söndag 14 augusti 2016

My Vipassana experience - Ten days of madness


I was a shipwreck. Or rather, I was clinging onto the pieces of driftwood scattered across the stormy seas originating from the flaky (but fabulously pink and sparkly) ship I had been frantically sailing from harbor to harbor in an endless pursuit of … well, yes… something. Swimming in murky waters of uncertainty, I was growing weary of the tiny lifeboats I exhausted myself building. I was drowning.

This is when I found myself signed up for a Vipassana course. Described as “a way to eliminate suffering” I was grasping at anything that would help keep me afloat. ANYTHING. And something about the teachings, the philosophies of the meditation-technique resonated with me. Yes. Yes, this was exactly what I needed to do. There was a reason I stumbled upon this. This was a real lifeboat.

So, there I was on a train out to the middle of nowhere in England. Broke, up to my ears in deadlines, anxious and stressed as a rabid hamster, and still, there I was. Just hours away from embarking on a 10 day silent co-existence with approximately 100 strangers, about to meditate for 100 hours. I must be crazy I thought. This is ridiculous. Absolutely ridiculous. I called my sister in a last-minute attempt to flee the situation. “What on earth am I doing? Why can’t I just get a 9-5 job and be a proper adult?” I kept on saying to myself “Sit down in the goddamn boat woman, stop making life so fricking hard”. Then it dawned on me. I didn’t have a boat, remember? It had been utterly obliterated. I needed to build myself a new one. And I was determined that this new boat was going to be a proper one. A majestic tank. A warrior of the seas. A unicorn-ship of the waves.

I washed up on shore on the English countryside with all the bits and pieces of my poorly constructed joke of a boat and noticed that I wasn’t alone. I wasn’t the only one descending on the sandy beach this sunny morning with salt-drenched hairs, ruffled clothes, a bit scratched or bruised, and with a mildly confused gaze. Besides from my fellow ship-wreckers there were even more people showing up to face the harsh morning sun. Some in modest home-build boats, others finding their way out from the woods, and some just sailing in with a broken compass, stopping to find a new route home. There were the curious adventurers, explorers and then there were the locals, who knew the area and strolled around the pebbly seaside mindfully, carefree.

We were all going to share this beach. It had begun.

“You must be sure that you are willing to stay for the entirety of the retreat, all 10 days”

The facilitators asked for probably the fourth time. Were we absolutely sure we could abide by all the rules and did we realize that this was going to be hard work? If not, we should back out now. Leaving mid-course wasn’t really an option.

A slight flutter of doubt. Could I really? Should I really? I can still run away. Who am I trying to fool? I am not a real meditator! I am a fraud, here again trying to hustle for worthiness in yet another area. I would not make it. I shouldn’t even try. This was utterly irresponsible. I had real matters to attend to. I didn’t have time for this. Oh, and did I already mention it was crazy?

But then a line from a book I had just been reading came to me. “Healing is a gift that life gives us, but it is also a mission we have been given”. Since when is it irresponsible to take responsibility for your life? For your happiness? Yet another line from one of my favorite authors, Elizabeth Gilbert, made its way into my train of thoughts: “You have to work relentlessly for the manifestations of your own blessings”. I was here now. To work. This was where I was supposed to be. To work on this wrecked ship of mine. I texted my sister. “I am going to make the most of this and see this as a job, this is going to be my mission now for ten days. May it make me or break me”.

A cookie caught my attention, as customary in my daily life. A girl a couple of years younger than me reached out with a Digestive and a cup of tea she had brought for me. We started talking and soon I was chattering left and right and realized I wasn’t the only one questioning this endeavor. “I have never even meditated”, one of the women exclaimed with laughter. I exhaled. We were all frauds, we were all mad and irresponsible or we were all brave as fuck. I couldn’t really make up my mind which. I just knew we were all there for a reason or another. Something about this mission had resonated with all of us and I knew, if they could make it, I could make it. At least we would be miserable together.

