"Don't ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive, and go do it. because what the world needs is people who have come alive" (Howard Thurman)
I know I shared this quote in an earlier blog posting but I just LOVE it. I want to share it with EVERYONE so that we can all be reminded that we NEED, absolutely MUST, find out what makes us feel ALIVE!
I shared the quote in class the other evening and one of the students commented how she had been swimming in the sea twice that day and had been out on the cliffs and each of those activities had made her feel very alive, and how she tries to do stuff like that, that makes her feel alive, every day.
I know what she means. There was a time when my life was anything but alive. When it was a struggle to leave the house and there was a time when I was so caught up in my lists of things to do that I forgot to live. It easily happens, you try and maintain some degree of control (ha) and before you know it you are so caught up in the mediocre of the mundane that you forget that there is another way.
It is true though isn't it, how many of us have, or still are, focusing on the routine. I always wonder where that comes from, is it the conditioning that we received rom education or from our parents or from society. At which point did we learn that we have to do this and do that and be this and be that before we can just go with the flow of things, or even better, do the things that we truly want to do or be the person that we truly want to be, that is inherent within us, that makes us come alive, alive, alive.
I know the pressure only too well to conform and be the "good girl" regardless of the sacrifices to my soul and spirit. Returning to the Guernsey from University I really didn't know what I wanted to do. I had turned down the opportunity to undertake a PhD in cultural geography (I had the funding and everything) and I had attempted a Masters in the same subject instead but I was done with studying, or so I thought.
I had the idea that I would like to write or I would like to use my geography in some way but every job application which may have led me down these paths was never accepted. So I ended up having to try finance - I had been working within a Trust Department of a local Bank during my University holidays and had learnt a little of how the fiduciary world worked. Still it took a few attempts until KPMG called me in for an interview and offered me a job.
That first day I remember feeling so very depressed. I really had no interest in the routine of the working financial world and I loathed wearing smart corporate clothes that my Mum suggested I wear (she was Head of HR for Europe for a local Bank at the time and very keen that I pursue a career in finance as it had suited her so well) and I absolutely detested the rules and regulations, policies and processes that came from working within in an international accountancy firm. When I think back it couldn't have been more opposite to the life I live now!
Still the good girl in me knew I needed to conform, follow the rules to get on. They insisted I study, which I loathed and inside my soul was slowly crying out but I was too caught up in it all , believing that that was my fate (which it was at the time) and getting awfully angry and frustrated about it. Outside of work I threw myself into netball, playing club, Island and Regional, and coaching too, it was my thing at the time and it gave me a much needed release and the opportunity to make friends.
This fairly much set the scene for the next 8 years. I took some time out from time to time when the mundane became too crushing and a spark within me managed to create some fire for change, so that I spent a summer working at a soccer camp in North America and I took five months out to travel around the world, but only got as far as New Zealand (through Us and Fiji) before life situations brought me back home again so that the shifts were never lasting and before I knew it I would find myself back in permanent employment within the fiduciary industry.
It was really very difficult to leave, because this was all I knew. And at times I really had forgotten that life was for living so that life was all about lists and things to do and rules and regulations and feeling I had no choice in any of it. I distinctly remember when I 'found' yoga and I just could not, absolutely could not stand the relaxation part of the practice.
The classes were held in St Martin's Parish Hall with Ness on a Monday evening and I would find any excuse under the sun to leave before the end of the session because otherwise I would lie there with a million things running through my head, list upon list upon list of things I had to do, or I would ruminate on all the things that had happened that day and all those situations where I should have done this or should have done that. I was anywhere but present and I loathed the stillness that relaxation provided.
But of course yoga worked its magic and with time it helped to increase that spark so the fire burned brighter and in between all the thoughts, there came the odd moment of clarity so that my soul was able to communicate - or be heard then - more clearly. So that things started to shift and transformation began to take place. I guess I started to come alive again. All of a sudden there as another world, and one that resonated more clearly with me.
This was a world of nutrition (what, you mean you eat for good health rather than to maintain a certain weight?), Reiki (what that helps you to heal and feel calm and grounded?), chakras (hoorah, these made so much sense), aromatherapy oils (yes, this resonates, I had been burning synthetic ones for years but now, proper ones!), meditation (a REAL challenge but I was so delighted to be giving it a go nonetheless), crystals (AMAZING, yes, yes, yes I have missed these my whole life), incense (hoorah, other people burn these - I had been burning these for years in my bedroom), calming music (it really works!), and yoga.
And it was also a world where things started to become possible again. I started to feel really alive. There was choice. I didn't need to live like I had been living. One life. My life. From darkness, comes light. There was another way, there is always another way. But the thing is we always look at the external for change, but actually what was happening, was that the more I practiced yoga, the more I meditated, the more I released through Reiki, the more I became lighter on the inside and the more my vibrational energy increased so that it was inevitable that my outer life would begin to shift in accordance with the law of attraction - what you put out comes back to you.
