It was in the middle of the night and I was wearing my pyjamas. Together with my two older brothers, I was sitting in the dark living room in front of a ‘state-of-the-art’ Philips black-and-white television. I was four years old but I still remember feeling such an incredible excitement from both of my brothers as we huddled together even more closely to the small screen.
It was like a science fiction movie when we saw an astronaut descending the ladder of the Apollo 11 while a voice, full of excitement, came from the little speaker in the TV. The astronaut was of course Neil Armstrong and he was the first human in history to step onto the surface of the moon on July 21, 1969. We later heard him speak: “That’s one small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind.” The world was ecstatic! Or?
Two weeks after this memorable night, I stayed with my grandma for the weekend. I loved these weekends because she lived in the countryside, close to the forest, it was always very quiet and our time together was special to me. Over dinner I started telling her all about my experience of witnessing the moon landing two weeks ago and how excited we all three were about seeing Neil Armstrong descending that ladder. Grandma suddenly stopped eating, slowly looked up at me and said: “That’s such a nonsense! Don’t believe everything you see on that television.” And that was basically the end of my exciting story and we moved on with our dinner, talking about the small things which had happened that day.
“It ain’t what you don’t know that gets you into trouble. It’s what you know for sure that just ain’t so.” — Mark Twain
That night in bed, I couldn’t stop thinking about my grandmother’s reaction – how could she not believe this life changing discovery? I had seen it with my own eyes (and so had millions of other people around the world), and I intuitively felt that something big had just happened.
Was it her steadfast believe in God that kept her from accepting this historic moon landing because humans were messing with God’s plan? Or was it just too crazy for her to be real?
From my bed I could look through the window and caught a glimpse of the moon, high in the dark sky. I had to give her this – It was almost too crazy to imagine that a man had been walking on this beautiful moon I was just looking at… Even though I respected and loved my grandmother so much, this was something she couldn’t take away from me because I knew it was real.
Stuff that we believe
When you look at your own life, what is it that you believe? Are you more like my grandma, and will you feel uncomfortable when things might be different from what you think they are? Or are you comfortable to look at the origin of your beliefs, and are you open to new discoveries that can possibly compromise your current beliefs? There’s a good chance you never thought about it this way. Most of us don’t, but I like to share some modern science with you so that you better understand why I write this article in the first place.
The majority of the things that you believe in your life, are not your own. Yes, this might surprise you, but until you were six or seven years old you didn’t decide which beliefs were going to be yours. Your brains simply didn’t have that capacity — the cultural influence, the things your parents (or caregivers) and teachers at school told you, and all other experiences you were exposed to were simply absorbed by your subconscious mind, because that’s how we learn as a small child. The brain wave patterns in young children are relatively slow because the brain is not fully formed yet. By the time we are nine years old we begin to develop our critical and analytical mind and we start applying everything that is stored in our subconscious mind.
But now comes the big surprise (or maybe it’s a shocker for you) — This same subconscious mind controls 95% of how you experience and deal with your circumstances. So most of what you believe and think is “real”, was what you simply absorbed when you were a child. And these programs are still running your life today, maybe decades later, leading you to feel like a victim, being afraid to make mistakes, thinking that you’re not good enough and so on.
It is no surprise then, that at some point in your life you start wondering who you really are and what the purpose of life means to you (did I mention midlife crisis?). Or you wonder why you always react that same way to your mother, spouse or co-worker — the programs of your subconscious mind are running the show for 95% of your day and they are not even yours. Will these programs meet the needs of your deepest wishes and desires? Most likely not!
From Reacting to Creating
There are interesting and exciting ways to break your old patterns. When you become aware of how your mind, heart and nervous system work together, and how your beliefs and emotions shape you, you have allowed yourself to start learning to make lasting change, so that you can move from a reactive life, to start creating along the path of your soul. And this is exactly what I will be sharing with you in my upcoming events,
workfunshops and retreats. It’s my passion to inspire you, empower you and share really effective tools with you.