And so, we exhausted ourselves with chatter for one more hour. What do you talk about when you know that you won’t be able to talk for 10 more days and you have 57 minutes left to empty you word-well? Oh, maybe noble words of wisdom and citations of great minds? No, we talked about snapchat, asparagus and floppy-discs. “Floppy discs are like Jesus, they died to become the icon of saving”. I heard myself saying, reciting some silly 9-gag image I had seen the other day. And the others laughed. That is how desperate we were to fill any voids of silence. 5 minutes left. Nervous hysterical laughter.

And so the time had come. Silence. We weren’t allowed to make eye-contact, gestures or touch anyone for the remainder of the stay. We were from here on now to work as in solitude.

Day 1. The gongong (ohyes, they went full Tibetan on our asses) rings at 4 am. Time for meditation. I go in full of energy and leave the sitting hall 2 hours later, surprisingly pleased with myself, exhilarated to be honest. I had survived my first sitting! Sure, my mind had wandered aimlessly for a majority of the time, but still! I had sat there! Persevered! Now time for breakfast.

I didn’t know what to expect and was in awe of the buffet of porridge, toast, fruit, yoghurt and various spreads laid before us. So perplex that I ended up having porridge, oats, corn-flakes, sunflower seeds, peanut butter and yoghurt all in one bowl. That should tell you something about the nature of my frazzled mind at that point. I was simply in a state where I couldn’t make any decisions and I kept looking around at others plates to see what they were eating. Glancing at my neighbor’s neatly sliced toast with a smooth layer of tahini and the porridge with meticulously chopped pieces of apples I stared down into my bowl of disaster and thought to myself “well, isn’t this symbolic”.

After breakfast and one hour of rest (without permission to take naps – even though- yes I sneakily did the first two days) there were two more hours of meditation before lunch. Two hours of just concentrating on your nostrils and the air moving and moving out. Moving in and moving out. In and out. Endlessly it seemed like before the food bell rang again. A delicious vegetarian meal was served and then, wait... What? No more food? NO MORE FOOD!? Just more meditation and then a fruit snack and hot lemon water at 5.

NO MORE FOOD. “What am I to do??! I need to eat, that’s the only way I keep my sanity! “I need my mouth be entertainnnnnnneeeddddd and I am going to be sooo hunggggrryyyyy”, my inner, chubby-cheeked, cookie-nibbling five-year old yelled hysterically. I filled my lunch plate up to the rims as if I was going to hike out on a 10 mile treck. “I might make it now”, I thought pleased with myself but soon drowsy from the gigantic portion. At the 7 o´clock discourse our Vipassana guru Goenka (a sympathetic Indian man with a glowing face being projected on a big screen in the meditation hall every night for one hour) explained the food-situation. “It is best to not be over-full when meditating”. No shit Sherlock.

At 9 p.m it was time for bed and I crashed onto my pillow and stared up into the ceiling. “Only 9 more days, only 9 more days”.

Day 2 I was mentally packing my bags. I couldn’t take one more hour of focusing on my nostrils and that tiny little area underneath our nose where we were supposed to feel sensations. I was going mad. MAD. During the two longer meal breaks I wandered aimlessly in the teeny-tiny wooded area we had been provided with for “recreation”. There we all strolled around, heads bowed down on the tiny paths, like patients from a mental institution let loose in the court-yard, trying not to run into each other (run is the wrong word, it was more like small slow-motion crashes without sound). During my midday “promenade” I heard a car on the other side of the fence and it filled me with nostalgia. “I know that world” I thought to myself longingly and then objectively examined my previous thought. “Heidi. You have been here for 42 hours. Get a grip woman”.

So the days piled up. I started to be able to tell people apart by recognizing their feet. I don’t think I have ever been so fascinated with feet in my entire life. Or my fingernails. I would scrutinize them daily, realizing that my left pinkynail is actually a bit wider than my right one, imagine that!

