Chapter III – Part 13

$ You tormented this innocent creature!

$ Me? Torment?

$ She cried.

$ She contacted something that moved her a lot. Do people cry only when they are tormented?

$ O! Can we adjust the attitude? From the way you snubbed at me I deduce you both must have worked on something vital for each of you. And what can I see? You bit a nail! Tell me all about it!

$ We started working on the givers vs takers stuff. This subject still wakes up the demons of my past.

$ Where did it hurt today?

$ Relationships with men. And you know, those memories are so awful that when I remember things it seems impossible to me that something like this happened to me. I have the impression I’m watching a bad quality horror film.

$ You feel disgust.

$ And helplessness of that previous me. The only thing I could do in order to protect myself at that time was to break it up.

$ In your opinion, what did you lack at that time?

$ Ability to detect fuckwits. Or more patience to get to know a given man better before I got involved. And courage to be single. And joy of being single. And a distance to questions related to founding my own family. And love for myself. Unconditioned love. And conviction that I am the same valuable person regardless of my marital status and the number of my kids. And that I am the same wonderful partner regardless of whether I can cook or not. And that the division of labor into male and female tasks is a relic.

$ You did a great job. You shot herds of demons as if you shot flocks of ducks.

$ I remember my first breakthrough, my first insight. It was when I was talking to my cat. I have her spayed when she was young. She has never had children. One day we were cuddling and I asked a rhetorical question: I wonder how you would feel in the role of a mother. And she said: It doesn’t make sense to think about it. I will never become a mother and it doesn’t hinder in any way to enjoy my erotic life large-scale. And my life generally, either. Family constellations were a turning point, too. I worked on something not related to men in my life. The moderator told me to choose my mum, my dad, me, my brother and my sister. He asked my representative: How are you? She said: It’s so hot, I’m trembling all over. The moderator commented: No wonder. You’re staying in the wife’s place.

$ You used to be very much connected to you father.

$ Yes, I did.

$ And you were able to “get a divorce”. One can get tired at the very listening to the story of your achievements.

$ Let’s change the subject.

$ I am pretty sure something is still squeezing you and you want to run away from yourself under the first veil available. Even without a veil.

$ You’re right. You know, I catch myself playing the role of a victim in my thoughts.

$ That is not fair. People who are less intelligent and/or more ugly have had happy relationships for a long time and they needn’t have to go through this. They experienced child birth when they were young.

$ You’re wonderful. You make me realize how I am whining.

$ Translate it into the winners’ language, please.

$ Exactly this experience led me to the place where I am now and I wouldn’t have it any other way. My husband is the perfect husband for me. It paid off to wait for him. I became a mother in the most appropriate age for me.

$ That is the real present you.


Chapter III – Part 12

$ Am I supposed to look forward to rows? That is exactly what the most I’m afraid of.

$ If you are able to look forward to something unpleasant in your life, you’ll achieve mastery because you don’t fight obstacles anymore, you let them go with the flow. Fight reinforces what you fight against. Fight demonizes what you fight against. When you look forward to calamities, you trust yourself, you believe you can make it and that in the meantime you’ll grow. You know then that you’re ready to leave your comfort zone. Life begins at the end of your comfort zone. So I say ‘no’ to somebody, they insist, put pressure and I start rubbing my hands thinking: O, I’m on the right path!

$ I can hardly imagine that.

$ A client of mine, a classical giver: always smiling, ready to help others, she never complained and had been fighting against her overweight since I remember.

$ Fight reinforced what she fought against.

$ Wow! So this client told me how determined she had been to learn how to take. Her life was filled with frustration to such a level that the worm has turned. First, she had arguments about everything, she used many f… words while quarrelling, she was aggressive, people were scared of her, commented in an indecent way: she needs a schlong. When she “dis-angered” all her angers – I don’t mean I approve of the way she did it – she became softer. Hardly ever did she interpret a refuse as a natural disaster. She used to have bad conscious when she took care of meeting her needs but in time the remorse disappeared. And one day she send me a postcard from her holiday saying: I don’t know how it happened, I don’t know when it happened, anyway I got transformed from a giver into a taker.

$ Any details?

