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Natasha Rockstrom: How I Found My Calling In Joy And Giving
Awakin Call with Natasha Rockstrom on 9/5/15
Guest: Natasha Rockstrom
Kozo: Today's guest is none other than Natasha Rockstrom, someone who really embodies today's theme of " How I Found My calling in Joy and Giving"
I was talking to Audrey yesterday about this. Some of us have not found our calling yet. It is kind of big question. But I narrowed it down to one of the seed questions that was offered- What is the moment of generosity that has inspired or informed your world view? It's funny because, just yesterday I had a moment like this, that kind of changed the way that I saw things. So I was talking to Audrey about this call and I had forgotten that I had an appointment at 4 pm. So I was late to this appointment to see this Qigong master. And I showed up and he just finished getting a reflexology foot massage from this woman. He said, " Let me show you some Qigong." And the woman who gave him the massage said, " Can I do it too?" And he is like, "Sure." And this master already gifted me these Qigong healing sessions because he is the partner of one of my good friends. He was gifting this to me and he gifted it to her because she just happened to be hanging around. And he taught us all these Qigong movements, and walks. Afterwards he said you know I am having trouble with my website. I said, “You know, I have a really good friend who knows a lot about wordpress and stuff.” So we called my friend and she helped him fix his website. I texted my friend and said, "I will pay you for this. This guy has gifted me free Qigong lessons. So I will pay you to help him fix his website."
She said," No. Just tell him it's all free."
And then I had to leave to pick up my kids. But the woman who has given the reflexology massage was hanging around and said, " You know what, I will stay here and help communicate with the woman on the phone." The Qigong master speaks really softly and with a Chinese accent, so it's hard to understand him sometimes. So she stuck around and was like the mediator and so there is amazing circle of sharing. Everything was free, everything was given freely, everything was connected with someone in LA, someone who I have never met before and someone who happened to be a friend of my friend. So it was a beautiful thing that changed my perspective of how the world works.
Since we have the pleasure of having a remarkable moderator Audrey Lin, I thought we could start by asking her to kick off our circle. To give you some context, for those of you who don't know, Audrey is just Audrey! It's hard to define Audrey, but something that I think Natasha might resonate with is - Recently I have seen Audrey like a catalyst. She is like a catalyst for kindness, generosity and compassion. She comes into a situation, and all of a sudden all these reactions start happening, where people start being more kind and generous and compassionate. And then she just disappears without a trace. People don't know what really hit them. Like catalyst these beautiful things happen and we are like, " Hey! What caused that?" But if you watch really closely it was Audrey. So that's my introduction to Audrey.
Audrey, what are your thoughts on today’s conversation?
Audrey: (laughs) Thanks Kozo. It's so great to be on this call and I'm really looking forward to hearing more of Natasha's story. I think it's really interesting topic. It's actually, when you think about it, happiness and joy in giving is something that recent science has been delving deeper into. I was reminded of research in Great Britain that I was reading about a while back. They did a study about how one smile can provide same stimulation as 2 thousand chocolate bars or receiving $25,000 in cash. I don't know what their metrics were in that study, but it's really interesting. In US today, when we think about in education, there are 3000 more Americans who have bachelors degree today compared to just a few generations ago. But only a third of Americans consider themselves happy. And so I think there is definitely a quality of life that science and education are trying to delve deeper into. It's a big question mark of, how do we find that deeper sense of joy in our lives? What does it really mean to be happy and how does giving relate to that? The questions are such that they require a different approach to find answers. The approach may be different than how we approach the health care, or may be it's the same. I don't know.
Kozo: Audrey, Did I hear you right? One smile has more profound effect than $25,000 in cash?
Audrey: That's just a study that I was reading. So I don't know what the metrics were. Other studies have shown that you are 31% more productive or doctors are 19% more accurate at coming up with right diagnosis when their brain is more positive rather than negative or stressed. So there is a whole field of positive psychology and social studies that are being done to explore the role of happiness and the quality of happiness in our lives. So it's a spectrum. So those are some thoughts that came up for me around this topic.
Kozo: Great! I can't wait to get into it with Natasha!
Natasha: Hi everyone!
Audrey: Natasha, we are so excited to have you on this call! I guess I can jump to introduce you a bit, to give others some context and then delve into some Q&A?
Audrey: Kozo and I actually met Natasha this summer on a weekly virtual circle that was just exploring, how to bring our values into our work and into our lives in a broad sense. What struck me about Natasha is that she has this incredible balance of being a practical worker in the world and also has enormous heart and hope for a better world. When i first met her , I learned about how when she was in business school she wanted to demonstrate the business of love and how powerful it really is to all her business school classmates. So they did a social experiment on the streets of Stockholm, Sweden. They gifted bananas in exchange for a hug and ended up throughout the day, gifting 1200 hugs to strangers! One story stood out for me. One student who gave this older woman a hug and she just started tearing up. She lived by herself and her family wasn't nearby and so she hadn't really had a hug in a long time. And so even in those days you amassed a form of value that was really alive and you rallied up folks to do it with you. It's so beautiful to hear more about how you bring that more into your life and your work and having learnt a little bit more about Natasha. She grew up and lived in places all across the globe from London to California and Montreal to now Dubai. What started as an experiment in her business school has evolved now to where she and her partner Martin launched an online platform called InJoy Giving. Basically it's a social enterprise to invite generosity and awaken happiness through online and off line experiences.