The meditation was still a challenge and during the breaks I had started the task of trying to sort out my life. But my mind wasn’t cooperating. I was sitting there, underneath a tree, preparing myself mentally, bracing myself and then shouting out (in my head obviously) “come on then, hand me those big life questions now!”. And what did I think about? Soups. Was my favorite really carrot soup or had I started preferring lentil soups now? Oh, yes, and how come Kellogg’s chose a tiger as their front figure? And what was the name of that tiger again? Was it just… No, it couldn’t be. Yes, I believe it was… Just… Tiger? No, no, no, wait. It was Tony, Tony the Tiger,  That´s almost worse to be honest. Something about that name just doesn´t sound trustworthy. Well. He did market a product that mostly is made up of sugar. Of course he would have a name that sounds like a questionable cheap car-dealer.

Yes. Those sorts of questions aroused. Deep stuff, I know.

On day 3 I actually started to make head way with some issues and had one of those ahaa-moments (I have read somewhere that an ahaa-moment is actually when your soul recognizes something as a truth, something it already knew – LOVE THAT) and I was sitting, basking in the sun, relishing at my newly found wisdom and then this old indian woman sits next to me and lets a big fart rip.

So much for enlightenment.

I also found myself having a lot of arguments with my inner teenager. You know, the bored, eye-rolling, rule-ignoring brat with heavy eye-makeup.
- “This sucks. I want to do somethiiiiiingggg” – she would howl relentlessly. “I know, I want to sing!”.
- “No, Heidi, you are not allowed to sing”. I would answer calmly.
- “Well, I DON’T CARE”, she would yell back defiantly. “I am gonna sing now”.
- “No, you will NOT, young lady! You will NOT!”
- “Try and stop me”, she would growl.
So I gave in, like any overworked teenage mom.
- “Okey, we will go out into the woods and you are allowed to sing ONE line from a song, okey? ONE LINE”.
Off we went into the woods and I let my inner teenager pick the song and she busted out… “You spin my head right round, right round, when you go down, when you go down, down.”
Mic drop. My inner teenager has horrible music taste.

On day 4 I had started peeling sunflower seeds, chopping them in half and eating them one by one. Slowly.

Halfway through the retreat my mind had surprisingly enough started running out of stuff to think about and meditation was getting easier. And my head was not liking it. That’s when it started getting desperate. Such an attention whore. “Look, look, LOOOK! Listen to meeee!!”, it would scream. It was frantic, lacking coherent words and arguments it started throwing out shapes and forms. “Look, look! Here is a big, pink, blob! Look at it! Oh, and looook noooow, NOW it turned into a cupcake and now it’s growing legs and it’s running away. Chase after it, chase after it!!”.
See? Desperate I tell you.

And then the crazy part of my brain started springing into action whenever the opportunity arose. You know that weird part that keeps making you question your own strength of will and decency and well, general self-preservation? The one that starts whispering when you stand by a cliff or a big bridge. “What if I was to jump…?” You laugh a bit at the thought, but then you end up taking a step back from the edge. Just in case. Well, THAT part had a BLAST. Example: the girl meditating in front of me had only one earring, a silverloop, and that excited my inner weirdo to the brink of insanity. “What if… What if I were to just, you know... Bite it. Bite a hold of the ring and just hiss at anyone trying to rescue the attacked woman from my teeth-grip”. For three sittings I sat with my jaws tightly clenched. You know. Just in case.

But that’s when the movies began. Movie plot after movie plot unraveled in my mind accompanied by the never ending soundtrack of Pitbull-songs (again blaming that teenage-brat living inside of me) and Foo fighters “he doesn’t look a thing like Jesus”. And that of course made me think about Jesus and how he would look in a music-video with Pitbull.
Interesting, is the answer you’re looking for. Very interesting.

In the meantime, the meditation got serious. One third through the retreat we were introduced to the Vipassana technique which is a way of self-transformation through self-observation. It focuses on the deep interconnection between mind and body, which can be experienced directly by disciplined attention to the physical sensations. It is this observation-based, self-exploratory journey to the common root of mind and body dissolving mental impurity that is meant to result in a balanced mind full of love and compassion. Well, sign me up for that!