$ For a couple of weeks she rented a floor in a mountain house. Common bathroom, common kitchen, no contract, black market. The price included the costs. In fact, neither the owners specified what costs it included, nor was she very inquisitive about it. Anyway, one week after she moved in they suggested it was her turn to buy washing powder. She didn’t need to think much to draw their attention to the fact that she was one person and they were four people. And that she paid for one floor including costs. They tried to explain that in all mountain houses costs included water, heating and electricity and that she was supposed to pay extra for the rest. And she knew, without a slightest doubt, that it didn’t refer to her because she lived in THAT house and not in ALL mountain houses. There was also a story of the toilet paper. One roll was over, my client asked the owners, where there was more and they answered: there’s no more. I’ll buy more when I can. She didn’t comment that, she didn’t let anybody provoke her, encourage to discussing unproductively. In her opinion, the story was not about her; the story was about the owners. What is the most interesting, she felt profoundly grateful to the owners for this experience. She went for a mountain trip, she got some toilet paper in the place she had lunch (just in case) and it turned out to be unnecessary because when she came back there was a new roll of toilet paper and much supply, too. And there’s a punch line.

$ What is it?

$ It all happened in German, a foreign language she had been learning for two years at that time.

$ Hats off!

$ There’s another punch line.

$ Tell me.

$ She lost 12 pounds during that holiday. We are about to end our meeting and I’m going to show you an example of a letter. I suggest reading it as long as you need to learn it by heart. As I said: it’s only an example. Either you notice it serves you or you’ll write a letter of your own.

My dear Excess,

With taking into account some breaks, you have been keeping me company since my childhood. Your presence does not serve my life, does not enrich it, that is why today I am telling you to move out. I have a right to open up for happiness (although the perspective of happiness frightens me), for real problems, difficult emotions and challenges. I have a right to make my life easier, to relax in a healthy and creative way, live my life to the full. I open up for an unknown heaven, I say goodbye to the well known hell. I choose responsibility for the way I look.

 Your ex – Ann

Chapter III – Part 11

Let’s start doing two lists now: 1. I love… and 2. I feel… when… You will get to know yourself, your emotions and needs while completing them when something comes to your mind. Ready?

$ I love 1. myself; 2. my health; 3. earning a lot; 4. abundance; 5. succeeding; 6. winning; 7. knowing; 8. understanding; 9. thinking; 10. teleportation; 11. getting my sleep; 12. cats; 13. coffee from a moka pot with cream in the morning; 14. regular defecation; 15. my hair; 16. my scent; 17. my strength; 18. the flexibility of my body; 19. making invoices; 20. getting sms from my bank with information about a revenue; 21. spending money; 22. doing yoga; 23. dating; 24. hugging; 25. kissing; 26. cuddling; 27. making love; 28. increased level of endorphins after jogging; 29. seeing my beautician; 30. going to the hairdresser’s; 31. reading; 32. singing; 33. dancing; 34. playing chess; 35. talking to my friends; 36. feeling their support; 37. learning 38. using foreign languages; 39. watching films; 40. listening to music; 41. visualizing; 42. travelling; 43. giving many surprising presents; 44. getting presents; 45. getting bunches of flowers; 46. pencils; 47. my house; 48. delegating; 49. warmth; 50. china cups; 51. jewelry; 52. beautiful clothing; 53. plants; 54. planning; 55. dreaming; 56. radio; 57. language coaching; 58. my intuition; 59. telepathy; 60. my imagination; 61. Internet; 62. playing on words; 63. cooking; 64. getting things fixed; 65. red color; 66. silk; 67…. I’ve run out of ideas.

$ You did a fantastic job! Would you like to start the other list, too?

$ 1. I feel abundance when I realize how much I have; 2. I feel rejoicement when I am about to have a date; 3. I feel spoiled when people give me presents; 4. I feel taken care of when my friends know that I am ill and call me to ask how I am and whether I need anything; 5. I feel desired when my boyfriend rips my clothes off; 6. I feel calm when I think about the future; 7. I feel pleasure when I can hear a cat purr; 8. I feel accomplished when I read my CV; 9. I feel excited when I imagine my dreams have come true; 10. I feel overjoyed when I have been running in the forest; 11. I feel empathy when people tell me about their problems; 12. I feel moved when I fall in love; 13. I feel curious when new challenges come; 14. I feel grateful when I think about my achievements; 15. I feel enthusiastic when I get down to work; 16. I feel relieved when I damp down a conflict….. That’s it for now.