Recently Kozo and I got to go through a six week learning journey with her, where she really experimented with power of small acts and accessing different forms of capital and holding space for emergence in a structured business setting with a bottom line and really has been exploring what it means to surrender and serve purely in a business setting, while being grounded in day-to-day things.
And she is also a mother to a child, who sounds like a really adorable 20 month old daughter. There is just so many facets of Natasha! It's such gift to have you on this call Natasha and I'm really looking forward to hearing more about your story.
Natasha: Thank you Kozo and Audrey. It's so beautiful to be with you guys and share the space with everyone on the call. And it's such a gift to be able to share reflections from my own journey and see how even sharing them is going to transform how I'm looking at today and tomorrow. Yes, Audrey! It was a sunny experiment on the streets of Stockholm, where we started out by saying how can we really show that the business of love is sustainable? And we thought out. Well, let's make some T-shirts and lets sell them so that we can actually fund buying a whole bunch of bananas and take those out onto the streets with the nearby Elementary kids with boards that say- “you can buy a banana, but pay with a hug.” It was just an amazing day, because I think it all started out as business school reflection session on economics and we said, " we sat here for the last couple of months and studied how all these traditional forms of capital are moving in our lives and creating value. But have we really captured the whole picture?"
And that was when my voice was very much in the space of- There is so much invisible and there is so much that is not seen or measured in finance and traditional forms, but they truly can be the most valuable. What we really feel on everyday basis. That's the real value that we want to focus on creating.
That was the where the experiment started and here we are few years later selling hugs, bananas and few other things as well
Audrey: That so awesome! I think that's so powerful. When you think about you and the group that you were with that day, giving hugs to all these strangers and eventually giving hugs to 1200 people that you have never met before, the kind of stories that you bring about and kind of things that you notice are so different. Are there any other memorable tidbits from the day?
Natasha: Yeah! It was beautiful because we had so many young people. We had 12 year olds and 14 year olds that have never really been invited to this kind of activity before in any scope, be it volunteering. On of our biggest take away was really watching how the kids at the start of the day were very shy about walking down the street and asking these questions in a Scandinavian culture which is very reserved. And yet by the end of the day they were running down the street, yelling and screaming after people to say, "We are selling hugs! You need to buy a banana." As you just shared, the number of smiles we saw! Sometimes it can be the culture and also within city environment, where even offering someone a smile can seen to be stepping out of your comfort zone. So the transformation in the kids … It is really impactful for us to just watch their faces. And we got emails from even a year later telling us that the kids were still talking about that day when they sold bananas on the street. So it was beautiful to hear that the ripple effects from the day were continuing through time from such a small experiment and what really, I think sowed the seed for us was that, the inner transformation, the happiness that it evoked in the kids, as the ones who were the givers, was just phenomenal. And that is where the seed of how we came about to our current work and current practice or if you will how I really found purpose.
It's funny because I started out as a very ambitious young teenager writing out purpose statement for myself that was really something that was going to take several years for me to accomplish. When I was 16 years old someone asked me," What are you going to be when you grow up, if you ever grow up?" I just turned around and said," I know exactly. I have written out these 20 pages of who I'm going to be."
You know, when the journey really sparked for me was in 2009, when I did my first meditation course, my first Vipassana. A month after that, things started to move and shift in my life. I realize that I had to tear up this 20 page or this novel that had been following me around my whole life, the purpose statement, because it had no meaning anymore. Because it was describing all these things around me as opposed to what was inside of me. I started to discover more and more that until I really knew where my inner purpose lied or what my inner world was going to look like. How I was going to actually wake up every day and nurture that garden inside of me. I really didn't know what I was going to do outside. That was when I was living in Dubai in 2009 induced to quit my job. I was working in corporate finance and I was volunteering on the side and involved in charity work from a very young age. I knew that things really had to change and this disconnection of a part of me being in service and where another part of me was showing up at work everyday in a very financially driven setting, was really not how I wanted to live. So I sold everything I owned and packed it into two suitcases. I bought a one way ticket to to Europe. At that time I was actually in a relationship that I also broke away from. I was almost, in a way taking a step into everything I feared. What would happen if I didn't have a job or what would happen if I didn't know what my plan was? I just had a hotel booking for the next 10 days and landed up in Europe. I then spent 3 years traveling across 14 moves in 3 continents and really asking that question, what was my purpose?
Audrey: Wow! So how did that evolve? Three years is a long time to do that you know? I remember thinking like," I'll take 3 months and go volunteering." You were just ready to go all in. How did you process that and how did that journey evolve for you?
