Rachael West

Rachael West
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Rachael West has had a number of disparate pathways that have led her to be the founder and director of Finding Yoga. She’s been an engineer, worked in social enterprises, studied circus performance, and trained at an advanced level in yoga. If you get to meet Rachael all this seems logical and plausible. She’s a person who keenly observes her world and who is very interested in the people she meets.

I was keen to interview Rachael as I have experienced her as someone who appears to think deeply about what she does, but also has a lightness about her that I’ve experienced as gentle confidence. In the course of this interview I came to see that she has many sources that have influenced her and that she is always learning.

Resources mentioned

Apithology – Will Varey

Brainpickings blog by Maria Popova

liberated body podcast – Brooke Thomas

The Artists Way by Julia Cameron

Book by Oliver Sacks

Transcript of Podcast Episode

Francis Lynch: My guest in this interview is Rachael West, Who is the founder and director of finding yoga. Rachael has lived and worked in Europe and Australia and has found ways to express her developing sense of purpose and meaning through a number of pathways. Some time ago, motivated by personal health challenges, Rachael left an engineering career to immerse herself in London’s social enterprise scene for two years and learn about different models for health and social care. She then completed a university diploma in Yogic Education at the University of Lille in France, where she completed action research into awareness through movement and the perception of stress at work. Rachel has grown her company yoga for pain care, into an organisation with national presence. Health practitioners and yoga teachers from 4 states of Australia and New Zealand have completed the training and form part of a network to help people with pain live better lives. Rachel is also part of the faculty of the School of Life in Perth and a Ted X speaker coach. Please join me as I learn more about Rachel West. Thanks so much Rachel, for coming and being part of the living with

Francis Lynch: purpose interviews and I’m interested at the beginning of just. What? What do you tell people when they say who are you or or what do you do? What? What do you tell people?

Rachael West: That’s a good question, because at at one period in my life, I stopped telling people what I do for a living and I just refuse to speak about it. But I think now it it does sort of depend on who I’m speaking to. But you know, in short. I’m Rachel West and I run finding yoga and. I guess in. Terms of what? I do behind the banner of that business. Is working with people who want to live a life of of meaning. And working out. The practices. Particularly the body practices that they might. Want to have in. Place to help them. Might that happen?

Francis Lynch: Yeah. So. When? When? So the company you run the business, you run. Finding yoga what? What’s that about? What do you do there in in specific I, I mean, I know you generally given the meaning behind it, but.

Rachel West: Yeah, it’s tailored yoga programmes, so programmes like yoga for pain to help people with chronic pain get back into movement, find their their way in life, yoga for carers, people who care for a. Loved one with a disability. Again learning to take. Time out for themselves so that they can better care for the people. That they care for those kind. Of programmes.

Francis Lynch: So how did you come to yoga?

Rachael West: I’ve actually. Started meditating when I was. Really quite young. I remember being nine and. Dragging my mum to a meditation session at a Folk Festival. And I think. We’re all a little bit surprised. I don’t think meditation was what I actually expected at that time, and I kind of went away. For a. Few years until when I was 16 a Friend of mine from high school dragged me along. To have the yoga at the. The local gym and at the time for me, that was far too gentle. I got bored as a teenager in that class, so it wasn’t until sort of my early 20s when I found an Ashtanga yoga practice, which was physical enough to keep my brain occupied, that I actually started to become a more regular practitioner.

Francis Lynch: Yeah. So. Obviously I’m not a yoga I sort of person, but you know, so the hatha yoga that has tinka. Well so so. What? What’s the differences and and how does that all work?

Rachael West: We’ll half the yoga. I I guess. Originally meant a yoga from the sort of from. The the Middle Ages perhaps that with practices to cleanse the body and the mind. So some of the practices are. Quite we would consider. Them quite obscure. And that’s not if. You go to have the yoga class now you. Don’t get that now. You get more. Of a gentle postural yoga class. So it tends to be a bit slower. Ashtanga yoga class. Became popular in the West, sort of within the last 100 years because it’s a very physical yoga practice where you do a sex sequence of of postures. Every day the. same postures and it was developed by Pattabhi Joyce. In in India.

