Tag Archives: purpose

When Did You Stop Dancing?

10 Jun

Do more of what makes you Happy

“In many shamanic societies, if you came to a shaman or medicine person complaining of being disheartened, dispirited, or depressed, they would ask one of four questions.

When did you stop dancing?
When did you stop singing?
When did you stop being enchanted by stories?
When did you stop finding comfort in the sweet territory of silence? 

Where we have stopped dancing, singing, being enchanted by stories, or finding comfort in silence is where we have experience the loss of soul.
Dancing, singing, storytelling, and silence are the four universal healing salves.

– Gabrielle Roth

When Are You Coming Back?

4 Jun

“Here is the crux of the matter, the distilled essence, the only thing you need to remember: When considering whether to say yes or no, you must choose the response that feels like freedom. Period.”
– Martha Beck

I bumped into a friend in Bali recently who mentioned she’d hung out with a mutual friend of ours in Australia. I came up in conversation and she laughed as she relayed what he had said about me: “Poor girl. She’s kind of a little lost soul, isn’t she?” 

My friend had attended one of my retreats earlier in the year and remarked she’d never seen me so in my element, so shiny and alive. “I replied that it seemed more like you’d found yourself,” she said. 

journey understand

Right now in my life, everyone is making a point of reminding me I need to “settle down”. What does that even mean? Find a mate, buy a nest, lay eggs? Do I need to stay in one place for that to happen? Most people in my life say Yes. My single status suggests that as well. “You can’t do this forever!” they say. “You’ll never meet someone travelling like you do!”

Just as many people the following week will write and say “I wish I had your life.”

But this is not me following a plan. When I left Australia, all I wanted was to be somewhere else. To be someone else. I was tired of being unable to create a life I was inspired by, of trying to convince people I was the right person for the jobs I wanted. Nearly five years later, still living out of a bag, I’m as surprised as anyone that I haven’t unpacked somewhere. 

Alone Genius idea Lyvia Alexandra

It’s a lonely, lonely life. I’m not going to lie. I spend a lot of time alone, writing emails to people far away. I have insistent, indignant friends write me: “When are you coming back? I miss you! What are you doing?!” They offer tidbits of their lives but have never visited. Melbourne, Perth, Barcelona, London, San Francisco, Bali, Thailand…When are you coming back?

The truth is, I don’t know. I have been looking for a reason to stay still: a partner, an inspiring job, a way to express myself in a particular place, a way to make a difference.

If I take away my desire for a partner, my life is exactly as I want it to be, albeit far away from many people I love. But that too has been a blessing. I have found so many ways to say “I love you” from afar. Said things in print that I could perhaps not have said face to face. Expedient internet time has meant directness, honesty, openness – and choosing my besties carefully. 

Bizarre Travel Plans

Choosing the path that feels like freedom often looks to the people around me like choosing to run away. And I’ve done my fair share of running away. I have been in relationships that felt like I was drowning, been in jobs where I felt like my head was being pushed underwater. I had a sense of being stifled, held down, of being small. 

Somehow, out here on the road, I can breathe bigger. I can be bigger: than a place, than a city, than a job or a relationship. 

I spent a good chunk of last year in my home town, Perth, staying with my parents. I feel like it was the summer that helped me move from a whiny teenage version of myself to an adult. I’ve never loved my parents as much and now, far away from them again, I miss them terribly, in a way I haven’t since I was a child. 

For the first time in my life, being away from Perth feels like a conscious choice. When I hated that city, hated who I was in it, needed to control the distance between myself and my family, there was no way I could live there. Now I crave it’s dry air, sun, beautiful beach visits with my dad, my mum’s hugs and cooking, being close to my family. 

Now it’s yet another place I’m sad to leave, whose tendrils curl around my heart and ankles, asking me to stay. 

Be Yourself

Yet the momentum of the work I do picks up speed. More inquiries about retreats, more people writing to me, months after sessions, telling me about breakthroughs they had. “It started with you,” they say. “You changed my life. I feel truly happy for the first time.” 