Natasha: I think at the time it was such a strong desire that arose in me. And I just really needed to show up and be surrounded in spaces where I felt that my heart was opening up. And I felt that I could breath. I really didn’t know, when I started this journey, how long it would last. What I knew was that I could always jump on a plane and head back. I would keep enough money to buy a plane ticket back to home where my parents were. Apart from that it was just really, however long it would take. And I didn't know if that would be weeks or months. It did end up being a couple of years because it took some time to really live the question. I didn't want to rush in to another solution. That was just another way of giving myself an identification of who I was and quickly answer that question and fall into that sense of security, only later to find that, no I haven't really gone deep enough. So I think it was really a day-to-day journey and I just let myself say, "I'm not going to make any decisions. I'm going to leave the door and see where it goes."
Audrey: Wow! Are there any particular people that you encountered along the way that stand out to you?
Natasha: Absolutely! I was in the German forest, actually during this time doing another Vipassana course. Funny enough, at the beginning of the summer I had ended by project with an organization based in Sweden. I was just taking this summer to see what would happen. But I had been reading a book by Eckhart Tolle, where he was describing that- he had written much of this book in California. And so I had booked my ticket, with the little money that I had to go to California and just trusted that somehow things would workout. As I'm in Germany, I see this woman walking down the hallway of where I was staying. And she was looking at me and we made eye contact and started to smile.
She said," What are you doing here?"
I said, "Well, I'm here for the moment and I'm moving to California soon."
She goes, "What are going to be doing there?"
I said, " I don't know yet. But I feel I need to be there."
Her name is Liz Liederman. She turned out to be the founder of skin care company in Germany that was producing an Ayurvedic line and it was being produced in a way that they were sowing mantras into the serums. It was not only about the purity of product but also of the processing and how sound was actually encoded into these serums that you would then apply on your face or on your body and how those vibrations would work through us. So she was really someone phenomenal that I met very randomly and she ended up offering me a job to go out and do some research in California for her. Which is how I ended up being able to sustain myself in San Francisco for a while.
Audrey: Oh wow! It's funny how one encounter leads to another. I also wanted to back track a bit. You mentioned about being a young 16 year old, writing a purpose statement for your life and I know that in your childhood you would go to ashram and got exposed to ideas of serving, your thoughts or inner space. How did those experiences impact you in childhood? How did they ripple out to who you are today?
Natasha: I think It's really important for me to mention that I'm born in Oman and I'm an expat when I was born there, because my mother is born in India but having Portuguese, English and French influences. My father is Gujarati. So when I was in Oman I was always living as an expat and my school for example had 60 different nationalities. It was very common for me to show up to school and you would be surprised what the kid next to you was wearing or the language that they were speaking and the funny foods that we all had at school. It was just merging of cultures. And I think right from that point in time there was very much of an openness to the idea that people could have very different thoughts and opinions over foods from what you had. And my dad was very keen for us to be exposed to our Indian culture. We used to go back and spend time in India and till today, I remember my grandmother, who for me was and still is one of my greatest role models. She comes from a Jain culture and it's a very monastic lifestyle. For example, even the clothes that you wear are cotton and handmade. The fact that they won't even wear shoes in order to be kind to the earth and small creatures in the sand that walk with you as well. She was someone who I spent a lot of time with when I was young. I think it's something you mentioned earlier, which is to say that just being in her presence and energy with how she lived her life. It was nothing that she would teach us with her words. It's the memory of how she moved in her life. Just watching her go about her day and interacting with people around her. The way that she actually showed up in her life is something that I remember till today. The way she used to drink her tea so patiently. The way she used to softly speak to everyone around her. She always had space in her life. She always had time and she was one of the most patient beings that I have ever known. So, she is someone who continues to be a source of inspiration for me. And similar to spending time with my grandmother, we also spent time in ashrams, every summer from when we were about 12 years old. Even now when I reflect on the time there, it was being in that energy where a group of people are coming together to explore, what is the purpose of life? What is it that drives us every day? Who are we? How can we practice living from love? How can we practice living from the sense of service? That service minded community where they come together to live in that space and where there is no financial transaction between them, just like what Kozo was sharing earlier. I think those memories really stayed with me today as I move in my adult life and making decisions of how I wanted to show up in my life and what I could have to offer. So, that really was a big impact on who I was and who I am.
Audrey: That's beautiful! I can imagine how being exposed to so many different ways of life at such a young age can really open and expand your horizons. I think also, coming back to your 3 year unplanned adventure around the globe, on the topic of service, it also had a very strong service orientation to it. You've mentioned before, as you were traveling you really got to work and learn about different forms of social enterprise. Can you share a little bit more about that?