I also inspire and train individuals and organizations, by applying the wisdom, scientific tools, and techniques of accessing the power of our hearts. Feel free to browse dirkterpstra.com, follow me on Facebook, Twitter or share this story with your friends. I would love to hear from you.
Do you remember how you used to play hide and seek by putting your hands in front of your own eyes? I know, it has been a long time ago, but you might still remember this. Or maybe you’ve seen your own children apply the magic of this very cute version of playing hide and seek. Our idea was very simple – We believed that what we couldn’t see didn’t exist and we were therefore convinced that people wouldn’t be able to find us. I really love to see the way little children use the power of imagination.
What have we learned?
But I have to confess something to you now. Something that might come across as a little bold or maybe even a bit unnerving – Most of us are still playing this same ‘magical’ version of hide and seek today when it comes down to our feelings and emotions. We (kind of) believe that by ignoring what we feel inside, it will evaporate in some way. And yes, life can sometimes be too overwhelming to face head-on. That’s why our society is addicted to numbing and suppressing their feelings – think of drinking, over-eating, smoking, shopping, endless travelling or constant socializing etc. We’re looking for external stimuli to keep ignoring what we really feel deep down inside. It’s like rearranging the furniture without really cleaning the room.
I wrote “kind of believe”, because deep down inside we intuitively know that ‘rearranging the furniture’ is not a solid and permanent solution, and this is exactly where the stress starts creeping in. It doesn’t mean that we’re stupid or slow learners – we are being raised in a world that rewards us for being intellectually smart (using our head) and not for applying our heart’s wisdom and intuition.
Stress develops when the mind, the nervous system and the heart don’t communicate in an efficient and balanced way. More than 70% of the North Americans regularly experience psychological and physical symptoms caused by stress. The picture below shows you how stress can affect our bodies.
Most stress-reduction initiatives often miss the essential point. We try to relieve the after-effects of stress rather than remove the cause of the stress itself. We start jogging, we chant a mantra, we read self help books, we sign up for workshops, we have our minerals balanced, we pray, we participate in a retreat, we relive past lives and so on. We keep searching but we don’t understand the problem, and that’s why we can’t find the answer. Our rationalizing mind rather likes to keep the true causes of our emotions out of awareness and it uses the mechanism of projection to do this. It blames events or other people for causing a feeling and views itself as an innocent victim of the external causes – “he got me upset” or “they made me angry.”
Wisdom of the heart
When you take a closer look at the most ancient and respected wisdom of various cultures, but also at modern science, we can conclude that our heart is the most powerful centre from where we can access and regulate our emotions and feelings. If you are interested to learn more this subject, you might want to visit my page about the scientific research by the Institute of HeartMath.
I used to be the person who always relied on my intellectual capacity. I was trained to go through life this way, until life decided to throw me some curveballs. In 2010 I found myself in deep pain and severely stressed after the passing of my dad, my brother, my mom and a dear ski-buddy. I was a broken man who didn’t know how to heal himself.
One night, I was standing outside in the darkness. I felt very down and looked up at the sky and couldn’t ignore that it was a gorgeous sky while gazing at the billions of stars over my head. Despite all of my misery, I noticed that the universe looked so amazing and so mysterious. Whoever created this unfathomable wonder, my appreciation was limitless. Suddenly, my heart started speaking: “Do I have a choice?” wanted it to know. I spoke those words out loud without even realizing it. But I wasn’t prepared for an answer, and certainly not for an answer like this: “Of course do you have a choice – accept and try to embrace the pain that you’re feeling right now”. I didn’t see myself as a spiritual person really, and this answer that seemed to come out of nowhere took me completely off guard. For the reason that this was such an extraordinary experience, I took this advice very serious.
