Making A Difference
Ever since I was a child I wanted to make a difference in the world. I grew up in a family that cared a lot about the world – we were always having conversations about injustices in other countries, and we supported refugees who came to our town. So I wanted to contribute and have a positive impact on others.
In high school, my friends and I started a human rights group. We met every week and did petitions and other activities, including a human rights day at our school. I just seemed naturally pulled towards contributing in that way. It was all very joyful and a lot of fun. We all felt like we were part of something bigger.
But at the same time, I felt a lot of inner pressure to perform and do well at school. I pushed myself quite hard and caused myself a lot of stress.
Then I studied human rights at university. And since then I’ve worked in international aid and development, including several years in Congo and Mali. A lot of my work is about supporting nations to rebuild after a civil war, and in particular, supporting women so their voices can be heard.
At about the time I started working in Africa, my sister introduced me to Ascension. She had been trying different kinds of meditation and was blown away by how simple and effective this one was. So that made me curious.
When I went to my First Sphere course, it was the first time anyone had encouraged me to disengage from active thinking. I could just rest and allow the thoughts to come and go. It was such a relief. The weekend course gave me such deep rest, and it made me interested to see what else meditation could give.
So I went on a meditation retreat and that’s when I discovered that I have a choice. I can choose at any moment to be fully present and live my life from there.
For me, that was revolutionary. It was a completely new discovery. It made me really sure that I wanted to live like that. No matter what work I do, no matter where I go, I want to always live my life from the present moment.
A Different Approach
I’m still working for peace building and women’s empowerment – that’s my passion. But I approach it from a different perspective. It’s not a stressful struggle. It’s coming from a space of joy about the opportunity to be of service to people in different parts of the world. Living like that has created such joy and ease and fluidity in my life, I can't imagine living any other way.
“If more people could choose for peace it would radiate out.” – Sri
The countries I work in have huge challenges. Congo and Mali have been through long civil wars. They are two of the poorest countries in the world. There are things we take for granted – electricity, clean water, some basic food supplies – that you can’t rely on there. And, because there has been a lot of conflict over the years, there's a lot of mistrust.
A lot of aid and development workers don't stay very long in these places because the environment is so challenging and you can easily get burned out. There’s always so much to do. Most people don’t stay for two or three years like I have – it’s common to leave after six months.
But with Ascension I’ve had so much joy and gratitude. I’ve felt so privileged to have the opportunity to work in those places and be able to follow my passion. It just comes naturally that I want to help and support others to find peace and happiness. I don’t feel like I’m making a sacrifice.
At any moment I can focus on what you’re missing, like being away from my family. Or I can see the wonders all around me, like having an avocado tree in my garden or being able to go kayaking on the lake. Or the amazing friends that helped me out in all kinds of situations, like when I had no water. I’m very lucky to have lived there and to have become close to people there.
Peace On The Inside
A lot of the aid workers don’t have a tool like Ascension. They can get very stressed and experience so much anxiety and negative thoughts. Some of them have learned to Ascend and it’s amazing – they’re so relieved and they can be much more effective at work. They can do what they’re supposed to do and be of real service, because they're coming from a peaceful place.
Some of the women leaders have learned to Ascend too. They have so many challenges – they can face a lot of threats, a lot of harassment when they are asking for human rights. And many of them have experienced trauma from the wars. Some of them work so hard for peace in their communities, but they don't feel peace inside. Ascension was the first time they could experience what inner peace feels like.
The techniques are so direct. People who had a lot of anxiety and stress, sometimes within a few weeks it’s gone. If more people could choose for peace it would radiate out – it would make such a big difference.