Natasha: Sure. It started out in Stockholm actually with Kathy Hoffland. She was working at the local cultural organization there and working with children's development. And I learnt a lot from just being around her and how they were using art and creativity to be woven into child development in early learning. I think it's the easiest way to describe what social enterprise is. Even today we get asked, are you business or are you a charity? It's a funny thing because when you look at children's education, I think whether you are a parent or whether you've been a child in a school setting and you think of when was it that was most impactful for you? And it seems to be the times when we knew that our teachers really cared for us. When they showed the level of compassion and caring that was beyond the academics. Where there really was the nurturing of the whole being of the child, emotionally and in any different ways, that we really felt motivated, or we really felt seen, and it really awaken the sense of wanting to discover and evolve as children. So when we say would we want our children to go to a school, where the teachers and setting were providing an environment that evoked that sense of being seen in a child and happiness in a child, yes! I would love that as a parent. It isn't just about the academics and I think it was my first understanding how there are so many other forms of capital that are necessary to be available in the setting of a school. And that was where I really started to explore. We understand the school and we understand the charities where we are providing resources to resource poor. But what about these other human values, like love, like kindness, like joy, like compassion? How are they being really nurtured through social enterprises of organizations or collaborations. I studied with Kathy there and then I also spent time with Liz in Germany, understanding how they were using a very traditional business if you will, of skin care and cosmetics, but through the way that they were even processing them is different. I mean that was from inside out. There was a lot of work that they did with their team in terms of raising their elevation and the energy. So that when they were chanting these mantras, it was really being done from not something that was being taught, or rote, but it was really that they were going through Vedic culture actually and really living those values, which they were then singing. That was being woven into the production process of these cosmetics. That just blew my mind!
Audrey: That blew my mind, thinking about it!
Natasha: That was just like, oh my gosh! Schools I can understand, but here was a woman in the forest tapping water from the streams and using that in these serums, but also the very fact that these very old Sanskrit chants were also being imbibed but not only was it just taught, but it was lived in their everyday lives. So that took me to complete other spectra of the very process to which people who are in a social enterprise show up and live in their organizations. That will really transform the energy vibration of the organization to go out and deliver whatever it is that they are doing, be it skin care, be it insurance, be it cars or whatever it was. We are really looking at the process of inner transformation being linked with outer work. And when my journey took me to California, working with a fashion company that was making bracelets and T- shirts that had messages woven into them, woven into the fabric and woven into the bracelets as well. And it was looking at the power of not only words, but what the words were saying and the impact that they were having on the audience. So these were really used. Their mission statement was to look at how could they inspire or how could they transform through fashion and how are these words that are written the bracelet such as, I am beautiful, I am peace or I am love, how are they actually going to change the receiver's life. Be it a young girl that looks down at that bracelet and sees that message. But the interesting thing is that, they were not only doing the fashion products, they were also creating experiences. And inviting community down, not only people that were fans of what they were doing, but also other members of the community to come down and have experiences around that same messaging. So if it was, I am beautiful or I am powerful and fashion minded they would come out there. They would also create those experiences within the community, because they believed that these experiences were also transformational. So they were really looking at one message and how they could weave that one message into different activities in their organization. Even the members who are actually producing these bracelets actually share the motivation and mission. The designers teams that were creating the products to the youth that were receiving the fashion or the community that were coming down to these events that they were creating, they were rally living this message in every which way that they could. Of course for them, a percentage of their profits were going to humanitarian causes as well. Sometimes in social enterprise, it isn't that 100% of the profit is going back to community good. At times it could just simply be 1 %. But it's not looking just at financially how the social enterprise is giving back to the community. Not only in the products or the resources or services that they are producing, but bringing in all those experiences that they were creating for every single human being inside and outside of their organization and creating invitation as well. Because how can we grow this for more people to come and have embodied experiences? And I think what I was seeing is that designers that were being given this brief to create this fashion product come down and be a part of the community event. They were living this message that they wanted to share with the world. And that was creating the change within them. So it was really beautiful.
Audrey: Wow! That's beautiful. So incredible that you happened upon these people and groups. How did you integrate that when you went back? It sounds like you had so many diverse array of experiences that explore that. How did you know when it was time to go back and how did you integrate that into your life or what you chose to do next?
Natasha: So after tearing up that perfect statement, for those 3 years I was really allowing my energy to lead me. I had this very simple measure that I would ask myself. Is my energy going up or down? That may sound really simple but, it was really shifting my focus onto the quality of the energy that was inside of me. I really was watching that as I was participating in whatever activities I was doing on the outside. And I started to see when I was surrounded by these amazing leaders, change makers, how I used to feel on the inside. I started discover that I really wanted to walk that path. It was when I was sitting in California, I met Martin who is now the co-founder of InJoy and as well as my husband. I met him very randomly as well. We were both working in San Diego. We started to just share stories from our lives. I used to share stories of being at the ashram as a young child, living in diverse places that I have lived, both in rural settings as well as in city settings. One of the most powerful changes that I had seen or powerful forces for change, was when people own happiness. When they own their own happiness and when they were able to awaken inside themselves, for themselves. I had seen that mostly in children. Even today for example when I watch my daughter, it's just unbelievable ability that she has in herself and she was born with this. It's something that I have seen from when she was an innocent baby. Whatever is happening to her moment to moment, it's she, that has the power to laugh and smile and greet every single moment with happiness. And she chooses that so effortlessly. And you see things happen to her, whether she falls down or something may not be happening to her that she enjoys, because she has the least control of her life. Everyone around her picks her up and tells her, when she should be doing, what she should be doing, and where she should be going. So the amount of control in her life is really minimal. Especially when they are few days or few weeks old. But you start to see that they are actually the ones that have the easiest time to awaken and bring that joy indoor of them. Look at children. They always have a smile. They always have the laughter that is just bubbling underneath the surface. And this is what we decided share with each other, Martin and myself. How could we create experiences or platform for people to come together and connect and awaken that joy inside of them or awaken that happiness and realize that they had the choice all along? Our experiences were that, when we were in these design settings, where we could experience that, we had so much to offer to someone outside ourselves and create a human connection. Be it through, "Hey, I have a hug and I can give this to you right now, and it's for free and it costs me nothing to do it. And I'm so happy to have met you this moment and give you this big hug. I don't know your name and I don't know who you are and I don't know what your story is, but I can feel. I can feel you." This is where we realized that it would be wonderful to start to explore that space. Initially it was a very small experiment and we said, "Lets just carve up some time in our lives to see what would happen if we walked down this path." And here we are 2 and half years later.