$ Excellent. What else do takers do in order to take?

$ If a taker comes up with an idea, he infects others with it, delegates tasks and collects applause for its implementation.

$ I read somewhere: “I will always choose a lazy person to do a difficult job, because he will find an easy way to do it”.

$ Takers are inaccessible in a subtle way: sometimes they don’t call you back, sometimes they don’t answer your email by return.

$ And givers are reliable even at the expense of their own priorities.

$ Differences between takers and me come flooding.

$ Today they come flooding, tomorrow their number will decrease. Please, observe takers. What else do they do to receive things easily? Follow suit and have fun with it. Look forward to every expression of resistance from your milieu when you refuse constant giving.

Chapter III – Part 10

$ That’s right. I told you this story in the context of the balance between giving and taking because in the eyes of an average observer there was no balance in the case of that couple. Nevertheless, they found balance for themselves and they wouldn’t have it any other way.

$ So it’s better for a giver to have a relationship with a giver and for a taker to have a relationship with a taker.

$ A giver with a giver – boring! Killing each other with kindness.

- I will make you some coffee.
- No, no, darling, I will make YOU some coffee.
- But last time you made me coffee.
- But you are so tired.

Can you imagine that? And a taker with a taker? They would starve to death while discussing whose turn it is now to go shopping.

- I went shopping last time.
- But you bought only potatoes. When I went shopping I purchased bread and butter. In fact, I’m not hungry. Are you hungry? Suit yourself.

$ Hahahaha!

$ I promised to tell you one more thing after you talked to you colleague about your coming late. Have you noticed that it is easy for a taker to take not only because they are self-confident and self-conscious and consequently convinced that they deserve what they want to get? First and foremost, they are charming and irresistible. A taker texts you like this: dear Ann, I’m writing instead of calling because I don’t mean to wake you up – your rest is holy to me and I need to inform you that I will get to work a little late today. I will explain everything to you as soon as I get there. Of course, I’m at your disposal on my mobile.

$ This is already a manipulation.

$ And if I delete your rest is holy to me?

$ A little less.

$ Taking is natural for a taker. Painless. Effortless. If they need to make an effort, they cross to the aggressive side, force you, don’t give a shit of how you are, they are not takers anymore. It happens that givers, while learning how to take, don’t grant themselves the right to get it for free, they only act “as if”, which is an extremely fruitful strategy by the way, and they start from aggression. Of course they realize soon that aggression provokes resistance which doesn’t serve the aim of meeting one’s needs. Let’s get back to the strategies takers develop in order to make taking easier.

$ Takers don’t remember. Or they want you to remind them things. If they promise to do something, they don’t make notes in their agendas, they only say: send me en email or something.

- Did you buy flour?
- No, I didn’t. I’m sorry. I forgot.

$ And when a taker says:

- I’ll get dressed and fetch it right away

a giver says:

- Leave it. All in all, I need vanilla sugar so I’ll handle this tomorrow.

And they have additional work which makes them feel in their element.

$ As if I could hear myself talk.

$ What else?

$ Takers don’t take initiative, they rather let the others serve them.

- Shall we invite Grants?
- Great idea. If you need help, give me a sign.

The day before the party they say:

- Barry comes to the town where I went to high school, I haven’t seen him for 15 years, that’s when he emigrated to Europe, I’m going to see him and I’ll drop to say hello to my parents’ so you and Grants don’t wait for me.

$ Of course, givers won’t call the party off because they hate people changing their plans in the very last moment. Do as you would be done by. They won’t scold the taker because they think that meeting Grants who are on the at hand is less important than meeting an emigrant 15 years after. And the giver is left alone with shopping, cooking, laying the table. And how can you have time for Catalan in such circumstances? Besides, Grants are going to ask: where’s your boyfriend? When you answer, their faces will be painted with worry which means: you’re going to break up, we’re afraid.

$ And they’re right because I worry about it too.

$ Givers solicit nice atmosphere, smooth cooperation, while takers love themselves and that is the basis for most of their decisions. Eva Zurhorst says: love yourself and it doesn’t matter who you marry; love yourself and look forward to the next conflict. After all, such a basis makes much sense: if my needs are met, I have time, power and will to give something to others. Givers take care of others in the first place, they take care of themselves in the second place because deep in their hearts they count on reciprocity: if I give you, you’ll give me. If there’s no reciprocity, they get offended, play on guilt, and get even less reciprocity.

