Joel Steggall Landscape

Connecting the dots looking back, before stepping into Kailash as a Resident Volunteer

If you haven’t yet, check out Part 1Part 2, Part 3 and Part 4 of Joel’s epic journey

Before coming out I felt my job wasn’t serving me anymore, it was too transactional and lacked a true purpose which if it wasn’t for Covid maybe I would never have had the opportunity to stop and truly reflect on. I had a feeling of being lost in this big city and not knowing where to turn. The truth is I had lost my connection to myself and my self-worth, all my life I had never struggled with this yet here it was and it wouldn’t go away…

I wouldn’t have said I’ve lived my life so far just following my gut instinct of living life based on what feels right and leading from there, but looking back maybe I have? Whilst at Kailash I had a great chat with a resident called Em and she started talking about how much she enjoys volunteering here and her journey, to which I said I’d love to do something like this but I can’t and she bluntly and calmly said why can’t you? And there it was, time stopped and I felt an awe-inspiring feeling of possibility and for the first time I thought, why not me? This seed was planted and oh boy did it grow at a rapid rate!

Speaking with Rajni also during my time at Kailash as a guest I spoke about that conversation I had with Em and that I could see myself moving out longer term as a resident and to my delight Rajni echoed these thoughts so in my head it was a done deal – my life was about to change in a big way!

Kailash Residents Board

I wanted to hand my notice in right away at my job but decided to wait a week to make sure it still felt right as at the time it certainly felt like a lot to walk away from so, I wanted to be sure. The feeling did not go away and I knew it was something I had to do, leaving a job where you’re well respected, earning good money and almost part of the furniture can be daunting for sure – but living a life you’re unfulfilled by is the biggest risk of all to me!

It just so happens that the day I facetimed David & Rajni to confirm I could move out to Kailash as a resident was also the first time my now beautiful partner Lucy came round to mine. In fact, she arrived 5 minutes after I hung up the phone to them. What a huge day that is in my life, I couldn’t feel more fortunate for both events and for them to happen on the same day, wow!

Due to my position in the company, the amount of time I had been there and the mutual respect between us all I agreed to give 4 months’ notice period before packing up and moving out to Kailash for the foreseeable. I had a lovely send off from work and know if we ever need each other again, we’re only a phone call away.

Once I had finished up with work my rent was also up at my place, so perfect timing meant I had a few weeks staying with Lucy whilst Melbourne continued to go in and out of lockdown. This felt so nice as we got to spend even more quality time together, but of course made the goodbye feel that little bit harder. I won’t lie, during this time I was indulging in takeaway food, cheese & wine knowing I was about to embark on a new journey of a healthy mind, body and soul. I hadn’t set particularly clear goals for the healthy mind, body and soul but I did know I wanted to commit to a marathon training plan, stretch / do yoga consistently, meditate daily, read new books, listen to new podcasts, be surrounded by nature and make something of my online business. The rest, I trusted, would come to me as I make my way on the journey.

Arriving to Kailash after 4 hours on a bus and train I felt pretty tired but interested to get settled into this new way of life. The first thing I noticed was the cold weather, coming in July compared to February was like a different world!

It was still lockdown when I arrived so there were no guests arriving for upcoming retreats, just us 5 residents at the time and David and Rajni too. It always takes a little time in new places to find your rhythm and Kailash was no different. I had no idea where I needed to be or what I needed to do, I just followed along and tried to keep busy.

The residents were great with me and although David & Rajni were otherwise engaged with the birth of their baby coming up and needing to do a big renovation on their house, I had enough support to figure out the routine of the place and settle in within a week or two.

Joel during morning group Gurukarya in the garden

The first couple of weeks felt so transformative for me – what a transformation my mind, body and soul went through. True to my goal to train for a marathon I got straight into getting up early for a run or workout before Gurukarya, a practice I started to learn about which in short is work for our soul where we let go of ourselves as the doer and also relinquish the fruits of our actions, both good and bad. I was meditating every day as part of the collective practice, doing my own yoga and enjoying David’s yoga teachings once a week, eating healthy vegetarian food when I have eaten meat for most of my life, reading new books, being introduced to new podcasts and through conversation with the residents being introduced to so much knowledge and life experience.

The meditation felt light, intense in a good way and there were even some visions coming up – I was thinking, wow I’m nailing this from the get go! Kailash is a place of work both literally and figuratively, you need to show up every day, yes there’s ‘magic’ in the place but you only get out what you put in. Or with the meditation practice of surrender, maybe what you leave behind / let go of.

Swamiji who is the Guru in which David and Rajni have connected to his lineage of samarpan meditation, which means to surrender, did an online discourse in the first couple of weeks I was here too so the energy was high, even though a lot of it was in Sanskrit I was just living in the felt world and digesting whatever I could. Again, this felt easy and so heightened which was so different to how I felt coming into Kailash – this is going to be a breeze I thought!

Stay tuned for what’s next

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