Audrey: Wow! So from a small experiment to now, you guys landed in Dubai and started a platform for giving called "InJoy Giving". Can you describe a little bit about it and may be kind of how it's begun and evolved in the 2 and 1/2 years?
Natasha: I think when we started we had no idea what journey lay ahead. We didn't have very elaborate plans. It was really more of a feeling that, this was space that we wanted o come together and see what would happen. It started out 2 years ago and we wanted to use or harness technology to be able to do that. Given that we both lived very international lives, we wanted that extension. I think technology gives us the ability to create these many to many connections to really have this ripple effect to go further and deeper. It almost allows the "organicness" of things to happen in a very different way than when we don't have these online networks that connect us. So we started out by getting deep into the technology and how that could leverage this idea. But 2 years on now, I think the best way to describe ourselves is, we want to explore how small and random acts of giving and even large and intentional acts create change. Whether it is a smile or whether it is a simple hug or more intentional, where you may want to volunteer your time, or you may want to offer your space for community event or several other ways where you may intentionally want to buy a gift and actually celebrate someone in your life in that way. So it's really to design from the very small to random to very large and more intentional acts of giving, all the while speaking from the space of - This act of giving is allowing me to choose happiness right now. Because through that I am realizing that I am very complete and I am very full as a human being. There is so much that I have and I am grateful for it. And these things automatically happen when our attention goes to giving. We get so excited to think of a perfect way to surprise somebody, or to shower somebody with kindness, and the way it shifts the energy within us and we start to realize that the more acts of giving we do, the more natural it is. We really feel like we are living the way we should be. The fear starts to disappear from our lives. The anxiety starts to disappear. When we are in a moment of celebration, which is around many acts of giving, time disappears. There is no yesterday and there is no tomorrow, when we are singing and when we are dancing, in that very experience, we've lost time and we feel the sense that everything is just complete. Be it that it lasts few minutes, or moments or few hours, I think continuously experiencing these acts of giving, and the celebration of the inner transformations that those create for us, I think keep giving us that anchoring, and helps us come back to that space where we can awaken happiness, more intentionally in our own lives.
Audrey: That's beautifully put! I am laughing a little bit because when we spoke a little bit earlier this week, you were saying how you kind of become quiet recently at work, to hold space for things to emerge rather than trying to direct it in a certain way or react to it in a certain way. I know as a team and also personally, you have been doing experiments at work. Giving muffins to people in the office building on a Wednesday morning, or just holding an intention to explore what it means to be in love in each moment. You have had some pretty incredible encounters. I was wondering if you could share a little bit about your experiments!
Natasha: Absolutely! In our team we do practice every week. It's part of our culture. We just love to come up with different experiments of how we can awaken happiness through acts of giving. They've been everything from riding the elevator in our office building for 20 minutes and having conversations with people as they get in and out of the elevator. I remember a young lady that stepped into the elevator and she was looking in the mirror and adjusting herself. I turned to her and said, "You look so beautiful today!" And she just smiled and there’s this sense of relief that washed over her face, because she is like, " Oh my God! I am just going to an interview and thank you so much for saying that, because I was so nervous!"
We've done small things; when it's the weekend we've left random notes around our office building and on cars. We've also taken it into our business meetings. When we have, whether it is our service partners or businesses that we are working with to create generosity experiments, we've done fun things like inviting them to play hopscotch before we started meeting or throwing ball around and telling us about their dreams that they have. Just really using all ways in which we can bring play. I think play is a big part of how we treat these experiences, because we realize that play is so natural for everyone. And so we create these invitations to play with us and say share this with us or say," Let go and act together and greet everyone who comes into work today saying, welcome to work. Here is a happy muffin. We wish you a great day!" I think we use a lot of play, we use a lot of small acts and we really are very keen on creating invitations for ourselves, our co-workers and everyone that come and experiment with us. It's been a lot of fun. As you have touched upon, recently I have been in a more silent space. It is true, having this awakin call, I have been more in silent space. It would be interesting to answer more in silence.