$ Right. I will learn to answer the questions: what do I want? what do I need? With an emphasis on: I.

$ Congratulations!

Chapter III – Part 9

$ How are things?

$ Awful. I ended up having a row.

$ Who did you talk to?

$ A colleague from my department. A taker. My name displayed on the screen of his mobile, he picked up, without saying good morning, he scolded me reminding me that we started work at 9.00 am and it was 7.58 am, so I’d better have a good reason to drag him away from the shower. And I am his superior! Can you imagine that?! So I told him I would call him anytime I want to and that his bloody duty is to pick up the phone and do what I tell him to and if he doesn’t, I’ll find 10 people who would kill for that job, even today. Then I told him I would come later today what he commented: rules are for employees not for the boss. And like an idiot, I started explaining that this year I hadn’t come late for work a single time and then I hung up without saying goodbye. I fucked up my whole day. Before work I will come back home, remake up and have breakfast at the Mc Donald’s. Today I can’t afford being on a diet.

$ Does this colleague of yours have an appetite to steal your position?

$ Now when you mentioned this… O, gosh! I can’t stand it!

$ Appetite is only appetite; nevertheless, nobody is able to threaten your experience and competence.

$ Not everybody pays attention merely to the competence.

$ Of course not. Competence without emotional intelligence or managerial skills are definitely not enough. Being a giver, you automatically have an advantage because it’s in the givers’ nature to be empathic, consequently you are a natural leader.

$ Is it so?

$ O, yes! And three more things. That was your first performance in the role of a taker. You are learning. You have a right not to know, to get lost, feel out of place in this new outfit. It may be expected that it is going to be like this for some time so make up your mind to break tensions related to such situations in ways different from eating at it. E.g. spend at home the time that you wanted to spend at the fast food chain after making up: dance to your favorite music, watch a part of your favorite comedy.

$ I have no time for this!

$ I mean only the time you would have spent in the fast food place. Secondly, people are happy when givers are around, at least they feel comfortable, so if a giver signals: giving is over, people around them protest and resist.

- Make me a coffee, please.

- I’m busy with my Catalan now.

- So what? Maybe you’ll also stop cooking dinners because you’re so busy learning Catalan?! What do I need a wife for who speaks Catalan and neglects our house?!

I exaggerated this dialogue on purpose. In order to take, a taker asks, demands, negotiates, manipulates a little or even blackmails and attacks weak points. Please, believe that you have got everything you need to take care of yourself and create a balance between giving and taking in all your relationships. Open for punches, take off the mental and physical armor, you are able to deflect attacks back.

$ How do you recognize whether there is balance or not?

$ It’s hardly ever fifty-fifty. Especially with kids and animals. It is a very individual question. For some people a given situation is ideal; for others a similar situation is totally unacceptable. I know a girl who had been single for many years. In other – ancient – terms, she was a spinster most of her life. Her carrier was very successful, she was very rich, which made men interested in her react the way the dogs do when they see a burglar. And one day she met a gardener on a wheelchair, a father of two children. In an accident, the mother died and he smashed his legs. So imagine them: education gap, income gap, opportunity gap. The children seduced her. They met in a park or at a swimming pool, the children started the conversation, they went through the phase of common games, then she suggested asking the parents whether she could invite the children to have some ice cream together. The kids said they only had a father and that they would ask him. And the father came to the appointment, too. I don’t know where it came from: from the attitude of the children towards her? from his experience? He suffered so much that he had a distance to what many couples fight for to death (money, who’s better, who’s right, whose mother-in-law is worse). Anyway, she was like a goddess to him: calm, cheerful, communicative, entrepreneurial, upbeat lady. He fell in love with her and spoiled her in his own way, as much as he could. He knew how many things he couldn’t give her due to his disability, so what he could give, he gave double and treble: attention, patience, admiration, sex, yielding, ductility. Her leeway to mould her husband was very limited (earn more!, help me tidying up! – no way), so she didn’t even try to change him and he returned the same. She worked overtime, she had unexpected business trips, it was all right to him. Are you suggesting I should sell our flat and move into your house? Ok. Are we going on holiday in December? Great. Christmas at your family’s? Sounds good. When I met them, the two children from the first marriage had a brother and a sister – their own children. They have a house with a huge garden and paths as wide as his wheelchair. And this is practically the only area, where he commands and she obeys. He designed the garden, chose seeds, seedlings and a watering system and now she uproots the weeds, cuts the plants, sprays etc. under his dictation.