We were now scanning our bodies in search for sensations to gain better understanding of our mind and the interconnection between them. Every body part, piece by piece was to be equanimously scrutinized. According to Vipassana teachings, there are two main reasons for misery, craving and aversion and they manifest in the body as sensations. Now it was time for us to face those layers and layers of misery surfacing from the unconscious and trying to remain balanced as we were realizing that everything is in-permanent. The nature of sensations is that they arise and they will eventually pass away. That is the law of nature. The key is to remain balanced and not let the spawn of misery shake us. This we then could apply in real life in dealing with difficult emotions and situations resulting from either overly clinging to stuff or profusely frowning upon things.

All good and well, right? But. I started doubting, worrying. With this technique we were trying to rid ourselves of craving and aversion. But… but… maybe I like craving? (we will not even start with my cookie-addiction here). And what determines what a craving is and what is a “healthy” want and ambition? And also, this whole staying equanimous through misery, will that also put a damper on the highs of life? To be able to appreciate the good, you gotta have the bad, right? Was I by the end of this going to be an emotionally flat-lined vegetable? I was freaking out, so I booked an appointment with the teacher, a woman exuding compassion and warmth. She listened to my anxieties patiently and said “Oh, no, you will still want things in life, but the difference is that if you don’t get it, you won’t be thrown into despair. And with joy, it will actually be a purer form of joy, since you will be aware that moment is fleeting”. Smart woman, that one. I was relieved and went back to work. Back to purifying the mind little by little. A grueling endeavor. They had warned us. It was going to be tough. And they were right.

On day 7, we were all broken. There was no energy left in the atmosphere. I had become a sticky rice ball, and not the fun sushi-kind topped with soy and pink salmon. I was a plain, over-cooked rice ball with questionable hygiene. I had barely enough energy to get myself to the toilet and I was convinced I left a trail of goo behind me in my attempt to snail my way to the showers. Lifting my head and looking across the yard, it looked like a scene from a zombie apocalypse. People were laying sprawled out everywhere, sitting stoically with blank stares or just standing, staring at leafs or whatever bug that would happen to cross their path. The only intellectual entertainment provided was the 7 o´clock discourse and I never thought I would be so thrilled to see an old Indian man wearing a towel talk for 1 hours and 15 minutes. But they were good talks, enlightening talks. About how misery is a product of our own making, that nothing outside of us can affect us unless we let it affect us and that we are all responsible for our own happiness. It all resonated with me, giving me ahaa after ahaa. BUT this Indian man, talking to us through a recording from 1991 (ohyeesssss) kept coming back to the importance of knowing the truth. Feeling it. Not merely intellectualizing it.

So, I decided to put 110 % into this. I wanted to know the truth. I wanted to understand misery at the physical level. Stare it in the eye. So, I dusted myself off from sitting for too long on the beachy sand dune, looking across the sea for answers, and started picking up the pieces of my wrecked ship. One by one. Relentlessly.

I sat for two and half hours without moving. Going through my body, piece by piece, feeling the vibrations, sensations. Hotness, coolness, tingling, throbbing. And then. A massive pain. In my left butt-cheek (yes, very poetic). It made me uncomfortable and my first reaction was to start wiggle around in an attempt to soothe it. Then I caught myself. No, Heidi, remain calm. So, I kept scanning my body, focusing on my breath, and slowly the pain went away. I was buzzing. I GET IT NOW. Misery isn’t permanent! As long as I stay balanced it will eventually subside and even out. I can objectively observe my misery without letting it throw me off into a soggy ditch of despair. I determine my reaction! It doesn´t control me!

On the next day, my old friend anxiety raised its ugly head in my chest in the form of intense throbbing and I was short of breath. I recognized it, welcomed it and calmly said “oh hi, there, I have been waiting for you”. And I waited it out. I focused on my breath, scanned my body and eventually noticed my anxiety fading away. I hadn’t let it got the best of me.

