THE ‘YOU’ CONNECTION
I talk a lot about connection in relation to how I see and describe health. As humans we have been offered our beautiful individual bodies as vessels for our souls to journey through this life and this ‘connection’ I describe is our internal compass which allows us to find our ‘home’ within ourselves. It is our ‘innate intelligence’ which our bodies all possess and when you listen to this voice from your body that speaks to you, your whole life, you begin to understand your body’s language and you unlock the key to your own happiness and well-being.
I believe this intuition and ability to navigate towards your true self is the most powerful and creative tool we could ever unlock for ourselves. Knowing how you want to feel and be in your body brings the gift of fulfilment and an even stronger connection to ourselves. Without that true connection to our bodies and a sense of fulfilment in our lives our souls can be left feeling numb, confused and we often start to look outside of ourselves for a solution. We may look for constructive solutions such as a healthy diet or supplements, yoga or a loving relationship but more often than not we choose destructive solutions to combat the numbness such as alcohol, drugs, unhealthy relationships or an inactive, unhealthy lifestyle. What we missed in the confusion was the sound of our own internal voice speaking to us, letting us know what our bodies needed at the time. Or perhaps we heard it but ignored it and succumbed to our addictions or healthy obsessions instead due to our belief that the external world knows better than our internal voice. As a result our health suffers and we never truly understand how to look after ourselves and nurture our individuality. We never form a deep connection to our bodies and live a life of separation to ourselves.
MY OWN DISCONNECT
If you read my previous blog (Getting to know each other…My Story
) you will know that in September 2013 I started a cafe business called ‘Retreat Cafe’. It was one of the first healthy eating, vegetarian food cafes on the scene at the time in London to offer a gluten, sugar and meat-free offering. The cafe was located inside a yoga studio and the yogi’s went wild for all the delicious, healthy food, juices and smoothies they could enjoy pre and post yoga. Word quickly spread and it wasn’t long until a well known yoga studio called Triyoga came knocking and asked me to open a second cafe from their Soho space in Kingly Court. We opened in May 2014 and by June 2014 we added a commercial kitchen to the mix as well. Life was happening at break-neck speed and I was barely able to take a breathe amongst the demands of two cafes open for 14 hours of the day, 7 days a week as well as a commercial kitchen producing wholesale items to other local businesses. In May 2015 I opened a third cafe in Putney and now life was truly, without any exaggeration, busy!
My daily life would consist of traveling from one cafe to another, hiring and training new staff members, managing and developing our systemisation, business development while also producing and packaging food from our commercial kitchen, meeting new wholesale clients, maintaining a constant daily social media and marketing campaign which was then topped off by hours spent in front of my laptop trying to manage the constant stream of emails, accounting and admin requirements to keep everything running smoothly behind the scenes. It was the typical life of a small business entrepreneur trying to wear all the hats required to manage and maintain a business. But by the autumn of 2015 I had reached a point of no return. I remember waking up one morning and feeling deeply unhappy, unmotivated and completely burnt out from running the ‘Retreat Cafe’ business. I had actively created a business which at the time I could only describe as ‘a monster’.
I had become solely focused on my external world and its constant demands of my energy and attention that I had completely lost my internal compass and stopped listening to my inner voice, which by this point had stopped screaming at me and had decided to shut down, leaving me feeling absolutely numb to everything in my internal and external world. So numb that I had stopped caring about almost everything and everyone in my life. When you wake up each day and pretend to be someone you’re not just to keep your business going you know there is something drastically wrong. Our innate intelligence gives us specific feedback on how our lives affects us and my life had been running at such break-neck speed that my first realisation of this separation from myself and numbness wasn’t from my inner compass but actually from my staff (my friends just wanted to be my biggest champions and supporters) but my staff had noticed I had stopped caring and it was their feedback that made me realise that I had completely fallen out of love with my own business. I was actively trying to fool myself that I loved running cafes but in fact, the biggest problem I had was that I was trying to fool myself of that fact everyday! It wasn’t my true calling, yet I had jumped at the opportunity when someone asked me to open a cafe and made it my own. Something in me wanted to say yes to such a great opportunity at the time but with hindsight it wasn’t the right opportunity.