Francis Lynch: And and so when. When yoga is, you know when you have people come and and. To do the work that you do what? Why did they come to you? What’s the? That’s the sort of. Is it just the same as every other yoga Francis Lynch: sort of practice, or is it there’s something different? About what you’re doing.

Rachael West:I I think. Perhaps like every yoga teacher that I think there is something different about the way that I’m teaching and. One of the reasons people come to me. Is because I’ve had an experience with. Persistent pain. And so I’ve got a way of teaching yoga, which seems to work for people with chronic pain, who find that even general classes, even beginners general classes are are too. Much for them,. And so I guess having had. The experience in my body of what it means. To be too. Tired or unable to do the kind of yoga that everybody else seems to be doing, and also with my work. There’s a really. Big inquiry process, so yeah, we do physical practices, we do meditation. But a lot of it is about inquiring. And to. Why am I doing it this way? Why am I? Practicing. What do I? What would I like to? See happen.

Francis Lynch: Is there something That you do one-on-one? Or is it? Like with groups of people that. You have that,

Rachael West: Yeah It’s both. So in one to. Ones a big part of what the way I would do what I do. Is a a big conversation with someone before we. Even start moving. To find out what’s going on in their life, what has been going on previously. And so how might the yoga practice support them? in the direction. That they’re going to. And then in. Group programmes. I guess we take advantage of the fact that people can learn from each. As I’ve worked as a facilitator in other. Areas for about 15 years, so I tend. To take a I guess a facilitative. Approach to designing yoga workshops. For this discussion and and individual reflection.

Francis Lynch: Yeah. Yeah. So what is, you know, something that you’ve always done? I know, actually, I know that you’ve done. Things. So I’m interested, what’s the pathway of? You know, maybe that 15, 16 year old to where you are now?

Rachael West: Yeah, that’s a that’s. A good question. You know, I think sometimes with these practises people find that. A lineage practise comes up and they just. Know that it’s their. Path I think for me. It’s probably a little bit of a slow. Learner that it took me sort of. Five years from that. First, gentle yoga class to the Hatter class to start Ashtanga. But when I started, I stunk as much as I loved it. These weird things would happen in class. I’d have an allergic reaction to being upside down. My face would puff. Up and I went to hospital and I didn’t know what was wrong and the only solution they could. Come up with was well, don’t go to yoga. And you know I. Guess this reflected a time in my life when I was actually quite unwell. Generally it wasn’t just seeing yoga where I was having these strange reactions to things and.I guess it.Was what it was quite fatigue or fibromyalgia? Is how it. Would be diagnosed and so I spent the. Next few years. Trying to find body practices that I could do because even though I tried doing. Beginners classes, gentle classes, basic. Classes. Sometimes I would I’d be. I’d be wrecked for days afterwards because of. Something that I couldn’t put my finger on. And so it was through I guess trying out different practices, particularly I felt in Christ was a big influencer for me. Different styles of meditation. So the Buddhist meditation that allow me to develop a a practice. That worked for my. Body. But I just think. Yoga was always there in the. Background. It was just that at the time, I couldn’t. Find a class. That that suited me, so. Since then, it’s become more and more a regular practice and one of the. Things that it it helped. Me with was to get my body strong again after. The chronic fatigue and. So when I was 30. I ran away to the circus.

Francis Lynch: Most people run away to the circus much younger, but.

Rachael West: Yeah. Yeah, I think any dreams that I had of being the world’s. Best trapeze performer. We’re we’re not, we’re not. Gonna be realised.

Francis Lynch: So where was that? What were you doing when?

Rachael West: Yeah, when I ran away to the. Circus well. I’ve been working as a civil engineer for some years. This is my original degree, yeah. And you know, I think at. The time when I was really unwell. I’d realised that. Something had to change in my life. Things just weren’t going where? They wanted where I wanted them. Not wanted. Wanted them to go. But they just weren’t resonating, weren’t sitting well. With me so. As part of my process of working out what I wanted to do with life, I went to the UK like all 20 something Australians so worked out what I would. Do in life and. While I was there. I was going for weekly trapeze classes. Just playing around and I saw a sign up for. Full time circus school in Sheffield in the. North of England. Had just quit my job. The job I had. In England. And I had no other job lined up and I thought, what else in my life? Do I have three months just to go away? And run away to the circus. So call them up, they said. If you want. To audition the auditions are next week, I booked a train to Sheffield and then two weeks later I was moving to Sheffield to. Go.. Train circus full time.