I was walking on clouds. Feeling lighter by every experience, by every meditation session, ridding myself of old baggage and gaining more and more insight about my sensations, my feelings and their interconnectedness. And then, THE PAIN struck. I thought I had experienced pain before, but naaa-aaah. My left thigh had been a blind spot for a while (not having any sensations) and then suddenly BOOM, massive, excruciating pain. I tried to breathe through it, tried scanning my other parts, tried to observe the pain objectively, but it started spreading through my body, making me dizzy and light-headed. I couldn’t focus, I was losing balance and the pain was unbearable. I felt myself starting to come to the brink of passing out and I gave up. I opened my eyes, cradled my legs in my hands, the pain immediately went away and my body just started shaking. I started crying without being able to control it. I walked out of the meditation hall and sat in a corner, in a little ball, shivering and crying. After 10 minutes I looked up with a tear-drenched face and decided to go back in. On trembling legs I stood up, went back to my seat and finished the session.

After that I was shaky. I had to talk to someone, so I went to see the teacher. I told her about my experience and she looked at me with a soft gaze and said. “Heidi, that is a good thing, that was some really deep stuff surfacing.”
But how to handle it?, I asked.
“When we face the storm, we put down our anchor, the breath, and we hold onto it.”

Next session I was ready. I knew the pain was going to come back. I had given up and it was going to come for round two. And after a while it did. The sensation was getting stronger and stronger and I was tensing up. But as I saw the storm coming I put down my anchor and stuck with my breath and scanned my body. The pain lingered. And lingered. And I realized that pain and misery can exist without throwing everything of balance. There are ups and downs and sometimes there are both at the same time. The pain, however, like the natural laws command, subsided. It eventually went away and left only a warm, subtle, throbbing sensation. The storm had passed. My boat was still intact, clucking gently on the soft, vibrating surface.

I stepped out into the sunshine and lay down in the grass. My body started shaking again. But this time with laughter. I lay there, with the sunrays beaming on my face and I laughed uncontrollably. I simply couldn’t contain it. I was laughing for no reason at all, other than pure joy.

On the last day of the retreat, an hour before we were allowed to start talking again, I sat with a cup of tea, enjoying my last minutes of silence. It was a breezy, sunny day, but I was sitting in the shade of the tree. The sun was heating up the right side of my face and after a while I noticed my left cheek getting colder, shaded by the leaves and cooled by the wind. I felt the slightest sensation of misery arising, just the subtlest notion. Well, that is ridiculous I thought to myself and turned my face so that both cheeks could enjoy the sunshine, a moment that I knew was fleeting, allowing me to fully enjoy the warmth in the present. In the now.


“If you want to awaken all of humanity, then awaken all of yourself. If you want to eliminate the suffering in the world, then eliminate all that is dark and negative in yourself. Truly, the greatest gift you have to give is that of your own self-transformation.”

Lao Tzu



torsdag 18 december 2014

onsdag 12 november 2014

Someday is now


En reklammakares sanning

"The power of willful ignorance can not be overstated"

En PR-arbetare förklarar hur det går till det här med att sälja in saker (i det här fallet främst kött) som vi annars kanske inte skulle köpa (om vi visste hela sanningen). Förpackning, slogans, "green"-washing och prat om teknik och framsteg är en stor del av att det säljs både onödiga prylar och charkuteriprodukter (av djur som knappt kan andas och stå under sin korta livstid), men den största orsaken till att ifrågasättbara produkter existerar är.... wait for it... konsumenterna! Vi väljer att inte se hur våra produkter tillverkas, vad de innehåller och hur de påverkar djur och natur, utan väljer att tro på reklammakarna.

"Everyone is prepared to look the other way"


tisdag 11 november 2014

Att vara en man

Snubblade över det här idag. En snabbkurs för "män som tappat bort sig själva i jämställdheten".