In the next couple of days, this remarkable answer kept repeating itself in my head and I was pondering how to ‘accept and embrace’ but no solution was being offered this time. Then I decided to let it go because ‘this trying’ made me feel even more desperate. But the moment I let it all go, was also the moment that I felt a growing connection with my heart, and suddenly I had no trouble accepting the pain I was feeling. I even began to understand that it was there for a reason! Maybe because it felt all just too intense, I began to get a very clear insight: “There must be a higher purpose for this to happen to me” I thought. That’s when I was able to embrace the pain and all the emotions.
But then something beautiful happened… I saw a gorgeous bright light and I felt an infinite love deep down inside of me and I realized: “I am Love! These dark events in my life are my gift and they are here to lift me higher than ever before. This is my healing!” I could barely believe that this was happing to me. It felt like a miracle had just happened. Unconsciously I had been playing hide and seek by covering my eyes with my hands, but by going to my heart, my hands were being taken from my eyes, and the view couldn’t be any more magnificent.
That’s how it all started – these so called ‘sad events’ were my teacher and showed me how to make the incredible journey from my head to my heart – a very fulfilling one. And once you’re there, there’s no way of ever going back: No one and no event can ever take this knowing away from me. I now inspire and help others to make that same journey, which seems so incredibly hard because we believe that it takes suffering first, or it takes many years of searching outside of yourself. But I have a message for you: “It doesn’t have to be that way!” All that you will ever need already lies inside, patiently waiting to be discovered. The most ancient civilizations already knew how to tap into this wisdom, and today’s science confirms it. Are you ready to embrace the power and love that lies inside of you?
In my next blog post I will share another story with you about my interaction with my grandma. It’s about the stuff that we believe.
I inspire and train individuals and organizations by applying the wisdom, scientific tools and techniques of accessing the power of our hearts. Feel free to visit dirkterpstra.com, follow me on Facebook, Twitter or share this story with your friends. I would love to hear from you.
NFL Star Athlete Keith Mitchell #59, a former linebacker for the New Orleans Saints, Houston Texans, and Jacksonville Jaguars, was at the top of his professional game when he ascended into the 2000 Pro Bowl.
Without warning, his football career suddenly ended after being confronted with a paralyzing spinal injury during a game, resulting in the agony of early retirement by the young age of 31.
Unwilling to surrender to the plague of emotional depression and physical defeat he often observed in many NFL peers facing similar traumas, he channeled his energy into the practice of yoga and meditation for healing.
By great surprise, he discovered that these two daily practices not only helped him physically recover from his injury but created a refreshing sense of self-awareness and fulfillment which surpassed his love for football.
After experiencing a profound life-changing transformation from daily yoga and meditation disciplines, Keith developed a desire to share his liberating encounter with others, soon realizing that few urban, minority, and male audiences had yet been exposed.
Compelled to address this need, he chose to speak out, leading by example. Today, Mitchell is a respected pioneer Master Certified Yoga Instructor with more than 10 years of experience. He is committed to inspiring self-empowerment transformations in the lives of millions through his movement which now reaches multi-cultural fans beyond the confines of traditional yoga studios.
Furthermore, Keith passionately teaches individuals to become liberated, first within the mind, working from the inside out in order to achieve complete fulfillment.
Before I met with Keith Mitchell, I discussed his story with my own yoga teacher and former professional dancer Carla Chernencoff and together we laid the foundation of my interview with Keith.
I encourage you to watch the video before you read the interview.
INTERVIEW WITH KEITH MITCHELL
Dirk Terpstra: Coach Ditka says that you always played hard on the field. What drove you to always play your best? What was your inspiration?
Keith Mitchell: I have two mentalities – I have an understanding of what I know now and I have an understanding what I knew then. Back then, it was all more centred around anger and validation and now I understand the reasons why.
Erich Fromm was a very inspirational writer, I studied a lot of his work and I teach from his book “The Art of Loving”. Fromm talks about why we are all born narcissist, because we learn love without having to work for it. So, in the development stages of finding that consistency of the love that we received as children, we find a niche to create our validation and create a consistency of that love. Whether it be your looks, your brain, your athletic ability, whatever you find your niche in, you will find your way to excel in that to get your validation.
