About Us

Maxi and Ben grew up together as siblings. Despite at times living on different sides of the planet, we stayed deeply connected.
Samaṇa is our way of sharing this connection with others.
One of the earliest childhood memories that both share is them sipping their hot chocolate in the mornings before heading to kindergarten, rolling around on the carpet in the living room.

Good friends, companions, and associates are the whole of the spiritual life.

– Buddha

Meet our primary Stewards

Ben Schoelzel

I lived my life for a long time by logic and reason and did the things I thought I should be doing to "be happy". The thing was - it didn't make me happy.

That made me wonder: What makes us truly happy? What is this thing we call "mind"? Why can our minds make us suffer?

One of the ways for me to engage with these questions is to meditate. It's also a powerful tool to map out our mind and thus our experience of the world.
I've done several week-long retreats, lived in a Buddhist monastery as a layman for a while, and have a daily 2h meditation practice.
Read more about Ben
After having been born and raised in Germany, my study days took me to the UK, Hong Kong, China, and Taiwan. During my life abroad, I also got in touch with meditation.
Living the life I thought I should be living, I joined the management consultancy Boston Consulting Group (BCG) and moved on through various profit-driven organizations, increasingly wondering "what is worth doing?".
Besides questioning the existing system in its overall purpose, I also realized that the system is built on exploitation: of oneself, of others, of the world around us.
Disgruntled, I started Deep Breath (now Samaṇa) with a friend of mine, partially wanting to become rich and famous (the should side of me), partially looking for ways to engage with my own suffering - something I had also done via training as a children's hospice worker, diving into the Berlin clubbing scene and various other distractions.
Over time, I realized that collaboration instead of competition needs to be one of skills we train. This requires empathy, understanding of the other, and presence. I also realized that life is best well-lived, rather than mapped out. That being stuck in our heads removes us from a large part of the experience of the world. I realized that suffering is part of the human experience and it makes most of us do crazy things! That this is not the only way though.
This brought me to Samaṇa, an attempt to transform our minds.

Maxi Schoelzel

Art Therapy
As a teenager, I often wanted to draw or paint alone. Growing up, I started to talk to others about life, philosophy and what it’s all about more and more. Becoming an art therapist allowed me to combine these passions.

When I became a mother, I went through a process of deeply questioning my identity, self-worth, the way our society works and the so-called "work-life-balance". Ultimately, I was wondering how can “what makes one human” be combined with our day-to-day life.
Read more about Maxi
For me studying cultural pedagogy and art therapy was a way to liberate myself. During school I was a well-adjusted child: polite, trying not to disturb others, and being the "good girl". A lot of my friends choose a career as their life's purpose, such as studying economics.
To me this seemed confusing: "Was this a life well-lived?". Instead, I wanted to be with other people, to share the beauty of making art, to live life, rather than get through it to be somewhere.
Despite all the voices saying that it's impossible to make a living with art therapy, I moved to Berlin and made it: I found a job and made a living for myself, although this experience was highly challenging for me.
My journey so far brought me the best friends, I could have ever found in my life, the most interesting jobs from working with refugees in Germany and Greece, with elders, with children and teenagers in psychiatric wards and schools, to drug addicts and people with psychoses.
Working as a cleaning lady helped me to understand physically demanding work, although this can be wonderful with the right music!
Every experience from being a Make-up Artist for children in a theme Park to being a Project Manager at a festival of the fine arts made me realize the beauty and individuality of human nature and how great it is to live this life!

The greatest gift you can give somebody is your own personal development. I used to say, "If you will take care of me, I will take care of you". Now I say, "I will take care of me for you, if you will take care of you for me."

– Jim Rohn

Meet our supporting Stewards

  • Sam Greenwood
    Internal Family Systems
    Sam takes a playful approach to inner work. Through art, games, and lots of experiments, he loves to explore and teach various techniques such as meditation and IFS, as well as cooking, sports, and leadership.
  • Endi Guza
    Endi is an organizational psychologist, whose journey is driven by kindness. Samaṇa is her way to share her own journey of letting go of control with others.
  • Parul Malhotra
    Parul is a practicing therapist who combines Eastern insights with Western psychology. Samaṇa is her way to walk her way.
  • Sara Brandt
    Sara is a psychologist and breathwork facilitator, whose journey is focused on compassion. Samaṇa is her way to spread breathwork and compassion.

The big things - how we think, what we value - those you must choose yourself. You can't let anyone - or any society - determine those for you.

– Mitch Albom