Words of Wisdom from Ram Dass

Treat everyone you meet like God in drag.
Ram Dass

My brother introduced me to Ram Dass a few years ago.

My brother Adam is amazing – he’s 6ft 4 and all smile.  He’s someone I really look up to (in all senses of the word) and has been an incredible source of support, particularly over the last year.  He’s a musician with a massive spiritual streak, and collects quotes, podcasts, YouTube videos to show his friends to blow their minds, and to sample in his music.  You can find out more about his psytrance music here.

Ram Dass has so many amazing words and quotes it’s hard to choose favourites.  Since being introduced to him and finding him on Facebook, his teachings have helped me to think and be in new ways on almost a daily basis.

When I was creating Dive Down, I pulled back from my support network of friends and family a bit to try and really feel into what had lead me to make the decisions I’d made in my life so far, look at where I had perhaps done things based on fear, and see if I could find different ways of navigating in the future.

Ram Dass was a great source of inspiration during that challenging time.

He doesn’t hold his punches.  His words are written (or spoken) with love, but they aren’t always easy to read.

If somebody is a problem for you, it’s not that they should change, it’s that you need to change.  If they’re a problem for themselves that’s their karma, if they’re causing you trouble that’s your problem…
– Ram Dass from A Heavy Curriculum

See?  🙂

I think that’s one of the things that I find most helpful about Ram Dass actually, the challenge that he often presents.  The way he asks me to look at myself before anyone else, to work on myself before presuming that I can change anything else in the world.  To see my own power in the work that I do when I work on myself.

In a lovely bit of circular connection, I picked Adam up from the airport on Thursday after he’d been travelling.  He ended his adventures in Hawaii, where he was fortunate enough to spend some time with Ram Dass (now in his nineties) in person.  By all accounts they had an awesome time, with a lot of just smiling and sitting in each others company.  And, Adam gave him a copy of Dive Down, so I can add a pin to Hawaii in my map of where the books have flown to….

The Ram Dass Foundation Love Serve Remember website is brilliant, and has articles, quotes, podcasts, webcasts and films packed with inspiration.  You can find it here: www.ramdass.org

You are loved just for being who you are, just for existing. You don’t have to do anything to earn it…. Imagine that being in this love is like relaxing endlessly into a warm bath that surrounds and supports your every movement, so that every thought and feeling is permeated by it.
– Ram Dass from The Entrance to Oneness

16

 

Dancing like a crazy person to feel more sane…

It’s 2001, I think.  I’m in one of the few nightclubs in Falmouth, where I am at uni.  Friends have brought me here, slightly under protest.

I don’t dance.

I’m in my early twenties at this point, and apart from the occasional wiggle or headbang, I haven’t really danced and meant it since the school disco at primary school.  I am way too self conscious; I simply don’t know what to do and worry about looking like a fool.

My friends seem to be having fun though, and I feel reasonably happy watching them.

Then, Paul breaks away from dancing with his girlfriend Cathy and our friend Jodie to where I am lurking at the edge of the dance floor. I wish I could remember what track was playing.  With a glint in his eye and a huge smile, he dances like a complete weirdo in front of me.  There are a lot of pelvic thrusts, hip wiggles, and terrible moves.  Just terrible.  He is relentless, completely silly, has no care for how cool he looks and I am laughing my head off.  He leads me onto the floor to come and join my friends, and something in me changed forever.  I found my dance!

I am forever grateful to Paul for helping me break free of worrying what I look like when I dance.

I don’t dance for you.  I don’t do it for anyone who might be watching.  I do it because it feels really fun and once the music catches me, I can’t help it.  It’s purely about me being in my body.

One of the incredibly therapeutic practices I’ve discovered in this last year whilst creating Dive Down takes that liberated feeling to a whole other level.  Five Rhythms Dancing is a movement started by Gabrielle Roth, and she’s written a book about it, the title of which sums up the idea perfectly: Sweat Your PrayersYou can find out more at the Five Rhythms website here. There’s a reference to dancing at the end of the Dive Down story – it’s a key tool in my de-stressing toolbox.

Illustration from Dive Down by Sam Goodlet - www.samdrawsthings.com

Five Rhythm groups operate all over the place, and I thoroughly recommend giving it a go.  It’s terrifying, fun, liberating, therapeutic moving meditation.  There is no right or wrong, and you are gently guided through five ‘waves’ of different types of movement, building up to a crescendo of complete letting go in the middle and calming back down again.  In my experience, the other people in the room are incredibly sympathetic and kind, especially to new faces.

Not only has going to the sessions been amazing, I’ve had quite a few of my own moments at home, dancing around like a loon to release stress, anger, sadness, self doubt… all kinds of less than positive feelings that I’ve been able to kick into touch by moving my body.  Nights out that involve dancing have also become little therapy sessions; a chance to let go.

I am so, so grateful to you Paul, and to everyone who has danced with me since.

Have a look at my inspirational YouTube playlist of amazing dance moves here 🙂

Gratitude to everyone who helped me start to notice…

The seals in the Dive Down story appear at a point when inspiration started to find me…

Illustration from Dive Down by Sam Goodlet - www.samdrawsthings.co.uk

 

Along with an amazing book called When Things Fall Apart by Pema Chödrön and a range of music that helped me to get up in the morning (which can be found on the Spotify playlist to accompany the book here) there were lots of other people and organisations who helped me to navigate my way in the depths.  A lot of them can be found in the Further Reading list in the back of the book, and on the Dive Down website here.

This week has been really lovely as I have been writing thank you letters and packaging up copies of Dive Down to send some of those people as a thank you.

I sent and gave the first batch of books to friends and family who were part of my safety net, and now I’ve reached out to some of the people who have been part of my life without realising.

I wanted to complete the loop and let them know that they had touched and helped me.

So some of my favourite writers, musicians, philosophers and organisations will be getting little parcels.  It’s probably not that big a deal to them – I hope that they get letters and things like that all the time. But it was a very therapeutic thing to do, to put into words why and how their work or words had changed my life.

parcels by Sam Goodlet - www.samdrawsthings.co.uk

The map of where the books have gone is looking really exciting at the moment, and includes some of the awesome organisations I have sent copies to.  You can find the map here.

Letting other people know about the people, music and organisations that I found when creating Dive Down is an important part of the sharing – I want to sign post as many people to the brilliant resources that exist to help us all find our way as we swim through our own journeys and adventures.

Please do share any of your own favourites and I can add them to the Further Reading list 🙂 Why not drop me an email?