I was around 19 years old, I just came out of a one-year solitary meditation retreat and we were in the garden having a farewell party for a visiting Buddhist master. It was summer, there was dancing, laughter and some drinking. Everyone was joyful and at ease. I sat down next to my buddhist teacher and at one point he turns to me, looks me in the eyes and says: “This is the happiest day of your life”. I was so puzzled. How could this insignificant day be the happiest one of my life? I still had my whole life ahead of me, surely there would be more exciting things ahead. Is this feeling of happiness the highest that I can achieve in life? This incident embarked me on a journey in life that questioned what happiness really is and what I could realistically expect from life.
Fast forward to today, after lots of travel, two university degrees, loss of father and teacher, marriage, divorce, having all, having nothing, having time and having no time, after success and failure, stress, and more stress, making mistakes, not learning from my mistakes, good health, bad health, and lots of more meditation, my path has brought me some profound answers to that question. Along the way, it also threw in some sarcasm and a sense of humour on the side. I feel great gratitude to my many teachers, guides and friends for all that I have learned.
Multicultural background: Palestinian/Dutch, born and raised in Nazareth. I speak English, Dutch, Tibetan, Arabic and French. At the age of 11, I came to The Netherlands. Not knowing what to study after school, I decided to do some modules of philosophy. After that I was convinced that the answers are not in books but in myself. I sought an experienced (Tibetan) Buddhist master and I studied intensively with him. I did a long solitary silent retreat of a full year under his guidance. As I came out I had a good foundation in meditation and concentration. I did not get all the answers I was looking for, I eventually just had less questions. Nowadays, I maintain a daily practice and I still enjoy regular retreats.
My multicultural background inspired me to study CuItural Anthropology. During that time, I established a student association at the University of Leiden. For this, I got invited by Queen Beatrix to the Noordeinde Palace for the anniversary of the Prince Clause Chair. For my final thesis, I did academic research for several months in rural India (Andhra Pradesh) among the Dalit untouchable cast. During that time I lived in mud and leaf huts.
Later, I travelled to Tibet, Nepal and other parts of India many times and for several months at a time and studied Buddhism and languages there.
In 2009, I graduated from the Radboud University of Nijmegen with a master in Business Administration. After that I worked for commercial businesses in account management and later as a coach/trainer.
I served as board chairman for several years for a large Buddhist retreat centre in Friesland (NL). There I gained a rich experience in organising guided meditation retreats, inviting outstanding masters from all over the world and facilitating individual retreats. Also, I learned about team dynamics and experienced the power of motivation and inspiration in creating harmony, ownership and in getting the job done.
I have done a coaching study and several intensive teacher trainings in different methods thereby gaining a toolkit that supports and strengthens my own unique approach that I have developed over the years.
Since 2015, I have been coaching and training independently. I work in ways that give me joy, pleasure and fulfilment in life and this is what my customers experience. I believe humour to be my greatest gift as it is the short-cut to make people smile and to open their hearts. We must not take life or ourselves too seriously.
Philosophy, University of Utrecht
Bachelor in Cultural Anthropologie, University of Leiden
Master in Business Administration, Radboud University Nijmegen
Happiness Coaching at Heart4Happiness
Non-Violent Communication, Ai-Opener
Certified Mindfulness trainer, Centrum voor Mindfulness Den Haag
Joy of Living, Tergar