice way, very often more easily comprehensible than any straight and direct language can achieve. Since I liked these stories so much, later I came to the idea to record a CD with these stories. It gives people an opportunity to listen to them whenever they like. It’s not like a book which you read from the beginning to the end. It’s more like: if you feel like having some inspiration, you select one of the stories, listen to it and take it with you for the days to come. Take it as a subject on your mind or meditation.“
Other products of Marianne’s one woman company so far are CDs with meditative relaxation exercises and she is currently developing a DVD which will teach the brocade exercises, those exercises being part of Qi Gong. Their main goal is to use the body to relax the mind. „I feel a need for that in the world“, Marianne explains. „Life becomes more and more speedy and materialistic. It becomes worse every year. People seem to even loose their ability to relax and do nothing. I think that’s a worrying development. So what I would like to do is give people an instrument to learn to relax again. And I want to do it in a special way. To provide an instrument that can be used wherever you are, whenever you want. I think that is important, because people who are in a job like the one I have been in, don’t have time to go to a club every Wednesday at six o’clock or whatever. Their life is too busy and too irregular for that. The media that I use, CD and DVD, are perfectly convenient to make people independent of time and space. I think that’s a nice value.“
Although ‚Spirit of Relaxation‘ is quite a young company, Marianne’s point of view upon life changed about fifteen years ago. She was having a good job at the Hewlett Packard office in Boeblingen, being a successful manager with an even more successful career ahead. At a certain point she made a trip to Nepal, where she witnessed an accident that made a big impression on her. Marianne: „I was river rafting in Nepal with a group of people from all over the world. We traveled with 3 rafts on the Sunkosi river – 8 days on the river in the beautiful nature of Nepal, remote from civilization. I was in the raft guided by Ringin, our local river guide. Beautiful days, rather cold nights and cool river water – made us decide to use the lunch break for body toilet purposes. It was at one of those stops, us checking if its possible to wash hairs without getting all into the water, that Ringin did a back flip into the river. We suddenly saw him flowing in the river and dragged him out. He appeared to be unconscious. When his consciousness came back a few minutes later, he couldn’t move his body. He has broken his neck. Three days after the accident he died. It shocked me to the core. Ringin was only in his mid twenties. It was like my life stopped. In the following days and weeks I had thoughts like: if something like that would happen to me…. would it be all right? Would it be all right for me to go now? The answer was: no, it would not be okay. I realized I didn’t have enough time to do the things I really enjoy in life. Not that I didn’t like my job, it was nice, I enjoyed the work. But you know, it took too much out of me. I am the kind of person that gets totally indulged when I like something. I don’t go into the water to paddle around a little bit, I swim with all my energy. So apart from working, there was not much time to spend time with friends and other things I love doing, like traveling.“
At the same time Marianne realized that she could not quit her job from one moment to the other. She liked it and, on top of that, she needed to earn money to make a living. So she made a compromising plan. „I said to myself: what about doing this work until I am fifty and then do something else?“ she tells. „I would have some years to keep money apart, so there would be some financial security after my fiftieth. I knew I also wanted to work after fifty, but I didn’t want to be too dependent on making money. In the meantime, I decided, I would work for Hewlett Packard nine or ten months a year and spend the other months traveling. Not surprisingly, the company was not too excited when I told them about this plan. I took some effort to convince them that it was a good deal. But eventually they agreed. One of the consequences was that I had to leave the management career. Instead I would work on project assignments, as project or program manager. But at that time, I had already come to a point of ‚money isn’t every in life‘, so I didn’t care. Even later, when a few times very good positions in the company were offered to me, I used to ask first: ‚Is this deal of working only nine months a year part of the agreement?‘ When the answer was ’no‘, I simply refused. I knew I would not be able to work like this until my sixties. I simply would not be able to manage. I have been rather lucky to see it at that time and organize my life differently. Otherwise I might have had a burnout or something like that on a later age. I owe a lot to that man that died in Nepal. Without that experience I would probably have done what everybody does. You get tempted to accept more responsibility, to earn more money, and more and more. Before you realize it, you are sucked into the wheel of materialism and stress.“
Nevertheless, as years went by and Marianne’s fiftieth birthday was slowly approaching, doubts about her plan to leave her job at HP rose. Despite of the stress factor she liked her job and wondered if she would be able to quit it so easily. On top of that, she had not the slightest idea what she would do afterwards. The thought of closing a door, without knowing which one would open after that, scared her once in a while. Funnily enough, destiny helped her to make the big step. Marianne: „When I was 49, the company happened to be reorganizing, some employers had to leave their job and they were looking for volunteers. When I saw what ‚golden handshake‘ they were offering these volunteers, I realized this was my time to leave.“
Still, there wasn’t immediately another perspective about what to do in life. Marianne decided to do first what she liked most: traveling. For four and a half month she was traveling around in South East Asia, visiting countries as Burma, Vietnam and Thailand. Was it during this trip that she suddenly realized that she wanted to start a company for CD’s and DVD’s? She can’t tell. „I only know that when the idea came, I immediately knew that this was it“, she remembers. „This was what I was going to do. I didn’t even realize by then that, being a one woman company, doing everything myself, I would not have been able to do it without my computer skills!“
Since then Marianne is very happily bringing current technology and ancient knowledge together. In her own exclusive way. She got plenty of ideas about CD and DVD productions to make, all with one focus: to help people to relax. Not just because it is nice to relax, but more because she considers relaxation as an important opening to spirituality. „When you are relaxed, you become more peaceful, your heart opens up. That’s a starting point for everything in the spiritual field. Being relaxed, you will find guidance on your spiritual path. That guidance doesn’t have to come from a teacher like my yoga teacher Sukumar. Spiritual guidance can come from your neighbor, from nature, from anything. But one should be relaxed to recognize it. If you are too stressed, you will not see it even when a guide jumps down in front of you. That’s why relaxation is my subject. What I want to do is the groundwork. It is enough for me.“
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