$ What a beautiful story!

Chapter III – Part 8

$ They ask directly for what they need. Or even demand. They don’t spend much time on word choice. They are convinced they deserve their needs be met right this moment. When they can hear a ‘no’, they start negotiating and if in spite of their negotiations they don’t get what they want, they have it all their own way, they get it from somebody else.

$ And how do givers behave in such situations?

$ For example me, I don’t like asking. In my opinion, if people know me, like me, love me, cooperate with me, they conjecture what I need and I leave them freedom to choose the moment when they want to give it to me. But there’s something else I do, which I hate in myself. Say, somebody can detect that I need something and before they meet my need they want to make sure whether I want this or that. And instead of saying: ‘yes, that’s what I want’ or ‘no, I don’t want this, I want something else’ I say: ‘do as you wish’, ‘please yourself’. And I hate myself for every ‘do as you wish’, ‘please yourself’. What is worse, I’m not always sure what I really want.

$ And when you can hear a ‘no’, do you feel rejected and…

$ … unloved, disappointed, lonely. I hide my tail under my bottom like a scared puppy and I meet my need myself.

$ It is so stressful. How do you like breaking such tensions?

$ Eating sweets.

$ That’s another reason why I want to continue the subject of givers and takers with you. The most important reason is that from my observation givers come across more difficulties making progress in learning foreign languages than takers. Takers, when they decide to learn a language, organize their outside world in such a way that everything favors it: they convince their employer to invest in them, they want the teacher to come to their place or they say to the supervisor: ‘boss, I can’t do overtime because if I do, I won’t come to the class on time and our company paid for the class’. At home they say: ‘for some time I won’t participate in house chores because I’m learning’. That is why you are (and I am!) interested in your learning how to take. Coming back to eating sweets. Well, everybody who feel exhausted need to refill the source of energy. Takers go to givers and get nourished with their admiration, care, empathy, ability to listen. Givers are willing to nurture them, give them hugs, satisfy sexually. When givers see that their beloved takers are in stress, they won’t say ‘no’, because he needs me, she needs me. When givers need support, care, tenderness, takers are assertive and give it to the givers or NOT. Takers assume that since we are all adults, everybody takes care of themselves, choosing whether they want to do it on their own or with a little help of others. And when givers don’t get what they expect, they find the easiest consolation possible and moderately cheap…

$ … food.

$ Right. Food gives them a boost, power to do too many tasks that givers in their generosity have taken on their shoulders, feeling of security, substitute of a coming back to the relationship with the nurturing mother.

$ Stop it! I feel like crying.

$ Here’s the tissue.


$ My whole make up is destroyed. I will leave class early, come back home and make up again.

$ What would takers do?

$ They would enjoy the class to the very end – they paid for it in advance, didn’t they? They would call the office and say: ‘I’ll show up a bit late’. They wouldn’t explain too much why and how long time a bit lasts.

$ Are you often late for work?

$ Once, twice a year. And if I am supposed to do something in our office hours, I know it in advance, so that we can organize everything correctly in due time.

$ So be late today. Not for the make up’s sake, not because of our class, just for fun: what is it like to play the role of a taker? Every opportunity to practice is a good enough pretext to make your life more satisfactory. Can you handle this?

Chapter III – Part 7

$ I would like to congratulate you on  such an extraordinary journey inside yourself. What was next?

$ The alarm clock.

$ Perfect timing! Now, after the meditation, tell me what comes to your mind when you think of observing yourself through a key hole and being a mammoth, an extinct species. Or generally, what are your impressions after the meditation?

$ My first association is that when I meditate I have a look inside myself. I told you that I had never meditated, that to me it was a waste of time and I realized that I had repressed one experience. Well, one day, the Pentecost’s Eve, I attended a night vigil in a church. After chants and prayers there was an introduction in the meditation. The meditation itself lasted for a very long time, over an hour or so or maybe it was only my impression. Then we had a break for a meal, chants again and a mass. Anyway, during that meditation some people sobbed, a girl sitting next to me was crying and tears from her eyes and from her nose were flooding on her clothes, some other people had paroxysm of laughter, somebody fell automatically, foaming at the mouth. Of course, priests assisted those people, took care of them and I was terrified when I had seen that you could lose total control over yourself. I was in a regular church and I had the impression I had come to a forbidden congregation that hypnotizes people.