Dirk: You were just mentioning anger. Where does anger come from?
Keith: Anger can come from the extremes to the subtleties – It can be things you don’t understand and you don’t have a concept of expressing it and the little things as we know, add up to big things. It can be the slightest things that we carry with us, like people at middle school telling us that we were not attractive, we have big lips or we have this or that and we still hold this insecurity inside of us.
A lot of what I just talked about is also related to the people who made us – our parents. In my life for example, I saw this building and it came to a point where my own father, who was my motivation, told me: “I don’t think you can do this, I don’t think you should focus on sports, I think you should focus more on the academics”. That was my boiling point I guess. It was so weird for me because I wasn’t even playing sports at this point, I was in the process of convincing my mother to let me play. That’s really me, forward thinking, I wasn’t even on the field yet, I wasn’t even good yet. I guess it was me manifesting. So I guess we have to be mindful in passing on the fears that we have to not install those in our kids.
Dirk: What do you mean by “An Athlete feeds on doubt and set goals fuelled by fear”?
Keith: Because there’s always that fear in the back of our mind and I guess in some cases it’s inherited and it comes up because being an athlete is so incredibly competitive. These guys are the best of the best and they have to perform at these high levels, especially the more money they make, the more things are on the line for as winning. So the dynamics are fear, everyone has it, until you find that zone, you have this fear and it builds up until the first hit and when the hit goes… it’s real and it goes away. It’s weird but it just happens. It goes on in every athlete from middle school to the pros and it never seems to go away.
Dirk: I heard you saying “It was embarrassing to lay vulnerable on the ground as a tough NFL linebacker.” What did you feel?
Keith: What I was speaking about at that point, is that you are really a gladiator in this game and your mindset has to be: “I can conquer all, I am the alpha male”. So you are this machine, you are performing and the next second you are helpless on the ground, that’s such a big difference. I had never been in this position, so I didn’t really know what to do. I had never been hurt and I had never been laid on my back and added to that, I had no feeling, I couldn’t move. Then you think: “What’s wrong with my body? Will I be able to walk?” What came to my mind is: “This is embarrassing, get me out of here”. I saw these movies in my head like “Kill me, I am helpless”.
“Yoga not only helps heal the physical, mental and emotional damage we have put ourselves through, but replaces it with love, compassion and patience.”
Dirk: How does being vulnerable feel to you now?
Keith: It feels amazing Dirk. First and foremost, vulnerability to me is being open, open to experience. The things that stop us from having the experience or embracing what is truly inside of us and not suppressing it, is to let go and be able to absorb it all. What happens a lot of times through our conditioning is how we have been made to see ourselves and perceive ourselves. We resist the softer stuff because our society has made vulnerability into a weakness, but it’s not, it’s an empowerment. It’s about being open and the only way that we can understand and have empathy is related to being vulnerable, they go hand in hand. You can’t understand empathy without understanding vulnerability. When I am looking at our fellow men, it gives me an inclination of understanding, why there’s a disconnection from men to men, from person to person and from culture to culture.
It’s all about the real connections and when I started to grow in my life and peeling the onion, I started to recognize something – My parents for example have been married for 38 years, but the real connection is to be able to speak the truth. I think that is difficult for people, they just don’t do it, like in relationships, whether it’s intimacy, whether it be just the real truth about marriage. We say we love these people in our circles but we give them no information for creating the best opportunity to excel in life, we give them no truth about life.
Dirk: Football and yoga are two completely different worlds and cultures. In the video you mentioned: “My journey truly began after that injury happened and I see life on a whole different spectrum”. How did you discover a new identity in your life when everything you thought that mattered was gone?
Keith: I think the concept of me, which wasn’t really me, was the role that I was choosing to play as an athlete and when I really discovered me, I also had the opportunity to nurture me. I was telling you earlier that we find these roles to create a niche to play in and to create and sustain this validation – The character that I played was a football player and how everybody perceived me while I was performing. But Keith was isolated, Keith was malnourished and then when the football player died, I was left with Keith. I had to build Keith up and understand what Keith liked and to figure out who this guy was. Our challenge is that when we talk about roles and characters, is not to get lost in those things.