Audrey: We appreciate it so much because it's a gift to us to hear what is behind that silence. And it's not so much silence but sense of stillness that we feel from you, or that I feel from you through the phone or the noise that you share. It's so inspiring Natasha to see how you approach your work and your life with these open questions: How can I bring more love? How can I bring more joy? How can I give more in each small encounter? I remember you telling us about one experience at work, how when a client came by for a payment and you walked down to their car afterwards and decided to have a conversation with him rather than running back to your to do list. Something as subtle as that, where you keep experimenting with for each monetary transaction you have had at work and how you try to draw on another form of capital. And I know more recently you have been embarking on 6 months experiment to be loved in a way and to respond to different situations with this question of how can I be loved in this moment? So I was curious about are there any recent encounters that stand out to you from these personal practices.
Natasha: Yeah! As you mentioned, intentionally creating another kind of capital in the very transactional driven encounters that I have in my work space is definitely a practice that I have continued outside of the laddership setting. And it was one of the ones that I realized, brought the most sense of magic. Back into a very business setting, not only were we creating these experiments and small acts of play for people to experience awaking happiness and joy with us, but even outside of that intention, when I am in a transactional setting like at the grocery store, or if there is a client that I am negotiating contract with or it could be that I am renewing the lease for my car space, whether I am on the phone or email or having a conversation, I ask, how can I actually create another connection, another capital or invoke a sense of deeper connection with this person?
It is an amazing practice because I think what I received back has been phenomenal, whether it is smiles, or reactions or surprises or shrieks.
I was at the grocery store. The young woman who was my cashier was telling me that she had a stomachache. And three weeks later I visited her, I went back to grocery store and got her Vitamin c tablets that really help me when my stomach is a bit stressed. I did not remember her name actually, but I remember that she had stomachache and was carrying them with me. And it was something simple that I had already with me at home that I could offer her. And she was just blown away and she kind of shrieked because she couldn't believe that I remembered. I said, "I remember that because you said you drink too much coffee and that's why your tummy hurts." Taking the time and by offering people another form of capital, I was receiving these other forms of capital. The nature of these other forms of capital is that they can't really be only experience on one end. There is sharing. There is an instant two people requirement for sense of compassion which is now shared with a sense of love whites now shared. It's just a beautiful way to see small miracles every day.
Kozo: Natasha, Audrey actually termed a new phrase. She calls it 360 degree compassion. Which could also be extended to 360 degree kindness and 360 degree generosity. It's that experience of- In giving that we receive. We get to experience the spectrum. When we give something we are actually receiving the same shriek and same excitement and the same joy as the person who makes the shriek. I think it is a beautiful way to see it.
Natasha: It's interesting that, it was literally something that happened through me as opposed to something conscious where I just felt that it was time to be in a space to experiment with. What would it mean for me to show up in my life as Love? As really "beingness" of love and take that complete being into every aspect my life. Whether it is as a mother for as a wife or as a entrepreneur or as a woman buying groceries at the store. I every element, what would it mean for me to be whole and being love and to continue that in every moment of my day? At the same time, what has really started to be my day-to-day reality is working or moving from the space of emergence, where it is more of simply holding the space by being love and allowing whatever is happening around me to move and almost not even respond to it but almost just absorb it. And whatever comes of that absorption is really just natural and is not even thought through. It is without plan. It's really been interesting to practice and experience.
So as Audrey was saying, I recently was having a conversation with our investor who dropped by the office. This was just a couple of days ago and he came by and it was a bit of surprise, as we weren't expecting him. He came to where I was sitting and said," How are you?" Immediately I could hear my thoughts going, "What should I be talking about or what should I be saying in this moment?" I know that when I reflected afterward, who I was may be weeks ago and months ago, I would have launched into a conversation immediately about defending our position as a business and talking about our strategy and unfolding what the projections were. I really checked in with myself at that moment and checked into how I was feeling my body. I said, "Ok. If I was going to show up in this moment of love, I have experienced what my body is when I feel love. So I am now going to bring my body into that experience of feeling love and sit with that in that space." I felt a shift in just the way my body was sitting, in the way my face felt and on the inside. It's interesting that I just sat there and smiled silently and our investor said, "You know, I've gotten all these reports and it doesn't seem like we are at the milestones that we are supposed to be at, but I really just wanted to stop by today to tell you that, I feel that things are going the way that they should. And I really want you to know that I believe that the changes you have been making, the life will find a way for things to work out. And I am honoring the commitment that I have, to the business. I just wanted to say that I really love you guys and I believe in what you are doing." And I was just blown away. Tears just started to swell up in my eyes. I just sat there because I really had no words. Any word that would come out would be, I don't know, a shriek, sob or something like that. I just sat there. Later that day too and even now, I'm just amazed! I would have missed that experience. I would have missed that moment of crazy beauty. How life can really show up for you, for all of us.
Kozo: Hey, Natasha, that smile was worth way more than $25,000.