$ Today, after your first meditation, what do you think about that experience?

$ I think those people saw something through their key holes. Or that they had courage to open the door wide, get to know the mammoth at once, not the way I have been doing this: first the eye, then the eyelashes etc.

$ That’s well put.

$ And I think to myself: I perceive my person as a mammoth: well-built body, disproportionate, zero sex appeal. They must have smelt. Yuck!

$ And they are an extinct species so if we don’t protect such an endangered specimen like you, you’ll share their fate.

$ I thought about something similar recently. It was somebody’s name day at work. I was eating a cake offered by the name day person and a colleague from my department sniped at me: something about diets, looking for pleasures of the palate instead of pleasures in the bedroom. I tried to make fun of it but deep in my heart I was swallowing bitter tears. And I had two visions of revenge. In the first one I lost much weight, I was incredibly popular with men, this very guy fell in love with me too and I was totally out of his league. In the other one, I died, I was extinct like my mammoth and he felt awkward at the funeral because he didn’t have time to say sorry for his appalling behavior at the name day.

$ I have an impulse to tell you about givers and takers. Have you ever heard about the division of people into givers and takers?

$ Not that I can recall.

$ Well, basically, everybody is a giver or a taker. Givers feel happy when they give; takers feel happy when they take. A giver feels born to give; a taker feels born to take. Givers and takers feel attracted to each other because they complete each other. Givers keep on giving and eventually they feel exhausted because they need to get something, too. Takers keep on taking and eventually they feel bored with the constant receiving that does not require any effort from them. They can even leave and then the givers feel resentful: how can you leave somebody who has given you so much? Do you indentify with one of these patterns?

$ Evidently with givers.

$ If a relationship between a giver and a taker is supposed to become harmonious, the giver needs to learn how to take, and it’s best to take from the takers. Think of a person from among your friends and acquaintances who is a textbook taker. Does anybody come to your mind?

$ O, yes! Many people!

$ So tell me please what their strategies are to receive things.

Chapter III – Part 6

Have you ever meditated?

$ No, I haven’t. I find it a waste of time: you sit idly and so many unfinished things are waiting.

$ Gandhi said: Almost everything you do will seem insignificant, but it is important that you do it. I suggest you take off your shoes, undo your trousers, do your best to feel comfortably. Try out as many blankets and cushions as you need till you find a comfortable seat. Put a cushion against the wall, behind your back so that you don’t feel the wall is hard or cold. It is warm today, nevertheless you can cover with one blanket. Are you ok?

$ Yes, I am. Now I’m yawning all the time.

$ You’re getting relaxed. Meditation is among other things about emptiness. Lao Tse said: Thirty spokes unite at the single hub; It is the empty space which makes the wheel useful. Mold clay to form a bowl; It is the empty space which makes the bowl useful. Cut out windows and doors; It is the empty space which makes the room useful. So while meditating, be in the emptiness, don’t develop the plots that come to your mind in the shape of thoughts, ideas, recalls of the things you’re supposed to do. E.g.: there comes a thought: I need to go home and fetch something and I let this thought flow; something is itching, I can scratch or wait till it passes by; I want to check what time it is, I open my eyes or I leave it alone.

$ By the way: eyes closed?

$ You’ll find it out for yourself. Generally, with open eyes you can see many things around you and they basically distract you more than engines revving outside the window, dogs barking or bells ringing. Completely closed eyes favor falling asleep and meditation is not sleeping, it’s a state of full consciousness. In the Chinese tradition they talk about eyes open at the width of a cotton thread.

$ How am I supposed to measure this?

$ Lower your head a little, as much as it goes down unforced, open your eyes to be able to see the upper part of your thighs, not more.

$ It is difficult for me to keep my eyelids open like this. It is a real effort, they are trembling, tears are coming into my eyes.

$ So close your eyes. A sentence, an expression repeated in your head, observing your breath can help you let go of your thoughts. Let’s try doing this: breathe in through your nose and say: I am, breathe out through your nose and say: here and now.