I teach people now that something can be a characteristic of you, but it does’t define you. You are the deity and everything that you are will attract these characteristics but they don’t define you. All these things depreciate, they fall away, we spend money, we lose money, but you’re going to sustain, you’re going to be here but if you have yourself worked in those things, as they go so are you.
Dirk: When yoga was first suggested to you as a therapy choice after your accident, what did you think yoga was all about?
Keith: I took a yoga class while I was playing in New Orleans and I didn’t like it at all, I thought it was weird. That was one class. And then, coming around, when I was in the hospital and meditation was being introduced to me as a practise of conscious breathing – a healing breath – for some reason I gravitated to that. If you can imagine being locked in a pit and someone throws you a rope, that was the rope that I held on to, the meditation and the conscious breathing of healing myself, I figured this is gonna save me. I had belief in the Creator, but I believed this was the tool he has given me so that I could save myself and I held on to that and it was my practise.
Dirk: Do you remember the moment you truly felt drawn to yoga? Was it something you read or was it one particular practice on the mat?
Keith: I was in that space of vulnerability, when you want to heal, you want to heal, and it was resonating with my body and I was connecting with my body on a whole different level then before and it was channelling into nurturing myself – the conscious breathing is nurturing yourself with every breath that you take. I have a philosophy: We have 21,000 breaths a day and an opportunity to nurture, heal and massage the organs, 21,000 chances every day!
All the internal trauma that we have in our first, second and third chakra, is something we can heal by connecting to movements – you create another twist, you got the spinal twist, you’re extending… it’s like a towel that is wet and you kind of wringing it out. These components made sense, it was an alignment and I just flowed with it. I am still flowing [laughing loud now].
Dirk: “We are all athletes playing the game of life and trying to find our niche.” What is your niche in life right now?
Keith: Well, my niche and what I see as my calling is to share and to serve. I started working in developing a holistic wellness facility for athletes and now that I met congressman Tim Ryan, I see a perfect fit for this facility to work with the Veterans Bill and I also created Mindul5K which is a wellness expo that we are going to do for kids and educating them with our tools. Here in LA I have the opportunity to take a kid from Beverly Hills and connect him or her with a kid from South Central and they can stay connected, they can meet each other, they can connect through social media, can go through high school together, through college together and the continuation of this network is unlimited.
There’s also a way that conscious companies can come together because they need support as well and they can create a network between themselves and then connect with the media to help people understand they exist. Meditation reclaims the mind, Yoga reclaims the body and this, in my opinion, reclaims and builds our community.
Dirk: What would you say to those who are trying to find their niche in life?
Keith: In regards to the Mindful5K we have a component for the adults as well and we like to explain to them what we’re doing and getting them excited about it. We have a 5K run (or walk) and hopefully their experience will be so great that they want to come inside and try to experience what we’re serving them.
The interesting thing is, I am really drawn to men and I think we can create a nice movement with people like yourself, with all men and connecting them so they can still hold this masculine presence but also embrace the femininity.
When we consider what we’re made of and that we’re just functioning on this for 50%, we have another 50% that hasn’t been explored yet. What if we bring some of that in and then look at the dynamics. We can change the man which changes the relationships from father to son, from father to daughter and that trickles down and suddenly we change the whole dynamics of the family – the son who is not stuck in his masculinity anymore, the daughter who is going to really date her father. Now she’s got an open understanding of what love is and it’s not just a ‘heart love’, that it’s also a compassionate and patient love as well. I think that’s a beautiful thing.
I really love that niche and I am not isolating the women here, the women are open already, they are already participating and they are the leading part of the market of yoga right now.