I feel like the work I’m doing is truly making a difference in people’s lives, yet I often feel so alone. It’s as if the more I find my power: as a teacher, as a yogi, as a business woman, the more isolated it makes me. 

I recognise how lucky I am to have so much choice. I have portable job skills. Friends and contacts in many cities. An incredibly supporting and loving family. 

Do I look lost to you? When I’m with a group on retreat or coaching someone through an all consuming issue or teaching a class, I’ve never felt so found. 

Finding that quote from Martha Beck today brought me to tears. It was from a piece called “Do I Know How To Say No?”

I can see that for the past year, I have been trying to do what I think is the right thing, even though it doesn’t feel like freedom to me. I’ve been scared to go inextricably down the rabbit hole that I think might make me terribly, terribly alone. I’ve applied for jobs, hoping they would bring me the direction and anchor to tether me. To weigh me down. 

But the truth is, I’m already doing what feels like freedom. 

I think it’s time to acknowledge that I don’t want a conventional life, or a conventional partner or a conventional job. Even though I haven’t been doing any of those things, I have been resisting my life the way it is.

I’ve been spending time and energy worrying that I’m going about this all wrong, when, if I’m honest, if I stop and breathe and feel into it, I think I might just have it right. Shiny Inner Self

Bali Spirit Festival: Transforming Shadows with Jamie Catto

27 Mar

When I first met Jamie Catto, several years ago, he told me to “stop fucking apologising all the time!”

Jamie Catto 2

I was shocked. This guy had come to teach one of those touchy feely workshops, or so I thought.
It turns out the very things that shocked me about Jamie have become the things I most admire: his refusal to stand on ceremony, his directness and his honesty have all helped me have major breakthroughs.

Jamie was one of the founding members of UK band Faithless and has collaborated with dozens of musicians: Michael Stipe, k.d. lang, Gita Mehta and Michael Franti to name but a few. He’s currently working on a project with Ram Das. He also formed the double-Grammy nominated, global music and film project 1 Giant Leap and its sequel What About Me? with Duncan Bridgeman. It was during Q & A sessions for the films that Jamie would be asked countless questions about his personal philosophies and what he had learned travelling to 50 countries and interviewing some of the world’s greatest thinkers and leaders.

The results are these workshops: explorations of creativity and exercises to spark personal breakthroughs.

This workshop encouraged us to examine our discomfort. Jamie certainly doesn’t mince words and I could see eyes widen when he challenged people. This is not handholding and playing nice: “Stop being so f*cking appropriate!”

Jamie has a bone to pick with spiritual practice that encourages people to only look towards light or happiness. His argument is that everyone has devils AND angels inside them and that to deny one or the other is to deny our very humanity.

“If you try and amputate the dark parts because they were the only bits that got love and approval and inclusion, those other parts of ourselves, if they don’t get oxygen, they’re going to find their food somehow, somewhere – and it’s usually in a self destructive, sabotaging kind of way if we’re in constant suppression and denial.”

“But if we’re on a journey of accepting other people’s darkness and light, they’re forced to accept their own darkness and light and everything can be felt, everything can be included in safe ways.”

The workshop shows us some of those safe ways. Over the course of three hours, we connect deeply with other members of the group, examine our discomfort at doing so and take a good, hard look at our inner critic.

JamieCatto 1

I’ve taken Jamie’s workshops many times now and I’m shocked every time at what emerges during his sessions. My favourite part of the work is the examination of the mirror. The old adage that what you hate in other people is something that lives in you is something many of us resist. It’s almost comforting  to have the permission to accept these parts of ourselves. After all: they are already there.

