I had a great chat with Matt Bowd of Australia’s Varanasi Estate – Healthy Deliberate Living. Matt and his team describe themselves as “a new breed of enterprise” whose interests stretch from “alleviating poverty to health to permaculture, to self sufficiency and opposition of activities that see the destruction of our natural world.” Hope that you enjoy the conversation. To my mind, it combines personal development with a fresh eco-green flavour!
V.E: Can you tell us a little about your background as a life-coach?
M.L.: I was part of the adrenalin-fueled high tech industry in Silicon Valley, California when I first became aware of life coaching. At first I was sceptical, because, as I often share with a chuckle, I was a bona fide “suit”; meaning that the world of self-development was foreign to me.
That being said, for some reason (perhaps too much California sunshine!) corporate America started to lose its sparkle and luster. Eventually, I found myself in San Diego attending a Debbie Ford retreat. I sat in utter stillness convincing myself to “give it a whirl” … with eyes checking the exits, just in case I had to make a speedy escape!
At that retreat, I did my first visualization exercise and gained tremendous insight into the empowering potential of life coaching. I signed up for the certification program on-the-spot and right after graduation, started my own life coaching practice in Canada.
Today, I call myself a Healing Conversationalist instead of a Life Coach. This is because I’ve broadened my service offering to tap into life coaching skills, counselling, life knowledge, and intuitive abilities when working with clients. This means that I step outside of the traditional life coaching model to share a more personally fulfilling service offering, for the highest good of my clients, and for myself. Hmm, perhaps you could call me an intuitive life coach, with a twist!
V.E: What are useful life coaching principles for our readers?
M.L.: I would have to say, without a moment’s hesitation, that the primary principle of life coaching is personal empowerment. The life coaching model, as I have come to understand it, works on the premise that everything that you need to thrive, be happy; feel fulfilled, and pursue your personal definition of success is available right inside of you — at this very moment.
It is the job (and I believe the honor) of a life coach to help you access your inner knowledge in a safe and secure environment that some refer to as “holding the space”. Coaches are also skilled in asking powerful questions such as “How does this behaviour serve you?” or “If you could only do one thing this week, what would it be?” BTW, I just came across a blog post called 50 Great Coaching Questions, so if you are curious, you might like to start there. I also like Debbie Ford’s book The Right Questions.
The life coaching model is also a great advocate of putting a three or four month “real world” structure in place to help you move forward in the direction of fulfilling a heart’s passion. For example, if I wanted to create an on-line, vertical garden eco-business, a life coach could help me create actions items, benchmarks, and timelines. Most importantly, my coach would “hold me accountable” for each agreed deliverable by “checking in” weekly on my progress. Best of all, I would be given ample opportunity to ask self-reflective questions such as “If I chose not to do this action item to grow my eco-business, what did I choose to so instead?”
Experience has taught me that having someone available to poke and prod “excuses, self-sabotaging behavior, and patterns” is just as important to restoring health to your inner landscape, as aeration is to restoring health to a backyard garden.
V.E: How can life coaching principles help people meet their eco-goals?
M.L.: A life coach can help you sort out your eco-feelings, beliefs and actions, and then put a structure in place to harness them in a healthy and productive way. On a personal note, I like to structure for success and the life coaching principles greatly increase my probability of achieving it.
From what I have observed in my practice, many people have mixed feelings around the health of the Earth, where they fit in, and how to move forward. At times, these feelings can be shocking and overwhelming. Some are paralyzed by guilt, others feel stuck, many hide their heads in the sand, and a few are in denial. Guess what? Some people don’t even have eco-goals, so there is plenty of opportunity to provide trusted guidance, support, and optimism to help navigate concepts like personal stewardship, sustainability, upcycling, environmental imbalances, and carbon footprint. Yes siree, the list is quite extensive.
This may surprise you, but I happily engaged the services of eco-sustainability coach (and PhD Candidate in Soil Science) Lynn Fang. We had great fun putting a structure in place to help me move to the next level of contribution in the eco-green arena. As an aside, I interviewed Lynn about her courageous personal journey into the world of sustainable living, organic farming, and social change on Healing Conversations with Mildred Lynn .