$ I am here and now. I am here and now. I am here and now.

$ Repeat it only in your head, don’t even whisper it, as if this sentence replaced your thoughts.

$ Is it called a mantra?

$ Labels are the least important. What you call mantra will eventually become useless: you will be in the emptiness, no thoughts, no feelings. Maybe it will last only for a moment, maybe longer. Every experience is all right. I am setting the alarm clock for 25 minutes. If during the meditation for any reason you come to the conclusion that you want to give it up, give it up without hesitating.

$ What do I do with my hands?

$ You certainly saw pictures of meditating Buddha etc.

$ Yes, I did. His palms were joint in the shape of a bowl.

$ Put your palms on your legs, on your knees, the way you remember from the pictures of meditating Buddha, whatever makes you sit comfortably. Let’s get started.

25 minutes later

Are you all right?

$ It was weird. First I wanted to protest: why did you talk me into this? You know, I’m supposed to learn Catalan and you are telling me to sit down, not to read, not to write, not even to think. Then I left it because you are famous for a revolutionary approach to teaching foreign languages. Some time ago we spent half a class visualizing. In no way it looked like learning Catalan to me then and today I can see a deeper sense of getting ready to learning like this. Next, I reminded of the mantra. And I was convinced that although I could hear in my head: I am here and now and observe my breath, there were thoughts running on a second track: I wonder how much time is left; o, I’m yawning again; am I sitting straight? I opened my eyes to see how you were sitting. After all, what day is it today? What time is my meeting with the client X? Have I confirmed the appointment? Did he want me to confirm? I’ll check it after class. I am here and now. Then this running on two tracks tired me. Only breathing remained. And I am here and now. And I started falling asleep. At least that was my impression. My eyes were perfectly closed and suddenly I saw brightness. As if somebody switched on a lamp under my eyelids. I needed to make sure my eyes were closed. Yes, they were. Oh, probably the sun has come out of the clouds. But that didn’t matter because I was sitting with my back towards the window and it’s early in the morning and we are in the southern part of the building. I had these arguments in my head for some moments and then I only enjoyed this cream warm light. And I saw the following picture: I am sitting behind a door and there is a huge key hole in this door, for a huge ancient key. And I can see somebody observe me through this hole. I am coming closer, I stick my eye to the hole and I can see a giant brown eye on the other side. With long straight eyelashes. Then I could see the owner of the eye: a giant mammoth or a similar animal, they have been extinct species for a longtime. And I have a closer look at it and I can see that this animal is me.

Chapter III – Part 5

$ Després del mes de …….. va arribar el vent fred i el cel gris de l’agost. La meva família estava ………………. com sempre. La mare i jo ens hem constipat. El meu germà Leslie tenia mal d’orella. A la Margo, no li marxaven els …………….. de la cara. Només el meu germà gran, en Larry, es trobava bé, però estuve cansat de viure amb nosaltres.

$ Check it, please.

$ Without taking into account the things I didn’t know, I made two mistakes.

$ Go on.

$ Va dir a la mare:

- Per què hem de viure amb aquest temps tan dolent? Tot estan malalt i tu casa vegada sembles més vella!

$ Check it, please.

$ Malalts, not malalt.

$ All right. The next one.

$ – I’m not old – she answered while reading. This one is so complicated. I don’t know how to say that.

$ Have a look at this.

$ Ok. The next one … Hardly any mistakes.

$ Broniarek used to repeat the translation into the language he was learning until he was able to say the text with no mistakes.

$ This method is very strenuous. In this respect it is not behind the Birkenbihl’s. The whole decoding or translating thing…

$ Firstly, in case of both methods, the time you spend on decoding or translating is the time of a very intensive work because while writing you’re not able to concentrate on anything else, unlike in a class, where there are 5-15 other students. You can chase rainbows until the teacher asks you a question, can’t you?

$ Of course!

$ Secondly, at the beginning you can simplify your work and use a student’s book with vocabulary lists in every unit. Or, if you feel totally disgusted by translations, you can acquire a book with translated texts. At the very first sight, does this method have any advantages or disadvantages compared to the Birkenbihl’s?

$ In Birkenbihl’s it is easier at the stage of the exercise. It prepares you slowly: first decode, word for word, tell it like it is, without mincing words, then listen actively, listen passively and finally do the exercise. And here, not only do I have to deal with a translation, i.e. with a text perfectly correct in my mother tongue, no telling like it is, but also right after that it throws me into a deep water: translate back, into a foreign language.