Män som får lära sig att vara manliga genom att hålla fokus på varandra trots att de distraheras av "sexiga kvinnor" som åmar sig. "Cringeworthy" fick en helt ny innebörd.
Manscoachens förklaring toppar det hela: "Det handlar ju om att vi ständigt distraheras av saker (?!) runt omkring oss, det är bra att kunna stå kvar i sig själv och så att man kan driva sju företag och ha 30 anställda som Paolo (Roberto reds. anm)"

Kan vi bara snälla sluta dela upp alla människor i manligt och kvinnligt, lägg fokus på att hitta ditt eget jag istället för din egen könsstereotyp. Urk.

Synd att programmet, med titeln "Man och manlighet" inte tog tillfället i akt att diskutera den begränsande mansrollen och vilken inverkan den har på män och deras självförtroende och liv. Inte att tuta det gamla manshornet och sminka upp en massa brudar som sidoattraktion. Blä.

måndag 10 november 2014

Sminkupgrade

Mitt gamla mineralpuder börjar vara inne på sista flämtande kornen (c/o mineralsmink, räcker en heeeeel evighet), så bestämde mig för att köpa en ny dosa när jag trillade över en ekologisk bb-cream. För att vara helt ärlig så visste jag faktiskt inte vad en BB-cream är. Men köpte den, tog hem den, provade den och kom fram till att vad det än är så gillar jag den. (nu googlade jag och wikipedia säger att det är en "all-in-one facial cosmetic product to replace serum, moisturizer, primer, foundation and sunblock" - låter väldigt fanceypantsy). 

Har den senaste tiden satsat på att få hyn i skick igen och försökt dricka mycket vatten, rengöra sminkborstarna regelbundet, scrubba, ansiktsmaska mig samt mumsa i mig havtornskapslar med jättenattljusolja och omega. O den har blivit bättre :) Så nu behöver jag inte något väldigt täckande på facet och då passade bb-creamen väldigt bra. Den är väldigt "skir" om man nu kan använda ett sånt ord för en kräm o ger en fin lyster. Men den kunde vara aaaningen mer täckande. Plus att den är lite i det dyraste laget, lite på 30 euro, men försäljaren sa att den var väldigt dryg (it better be). Passade på att köpa en läppenna (har en massa underbara läppstift av märket benecos som jag byter mellan, men de är lite åt det glansiga hållet och ville ha en matt röd färg, det här var perfa). Köpte även en benecos rouge (benecos är lite av ett budgetmärke inom ekokosmetika, bra priser och bra kvalité - men kanske inte för bassmink) i en lite kallare färg nu till vintern (har annars ett korallrouge i puderform av C/O mineralsmink som jag älskar).

sådär, då var det slut på det här parentes-inlägget. (over and out)



Var även in till clas ohlson o köpte de där miljövänliga värmeljusen som jag bloggade om tidigare.


Och ekomärkt målarfärg. Köpte ett gammalt sybord för 15 euro som jag ska sandpappra o måla vackert ljusblååååååå. Nom.


lördag 8 november 2014

Lördagsfrukost

Åååååh, sovmorgon och lördagsfrukost med enhörningstofflor o camino. Fabulous.



torsdag 6 november 2014

Det här med greenwashing

Noora Shingler tar upp en sån himla bra sak på sin blogg om green washing. Hon upprörs av Unilevers nya shampoo somvid första anblick kan se riktigt miljövänligt och trevligt ut, men som vid en närmare titt bara är green washing, tricks som ska få en produkt att se grönare ut.

Den stora NOLLAN uppe på flaskan ska signalera allt skit den inte innehåller, som parabener och silikoner (dock ändå bara en bråkdel av alla kemikalier som används i shampoon). Noora skriver lite fyndigt om det här uteslutningsmarknadsförande som blivit allt vanligare: "I teorin kunde till exempel småsten kunna marknadsföras som glutenfria, sockerfria och till och med ekologiska, ni förstår vad jag menar?" (fritt översatt från Nooras blogg)

Den är "infused" med ekologiska gröna teblad (vilket inte nödvändigtvis behöver innebära mer än en droppe eller två) och längst ner står det "100 natural origin"- syftandes till det gröna teet.