V.E: Can you see a correlation between personal empowerment and green, clean living?
M.L.: Here is my take on the (sacred) connection between personal empowerment and green, clean living: Once a human being realizes that they have the power to follow their heart, live their truth, and realize their passion, their whole world takes on a completely different hue. From this vantage point, everything that is life sustaining pulses with vibrant, clean energy, whilst everything that is life draining, shows up as heavy, congested energy (it is like your inner compass has been dusted off, reset, and sprung into action).
For some people, an eco-role model like David Suzuki can light the fire and connect the dots; for others, it can be awaking up to the inner knowing that we are all part of a larger eco-system. On a lighter note, your experience could be similar to what happened to me when I gasped about the high levels of toxic metals in whales, decided “enough is enough”, and then actioned my “gasp” by adopting a Humpback whale named “Salt”.
The point I’m trying to make is that during these moments of inspiration, people are aligned with both their personal power and their innate attraction to green, clean living, so they feel empowered. The trick, from my perspective, is how to make this sacred connection part of your daily compass (Enter life coach, perhaps?). So at the end of the day, I’d say that the correlation you are referring to is that personal empowerment nourishes our ability to sustain green, clean living … hmm, and you can quote me on that!
V.E:What recommendations would you have for a person just starting out?
M.L.: My personal mantra is “step-by-step”. It works because…
It helps manage expectations and guards against eco-burn out (which is a kin to New Year’s resolutions that fizzle after a week). Please choose to gently remind yourself to proceed with eco-interests at a pace that you can comfortably integrate into your daily life, because you are in it for the long run. Sometimes when I get impatient with results, I laugh and remind myself that I am “very active” in the process of eco-rewiring my brain (which is true, by the way).
It is practical and sustainable, just like the story of The Hummingbird and the Fire: “The world was burning and all the animals were running from the fire in terror. Then, a lion turned around and noticed a hummingbird dipping its beak into the water and flying over the burning embers again and again. The lion laughed and shouted at the hummingbird: “You are so little, what are you doing?” The hummingbird simply answered: “What I can.” With that the lion paused, turned around, and began to help the hummingbird; soon the other animals joined in. Eventually the fire was put out and the natural balance of the Earth was restored.” – Author Unknown
You can slowly explore groups and organizations to find like-minded people with whom you can share your journey. Nothing beats community; take it from a person who spent two years looking for like-minded green, clean friends. It takes time, and if your intention and heart are aligned with the highest good, eventually you will find the group that nourishes you. Oh yes, please be patient (I had to learn this too).
V.E: Are there any common mistakes people make when commencing this journey?
M.L: I’ve observed three things that people fr.equently do to create hurdles on their journey, especially at the beginning. Here they are, with antidotes, for your consideration:
Flipsy-flopsy contributions: Please be sure to put a measurable, sustainable daily practice in place to support your new green, clean journey so you can feel a sense of contribution and accomplishment. For example, I promised Mother Earth to post one green info-nugget daily on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Ozoshare. After a year, I deliver consistently about 90% of the time. It feels really good … and I have no desire to be at 100% (because at 90% I feel fulfilled, satisfied and successful). In short, this is something that I can sustain.
Emotions, emotions, emotions: Crying over dolphins in The Cove or for an ancient Redwoodtree that was cut down does not change anything. I’ve had to learn to channel these feelings into something manageable and sustainable. Yes, of course, there are times when photos, commentary, or videos impact me deeply, but I have trained myself to quickly “shift” this energy into positive, pro-active, educational contributions. If you are in it for the long haul, you need to focus on the results that you would like to achieve. I know in my heart that the best way that I can show up for Mother Earth is in a balanced, healthy, and sustainable way.
So Serious: Remember to laugh. It will help you so much as you navigate the clean, green path to empowerment, sustainability, and change. Plus, human beings respond to humor. It shifts the energy; lightens the heart; cleanses the spirit, and puts you in a positive frame of mind, so you can show up for your green, clean cause in a good way.
V.E: How can people contact you for more advice?
M.L.: I can be reached via the contact form on my blog and the social networks like Facebook, LinkedInand Ozoshare. Look forward to hearing from you!