For more information, please visit Keith Mitchell’s website: KeithMitchell59.com
INTERVIEW BY: DIRK TERPSTRA
When I was a young boy, I was often deeply touched by all the events and circumstances that surrounded me (call me sensitive) – A loving family life, a special bond with my elementary school teacher and the bliss of being alone in the high mountains of the European Alps during the family holidays, to name a few.
But there were also other events that impacted the way I was perceiving life and myself in this life – feeling the post-Second World War stress with my parents and grandparents, the harm humans do to the environment and the fact that I secretly found out that a consultant, who tested me for post-graduate education, basically told my parents that I was not smart enough to pursue higher education…
And fast-forward to 2015, these events and many, many more, shaped me into who I am now and how I choose to live my life.
In 2013 I decided to create a platform called Soul Love where I share stories and interviews with people that inspire me – to show you that we create our own lives by whichever force we connect to. We are all love, or light if you like, and we all have the capacity to move away from the light or towards the light, it’s our very own choice.
Despite the fact that these events that I described above, but also despite the fact that in a period of 10 years time, I lost my father, my very own brother and my dear mother, despite of all of these events (I can now say: “Thanks to these events”) I have come to see that life gets so much more beautiful and so much more meaningful when I started allowing myself to feel these pains, then even dared to embrace these same pains so that I ultimately felt being lifted higher, to a higher purpose in my Divine journey called life. Yes, it requires being vulnerable, and during a conversation with former NFL linebacker Keith Mitchell, we concluded that society often perceives vulnerability as a weakness (especially with men), but I see being vulnerable as very empowering.
Once we come to the realization that we are a soul with infinite possibilities and that we are not the limitations that we were told, or the painful experiences that we felt to take personal, we set ourselves completely free.
Yes, I do very much realize that this might not always be easy, but hey, to me that’s never an excuse to not move on and to not let the Universe take care of me.
I love climbing mountains, on foot or by bike, and I also love the fact that these trips are not always easy, because I clearly feel getting stronger along the way and I know for sure that I am always treated with magnificent views along the way and on the top. Going back down often goes much faster, but I enjoy this journey too and in the back of my head I see myself already climbing a next mountain and feel the reward of all the effort that I put into it.
Besides of all of these events that happened in my life that taught me so much, I have made big leaps forward once I started interviewing people like Anita Moorjani, don Miguel Ruiz, Gregg Braden, India.Arie and so many more. They all reminded me of how beautiful, how unique and how powerful I am. I share these stories on Soul Love to inspire you and I invite you to read them – allow yourself to be inspired too and share them with those you love.
I even want to go one step further… can I inspire you to have a conversation with someone who made a profound impact in your life and share that with all of us on my website Soul Love? Please do not hesitate to email me and share your thoughts and ideas. I would really love that, for you and for the entire Soul Love community.
After all, you are an infinite spark of the Divine and you have the option to understand this, and once you do, when sharing the love and light with others, you will truly feel that you are divine yourself.
P.S. Oh, if you like the shirt that I am wearing, it’s a beautiful, moist-wicking t-shirt with long or short sleeves, fitted cut, comes in marine blue and in the sizes (both men’s and women’s) S, M, L and XL. They are available for you too and they cost $30 (plus shipping). You can order one here.
BY: DIRK TERPSTRA (This article appeared on SOUL LOVE)
Why are so many of us often searching for the perfect work-life balance, while we are actually trying to find a meaningful ‘work-work balance’? And why is it so hard for us to find true satisfaction in our work and how come that so many of us experience stress, often leading to a burn-out?
Working in a large corporation for example can generate stress, because we are expected to meet deadlines, achieve targets to keep the shareholders satisfied and thus, living up to many people’s expectations. It’s not new to me. I’ve done it myself for about 15 years.
If you run your own business it can be even more stressful: Making ends meet, wanting to be successful, more growth, even more responsibilities.
It doesn’t sound like much fun when you think about it, does it?