So here I was running a business that was making me miserable everyday and pulling me further and further away from my inner voice and suddenly I was hit by the shock that I had made a significantly wrong turn somewhere. But I couldn’t deny the fact that Retreat Cafe had brought me so much opportunity and brought some wonderful people into my life. Everything I wanted at the time was born from this business that I had thrown myself so wholehearted into – recognition, contacts, a book deal and a sense of significance and status. Yet, what I came to realise was I had chosen the wrong vehicle in which to drive me to find those goals. Being a cafe owner wasn’t my truth and now I had to work out how to get myself unstuck from the life I had created for myself and my staff.
The greatest dilemma I faced at the time of that realisation wasn’t actually how to close the business down or how to sell it on, it was actually that I was about to receive maximum exposure for the cafe’s with the release of ‘The Yoga Kitchen
‘ which was written, printed and about to broadcast to the UK and many international countries that I was the owner and founder of ‘Retreat Cafe’! A business I was actively trying to remove myself from. I had worked really hard for 3 years and I was finally going to receive the recognition I felt I deserved from it but me and my body knew we wanted out! I avoided talking about how I felt to anyone within the business or related to my publishing deal and quietly started looking for solutions which would mean I could exit the business but ‘Retreat Cafe’ would continue on without me and no one would be none the wiser. But lease agreements prevented me from this solution so I decided I would hold on for 6 months and wait until the ‘The Yoga Kitchen
‘ had been out for a while before I officially closed doors and started the road to finding my authentic path again.
Over time I’ve come to discover that my character is such that when I focus in on something, I have an insatiable need to do it in the most honest and authentic way possible. I believe I am lucky that to be wired that way and I have utilised the skill to my advantage on many occasions to create some of the most rewarding moments of my life. What ‘Retreat Cafe’ taught me is what happens to that innate intelligence and connection to yourself when things start to shift in an inauthentic way. What I perceived in myself was this very instinctual and natural retreat from my inner self. I put on a mask which helped me keep my true self hidden and safe while the mask fought the daily battle for me each day. My numbness came from a complete disconnection to the person I had become in order to be the person who could run a business like the one I created. What I am now grateful for is this teaching and understanding of that deep connection to ourselves. Once it was revealed to me I started to see it was the missing link in how I treated my patients as a naturopath and decided to completely flip my consultation and treatment strategy on its head and help my patients, followers and fans like you find that inner compass and learn how to tune in and listen to it. It has become my life’s mission to help others learn how to become aware of their own inner voice and use their innate intelligence to find their truth because its from this truth which our happiness, health and well-being resides. We all know what is best for us and our bodies give us daily nudges and signs towards it every day. Our job is to learn how to listen in and stay connected to it.
SO WHATS NEXT?
To be honest, after running cafes for 4 years in London, all I craved was a simple life. To be able to go back to basics and find the fragments of myself I had lost and start to put an authentic sense of self back together. Closing the cafes also coincided with the stage in my relationship where we were about to get married and what a beautiful stage of life that is. Getting married re-ignites your relationship all over again and I feel more connected to Tom than ever. Marriage has added to our lives in the most beautifully subtle ways that we had not expected. I also made the decision to move out of London and find solace in the countryside of Surrey. Having nature and a sense of space around me has allowed my daily natural rhythms to return and I now truly feel in sync with my body and its environment I choose to surround it in. In business, I took everything I had learnt from running the cafes and started to put together the foundations of a business which I truly love running. I looked at the aspects of how I work as an entrepreneur and decided to build on those strengths so that I now run a business which is solely structured around my authentic self. I feel truly blessed for the journey I took with Retreat Cafe and even though there are aspects I regret or would do differently if given the chance again, I know they are also the aspects which have built the person I am today.