Natasha: That is true! I love that you brought that up Audrey, because one of the things that we talked about in business school was, "How much does a hug cost?" And that was quite interesting. Because we were trying to put together a metric to see if we could come up with some crazy number. There was a colleague at business school who has a 19 years old daughter who was out that week hiking. He actually started to tear up when we were having this discussion. He said, "My daughter is moving away from home and I started to think that I need to hug her more because she is not going to be around. I started to ask myself, all these years when I have been working very hard is, how many hugs have I missed?" It was just an amazing moment that he was sharing with us.
Kozo: How much does not hugging cost? Wow! First I wanted to share with our listeners. Audrey and I were trying to recall the exact thing...
Remember you guys were doing this thing in your office where you wrote your names with a body part? We couldn't recall the details but we remembered just being taken in by the creativity. Such a great way to start a business meeting!
Natasha: We talk about how dancing and singing are really two ways when we really loose ourselves. When you hear that song and you just get up and start dancing. You are thinking about what happened yesterday or what you are going to cook for dinner tonight. All of that just goes out the window and the mind can just be quiet. And just be in the presence of dancing. And singing too. When you are singing a great song, you are not thinking about what bill have I not paid or what am I going to do tonight? Nothing of that. You are completely in the moment. As a team we talk about, how to create these invitations and we thought dance is a great one. But how do we do this in a business setting? A formal setting, where people come into a conference room and it's not very dance friendly. Some people, especially some guys will say, " No. I don't dance!" One of the girls who is being funny said "Why don't we stand up and we are going tell someone that we are going to dance together. How we are going to do that is, we are going to spell our first name with our bum. That's what we are going to do." It's really funny because, you put the music on and we are thinking, " ok. I am going to move my bum around as I'm writing my name." It's hilarious because it's not about knowing any dance moves or needing to know how to dance. Everyone's got their own name. We stand up and we put the music on and we spell your name with your bum. It's just a great! It's something that everyone can do. It creates a lot of laughter and I encourage you, even if you are on your own, to stand in front of your mirror and spell your name with your bum, and you are just going to start smiling. It's so funny and beautiful. I think laughter and smiles are something that connects us together.
Kozo: So just to translate for people, your bum is your butt, right?
Natasha: That's right!
Kozo: I'm going to try that with my kids just right after I get off this call.
Natasha: Yeah! Totally! It's really fun. Another thing that we did on friendship day, which was couple of weeks ago. This is what call, every Thursday have a happiness practice day. Each of these team members posts this happiness practice. This Thursday that I am referring to, we got around to this conference room and she said, "Today we are going to remember what it was like to be a kid and create something with our hands." Back when we were kids, we didn't really buy a lot of toys. We really just made the toys with paper or all sorts of random things that are just lying around. She laid out materials on the table and we all could just sit there and literally make a toy or make anything that we used to as kids. That was so much fun because, everyone knew exactly what they were going to make, started smiling and remembering those fun little toys that we used to make for ourselves and entertain ourselves for hours. And the end of that we said, " This is now going to be a gift to a friend that we are going to meet today and offer this to them for friendship day. It was wonderful because, one of the members was actually waiting to be picked up after work and she was sitting on a bench. A young woman sat next to her and started talking to her and said, "Today is a friendship day. Where do you work and what do you do?" she had this wonderful conversation and she had made this hand made fan that she made from our happiness practice and offered it to her as a gift. She said, " I'm not going to meet any friends today, but after talking to you, I would really like to offer this to you as a gift for friendship day." She told us abut this experience the next day and she said, "I really had trouble connecting with some stranger in the city." She recently moved and belonged to a different culture. It is so amazing because, this other woman started smiling and laughing so much as she just got handed this hand made fan from a piece of paper! She was so excited! It was such a beautiful story.
Kozo: Hey, Natasha! I have a question from Poonam. I don't think she is able to make it today. You know she was in our leadership circle and she was really trying to create the generosity, gift ecology in the Silicon Valley, which is almost the center of capitalism now. You are in Dubai. When I think about Dubai, I think about money. There is a lot of money transaction going on there. People who have a lot of money go there. It seems like you are in a very similar environment to Silicone Valley where there are lot of transactions going on. In the face of that, you are trying to make these shifts into giftivism and trust and generosity. I am wondering, how do you confront that atmosphere, that seems counter productive to what you are trying to do on a daily basis?
