Seeking Mindful Hustling, Flow and Joy at 36.

Ecstatic dance? Me? No way.

Over the cumulative time I’ve spent in Goa, Guatemala and other ‘hippie’ spots, the idea of trying out ecstatic dance has never crossed my mind. I have two left feet, and tend to tread lightly around the edges of alternative therapies.

But while passing through Goa and catching up with a friend a couple of weeks ago, that resistance unexpectedly gave way to curiosity. The next thing I knew, I was on an outdoor dance floor, under a canopy of trees and some faintly shining stars. There was no alcohol, nothing to smoke. Just music and an eclectic mix of people, moving in whatever ways the rhythm spoke to their body and mind.

I was awkward at first, but from somewhere deep within, arose a strange need to shift, sway, move, jump and throw up my hands and head. A strange call to let go whatever was brewing within.

Some two hours later, as we lay on our backs and tried to return to reality, I felt tired, sweaty, relaxed and renewed. In the moments and days since, I’ve been thinking about that exhilarating feeling of trying something new. When was the last time I put aside my inhibitions and fully surrendered to that feeling?

Celebrating my 36th birthday in Auroville a few days later, I began to reflect on my next revolution around the sun. Here’s how I hope to consciously shape it:

Seeking the flow again

Lying on that ecstatic dance floor with Orion shining meekly through the trees above, I had an epiphany. Over the last 3-4 years, I’ve focused on professional growth alone. In the years leading up to 2020, I had been dealing with feelings of stagnation. The pause of the pandemic allowed me to upskill, and pivot in different directions like consulting and teaching. But other than my time in Chile, it also disrupted my personal flow. I hate to admit it but it filled me with fears that’ve been holding me back from chasing (scary) new experiences that have been a key component in my recipe for personal fulfilment.

In Morocco, I was finally reminded of the joy of letting go and trusting in the universe. In Goa, I experienced the sweet feeling of surrender. That’s the flow I want to seek at 36.

Also read: We travel in search of what we need, and return “home” to find it

Re-evaluating my relationship with money

In my twenties, I thought I had money all figured out. It was a means to an end. It flowed in and out, it was meant to be shared, it was a gateway to the world.

But in recent years, that feeling has changed and I can’t decode why. Even though I now earn far more than I used to in my twenties, I constantly feel its evil pressure. Earn more, save more, share less, spend less. I constantly have to sit myself down to unpack it and ask why. It’s exhausting.

Of course, the world – and especially travel – is far more expensive now than it used to be. I also tend to seek far more material comforts now than I used to.

I’m grateful for the awareness that I need to mend this relationship. Now I just need to figure out how.

Also read: Insider Tips: How to Get Paid to Travel the World in 2024

Mourning but not fearing loss 

I had some pretty depressing conversations with friends in Goa. There’s so much going down in the lives of common friends, acquaintances and family members. Suicide, covid-linked or vaccine-linked long term health damage, mental health degradation, accidents. It’s all so scary, that a part of me aches for the loss of others, while also feeling so afraid of losing someone close to me.

But as a wise friend said, knowing what we know, we’ve got to live the best way we can. Yes, life is unpredictable, but we can’t perpetually live in fear of what might happen. We have to be mindful, yet fill our time on earth with the things we love and the people we care about.

Also read: Get Busy Living or Get Busy Dying

Mindful hustling 

work from home tips, working from home advice

I guess I’ve been hustling (aka trying a bunch of things to make an income) long before I even learnt of the word. When I quit my full time job all those years ago, I had no illusions of the hustle going away someday. But I’ve gotten waylaid so many times, that I constantly need to step back and tell myself, I no longer need to hustle for the sake of hustling!

Reading the book Essentialism earlier this year put a lot in perspective. I don’t have to pursue every creative project that catches my fancy. I don’t have to accept every opportunity that comes my way. I now have a criteria to prioritize everyday work, based on impact, value and joy. How does it make a positive impact in the bigger picture? Does it create some financial cushioning? Does it bring personal fulfilment?

I’m so grateful to the Exotic Gringo for introducing me to the phrase ‘mindful hustling,’ because that’s the only kind of hustling I need at 36.

Also read: This Month, 11 Years Ago, I Quit My Corporate Job to Travel

Joy in slower pursuits 

Now that I look back, I think I got so absorbed in trying to pursue work that could address the climate and biodiversity crisis in some sort of way, that I forgot about seeking joy in the smallest of things. The wildflowers in my backyard, the conversations that only brew over a slow cup of tea, a good book with a sunset. My mind constantly felt in a rush. Get back to work, this is urgent, it kept saying. It’s climate anxiety, alright, but I can’t let it consume me.

I’m determined to change that this year, by doing less at a time but doing it more joyfully. By making more time for slowness and stillness. By doing more of the things I love – vegan baking, writing, learning from the people around me, and consciously chasing the exhilarating feeling of trying something new. Because if not now, when?

What do you hope for from your current / next revolution around the sun?

The Shooting Star Academy

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  1. Your journey of self-discovery and growth as you approach your 36th year is truly inspiring! Embracing new experiences like ecstatic dance in Goa shows your courage to break free from inhibitions. Your reflections on prioritizing joy, reevaluating your relationship with money, and embracing mindful hustling offer valuable insights for living a fulfilling life. Wishing you continued growth and abundant moments of bliss in the year ahead!

  2. The blog was very connecting. Probably being at the same age, lot of us go through same things if we go inside and ask Why ? The difference being many can go with that voice inside and many cannot.

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