Hela flaskans utformning ska signalera naturlighet och miljömedvetenhet med ljusa färger och en stilistiskt ren grafik. Allt för att kunden ska lockas att ta flaskan hem i tron om att man gör både sin kropp och miljön en tjänst.

Men så enkelt är det inte. Noora tog en närmare titt och fann att INCI-listan ser ut som de flesta andra konventionella shampoona, en lång radda med kemikalier. (Roligt också att det inte fanns en uns av timotei i den, trots namnet på produkten).

Om man vill vara säker på att välja ett shampoo som är miljövänligt ska man gå på certifieringar. Om en produkt har en certifiering behöver den inte övertyga dig om att den är "100 % naturlig".

Dagens underhållning



"There is nothing more than a woman likes to hear than how pretty she is"

RIDÅ!

onsdag 5 november 2014

Kemikalier och biogas

När jag var hemma i Vasa senast damp det ner två tidningar i postlådan som jag medverkat i. Till Marthabladet har jag både fotat framsida och gjort en intervju med en av mina idoler: Katarina Johansson, som skrivit böcker om kemikalier i vardagen. Sen en grej för Finlands Natur och Miljö om ÅCA:s biogas anläggning :)

Älskar att jag får ägna mig åt sånt som intresserar mig!




Här är intervjun med Katarina, en sån trevlig och inspirerande människa!

Katarina skriver för en giftfri vardag

Katarina Johansson är författaren bakom två populära böcker om de osynliga gifterna i vår vardag, kemikalierna. De gömmer sig i allt från plast till barnskor och kläder och Katarina har tagit det som sin uppgift att göra folk uppmärksamma på vad som lurar i produkterna.
- Det finns så mycket skit på marknaden, säger hon.

Hemma hos Katarina Johansson i Årstadal är det full rulle. Det är makens födelsedag och tårtbak varvas med packning inför semesterfirande i Småland. Sju månader gamla Frans ligger på golvet i ett babygym och tittar storögt omkring sig medan storebror Henning leker med bilar på vardagsrumsbordet.

- Vi åker imorgon, så det är lite stökigt, säger Katarina med ett leende.

Den hemtrevliga, ljusa lägenheten är inredd med retromöbler och hörnen grönskar av storbladiga växter. På golven ligger trasmattor och på disbänken står en porslinsburk fylld med köksredskap, alla i trä eller metall. Överlag är det lite plast i lägenheten och bland de få livsmedel jag skymtar, har nästan alla en ekomärkning. Katarina säger att hon och maken Magnus försöker tänka på att hålla sitt hem så fritt som kemikalier och onödiga tillsatser som möjligt.

- Men det finns ju skit här också, säger Katarina skrattande och rör handen i en svepande gest över lägenheten och pekar på datorer och sladdhärvor.

Med ”skit” menar hon allt från hormonstörande ämnen, såsom bisfenol A och ftalater till perfluoerade och antibakteriella ämnen samt tungmetaller. I elektroniken hon just pekat ut finner man till exempel ofta flamskyddsmedel och de skyddande höljena till sladdarna kan innehålla otrevliga plaster.

- Till och med i barnskor hittar man antibakteriella ämnen som är miljöförstörande. Det är sådana där dumma saker som gör mig irriterad.

Hon säger att det finns en övertygelse bland konsumenter att det som säljs i butikerna är okej och säkert, något som inte alltid stämmer.

- Det krävs väldigt lite för att få ut en kemikalie på marknaden, men det krävs ganska mycket forskning och pengar för att få bort den igen. De som jagar de dåliga kemikalierna ligger alltid ett steg efter.

Ville dela med sig av informationen
Katarina fick själv upp ögonen för de osynliga gifterna då hon gick en miljökurs på universitet.

