VIBE ERSTAD has been a Heartfulness practitioner for 52 years, having started in Copenhagen in 1970. The journey that has unfolded throughout those years is one of heartache and joy, and of participating in something bigger than an individual journey – a collective evolution of humanity looking to the future for all the children of the world.
Relationships have been a source of sorrow in my life. I was 5 when my father ended his own life, and it left me with a deep feeling of not being able to truly count on the connection and love everyone looks for here on Earth. He was a very talented landscape architect, but a politician criticized him in a newspaper for a project he did in Copenhagen, and it was the trigger for him to take his own life. I can only begin to imagine how much pain a father is in, if he chooses to pass forward such a trauma to two little daughters.
He did not believe in God, he believed in aesthetics. He took beautiful photos of my mother in our garden. His father(also a landscape architect) and my mother exchanged poetry, and she also had a plant education. There was much beauty on the outside and much nervous energy on the inside.
I was gifted in drawing, and I drew portraits, starting in Italy where our family spent two months in our Volkswagen. They were happy days indeed. My mother had built up an artistic papercutting business that did very well, but then she died of cancer when we girls were 19 and 16, so my younger sister took over the business with our stepfather.
I became an architect and worked for a town planning firm. I remember a fascination with small-scale houses in communities –places to live while being near the rest of the community. I was not into modern architecture, so square and often so “cold.” I liked the old houses in the countryside and villages, and classical buildings. Both my mother and my stepfather had friends who lived in manor houses, but nowhere did I find an environment that really appealed to my heart. Nice communities of modern design fascinated me in magazines, but they were always a disappointment. And politics and beer also did not interest me!
Why do I relate all this? So that you understand how much it meant for me to find what I had come for!
When I was 15, I was walking in nature when suddenly I was in another realm. Things did not look different, they were different! It was a spiritual awakening, and I remember saying to myself, “Whoever I marry, and whatever education I get, it is ‘water’ compared to THIS!” From then on, I started reading all Paul Brunton’s books on meditation. I found them on my mother’s shelves – she became interested while grieving the loss of her husband. I also read about mystics from all different religions. But I did not find a practice yet.
Through my youth and adult life, I often felt a deep sense of loneliness. I didn’t fit in a modern and material world. Then I met Thomas, who had planned a trip to India with some friends. I left the Academy for a year and spent seven months in India with them, searching for spiritual guidance. Thomas became the father of our two children. Once Thomas heard inside himself, “Vibe has lived as a Brahmin.” On arriving back in Denmark, we found Heartfulness. It had come to our country while we were in India. We started in 1970, and soon we visited Babuji in Shahjahanpur.
I spent a lot of time with my spiritual Masters. Those were the most meaningful days in my life. We can’t all go and stay with Masters, but we can all connect deeply to the place inside that I connected to when I was with Babuji – a place of joy and bliss, unknown to me in any other circumstances in life.
I brought the joy with me home to Denmark. Once, after a long stay in India with Babuji, I explained to my four-year-old son how the ashram in Shahjahanpur was created with curves on the sides, indicating the idea of a bowl open to receiving Grace (the opposite of a dome). My son replied, “You are like that now, mom.” I felt it was true. My inner condition was more like an empty vessel after those long trips to India, and there was less of me and more space for him. I was able to be more present around my son when I allowed myself to dive into my inner space and meditate.
The practice became my sanctuary and my true place of rejuvenation. It has brought so much joy into my life, in a simple and very innocent way. It is not about doing something, but about being something. I feel a meaning in life that my father didn’t feel when he chose to take his own life. It prepared me to appreciate beyond measure the kind of love I found so pure and simple in Babuji, and in those souls who gave their hearts so fully to him that they became like him.
It is a role I was put here to play, going far beyond my ability to comprehend. When I assist other people with their meditation, I feel connected to them in a very profound way. It led me to devoting a large amount of time to working as a meditation trainer. I volunteered to leave the architect’s studio when they said they needed to cut their budget. I felt protected financially by the money my parents had left me, a house, and the social system in Denmark. I felt it correct to leave the job so others could keep their jobs, even though nobody in that studio could draw like I could.
This allowed me to spend more time with my son and daughter, and I could say “Yes” every time someone asked me for a meditation session. It is a privilege for which I am truly grateful, because I can contribute to people’s lives when I meditate with them.
My spiritual practice led me to live near the Heartfulness Meditation Center in the countryside of Denmark. Here I have used my skills in repairing and decorating, and have experienced wonderful moments of true community happiness, even while doing something so simple as washing dishes.
I built my own wooden house with a mass oven and solar panels, close enough that I can bike home and meditate. When I do, I feel profoundly connected to the inner community, with a sense of togetherness, despite being alone there in my meditation chair.
Offering meditation sessions, meeting and reuniting over the years with people from maybe 30 countries, is a heartwarming part of my life. At other times I am disappointed with myself, because I still suffer from difficulties around relationships. I feel that we humans tend to be so much in competition and irrelevant interaction. But that is life, also, and we learn.
Maybe my life is not so much about experiencing community in a time-space reality. Maybe I have come to feel it as a vision, and to hold that vision so dear to me that it becomes contagious, what we call an “egregore,” a community of kindred spirits. Invisible but felt.
My heart believes in communities
where people live together
in peace and love.
I feel my path interwoven in the collective evolution of humanity, and I can only guess and wonder. My heart believes in communities where people live together in peace and love. When I designed housing in my youth, I felt so happy to draw kids and grown-ups of all ages, while I was going into the details of all the buzzing and happy activity taking place in the vision. My 52 years of spiritual practice have made me able to hold space for that hope, while feeling a deep-felt meaning in life.
I hope my grandchildren, and all other children on Earth, will experience life in communities of peace and mutual respect. I hope my contribution of feeling and loving these communities will echo into eternity and leave an impact in the greater intelligence.
Actually, the glimpses I have sometimes had, while polishing my windows in the quiet afternoon, is that they are already a reality on subtle levels of consciousness.
Vibe was one of the first people to start the Heartfulness practice in Europe. She has been a sincere practitioner for more than 50 years and has devoted most of her life in the service for humanity as a Heartfulness trainer. She is also a Danish architect, who travelled to India as often as she could, first... Read more