What is your story and background?
From an early age, I was a bit of a nonconformist. I would question the concepts and constructs we, as a society, were expected to align with, especially through my high school years at an all-girls convent. I was always drawn to mysticism and similar philosophy and felt that the purpose of life was to experience everything for ourselves, as opposed to being told how to be and what to believe. I struggled with the way our lives were defined and the over-consumption and industrialisation of nature’s living produce. I always felt like we were living against nature’s logic and ways, which is why we find ourselves in this current climate.
I started studying every practice and book I could find on ancient wisdom and began a deep spiritual journey, veering away and returning to it time and again. I especially found my practices in Hatha Yoga (‘Ha’ meaning sun and ‘Tha’ meaning moon, symbolic of the dual and non-dual realities of existence) and Buddhist meditation liberating before I became a devout Ashtanga yoga practitioner for many years.
After school, I studied production design in film and media and went on to work in stadium theatre and then eventually specialised in experiential marketing. I would create and produce customer experiences for brands that were integrative, meaningful and engaging. I was more drawn towards creating events, spaces and encounters that utilised all the senses to bring people into the present. Such experiences would invoke certain feelings, consequently connecting the customer to the true essence of the brand.
Eventually, in 2012, when I found myself burnt out at the age of 28 because of work and lack of self-care, I took myself on a silent retreat for 10 days. It was there, in the silence, in watching the noise of my mind surface in awareness, where things started to shift in me. I was still so passionate about creating meaningful, embodied experiences; however, I was conflicted by supporting huge international brands that were pillaging the earth to mass-produce products that people did not really need.
In 2013, I decided to delve deeper into my healing and began working with plant medicine alongside West African and Amazonian indigenous healers while travelling the world. I began to experience even bigger realisations about the way we work and live that needed to shift, and this was mirrored by the increasingly urgent climate crisis.
I left my job and stayed with my son at home in 2014, after which I started teaching yoga, mindfulness and meditation full-time. I did several teacher training and apprenticeships. Soon, wellness became my passion, and I began to realise that my well-being was not only for my own benefit but for the benefit of my son, the people around me and my relationship with nature. In fact, the more I began to heal the ancestral trauma within me and bring the unconscious into the light, the more my son flourished and the more my life started to shift. My impact on the world became more tangible. I saw my immediate world as a mirror, reflecting my state within, and I imagined what would happen if everyone began to awaken and heal – what would the collective impact look like then?
I started to live with an intention, as opposed to living with unconscious programming and conditioning that was instilled in me but was definitely not of me. I furthered my studies with indigenous healers and became zealous about the re-emergence of indigenous wisdom – and ultimately, the most sustainable, conscious and regenerative way of living and being. I started to see the parallels between all the ancient texts – the Vedas, the Tantras, the Tao – and this more embodied natural way of living, in a reciprocal and respectful relationship with nature. I then understood that there were many universal truths across these cosmologies and simple diverse ways of practising them. Spirituality is not about transcending this life on earth but learning how to live here in the right relationship with ourselves, others and the planet.
I came to realise that the answers we have been seeking to some of our biggest societal and climate problems already exist in nature and that both science and ancient wisdom study the behaviour of nature, but through different lenses. It became obvious that one of the biggest problems we have been facing was disconnection – from ourselves, from one another and from nature. Indigenous tribes, like the Khoi Khoi in South Africa, formulated their language using the sounds they heard in their natural environment; deep listeners connected to the elements to learn and survive. Sadly, colonisation disconnected them from their culture and even their language.
The primary objective behind colonisation was to acquire wealth at the expense of social and cultural divides. This stemmed from a real ‘lack’ mentality. Nature teaches us that life is abundant and regenerative and by working together as individual threads in the tapestry of an entire ecosystem, where everyone plays a critical role, there will be more than enough for everyone to not only survive – but also thrive.
One of the tribes from the Amazon that I work with is called the Huni Kuin people. Only in recent years have they decided to leave their home and travel the world to share their wisdom, medicines and prayers, as they too can no longer live purely in reciprocity with the earth due to logging and pollution. They intend to share the healing so that collectively, we can learn to live in a less extractive and more regenerative way, which will benefit us all. Like all the ancient texts, they teach us that we are in fact, not separate from one another – or from nature.
Last year, I did a course in biomimicry under the tutelage of the late Claire Janisch who was an absolute pioneer in the field, not just here in South Africa but worldwide. Meeting Claire, a chemical engineer-turned-biomimic, inspired us to start looking up to nature to reimagine a whole new way of regenerative living and health as these things intersect.