The Quest for Purpose
In July 2002 in a lush, tropical Balinese forest, I sat with a group of meditators in a large comfortable bamboo summer house. Imagine crisp linens and colonial luxury meets nature, warmth and creative building.
We had been guided in meditation, by our wonderful teacher Ray Baskerville, for what seemed like hours. (If I had been somewhere less hospitable I would probably have wandered off!) Finally we were led into a meeting with our Divine. We were encouraged to ask a question, what did we need guidance on?
I knew what I wanted to ask, I had been on a quest to find the answer for a good few years.
‘What is my life purpose?’
I got an instant reply! ‘Don’t you know?’ It teased.
I hadn’t expected the Divine to have a sense of humour! I was exasperated.
Finally I heard ‘Your’re a teacher, you learn and then you teach’. I saw scenes from my life with me teaching. My dolls when I was a child, dance when I was a teenager, training when I was in my Human Resources roles and English teaching now that I was traveling.
At last I had an answer! My quest was over. Relief!
But, to be honest, I already knew I enjoyed teaching. I had always been drawn to opportunities to teach.
It did clarify though why I found some training projects tedious. When the information was not fresh for me, it wasn’t something I was curious about or I had to repeat it with many different groups, this was not my kind of teaching.
When I had taken my first steps into Self Employment, my main motivation was to create space in my life, that space allowed me to explore, travel and seek my purpose. However, my gap year travel and the trip to Bali would not have been possible without another realisation.
Curious about life and now with full responsibility for my Continuous Professional Development, I booked on a course I thought would improve my communication ‘The Mastery of Self Expression’.
This was a weekend workshop involving actors’ exercises. The room was laid out to differentiate between stage and audience. The first time I stood ‘on the stage’ in front of this group of about 30 people I was nervous. This feeling confused me as I was used to speaking in front of groups, I was usually so confident. But this group seemed to be looking through all my layers of self protection and seeing the real me. I was not used to being seen.
For the first 1 1/2 days of this workshop, whether I was asked to talk, sing or connect with my audience, I cried! In in anger exercise, I cried and I cried when talking about love. I was so disappointed with myself, what a wasted opportunity. One of the workshop facilitators told me I would be surprised by the difference all my crying had made, I was skeptical.
But they were right!
Overnight something changed, the colours I saw were brighter, people seemed warmer and I felt free, anything was possible! Although in that moment all I felt was relief and love, I now realise I had lived through situations I thought would break me & I realised all my thinking to date about how life and emotions worked was untrue, or at least questionable.
I saw that the many limitations I had put in place to protect myself from feeling ‘bad’ emotions were unnecessary. The feelings hadn’t hurt me. In fact I felt better for having felt them!
Without those self-imposed limitations, who was I and what did I want to do with my life?
I explored more and discovered more. My mother tells me I became a nicer person, my relationships deepened and I took a month off for my first solo travel adventure in Australia.
The work I was doing in small and growing companies was good, I was working in more depth with my clients and making a difference. But I didn’t feel consultancy was my Life Purpose. I felt I needed to know in order to plan my future.
On another workshop, I discovered my divine purpose was ‘to give and receive love’. Lovely, but it didn’t really help me know what work to do!
I had been considering moving up the housing ladder to a bigger flat, but I was so settled in the small London suburb I had made my home, I could not imagine moving away. Then the relationship I thought was ‘the one’ broke down and I had another big shift in my thinking...
I could travel. I could sell my flat and fund a ‘gap year’. I could explore the world.
I connected with my passion, my heart’s desires and let them lead the way. I was obsessed with knowing my life purpose but actually there was nothing missing. Following my passion was already leading me to my purpose.
There was much less for me to do than I imagined.