Francis Lynch: And how long did You do that for?. Was it longer than the Three months.

Rachael West: It was a three month full time course and then I stayed up there for another three months to take advantage of the training space and the community and do some performing.

Francis Lynch: And is and. Is that something that? It’s like a six month period. And it’s gone. Or is there something that you still take from from that time?

Rachael West: Yeah, there’s a couple of things that I still take. And one of. Those was that the the course was circus in performance, opposed to, shall we say, the most amazing circus performer in. The world. And like you’ve said, when you start circus at 30 instead of 20, you’re never going to be circus du le material. So what they taught us was how do you come up with a show? Based on what you’ve got. Whatever skills you have, how do you make an Entertaining show? rather. Than spending 10 years working technically on technical brilliance. And so I think. That comes through in my in some of my yoga classes, particularly yoga for pain is how do we get people with different capacities moving usefully and making a beautiful yoga practice? Whatever their capacity. So that was one. Thing, the other thing was that’s very much. I guess led me to where I am was. The realisation that I was able to do that, So at the end of the course, we did. A big show and. I have specialised in quarter leaves which is.

The rope. So I was climbing the rope. I was wearing boots with high heels and the twirly things and hanging from the top of the rope, singing cows with guns. And I looked out over the. Audience and I remember thinking, Oh my goodness, Rachel. You’ve done this on 4 hours sleep. And a little bit of adrenaline and. And so considering that not that long before that I couldn’t even get out of bed, I was so exhausted. This felt like a really big thing. For me. To have achieved that and. So I wanted other people to know that they could run away to the circus too. Maybe not literally, but they could. They could have with the experience that. They wanted in their life. And so that’s definitely a part of what? I’m doing out there.

Francis Lynch: Well, it’s interesting that you said a few months. Earlier that that. Would have seemed impossible. I was going to ask you a question of, you know, maybe 5 or 10 years earlier. Would you have ever imagined that you could do that? But even maybe shorter than that? It seems as though that experience of living with pain and then moving towards. Being able to use your body in an expressive performance way must have. Yeah, I can get that feeling that it must have just been amazingly transformative.

Rachel West: Yeah. Yeah, it certainly was, yeah. It’s it’s not an experience. And how do? I thought, oh, wow, gosh, you could ask me an engineering school if I go to circus school, that would have been blown away. But you’re right that even a few months. Prior to that. It was just. A hadn’t even thought of the possibility.

Francis Lynch: So is that. Is that how you see it? Is this that that was a transformative experience or was it? How how do you see it now when you? Look back at that.

Rachael West: I think it’s one of many transformative experiences. That are made possible by. I guess the conditions that we make available and. You know, I think if at that time that I’d. Been really unwell and had been for probably about 7 years and I could have just kept. Going forcing myself. Through days at work. Hoping for the best. But I think it was only because I was able to resign from my job and create some space. To be open. To what might come up that these. Kind of things could. Could appear for me.

Francis Lynch: So for you over the over. That time, you know, through the engineering and and, you know, being in the UK and and through to now. What? What do you think? Of the. Are there particular people who’ve really been influential for you? Or ideas or.

Rachael West: Yeah, during that time. Particularly one person is William Barry, whose. Field of practice is at. apperthology and I met will because he was running a Masters unit in sustainability leadership at my workplace, so it was tailored. To the workplace and. I can’t remember now what it was about. That learning, but there was a rigour and a depth. That I had just not experienced in education. Or the workplace prior.  And I think, you know, possibly like happened, I don’t know, maybe this happens to. Him quite a.Lot but I.Sort of went up to him at the end and. I said, how do you how do? whatYou do what you do. And at that point, I was. Thinking about leaving. To go overseas and sort of on a whim, I. Just called him and said can I ask You for some. Advice?. Yeah. And you know, we’re staying a really. Important mentor and I don’t think I’d be. Doing what I. Do now if I hadn’t.