- Jag har alltid varit intresserad av miljöfrågor och på kursen hade vi en marinbiolog som berättade om två olika ämnen som kom från tandkräm och shampoo som var problematiska. Det var inte något som diskuterades i samhället och jag började nysta.

Hon läste på om kemikalier och hormonstörande ämnen i produkter och förvånades över hur lite det pratades om de här frågorna.

- Så jag ville delge den här infon till andra.

Informationen tog sig i uttryck i en bok, ”Badskumt, gifterna som gör dig ren, fräsch och snygg”, som utgavs i april 2011. I den lade hon främst fokus på kemikalierna i produkter man hittar i badrumsskåpet. I samma veva som boken gavs ut föddes sonen Henning och då började Katarina fundera på andra produkter som hennes son skulle komma i kontakt med, allt från nappflaskor till regnkläder.

- Jag gjorde en grundlig research och insåg att jag hade underlag till en ny bok.

I oktober 2012 såg boken ”Den onda badankan. Ditt barn och de osynliga gifterna” dagens ljus.

- Jag har fått väldigt bra respons på den. Det är många som sett den som en inspirationskälla.

Många skadliga ämnen är tillåtna
Hon säger att det var relativt lätt att hitta information till boken, men att man ska veta var man ska leta. Under arbetets gång kom hon på sig själv med att bli förbannad ett flertal gånger, dels över att det finns så mycket skadliga ämnen som används i vardagliga produkter, dels att dessa ämnen är tillåtna.

- Det förvånar mig att det finns en sådan dubbelmoral i lagstiftningen, Man kan förbjuda bisfenol A i nappflaskor, men det är fortfarande tillåtet i konserver och plast. Samma med vissa ftalater som är förbjudna i leksaker, men tillåtna i andra varor. Till saken hör det att barn inte leker bara med leksaker, de leker bland annat med mobiltelefoner eller fjärrkontroller. Så då är barnet inte alls säkert, det är en falsk trygghet vi invaggas i.

Som konsument är det svårt att veta vad leksaker, möbler, elektronik och inredningsprylar innehåller då dessa varor, till skillnad från livsmedel, inte har innehållsförteckningar.

- Det är omöjligt att veta vad som är i dem. Då är det bättre att ta det säkra före det osäkra.

Och det är vad hon gjort i det egna hemmet.

- Jag började rensa ut bland leksakerna, främst mjuk plast och plast som har några år på nacken. Nappflaskorna bytte vi till glas och vi tog bort teflonpannan och ersatte den med gjutjärn. Generellt när vi handlar grejer försöker vi välja naturmaterial och så är vi ganska små konsumenter. När det kommer till badrumsskåpet resonerar jag att barn behöver ganska lite. Jag har nästan aldrig tvättat håret på Henning. Man använder många produkter för att man tror att man behöver det, men egentligen behöver man väldigt lite i hudvårdsväg.

Men visst fuskar hon ibland och hon säger att det är viktigt att inte drabbas av panik.

- Om man aldrig tänkt på de här sakerna tidigare kan det kännas överväldigande. Känner man så får man ta lite i taget. Börja med de lägst sittande frukterna, så att säga. Man ska inte ha retroaktiv ångest, det har man ingen nytta av, det är bara att se framåt. När man köper något nytt kan man tänka på att köpa en bra grej. Jag tycker egentligen inte att det är konsumentens jobb, allt i butiken borde vara schysst. Men i väntan på den utopin tycker jag att man kan försöka minska sin exponering.


Katarinas bästa tips för en giftfri miljö för barnen:

- Plastbanta. Rensa bort PVC-plast, plast som är mjuk eller har några år på nacken.

- Undvik att lägga varm mat i plastbehållare.

- Köp gärna begagnade barnkläder eller köp miljömärkt.

- Tvätta nya lakan och kläder efter inköp.

- Undvik att ha elektronik i rummen där barnen sover.

- Välj naturmaterial till möblerna och inredningen i barnens rum.