Of Carnations and Innocence

I neglected carnations for decades.

My perception of them was very much disturbed by past experiences that go back to my childhood.

These days, I am deeply touched by their beauty and variety. I just recently discovered their aromatic and sweet smell. Part of my being has changed and therefore my perception of them. I now see carnations with different eyes.

I love flowers and regularly buy bunches of flowers for the Yogashala and our house. I consider it my treat of the week!

When choosing the flowers in past years, I would never pick carnations. I refused to even consider adding one of them to a bunch. My good friend Aswin, who works at one of my favourite flower shops, oftentimes gives me great advise when I design the bunches. He pointed at carnations many times. I used to respond with a clear “No”.

I grew up in East Berlin in the GDR.

I therefore took part in and witnessed a society based on repression, dogma and obedience. My childhood and youth were permeated by memberships in organisations, attending obligatory programs, camps and courses. The school system was aiming to mould everybody into the same ideology-based worldview and lifestyle.

1 May, celebrated as World Labour Day, was an official holiday with a big and overloaded parade in East Germany’s big cities. It was supposed to exhibit the power of the socialist system and its united forces to the Western World. It was a big show-off and attendance was obligatory for the citizens of the GDR.

We were obliged to wear a paper carnation pinned to our jacket or coat as a sign of commitment to the ruling socialist regime, ideology and submission to the system.

I lived through many 1 May parades.

I was clueless as a child and full of contradictions in my teenage years, the 1980s. At that time, the system had started to crumble, its foundations were weakening. In hindsight, I look at those parades as a massive meeting of lost souls, showing up for something non-tangible. All based on a fading and weakened dream of a small group of people who most probably had lost their souls a long time ago. 

The general obligations besides being pressured into a belief system and behaviours that didn’t come from who I really was, took my breath away. Starting at a very young age, I experienced discomfort and chronic illness as a result of a high stress level. Always wondering what was wrong with me…

During those years no one had ever asked what it is that I wanted. All education and ideology was designed around collectivism. 

The collective embellishment of a carnation on World Labour Day felt like a curse. I felt it deep in my bones.

I’m still healing the wounds of my upbringing

I’m still healing the trauma it left in my body. I’m still processing the heritage of it. 

I’ve developed an interest in my family history that reached back 2-3 generations. I realised the complexity when I explored more of German, European and even World history. I was craving a better understanding of the impact on my formative and important years of my first 20 years of life. 

I’ve been finding answers, insights, physical release and more enjoyment in life through e.g. yoga, purposeful meditation, constellation work and educating myself about (healing) trauma. I’ve been transforming gradually my body of protection into a body of connection. 

In doing so, I successfully connected with the innocence of the carnation. I bought a whole bunch of those beauties in different colours and varieties last Friday. I placed them as decoration in our living room and was sitting right next to them in our meditation the following morning.

With my eyes closed, I could enjoy them by becoming aware of their smell. I can now look at them and admire them for their beauty. It is a beauty that I am able to see as I improved in the practice of living a life of healing which in turn has changed my perception of them.

Many beautiful people accompanied me on my healing path in my adult life. 

With some of them I bonded deeply and unconditionally, and together we continue to heal our wounds – personally, collectively and as a species. We remind each other of our daily duty as a service to humanity and the world. 

Looking at the carnations is also a reminder of the inherent innocence of nature, objects and all beings. 

Practicing yoga is an act of grace to a tormented mind.

It’s soft caresses on a body that too often belongs to a disembodied person. It is the art of allowing and feel your innocence, smell your sweet odour and experience your beauty unfold in an endless variety of shapes.