Francis Lynch: So where’s he based? Is he here in Perth?

Rachael West: He’s in Victoria now. He was was. WA based but moved over to Victoria.

Francis Lynch: So I can’t even say the word that you said before. What was that field that he works in?

Rachael West: In at apithology.

Francis Lynch: apithology. So what what is that?

Rachael West:Yeah, it’s a.Yeah it’s a Really good question and a really challenging one to answer and perhaps one way that I could try to describe it and perhaps you can forgive me if I’m not very eloquent or I don’t. Quite get it easy.

Francis Lynch: Even just a pointer is a good thing.

Rachael West: Yeah. If we think of. So a lot of Healthcare is around absence of disease, fixing pathology. And so if you imagine a mirror and you’re looking into the mirror and behind you is. The apperthology and all the things that you want. To fix and. At the level of the mirror is. The absence of your any. Problems. And then on the. Other side of the. Mirror there’s the opposite to that. There’s the presence of Wellness, but particular. Presence of Wellness that. Leads to more possibilities.

Francis Lynch: And so is our apperthology. The recognition that there is that. Possibility or that opportunity for Wellness is that because a lot of traditional sort of perspectives are suppose around health or well-being is is sort of Based on negative perspectives.

Rachael West: Yeah, I think apperthology says that there’s an alternative to. The ways perhaps we’ve typically looked at. Human Wellness and humanity level Wellness. And it’s a, it’s. A practice and it’s an inquiry space and it’s. But the field’s always changing. The more that we know about it. So that’s that’s another insight into kind of how it works to help us learn more about the possibilities that come from allowing health and. Flourishment in this moment.

Francis Lynch: So that those ideas influence what you do now.

Rachael West:Yeah, they do. They do a lot and I mean it’s hard to articulate them of as you’ve as you’ve seen. But I guess one of the ways where. I think my work has shifted is. In a shift from

Rachel West: wanting to fix things. That aren’t as good as. They could be to creating something really beautiful that. Allows more people. To flourish. So you know if someone comes in with pain. You know, of course initially. We wanna check that there’s nothing causing that pain that we need to take out or fix.

And in. The beginning we might work on. Helping with their symptoms of stress, fatigue, the foggy brain and all those things so they can feel. A little bit normal. Then those habits that they’ve got an eating well of doing a practice, whether. It’s yoga or. Something else and feeling well. They’re maintaining their Wellness, but they’re often the question becomes well, well, now what? Yeah. And so that’s the really interesting space. Is that the now what?

Francis Lynch: And I think for you know, I think there are many. Of us who? Are so. Impacted by you know the the. Niggles or the? The limitations that we experience that we see that you don’t necessarily like. I think many of us don’t see the opportunity, don’t see the the you know that when we’re free of those limitations, whether they’re physical or emotional or. You know, spiritual or whatever it is that you can’t like to then sit in that space Francis Lynch: of saying, you know, actually I’m. I’m now. Have the space with the energy or the freedom to move forward or to or to try something different. Yeah. So do you find yourself in that position of of being able? To help people or. You know to to yeah, assist people work through those next steps.

Rachael West: Yeah, and it’s. And when I do get to do work in that space, it’s absolutely amazing because I think for a lot of people, the pain and the physical symptoms, it points to something that needs tending to. But it’s just. Often not what we think you know. Often if part of our body is so we presume that it’s a physical injury. But of course, medically we know. That you don’t need tissue damage to feel pain. And so I think the. Pain, surprisingly, and not that we want people to have pain in order to have these. Experiences but. For some people, the pain is what gives them the space to be able. To consider. What happens next?

Francis Lynch: And I think. Pain, you know, I suppose as we’re sort of touching on it really is is, it’s not always physical, it’s. Not always, you know. There’s a cut. Or or something that can be psychic but. Could be, you know. Yeah, all. Sorts of other expressions of that so.

Rachael West: Yeah, exactly. And we know that if you have social isolation, you’re more likely to feel physical pain. And if you’re under mental stress, you’ll feel more physical pain and vice versa. So to really. I don’t want to say complex because I think that means it’s something that sounds like something we can’t face, but there’s a richness of experience in. It in it. Mm-hmm. Yeah.