Natasha: It's a great question Kozo. I was also up in Vermont exploring leading from emerging future. One of the very real questions that came up, and a lot of people are surprised that I do live in Dubai, in very transactional setting, in very strong system structured setting that are really geared towards measuring or valuing, the way society measures and values things, even as human beings or organizations. A lot of time it is tied to finance and or lose in this traditional way of looking at it. And how do you work in that space? Not only how do you work in that space or bring this culture of giftivism into the that but also how do we work from a space of emergence in these strong systems and strong culture? And it's a great question because, one of the observation we found living here last couple of years is that, we are working here with expat community, an expat society that has no sense of belonging to this nation, and human relation ties here are only couple of years old. So you don't really have those generational ties that you would have in other communities. And you no longer have that sense of belonging to the land or even to the nation. To live as an expat in Dubai, which is the 90% of the 5 million people living here, you have to have a work permit in order to live here. Primarily your reason for coming to this place is a commercial one. You have come on a transactional setting. Given those conditions, what I've realized is that, they become creative constraints, to really look at how do we now design spaces, or create experiences or offer platforms, where we really need to move beyond race, beyond nationality beyond patriotism, beyond community ties and still create that spark of experience from inner shift. How do we do that in ways where we are not just talking about it, but we are living it? What we found here is that, when we speak to individual and when we create settings, you just end up talking one to one. They could be business settings or business meetings or they could be as community events, when we are talking to individuals, there is such openness and almost overwhelming joy at being invited into a discussion or conversation or a relationship or experience which is not driven transaction which is not driven by that which is driving every single other moment of experience in that person's life here. When we go to speak to an organization, we find that it's the organization that talks back to us, which is very much spoken in those embedded patterns. But when we go in to have a conversation with Ravi who is the CFO, and say," Hey, Ravi, I'm coming in to talk to you". It's a very different kind of conversation. We find that him as an individual has a very open appetite to discover and explore and co-create with us. Rather than launching into how can organization necessarily make a difference or come together in change, what we really found in working with individuals is... I would say, it starts there and what really happens is it starts to ripple out and we start to see more of that as a gateway to creating larger shifts if you will. People are people wherever they are. Whether they are in Silicon Valley or whether we are ashrams, wherever we are in the world, I think there is always a possibility to create a conversation, no matter what the setting. Along with that working from the space of emergence where there is not really ... you really are letting go of control. You really are letting go of how these relationships are going to manifest or be structured or be planned. Here, where there is so much fear and greed that drives the relationships and we need to measure the outcome of relationship, we find that it actually makes a great space to work from that sense of emergence, and having the conversation and allowing the things to unfold. Sometimes we actually intentionally move away from transactional relationship in partnership and actually ask for us to create experiences where we are almost staggering, because that becomes something that we are much more open and along the way we allow the process to have the change it is creating in these individuals that are participating with us. The journey goes from there.
Kozo: I love what you shared Natasha because, the way I see it is taking those creative constraints and viewing them as creative opportunities. There is an opportunity when people aren't connected to the land, when people don't have those generational ties, there is a opportunity there to form a community that goes beyond race or goes beyond geography. I really appreciate that because, I think it is the same thing in Silicone Valley, there is an opportunity here where people are really yearning for that connection that they are not getting at Facebook, both online and at the company. So that's such a great shift of perspective and I think Poonam will love that answer, put it that way!
Natasha: I think that we sometimes lock ourselves in a way to identify ourselves like, "I am coming from this story in this organization and plan to have a certain outcomes from a relationship that I want to have with X or with organization." For example you could be a social enterprise in Silicone Valley and you want to have a conversation for a partnership with an organization, we have to create these identifications like, who are we as an organization, who are you as an organization and what are the circumstances that we will agree to come out in certain relationship with each other. So we put all of these things and this is where I feel like coming back to emergence. We are really saying that, in love I want to converse with you as human to human. Because it'll always be two humans speaking to each other and we allow that energy from that setting to work, to do it's part an let it ripple out with no control, with no intention. Personally, I am moving away even with intention. Even intention has tension in it. Really, if you will, there is no purpose. How can we come into being and show up in our space still meeting in the moment but no purpose. For me I think that's one way. I really can describe my experiences with being from the space emergence. There is so much there. This moment is so full. It is not at all conditioned by any sense of purpose. It's just left to unfold and open up in emergence in whatever way. I truly believe whether it is Silicone Valley or Dubai, these grounds are actually nurturing these conditions. There really is nothing to turn to. Not even a green tree.
Audrey: Natasha, it's so beautiful to hear. I feel the way you kind of zoom into those micro moments of beauty all around you and I know we just have a couple minutes left in the call, we all wanted to ask, how can we serve you? How can our ecosystem or community beef service to you and your journey and your beautiful intention?
Natasha: I receive so much from being connected to Servicespace and the community. I feel like each one of you is showing up for me. I am really served. Even this call today and to spend this time with all of you... I am just so grateful. I feel like being in love and being from a space of emergence in my day-to-day life. These are being nurtured by being in connection with this beautiful community, you Audrey and Kozo as well.
Kozo: We feel the same way! We are so grateful to just spend the time with you and tone able to spend last 6-7 weeks with you as well. I am so happy! I was looking forward so much to rejoin you again after spending this time together. You shared so much of what I would consider powerful takeaway. That play is natural for everyone and I can't wait to go and write my name with my bum with my kids. I see you in a very similar way to other people in the service space who are in these very high powered places and bringing love and being love when you are talking to an angel investor! I like the way you put it, weaving that into what you do so you don't have a separate business and service life. It is woven into in the same way the cosmetics have the mantras woven into them, similarly those T-shirts have the good will woven into them. You are living it and that's a real inspiration for me Natasha and I appreciate it so much.
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