But of course there have been moments since then when I have slipped back into the grooves of old, so that I have found the light fading and the darkness descending as I got caught up in the mundane, when my faith wavered and my confidence dipped and I started making far too many lists and trying to control things and forgot to make sure I do things, am expressing then, the stuff that makes me feel alive.
Life got a bit like that earlier this year, call it the shock of becoming a mother and the massive transition from the flitting life I used to live where I taught in every spare moment and was always busy to the one which found me having to be at home and having to say no to people and re-prioritise how I was living and I felt a little lost, wondering how I could be an expression of my soul in my day to day living. It was tough and old patterns reappeared. My obsession with the floor being clean became really pronounced again!
I know it sounds silly but this has always been my thing, my way of knowing when things are out of balance. In my old life when I had a house with my brother (pre yoga) I was absolutely obsessed about the floors being clean so I seemed to spend half my life cleaning them - spot OCD, spot CONTROL!! And this crept back in again last year. I realised it was getting out of control (ha, funny that!) when Elijah started becoming obsessed too - oh no, I was conditioning the poor little thing so he would go to my parents and point out the spots of dirt on their floor!
This was coupled with me undertaking the 8 week mindfulness course, which made me very aware how my prioritising was all messed up...floor cleaning over playing with Elijah, floor cleaning over getting on my mat in the fee quiet moments when Elijah sleeps.
And like with other things I have worked on in my life before, it was tough, an ongoing awareness and a need to really let go, so that now, ok I still like a clean floor (it is a Nepal thing, they clean floors all the time, a spiritual thing then to have a clean space inside hence the no shoes in the house, keeping the outside outside and protecting the internal space) BUT I am not obsessed about it. I can let it go (honest Mum!!). I can let it be and prioritise other things. And what a relief!!!
And this is the point. Cleaning floors doesn't really make me feel alive, it is just one of those things that distracted me from spending time coming alive. it is a balance I know, but this whole process, the mindfulness meditations and the chatter that accompanied it, reminded me that we really must try and spend our time embracing the positive things, living in the moment, encouraging flexibility in our scheduling.
So if walking on the cliffs makes you feel alive, then start doing more of it, if swimming in the sea makes you feel alive then keep your bathers in the car so you can make the most of any opportunity to get in the sea, if yoga makes you feel alive then prioritise a home practice or class a few times a week. If you like reading then read. If you like baking then bake. If you like gardening then get out in the garden, if you like dancing, then go dance.
And let go of any little inner voice that tries to tell you NO! That tries to tell you that you don't deserve to feel alive, that you must do this or that or this or that and this and that until you have earned yourself the right to take time out. It is that little inner voice that kills us. It sits on our shoulder and chatters into our ear, on and on and on, the berating, the judging, the planning, the "you are not good enough", "you couldn't possibly do that", "you must do all these things to even stand a chance of doing that". Ah let it go. let the other voice that sits on your other shoulder have more expression, the gentle heart felt one that compassionately leads you on to the light.
I shall leave you with this beautiful extract from a fabulous book I have been reading called "Red Hot & Holy" by Sera Beak:
“While your soul is always with you, there are certain “come hither” gestures you can make to connect even more consciously.
First, right here, right now, with all your heart, simply say to your soul…
That you’re ready.
Ask her to turn up her volume in your daily life, and learn to listen to her when she calls you. Over time and with practice, you will learn to discern her voice from the myriad other voices running around your mind and body. She is constantly communication with you, but it takes a willingness to become accustomed t her language, which is different from your ego or fest, witty mind or even the "love and light" language of your spirit. She speaks through your dreams, metaphor, symbols, synchronicities, your body, and your feelings, always communicating simple, but powerful, life-changing messages such as:
This is not the right relationship. This job is suffocating. Stop meditating so much. Start dancing more. Now, sit still. Ask that difficult question. Dare to hear the answer. Read that book. Volunteer at that organisation. Listen to that friend. Trust that teaching. Vote. Go on that date. Play with your dog. Speak the truth to that person. Breathe. Deeper. Cry. Harder. Laugh. Louder. Get messy. Get clean.”
Soon your soul will start to feel like a palpable presence you are intimately a part of and she of you, and you can invite her more and more into your body’s awareness by consciously sitting with her, dancing with her, moving and listening and speaking and touching and loving as her. Undoubtedly, there will come a time when your soul will demand even more if tur conscious attention. When the pressure to Know and Love and Unleash your Divinity will move up a notch (or ten). There will come a time, a time that’s been decided by your distinct Divine Being (not anything or anyone outside of you) when you will be asked to:
Till “closer” has meaning no longer.
And it will be thrilling and terrifying and gorgeous and annoying, and there will be days when you will question everything and tell the Universe to screw itself, and other days you will be trusting everything and telling the Universe to Bring It even more. But no matter the utter insanity of your soul’s sanity, you will know that:
The truest thing you were born to Experience.
And you will be
That you remembered."