Francis Lynch: So what? I suppose what I’m interested in is is where? Where do you see your sort of purpose in all of that in terms of where you’ve chosen to work and and the Francis Lynch:experiences that you’re seeking in your? Life. What drives you towards? That what’s the The energy and the purpose behind that for you?.

Rachael West: Yeah. So it’s a good question, the challenging. One to answer what drives me. To do this work. I suppose one aspect of that is seeing that people have got the potential and perhaps the desire for wanting their lives to you be richer, to make contribution, to make meaning. But maybe haven’t always seen. What are those possibilities for them? And and also. What are the possibilities that are unique To them not. What everyone else is telling you you should. Have or should do if. You’re sensible adult. And so then. Being able to see the really unique ways that people manifest as you know, for example with, you know, the yoga for pain programme. People learn essentially the same things. But the way that impacts their life. Is really really. Different. Whether it changes someone’s relationship or their work. Or the way they exercise, it’s quite individual and unique, and that’s really fascinating. For me to see.

Francis Lynch:And so when you Notice those differences or those impacts that people Can have as a as a. Outcome or as a consequence of the work that you’re doing that gives you energy gives you?

Rachael West: Yeah, it definitely gives me energy. It gives me what it gives me, meaning it gives me reason to keep going, because if people weren’t getting there, I’d be. Thinking what’s what’s? The point?

Francis Lynch: Yeah, yeah, that’s true. So is that something that’s really? Like if you.Go all the.Way back to being an engineer and and. Can you see the shifts? The change of of Francis Lynch: meaning and purpose for you as you’ve? Gone through that, that journey?

Rachael West: Yeah, although I. Think perhaps what’s shifted is the direction of that intention. So. It’s probably shifted from being a what Rachel wants for herself and needs for herself to now feeling like I’m in a place to make that. Possible or help make. That possible for other people So remember, there was a time. When I was. About 25 and I had this dream to retire. At 35. Because the way I was gonna do this was. To buy property, renovate. And you know this this. Dream and sell. And I was gonna. Be so wealthy that at 35, I wouldn’t. Have to work anymore and. Looking back, it’s ridiculous but it. Came from a place of. Feeling like I couldn’t physically continue what I was doing and so. Feeling that I needed a. Way out in order to enjoy life. So. You know, I think as ridiculous. As it sounds now. It came from a place of. Intention a good intention for myself that I wanted to be doing something that I loved. I didn’t want to be tired all the time. So you know, in the stories that I’ve been. Telling it was there was a. Steady shift for me to think. Oh, OK. Well, there’s more than. Just not being tired. There’s actually being energised by what I do and. When I found something, I was energised. By I thought, Oh no, I can do. This until I’m 65. Or 95. I’ll have the energy for it.

Francis Lynch: Yeah, yeah, yeah.

Rachael West:And so then along the way as well.As this shift from.Sort of. How do I avoid being tired and you know, job? I don’t like to. How do I find passion in what I’m doing? Was also from looking at what do I need so. Thinking, Oh well, how might this actually be of service to others?

Francis Lynch: So what I’m interested in in that sort of perspective of. Finding opportunities to work in a way that actually has has been energising rather than just functional and and and was that something that. You actually. Sought or is it just something that you then like? Notice that certain types of work actually gave you what you were seeking.

Rachel West: Yeah, that’s a really good question, I. Remember I had. Big dreams of another big dream after the property Dream was doing something like foreign aid and going. War-torn countries and and doing something good that way and that. Seems really important. But I think that that was probably there’s been a disconnection from that. That seemed like a good way to go help some people, they’ll swear. And so I never really ended up doing that.And then.I think it took a while. To to feel it, to embody. That same question and. What I you know and this probably. Happened for lots of. People is sitting in the office. Keeping myself busy so that I looked. Like I was busy for 8 hours a day filling out. Some forms that someone said they needed and. Importantly, seeing other people feel. Like they weren’t particularly happy with their job and. They also weren’t very healthy. Not everybody. Of course, but seeing people in that situation, I just. Thought there’s gotta be a better way. There’s got. To be something different. And so I think it’s it just. It started from then the point. Of what is the alternative?

