If you do nothing else but this one thing today, let it be this: Breathe! Go into nature and breathe! Breathe deep into your stomach! Breathe as deeply and as long as you ever have before! Smile while you do it as It’s the most important and precious gift you can give yourself today and everyday!
Sinethemba (Sine) who also lives in Settlers Place, Langa arrived at Langa Stadium around 5ish for the famous Friday evening Langa run. He was looking for “Sipho”.
Lungile was there already and Sine was convinced he would know where Sipho was. “Have you seen Sipho?” asked Sine. Lungile replies “Sipho? Who is Sipho?” “He’s my best friend!” says Sine excitedly. Still Lungile cannot think who this boy is talking about but really wants to help him and Sine is adamant Lungile knows Sipho well. Almost reaching deadlock Sine offers that Sipho rides a bike. But Lungile still couldn’t think who this could be. (And one thing you should know about Langa; everyone knows everyone!!)
Some time later I arrive at the stadium on my bicycle. “Sipho!” shouts Sine, and turns to Lungile, “There’s Sipho! I told you he rides a bike!”
(Sipho is the Xhosa name given to me in Langa and I am currently the only white South African living there. Lungile and I have been friends and teammates for many many years. Chatting to Lungile afterwards we laughed as he remembers thinking it couldn’t be me as there is no doubt Sine would have mentioned “he’s the white guy” (or umlungu in isiXhosa) but Sine just didn’t see any colour! )
This was simply Sine’s heart speaking. We are not born seeing colour. We just see people.
This pure child like essence is inside us all. So why is it so hard for us to find? What is stopping us?
As someone who speaks a lot about following his heart (it was the topic of my TEDx talk back in 2013: https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=O6Z5SW6Y7fw) & more importantly tries to follow his heart himself in the hope it will help others to do the same, I realized I had begun to lose my connection with my heart.
This realization hit home to me or floored me in a conversation I had with a lady called Bela in India (whom I will be forever grateful to). I remember I was particularly passionate, animated and if honest agitated that day and I began to unload what was on my mind, what was troubling me. Before I could continue Bela strongly interrupted me by grabbing hold of my arm saying “Are you breathing?”
For whatever reason this fully penetrated me. My innate defence mechanisms – effortless jokes, other “theatrics” that I have spent my life refining and becoming somewhat expert at when needing to deflect any unwanted moments that may make me feel vulnerable or exposed stood no chance with Bela!
I realized in that moment how much I had neglected my body and my heart, and it was time to truly rebuild my relationship with them both.
My breaths were short and reached my throat if I was lucky. I tried to remember when last I took a deep breath. Notice the next time you are deep in thought how little you breathe! You are starving yourself! This is like suicide! We can go without food for weeks or even months, water for a matter of days before we perish. But with oxygen all it takes is a matter of minutes or perhaps hours (if you are Lewis Pugh – Polar swimmer or Hanli Prinsloo – Free diver) to perish without it. Breath, air, oxygen – call it what you want is our life force and yet we are so careless with it!
Try imagine how your body feels. Like a small child in the corner crying out for love but no one is listening leaving that child to feel neglected, unloved, alone, desperate. All feelings that can lead us to shut down or act in ways not otherwise known to us or acceptable.
The more we think, in an attempt to put right what is wrong, the further we get away from our breath, our body, our feelings, ourselves, our intuition, our heart. And the more we are suppressed, controlled and limited by our thoughts.
Thoughts are the only thing that separate us from each other – after all when you look into the eyes of the man or woman next to you, and feel their breath and feel the beat of their heart you will feel deeply connected. You will feel one with them. And yet most of the thoughts that do separate us, are just that – only thoughts but over time have become powerful norms that define us, confine our lives and imprison us.
I had a similar “Bela” moment in a conversation with my father when I realized that Apartheid was nothing but a thought at the time that was deemed a “necessary evil” in people’s minds driven by fear and anxiety. What if we stopped thinking and felt more? Surely this is the way to find truth? If we did, Apartheid or anything like it could never happen again.
The best news is our bodies are so intelligent, so resilient, so loving, more infinite and capable than the greatest of any minds, and they also forgive immediately regardless of how they have been treated and for how long. All that matters is how you treat your body today! How else do you explain how a cut heals, or hair grows or the countless other complex procedures the body carries out without any interference by us? This intelligence is inside us all and all we need to do is truly connect with our bodies again, listen to what it is asking for. This trust will ignite your heart!
Just like a flower, unless you are completely dead (seeing as though you have read this far I am pretty confident you are not!), over time with the right nourishment you will start to blossom again and be in your full glory. Parts of your body that had started to shut down will work again and you too will be able to reach your full potential!
Ok I’m in?! So all we need to do is think less? Right? Sounds really easy. But hang on. If you ask me to not think? What is the first thing I will do?! As for “Following your heart”! How on earth do I do that? When I look back I realize when I was following my heart I had no way other than telling someone what I had done/ happened to me and that you would “know” when you felt it. And then the more I searched for an answer (to help others and to keep following my heart myself), the deeper in thought I became and the further and further away I became from my heart and any feeling. This is a scary and lonely place!
Sometimes in life where you are called to teach is where your own medicine lies. (Thanks Sophia) Together we can help each other get out of our minds to enable us to feel our bodies and hearts again, and perhaps create some space for our natural intuition, inspiration, wisdom, love for ourself and others to flow!
Thank you to everyone who has formed part of my journey up until now, especially most recently in India and Thailand. You are all part of me and part of what I have to share.
Pune, India (Left) and Koh Phangan, Thailand
Over the last few months, and encapsulating my life’s experiences up until now, I have come up with a new interactive group presentation called “Leading from the heart”. I am really excited about it and the impact it can have!
In short it will provide a fresh and interactive way to foster:
– togetherness, team bonding, team building and breaking down barriers
– imagination, creativity and inspiration
– being present, receptive and alert
– taking initiative, clarity on taking decisions
– the ability to be calm and trust when out of your comfort zone
– an insight into your emotional intelligence, awareness & intuition
– awareness of non-verbal communication
– excitement about the possibilities in South Africa
Please get in touch if you would like to find out more and/or book a session for your company, organization, team, school, any group.
Write an email to email@example.com for more information on the presentation, fees and availability – the presentation would be very suitable for your staff end of year “celebration” but if this is your wish please get in touch soon as I don’t have many spaces available before the end of the year. Otherwise see you in the New Year! It will be a great way to start!