And that’s why we love to close the door behind us at the end of a stressful workday. The ones who are fortunate find time to relax while spending time with the family, but many of us can’t stop worrying about the challenges in our work. It can put stress on our private lives.
Suffering from stress is a very unhealthy situation.
A MORE SATISFYING APPROACH?
When I open my twitter account, I see an overwhelming number tweets about ‘how to’ this and that.., ‘the top 10 of …’ and ‘do’s and dont’s…’.
When I watch the news I hear headlines like ‘Muslim danger’, ‘on the brink of nuclear bomb’ and ‘start-ups fight back’. Think about it, how does that make you feel when you read this, day in day out? In most cases it creates ‘fear’. And what does fear do to us?
We start seeking approval from others, we need more power to suppress that fear, we become unkind and start worrying all the time. We are now heavily dependent of external factors in stead of relying on our ‘true self’.
Our true self is un-fearful, feeling beneath no-one, it is immune to criticism and it is fully relying on our personal and unique talents.
HOW TO CONNECT TO OUR TRUE SELF?
You could start by spending some time in nature and realize how perfect the flowers, trees, birds and rivers are. Being tuned in to the creative mind of nature, makes you independent of things and people. You will also realize that you are part of this wonderful creation. That same creativity of nature is already inside of you. You just have to tap into it.
It also helps if you stop judging other people around you. In fact, what you’re doing is merely judging yourself, and you block the access to your own insight and creativity. Judging is, again, fear based. Let it go. Fear is an illusion, because it is just an anticipation of what might happen in the future.
You might have heard of the ‘law of attraction’; what you focus on, is what you attract into your life. I would call it the ‘law of the universe’.
So what happens when we begin to realize that if we start trusting our own personal values, stop fearing anything and ignore the ‘how-to’s and ‘don’ts’?
We will start enjoying the process as we won’t be focused so much on the results. We see more opportunities in stead of obstacles and more and more, we will begin to rely on our personal talents and know that our own potential is infinite.
In the beginning, you might have a hard time managing this new process. Just be quiet, look around you and see everything that is already perfect and listen to your heart that always tries to tell you the right thing, but we have forgotten to listen to it or take it serious enough and we rather listen to what our mind tells us.
Don’t let your habits overshadow your creativity. Why not take another route to your work or hook up with some different colleagues, you will be surprised about the impact this will have on your mood and creativity.
Slowly you will start managing the above and slowly you will also start feeling more balance between your work and your own self. You will also notice that you will be more productive, more creative and more energetic.
And by the time you come home, you will still feel much better and continue using these principles at home in your personal life. You won’t need the urge to start balancing work and personal life. You are already balanced!
Have fun, good luck and let me know how that goes!
This is part 2 of my inspiring interview with India.Arie. In case you have missed part 1 of the interview, please find it here.
Dirk: In ‘Just do You’ you sing: “I heard a voice that told me I’m essential, how all my fears are limiting my potential”. Where did most of your fears come from?
India.Arie: India laughs a bit and says: “That’s a good question”. You told me about showing both my sides — there’s a quote by Maya Angelou that I use in my SongVersation and the quote is: “There’s no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside of you”. The flip side of having such a public life is those secrets feel like they have more power over you, but I didn’t set out to be courageous and show both sides, but what I set out to do is to be me and I could not any longer bear the consequences of not fully being myself.
I knew what it felt like, I had the health ramifications and stuff, like having ulcers and just feeling generally horrible 90% of the time, just feeling bad, feeling tired and exhausted, I just wasn’t willing to accept all those consequences anymore, so I really don’t see it like a courageous thing but I saw it as a necessity — either I was gonna give up being a public person, give up my music or be real and I decided to be real. I don’t think that there’s anything I’m afraid to say and if something comes up in the moment and it’s true I will say it.