Francis Lynch:And it sounds as though there were sometimes. When you. Yeah, you, you’re in the UK. You left that. Job and and. Opened yourself up to the opportunity to to experience things that you know, wherever that went. I mean, you know, that could have left you or led you to the similar experience of feeling like you were just pushing paper around or. But but what it? Did do is actually open you up to that? Experience of feeling the the experience of being in. You know, performance based and then obviously other things the the yoga coming into being something that actually has meaning for you.

Rachael West: Yeah. And I think there’s something about being out of your your comfort zone that. Makes you a little. Bit open and try out different things in perhaps some more relaxed, more than I might normally. And one of the things about being in London was discovering the social enterprise movement, where lots of young people were starting businesses with social aid. And they’re making money from. That and for me, little girl from Perth. My mind was. Actually absolutely going away. By that.And that certainly opened up. My eyes to the many different ways that you. Could you know survive in the world but also? Give something back.

Francis Lynch: Yeah, yeah. I mean, that’s where I first met you was really around that. Stuff and and. Yeah, it it is something which is has that dual purpose I suppose is really about, you know what? You know, I’ve got a vision or I’ve got a perspective in terms of what I think he’s going to to help numbers. The people doesn’t have to be changing the world, but you know it’s gonna help a number of people and then also. That I can sustain. Myself through that. Yeah. And and is that? In the work that you do now, through finding yoga, is that something that is important to you in terms of being able to to have those

Francis Lynch:dual, you know that you can sustain yourself, but also that it’s it’s work that has meaning.

Rachael West: Yeah, absolutely. And it’s it’s a really interesting question and I it may be a question that goes on. Forever. But in a in a lineage practice that’s often been handed down from teacher to student and often for no money or in return for service. What does it mean to Have as an essentially commercial enterprise? Within that, without being disrespectful. To the field. And you know, on the one hand, I know that. Well, obviously I need to. I need to eat. And have a roof over. My head in order to. Be able to do that work. I also need to. Be doing well this. I also need to be energised by the work and as we’ve talked about, sometimes that comes through the results of the work. But also part of that maybe, and this is a question I’m still asking myself is fine. How much the financial aspect is a part of that.

Francis Lynch:yeah, yeah. Do you see? The work that you do or or. Yeah, but do you see that changing over the next few years or is it gonna be like you’ve gotta something that actually? Is solid and. Solid’s not the right way but but. That you know you’ve you’ve got a place where you’ll continue doing that or do. You think do. You think that it’s going to change?

Rachael West:That’s a Good question.

If I look.Back on the last couple of years about what’s changed, I think. The the scale of. My work has changed, perhaps that the heart it’s the same that you know, for example, working originally with individuals and then in this last year moving into practitioner training. So getting OT’s and physios and yoga teachers to all work together to learn how yoga can. Help their patients with pain and. What they found in the process is how much a yoga. Practice helps them as. Health professionals to be kind to themselves, to not be judgmental of their their patients and to stay healthy.While they’re caring for. And that was a quite a. Big step up. It felt like a big. A big level. So I would. Suspect but I can’t be sure that there’s. Probably going to be another extrapolation.  for finding yoga.

Francis Lynch: But it but it sounds as. Though there’s still a continuity in terms of where you’re going with that.

Rachael West: yeah, I think. The underlying process and how we. Do what we do. We’ll probably. Stay essentially the same. But perhaps and hopefully become richer. And more nuanced.

French Lynch:Yeah, and do you?Think that your. I mean, there’s there’s the practice. Or the business. Or however it you see it, but. Do you think your purpose or your meaning? In 10 years time, or 20 years time is on a is on a. Sort of continuous path. Or can you see that there’s gonna be shifts again for you? In this if you look. Back ten years, there’s been shifts if. You look forward for 10 or 20.

Rachel West: Yeah. Gosh, it’s really. Hard to to. Know I’m you. Know actually recently been looking back over old, even old Diaries from when I was a teenager.

Francis Lynch: That’s scary.

Rachael West: Ohh It horriffic.

