By SURF GODDESS RETREATS
“Follow your bliss.
If you do follow your bliss,
you put yourself on a kind of track
that has been there all the while waiting for you,
and the life you ought to be living
is the one you are living.
When you can see that,
you begin to meet people
who are in the field of your bliss,
and they open the doors to you.
I say, follow your bliss and don’t be afraid,
and doors will open where you didn’t know they were going to be.
If you follow your bliss, doors will open for you that wouldn’t have opened for anyone else.”
These are the words that immortlized Joseph Campbell, an American mythologist, writer and lecturer, best known for his work in comparative mythology and the wise soul who while studying world mythology, discovered a pattern hidden in every story ever told and he called it “the hero’s journey”.
The hero’s (…or, as in our case, the goddess’s) journey is ultimately one of self discovery. On this journey we slay metaphorical dragons, find hidden treasures, meet wonderful new companions like Dorothy in Oz, who will support, inspire and champion us on our journey of seeking our personal holy grail.
Campbell tells us that the first ‘thing’ that sets us on this transformational path is the desire to ‘follow one’s bliss’.
You may be saying now…’but I don’t know what my bliss is! How can I follow what I don’t know what it even is yet?’
Luckily everything we need to start the journey is already packed with us, including the internal compass that will guide us on the path. So, you don’t need to add a thing, in fact it’s just the opposite, you will need to put down your old baggage, and leave some old ideas behind to keep moving forward on this journey.
“We must be willing to let go of the life we planned so as to have the life that is waiting for us.”
One old idea to let go of is that any great journey (or life change) has to begin with dramatic flair. ‘Leap and the net will appear’ is a common the image many bring to mind when embarking on a life change. The image of flinging oneself off a cliff into the unknown is not really how the journey to oneself begins. There will be plenty of times when you will need to jump as you get further down your path, but following your bliss starts more humbly, how Lao-Tzu stated, ‘a journey of a thousand miles begins with one step’.
It most often begins with the quiet bubbling up of desires, like a slow brewing stew or curry, the delicious fragrance releasing with the pop of a bubble that makes you think ‘yumm, I want a taste’. This is how the bliss-filled desires of your heart speak to you to draw you on your journey.
For each person the specifics of what is their bliss it is different, so how do you know when you have followed your bliss?
The quality of the desire when it has been met is like that of having a deeply nutritious meal, just like the wonderful stew you wanted to try…and having tried it you feel satisfied and content, and have the desire to try some more.
There are lots of other desires out there that may disguise themselves as bliss, but instead turn out to be those metaphorical ‘dragons’ that Campbell says the hero of the story needs to slay. Experiences that are not bliss may make you feel high and elated for a time, but after they are finished they leave you feeling lower than before. They are like those ‘big night outs’ which are great fun while your dancing on the tables, but the hangover the next day is a killer! Anything, or anyone for that matter, that leaves you feeling worse than before is not bliss. Following you bliss is effortless and self-sustaining with no strenuous effort on your part. All you have to do is show up and enjoy.
This is the idea behind our ‘follow your bliss’ days on the retreats. Its a day where each person chooses an experience that appeals to them. For some it is being in motion through the rice paddies of Bali on a bicycle, snorkelling in the colourful and peaceful world under the sea, learning to cook a mouth-watering feast from the traditions of another culture or being pampered like royalty with aromatherapy massages and facials. There is something inherently blissful in doing something that makes your soul sing, just for the joy of experience.
“People say that what we’re all seeking is a meaning for life. I don’t think that’s what we’re really seeking. I think that what we’re seeking is an experience of being alive, so that our life experiences on the purely physical plane will have resonances with our own innermost being and reality, so that we actually feel the rapture of being alive.”
No matter where we are in our lives and how many responsibilities we have there are always opportunities for us to follow our bliss. If you are not on retreat you can still start by taking a walk by the ocean, doing a yoga class at your local studio, trying out a new recipe or restaurant, learning a new activity like surfing or muy thai, helping out at charity, buying a cheap set of water colours just to ‘play’ with the paint, learn to meditate, visiting a place that has always ‘called’ to you. The options are endless and individual as each of us.
All you need to do is to follow that natural feeling of bliss, as that feeling leads you on you will find it is the sacred and heroic journey of embracing your true self, and that is a truly freeing gift. It is the most precious gift you can give yourself and one that nobody else can give you. As Joseph said, “The privilege of a lifetime is being who you are.”
Awaken, Embrace and Celebrate the Goddess in You. Follow Your Bliss…and enjoy your journey!
Your Surf Goddess xx
(Quotes from selected writings of Joseph Campbell)