I was running along the beach the other morning, rays of sunshine creeping their way through the clouds kissing the clear blue water beneath and not a soul in sight. Bliss. A thought struck me … ‘How the f&%k did I get here?’
It was important for me to look hard at this question – if I really want to help others find their way to their truest self, there must be something in the answer to this question that could help.
I put this question into my ‘mental toaster’ and let it cook for a few days. My conclusion was that it wasn’t one thing, but a multitude of thoughts, events, moments, conversations, and actions that happened over a period of time that brought me to this place. If you had asked me two years ago if I could imagine myself being fancy free running on a deserted beach in the island that time forgot, I would have said something off the cuff like, ‘In my dreams’, and not given it another thought. Mind you, two years ago I had a well-paid corporate job, taught yoga in my off time, owned an apartment in Melbourne, Australia, had two cats, and a large circle of friends. Life was certainly ‘full’ back then, but in a very different way to now.
So, how did I get here? I attribute it to these three factors:
Deep listening. Listening to what, you might ask? Listening to what my heart and soul desired. Now this sounds simple, but it’s actually quite difficult. We are taught from a young age how to be, what to like, what’s important, what success is etc. This carries on throughout our life in the circles and environments we live in and associate with.
You might then ask how I started listening. This is where daily Sadhana (practice) comes in. Whatever you can do to quiet the mind and enter a state of presence – it’s here that space opens up and you can listen to the heart. It’s where we shift from thinking into feeling, and then into being. For me it started on my mat practising my yoga, ramping it all up when I dived into meditation and mindfulness practices, and then exploding when I found my spiritual home in India. But it could be any activity that works for you … hiking, swimming, painting, being in nature – the list is extensive, and your listening tool will be unique to you. I didn’t hear a voice telling me to pack up and move to ‘Paradise Island’, but through listening I was able to feel that I wasn’t truly happy, that I desired to be with nature, and that I genuinely wanted to grow as a person. I craved the freedom to support my spiritual pursuits.
Surround yourself with people and environments that help to water the ‘listening seeds’ you’ve sown. For me, this was the key. Connecting with other human beings who encouraged my ideas and dreams; surrounding myself with people who asked the right questions, supporting and pushing me when I needed it. My ideas, dreams, and thoughts were being shared with others. The seeds began sprouting off green shoots left, right, and centre. My circle became small but potent to my thriving landscape.
and arguably the most important aspect of all, was to act. In the Bhagavad Gita it is summed up as, ‘Everyone must engage in some sort of activity in this material world. But actions can either bind one to this world or liberate one from it. By acting for the pleasure of the Supreme, without selfish motives, one can be liberated from karma.’ – Bhagavad Gita
This is the key. Start acting on what your heart desires. It’s in this action that everything about your Self begins to come to life. It’s slow. Like learning to walk. First, we need to lift our head, then roll over, crawl, stand up, fall over, walk, and yes, one day, run. It’s the snowball effect. We learn to trust ourselves, tune into our instincts and desires, gain confidence, make positive choices and changes, and likely develop or expand the love we have for ourselves. Once you start, you can’t stop – this is the expanding of awareness – the raising of one’s consciousness.
I ended up solo in paradise, surfing the wave of the global pandemic. But it wouldn’t have been possible if I hadn’t started planting seeds a few years back through listening. Watering them through nurturing and supportive people. Taking action to create the space to be able to be so physically and mentally free to get here and walk on this path towards liberation.
My island paradise could be your anything … going back to study, doing something you’ve always wanted, writing a book, painting, opening your heart to be loved. The time is now. ‘If not now, when?’ Hillel