“All the darker ways and darker appetites, they’ve got to be experienced in ways that don’t harm us and other people. So playing, creativity is a great way, writing a punk rock song, characters in literature, stories, fun sexual, consensual practices. Find ways to play games with the children, being a clown… There are many ways you can allow the darkness in that aren’t harmful, but it has to have some kind of base in our lives, even if it’s really weird thrillers and watching horror movies. Whatever is your thing. But it has to have some sort of expression, otherwise it’s going to find it’s expression in a way that you don’t choose.”

And, as Jamie says, it’s healthier to examine our shadows.

“Every part of ourselves we bury and hide away and try and disown and try to amputate turns into illness. It has to find expression somewhere. All parts of ourselves are alive and if you try and cut off life it just grows moss and mushrooms and it just becomes ill life. Cancer is a form of thriving life, it’s just negative, buried, disowned in the darkness, mushroomey kind of life instead of free flowing life.”

Inspiration + Purpose = ∞

11 Feb

Granada Sunset

When you are inspired by some great purpose, some extraordinary project, all your thoughts break their bonds:

Your mind transcends limitations, your consciousness expands in every direction, and you find yourself in a new, great, and wonderful world. 

Dormant forces, faculties and talents become alive, and you discover yourself to be a greater person by far than you ever dreamed yourself to be.

-Patanjali

Resilience

14 Jan

“I’ve missed more than 9000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. 26 times, I’ve been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life.
And that is why I succeed…
Obstacles don’t have to stop you. If you run into a wall, don’t turn around and give up. Figure out how to climb it, go through it, or work around it.”
– Michael Jordan

Sometimes, you have those days, those weeks, when it feels like you’re running in the same place. In mud.

The faster you try to run, the more you fall, the dirtier you get.

There are days when you just sit in that mud puddle and wallow.

But maybe, while you’re sitting there, you notice there is another way. A different way you never saw before.

Star gazing is good for the soul...

Star gazing is good for the soul…

I caught up with a dear friend yesterday. The past 12 months have been challenging for him. Finding his feet again, reestablishing his purpose. One of the things I noticed about him is his language.

He never says “but”, as in “I really loved that piece in the paper, but it wasn’t very long…”

He uses “and” instead: “I really loved that piece in the paper, and it wasn’t very long…”

Suddenly, something that might have been a criticism becomes a part of the positive. “But” is so often used to diminish or kill an idea, or make an excuse.  How many times have I said “I’d love to, but…”?

Imagine if you removed that excuse?

I don’t know why it makes such a difference, but it did to me. I left our meeting grinning from ear to ear and feeling like anything was possible. I caught his enthusiasm.

There is a great series on the American Network PBS called This Emotional Life that examines our reactions to our circumstances.

One study they refer to, lead by Psychologist Barbara Fredrickson, shows that positive emotions are the “fuel” for resilience:

“They help people find meaning in ordinary and difficult events. Finding meaning in life events leads to more positive emotions, which in turn leads to a greater ability to find meaning and purpose. Fredrickson calls this an “upward spiral” of greater well-being. They also found that resilient people still felt as many negative emotions as less happy people, often very intense ones.
But they felt more positive emotions, and it was the positive emotions that accounted for “their better ability to rebound from adversity and stress, ward off depression, and continue to grow.”

“Their increase in happiness came from feeling good; not from avoiding feeling bad.”

If At First You Dont Succeed

This year IS going to be different.

Because I said so…

The Purpose Is Happiness

13 Jan

“I believe that the very purpose of life is to be happy.”

Baby Monk Running

“From the very core of our being, we desire contentment.

In my own limited experience I have found that the more we care for the happiness of others, the greater is our own sense of well-being.

Cultivating a close, warmhearted feeling for others automatically puts the mind at ease. It helps remove whatever fears or insecurities we may have and gives us the strength to cope with any obstacles we encounter.

It is the principal source of success in life.

Since we are not solely material creatures, it is a mistake to place all our hopes for happiness on external development alone.

The key is to develop inner peace.”

– Dalai Lama

This is your life…

15 Jul

Do what you love...