Due to COVID-19, Thierry Janssen was forced to close the premises of the school he established in Brussels. In recent months, Silversquare Bailli’s ‘Atlantis’ room has played host to a series of courses. During a video conference held on 29 April at SQ Bailli (registration link), Janssen hopes to provide further information. Here is a preview.
You have many strings to your bow, right?
Having been a surgeon for 20 years, I ran Emporio Armani in Paris for a year (!) before becoming a psychotherapist. This led me to write, teach, and finally to found the École de la Posture Juste (EDLPJ). Teaching gives me the greatest pleasure. Initially, the school was aimed at carers. Today, it welcomes professionals from other sectors, including many entrepreneurs.
Having first discovered the coworking spaces in autumn, what are your overall impressions?
Energy seems to flow quite organically throughout these workspaces. There appears to be a certain fluidity, openness and interconnectedness. This really excited me. These walls hold memories, capturing the workspace’s collective energy. I noticed it as soon as I entered. It is at once structured and relaxed, focused and in motion. It is very much alive!
Do these coworking spaces inhibit your inner connection?
This is not something I have ever felt at Silversquare. Of course, there is a certain hustle and bustle. However, it is entirely possible to become fully immersed in this setting while maintaining our inner peace. Silence is not the absence of noise, it is rather the space in which noise appears and disappears. It is the essence of our presence in the world, the very nature of consciousness. For consciousness does not think, it simply observes. It can only awaken if we open our hearts. This requires us to be present, without judgement, accepting what lies around us. Coworking spaces appear to foster this ideal.
During this difficult time, what approach would you recommend?
First and foremost: foster conscious awareness. This period we are experiencing is bringing our deepest existential fears to the surface: being confronted with discomfort and death, lacking resources and being alone, having to submit to the will of others to survive, or, conversely, the fear of losing control over others and our environment. Most of the time, we respond by behaving in ways that, unfortunately, end up re-enacting our fears. This behaviour is called neurosis. This can generate a lot of tension, conflict, separation and suffering.
As soon as this is understood, it is possible to adjust and create another reality. Each one of these fears generates emotions and, therefore, flows of energy within our body. Consequently, it is very important to be in tune with our bodies. To achieve this, I recommend breathing deeply. This results in a rebalancing the brain between areas causing anxiety and tension and those inciting positivity and relaxation.
As I said, consciousness does not equate to active thought. Awakening our consciousness requires a calm mind. This is not easy as we have been conditioned to think from childhood. Personally, I know no better way to calm the mind than to meditate, to centre our minds in the present moment. Better still, meditate with your body in motion. Yoga or qi gong are perfect for this.
Do you have a miracle formula for finding happiness?
I prefer to talk about fulfilment rather than happiness, just like I prefer to talk about joie de vivre rather than contentment. Major studies show that what makes people feel accomplished and happy is to be able to express the best of themselves, in the service of a greater project, in connection with others. We often seek happiness through accumulating possessions and setting ourselves apart from others.
Have you also had a hard time?
Like everyone, no doubt. I have lost loved ones, I have not always felt accepted, I have gone through periods of deep professional reflection and experienced spiritual crises. At some point, I needed to take a step back to gain some perspective.
Many people with burnout or depression are forced to withdraw. I believe it is better to take a voluntary pause before falling ill. It is not always necessary to isolate oneself when taking this step back. One can develop an inner space where our awakened consciousness is able to objectively observe, without judgement, what our life really is about.
Do you have any advice for entrepreneurs reading this?
During such times of uncertainty and change, it is important to remember that our brains are driven by a dopamine-dependent motivation and reward system. As its name suggests, this neurotransmitter ‘dopes’ us, providing the necessary energy to carry out our projects.
The tragedy lies in that, if our plans do not come to fruition, our dopamine levels drop. This is accompanied by a decrease in energy and a feeling of depression. We are, therefore, tempted to embark on new projects to raise our dopamine levels. This can become a real addiction. Unfortunately, if our plans prove too unrealistic, and we go from one disappointment to another, the dopamine circuit becomes depleted, This leads towards long-term depression. It is therefore very important not to embark on projects that are too lengthy or ambitious in relation to the present reality. This does not mean that we should stop thinking big, rather that we should do so in accordance with the prevailing circumstances, not thinking too far ahead. It is a matter of remaining flexible and adaptable to the changing situations.
What prospects does the future hold?
The future does not yet exist. It is up to us to create it. The more we are aware of what is going on in and around us, the more we will be able to recognise our neurosis, to adjust and, consequently, to act appropriately in the present. We will, therefore, behave in a way that is much more respectful of our own lives and those around us.
Thierry Janssen has written many books. His latest ‘La posture juste’ was published in 2020 by L’iconoclaste.