$ This is a shortcoming. What about a bright side?

$ In my opinion, Broniarek’s method prepares you better to use the language in real life. Look at this sentence: No penso contestar aquesta classe de preguntes. In Birkenbihl’s the decoding is: Not think answer this sort of questions. In Broniarek’s you translate: I’m not going to answer questions like this. So if one day, in real life, you want to say: I’m not going to answer questions like this, you react expertly, you are trained in switching from I’m not going to answer questions like this to No penso contestar aquesta classe de preguntes. Let alone the fact that in Birkenbihl’s you have an additional task: learn and remember that No penso contestar aquesta classe de preguntes means in English I’m not going to answer questions like this; a poc a poc (a little a little) means slowly; si et va bé (if you go good) means if it’s ok with you etc.

$ Good point. I enjoy mixing those two. At the beginng – Birkenbihl, then – Broniarek. I wonder whether you will like combining them, too. There’s another way of simplifying this work, from pre-intermediate on, like in Birkenbihl’s…

$ … that I don’t decode or don’t translate what I already know, what is already obvious to me. I only translate/decode what is new to me, what I don’t understand.

$ Your memory is excellent. You’re yawning. Didn’t you sleep well?

$ I told you I was exhausted with this bloody diet and stuff.

$ So, let’s make a break and meditate.

Chapter III – Part 4

$ Let’s get back to the method itself. Have a look at this text, please:

Després del mes de juliol va arribar el vent fred i el cel gris de l’agost. La meva família estava malalta com sempre. La mare i jo ens havíem constipat. El meu germà Leslie tenia mal d’orella. A la Margo, no li marxaven els grans de la cara. Només el meu germà gran, en Larry, es trobava bé, però estava cansat de viure amb nosaltres. Va dir a la mare:

- Per què hem de viure amb aquest temps tan dolent? Tot estan malalts i tu casa vegada sembles més vella!

- No sóc vella – va contestar, mentre llegia.

- Sí que ho ets. Necessitem el sol, un país diferent!

- Sí, noi, és una bona idea – va dir la mare, sense escoltar.

- En George diu que l’illa de Corfú és bonica. Hi podem anar.

- Si et fa gràcia, anem-hi – va dir la mare, que no volia fer enfadar el seu fill.

- Quan hi anem, mare? – va demanar en Larry.

La mare va veure que s’havia equivocat; va deixar el llibre i va dir a en Larry:

- Primer hi pots anar tu, i després hi podem anar tots si és un lloc bonic.

En Larry va mirar la mare i li va dir:

- Això ja ho vas dir una altra vegada. Em vaig estar dos mesos a Espanya, esperant-vos, i no vau venir. Si anem a Grècia, anem-hi tots junts.

- Però, fill, he comprat aquesta casa fa pocs dies!

- Doncs, ven-la!

- No pot ser, fill. No ho puc fer, això.

Però al final ho vam fer: vam vendre la casa i vam fugir de l’estiu anglès.

and put down its translation.

$ The cold wind and the grey sky of August came after July. My family were sick as usual. My mother and I had got a cold. My brother Leslie had an ear ache. Margo couldn’t get rid of spots from her face. Only my older brother Larry was doing fine but he was tired of living with us. He said to the mother:

- Why do we have to put up with such a bad weather? Everybody is sick and you seem to be older and older.

- I’m not old – she answered while reading.

- Yes, you are. We need sunshine, a different country.

- Yes, baby, it’s a good idea – said the mother without listening.

- George says Corfú island is beautiful. We can go there.

- If you feel like it, let’s go there – said the mother who didn’t want to make her son feel angry.

- When are we going, mom? – asked Larry.

The mother saw that she had made a mistake; she left the book and said to Larry:

- You go first and then we all can come if it is a beautiful place.

Larry looked at his mother and said:

- You said that once. I stayed in Spain for two months, waiting for you

and you never came. If we go to Greece, we’ll go there together.

- But, son, I bought this house a couple of days ago!

- So sell it!

- It is not possible, son. I can’t make it this way.

But finally we did it: we sold the house and escaped from England.


$ Now, hide the Catalan text, look at the English version and say it in Catalan.