But those fears come from me, and I used to think that the people around me were usurping my power and I was giving it away. Then I started looking at what else am I doing that I’m thinking other people are doing to me and I realize now that people say things and having their opinions and try to scare you because they’re scared and they’re worried about not making enough money when I sing about the things I want. Everybody has their own agenda. I used to buy into that because I was afraid that my life wouldn’t work if I didn’t say “yes” to their fears. I wasn’t even clear on my own agenda, it was me saying yes, it was me being afraid and it was me thinking it was not gonna work and once I realized that, I realized being afraid is okay. But it’s not okay to let the fear stop me from living a life that feels like my life, not my mom’s life, not the record label’s life, not India.Arie the public person’s life but the real me, living my life and letting India.Arie and me be the same person.
Dirk: One of my favourite songs on your album SongVersation is ‘Break the shell’: You cannot touch the sky from inside yourself, you cannot fly until you break the shell. How did you manage to peel back all of the layers before you could really fly?
India.Arie: It’s about getting to a place where I can be really honest with myself about myself. I told you that’s why back in 2009, I just tore my whole life down because I couldn’t see myself and that scared me because I was always really in touch with how I felt. I lived inside of my emotions and then all of a sudden I didn’t know how I felt and I didn’t know what I wanted and I didn’t know who I was and so I spent all these years being honest with myself and having a relationship with myself and expressing that with the song ‘Life I know’ was that my muscle was stronger in that way, so deciding to dive in back into that pool was a familiar place. So I would break the shell, allowing myself to go numb to any parts of my life. I look at things and I deal with it and the cumulative effect of that is the life I’m living today.
I am of course still finding things about myself — I’m in that dating phase, like being open to date and now all these men are coming out of the woodworks all over the place. It is fun practising breaking the shell in that way too, like I just remind myself to be myself. It’s so easy to not be yourself when you’re first meeting a man and all those things, but you know… I guess living a life of having the shell broken and continuing to break all the little pieces that try to attach themselves to me under all the new circumstances that are happening like doing interviews… I think it kind of happened in this interview, I was about to say something that wasn’t true and I reminded myself: “That’s not really true”. To me, that’s breaking the shell, just in every moment, being honest. But I also look forward to being 85 and knowing what it feels like to have lived that way, you know, for four decades.
Break the shell was actually inspired by actress Cicely Tyson. In her I see a person who is a walking symbol of values — She walks into a room and you think of all these things, you feel it coming of her and that’s what I want to be. I want to be a person who can be felt by people when I walk into the room and you can’t do that with a shell.
Dirk: Your lyrics are very sensitive and you express yourself so beautifully and balanced. However, we know that many artists often have trouble to find a balance between the public appearance and their private lives. They can be even very lonely and depressed. How do you deal with this?
India.Arie: Especially by being myself. Yeah, just being myself. I tell people the truth and people are almost never mad at that. It’s so cool to be honest. It seemed so hard to be and now it’s hard to imagine not being honest.
Dirk: In Break the shell you affirm that “So much disappointment to finally understand, that there’s no such thing as perfect, we’re all simply doing the best that we can”. Isn’t that already perfect India? Isn’t that ‘perfection in the moment’ for you, doing the best you can?
India.Arie: Yes, that is perfect and I think that in the song lyrics I was referring to the unrealistic goal of perfection and looking for that in other people, in stead of looking at the perfection people already are, including yourself. Everyone is perfect.
Dirk: Love plays a crucial role in your songs and in your personal life, but I know that this love is much more refined, deeper and spiritual than an average love song out there. What does love exactly mean to you?
India.Arie: I see love as the energy that comprises everything and I see it as the most powerful energy in the Universe. I see love as the only thing that there is, which makes it hard to not be it and hard to not be doing it, or maybe even be impossible. But on an interpersonal human level, I feel that the highest form of love is acceptance without exception. Of course it all starts with me and I accept myself fully and I love everything about me!
Dirk: ‘I am moved by you’ India! You’re our Super R&B Soul!
For more information, please visit India.Arie’s website: soulbird.com
INTERVIEW BY: DIRK TERPSTRA [ARTICLE APPEARED FIRST ON OMTIMES & SOUL LOVE]