Rachael West: But that’s that question am i the same person? And will I be the same person? And you know, I was reading Oliver Sacks. The biography over the weekend and in his conversation with a friend his friend, was sort of. Saying it was like this. Cognitive confusion. To think that he was the. Same person as he. Was 10-20 years ago, but it appeared that he probably was the. Same person and it sort of feels. A little bit like that, Are you sure? That’s me. Well, I guess it was. And so.

Francis Lynch:We get the. Opportunity, I think, to keep reinventing ourselves.

Rachel West: Yeah You think so?

Francis Lynch: With the same well, I mean again, if you look at it in a sense of. You know, pure rational. You know, there’s not many cells in the in. The body that’s. The same as it was, you know, a few months ago, you know, we’re regenerating ourselves continually. And cell level so.

Rachael West: Yeah, exactly. So I guess there probably will be big changes in the next 10 years. But what they will be. I should be open to

Francis Lynch: But I can. Yeah, I can see from what you’ve been saying that there has been those opportunities that you’ve been open to so. You’ve allowed that to. To be part of your experience?

Rachael West: And I think open with intention.

Francis Lynch: So tell me more.

Rachael West: So we can. Kind of be open and go from thing to thing and try out new things. And go to new places and it’s all very. Exciting. Yeah. And there’s nothing wrong. With that. For me, I think that after that exploratory time in my life, I was able to settle into something that felt important. And so, you know, with my daily yoga practice and other practices, I’ve got this intention to. Help us have radiant bodies with compassionate. Understanding of others  and for people to have meaning in their life so. The intention will sort of guide perhaps where. Which experiences are the right ones to Take at that time.

Francis Lynch: I was reading something recently where it was saying if if we you know in our brains if we were to actually consider every single. Piece of stimulus that was being experienced by our body, we would be overwhelmed every second. You know. You know, we’re we’re lucky if we’re processing. In our in our thinking brain, we’re lucky if we’re processing, you know, 1% or even a half a percent of what’s coming at us, probably even less. But you know, so that it. That choice, that intention is what you’re talking about. So the way you filter the way you choose.

Rachael West: The way you know, if something that. You’re about to do is aligning with your purpose. Or whether it’s sending you off for a distraction.

Francis Lynch: And do you think that your practice of of yoga? But I’m sure other things as well meditation or or just your beliefs and your experiences do you think that You’ve really. I’m I’m interested I suppose in terms of how clear that is for you or or you know is there do your practices in life actually You know, support you in in terms of knowing what your meaning is and.

Rachael West:That is. A very good question. Do my practices support? Me in knowing. Yeah, I. Think they do and a simple. Way is that. One of the purposes of yoga is to calm the fluctuations of the minds with my mind is calm. I’m more able to see clearly why I’m making a choice rather than doing it out of fear. Like trying to retire at 35 yeah. And then I guess you know a lot of. The lineage practices. Have got compassion practices. So for people who’ve studied. Buddhism, many people we’re familiar with Metta. Loving kindness meditation. So I think those sort of things we kind. Of know. Will change how we feel in situations. And then, as I often say, the teacher appears at the right time, so I’ve had different teachers in. My in my life and. I guess they tend to. Appear and provide what is needed for the next stage and. Often I don’t really know how that’s going to. Pan out, but the practice feels right. It feels necessary. So a couple of years ago and I met swami anacunja, a yoga teacher, and I just had a a feeling that I wanted to go see her. And I saw her for a. One to one. And she said, do you want to do This properly I. Said, well, I suppose I should have been doing this. 20 years and she said, right, you must do it every morning between 4:30 and 6:30. No point doing it for six months one. Year you must do it for. Two years and I’m nearly. Two years into that now. And for me, getting up at 5:45 in. The morning for me is very, very, very, very early. And even 5-10 years ago, I couldn’t imagine that that could be possible for me, but she turned up and I’ve done it. And as a result of that I’ve got. A new figure, a new focus and discipline for this face of my work.

Francis Lynch: Yeah. So that, that engaged a bit of trust though. I mean, you had to trust that what she was saying was useful or that it that it had meaning for you.

Rachael West: Yeah, and and again. I spoke yoga is my my practice in in. My household. I do get. Told off a little bit, perhaps about talking. Too much about yoga.Yeah, but I. Mentioned one more. Time you’ll hear yoga teachers say don’t have. Blind faith in. The teacher so. You you have a bit. Of the trust you try it.Out, but then. You see if it works, so there’s a. Bit of discrimination.For myself.

