Lapland – Darkness and Light



I stepped out of the airplane in the airport of Ivalo in northern Finland as I organized my first real MachoTherapy event. The airport was located in the middle of absolutely no-where, surrounded by arctic hills and nature as far as the eye could see. It was only 2PM but the sun had gone down and darkness covered the land.

“Perfect!” I thought, “We will discover our hidden and dark sides”. Thomas had just returned from his trip to India and he was still dealing with the topic of “silence”.

The past years I had known him as someone who connected with the people around him very easily and someone who had no trouble talking for hours and explaining new and fascinating points of view about life and the human being. But now this “connector” was much more held back and kept more to himself. Asking himself if his words were as good as his silence – What made sense to talk about?

For me it felt like his each movement and action was carefully questioned, his connections to people was evaluated, him asking “Is this really me” and “Is this how I want my life to be”. And it fit perfectly to the surrounding and theme of our MachoTherapy event.


Our base was located on the side of an arctic hill. A beautiful wooden house called Uuvana. It opened to the nature outside with massive glass windows and a view that I had never dreamed of admiring like this.

Hill after hill opened in front of us, looking down into the valley where the town of Saariselkä rest. An occasional cloud of smoke rose from the valley when one of the houses had lit fire in either the sauna, fireplace or stove. It was one of those views where I could rest my eyes on for hours. I asked myself “Is this really me living in this house?”, “Is this really what my life can be like?”. I had never heard a need to have something like this in my life so strong. In that beauty and silence I looked into my “darkness” for the first time and found something like a longing for more quality.

MachoTherapy for me is “ACTION”. It is the LIFE that I long for made into a “therapy”. As I looked at the view, the people and Thomas’ enthusiasm as he coached, shared and moved the group, I felt a satisfaction in life; “This is it! Now I can feel why I am alive”.

Thomas connected to the nature and to the culture around us very easily with the topic of silence. He sat one evening at the dinner table and said: “Finnish people have a lot to offer, we can learn from them especially when we want to learn about silence. You sit together with them and you’re waiting for a conversation, and they teach you silence. This is fantastic! You don’t have to talk much. You sit there and you learn to communicate on a different level. You don’t have to say please or thank you, not in that many words. So it is a different way. You can experience silence in communication.” 

I had to laugh. I never thought of it that way.

Our journey had brought people from all over the world to the house on the hill of Saariselkä. We had Spanish people, Argentineans, Italians, Germans and Finns in our group. From the very first moment on when the group had stepped in the house, Thomas had brought them together in a way that felt like family. His own being was so simple and open that it created an ambiance where people felt home.

The first evening I was doing work in the kitchen but gave an occasional glance at the people sitting in the living room. I knew they did not know each other but yet they all looked like old friends that had come together after years of being apart. There was an amazing warmth between them.

The next days I accompanied and observed how Thomas opened up the topics of “DARKNESS and LIGHT”. And it was amazing. There were tears and laughter, fun and action, deep and very light silences, music and dancing, meditation and talks.  He created an ambiance of consciousness and fun. Connecting and playing with the different elements of nature and our personalities.

“When you get security, a lot of passion and feeling, you can see if you’re still afraid, and this is how we can look at the parts we didn’t want to see. The parts that we closed our eyes from and it became dark.” –Thomas Hertlein

He came from his trip to India and landed in the silence and darkness of Lapland. He tuned down the sounds in us to hear what we have inside. And there was a lot we had not heard for a long time, if ever. The “darkness” inside of us was entered with security, passion and feeling. He said that it’s not to bring light in the dark because then it would be light again. It is to experience the darkness as it is and learn to use different senses. To stand silent and hear what is there, to slow down and feel what is there, to stop and taste…To speed up and enjoy the life that we hide from ourselves.

Thomas once said that: “A therapy does not have to be on a couch!” It has become one of my favorite sentences. We can use anything to understand ourselves. So why not use the fun things, the amazing things, the beauty and action. I loved it and that’s why I want to do it again.

Lapland is calling again. This time the snow and ice! We will travel to find our FROZEN PARTS!! I started to work on mine and it opened so many questions that I can’t wait to fly up north. These are some of the questions that came up while I played with the “ICE and SNOW”.

Are you a good working machine with a freezing relationship, an iced up body, frozen heart, arctic feelings, cold sexuality, icy male features, frigid femininity, frosty humour, sub-zero sense in life or just simply cold feet?

And that’s what we go find out.