Francis Lynch: Yeah, yeah. No, I mean that’s, I suppose in lots of parts of life, you know, you. Can blindly trust people. But yeah, so. Where else do you get? Your sort of inspiration or or? Yeah, I’m interested in the in the sorts of things that you read or. You listen to or you. Yeah. How do you how do you Sort of find inspiration and and.

Rachel West: Well, actually I come from. A long line of teachers, my mum. And my grandmother were both teachers, so. I think there was. This desire for learning that was passed down and. Particularly with my my. Mum, which I think informs how I read now. She was a speech and drama. Teacher. So there was. A lot of literature, but particularly in Greek mythology and.

Francis Lynch: OK.

Rachael West: Roman mythology, so. How do we? Collectively, make meaning about what’s happening and about what’s right or what’s wrong. I did go to a Catholic primary school and one of the amazing benefits of that is that. You get. Study the Bible, which might not. Sound great but. In terms of literature, now there are. A lot of biblical references, so it’s really academically. Right. But it also. When you combine it with those other stories. Helps shape how we’re. Understanding what’s going on, and so I’ll read now. Different yoghurt texts. Where our paths might bring. That same sort of mind. Of considering what does this text. Show us about where. We’ve been and where we might. Be going. In more modern terms. Blog that I love is. Brainpickings by Maria Popova. She’s she’s.

Francis Lynch: OK, I haven’t seen that one.

Rachel West: She’s a beautiful writer. She combines. Literary and philosophical reference. Into quite accessible blog posts. But they get your. Thinking, yeah. And with links to longer texts. If you happen to be so incline. And for kind of body nerves, stuff like how the body works, I listen to. The Liberated Body podcast. With with. Brooke a lady. Called Brooke in the US interviews body. Workers from all around. The world to think about, to talk about how. They understand how. The body works and what its implications? Are for practice?

Francis Lynch: I’ll put the links of slides on both of those, the. Blog and the podcasts on the. On the web page because yeah, that sounds interesting. Yeah, I’m. I’m. I’m always fascinated by the the. Yeah, whether it’s blogs. Or podcasts or or. Similar things, but you. Know the the

Francis Lynch: passion that people have. Around particular topics and and yeah.

Rachael West:Yeah. And it’s amazing how much you can. Learn these days. just by tuning in and on. Touching in someone on the other side of the world.

Francis Lynch:Yeah, it it is amazing. It’s incredible. So.Do you? Are there other things that you’re involved in that that you wanted To talk about. Are you spoken about the rewards that you do, and those sort of things but.

Rachel West: One of the things I’ve really enjoyed is getting to be part. Of the school. Of life Perth. It’s a philosophy school and it in Everton.

Francis Lynch: Oh, yeah, yeah, yeah.

Rachael West: In the UK and. A lady called Andy’s been doing some pilots over here and I was running how to make a difference which.

Francis Lynch: Yeah, yeah.

Rachael West: Was an absolute gift to be able to run. That because a lot of the. Talk is. Around social enterprise. Choosing your path different ways you can make, yeah, a difference. So I think it’s a really great thing to have a school like. That in Australia. To get people of all ages thinking critically about drawing on literature culture. And the arts.

Francis Lynch: I I loved it. I only went to one thing when it was on last year. Was it last year of this year? I can’t, remember?

Rachael West: Last year.

Francis Lynch: Last year, But I was looking at the programme and there were just so. Many things and saying, oh, I really. Want to do that Francis Lynch: and I want. To do that, and so I really hope that it does come again.

Rachael West: Yeah. Or you can fly out to Melbourne .

Francis Lynch: yeah. True,true true and. Yeah, I’m. I’m. You know, we’re getting close to the to the finish, so I’m interested. In in really is there? Anything that I’ve sort of haven’t asked the right question, so I’m interested in whether there is some thoughts floating around in the head as a result of. This discussion that. Need to be let loose.

Rachael West: Ohh gosh, thank you for asking. I think there was one question that I had one. Of the other interviewees answer, which was if there was advice for people working out their purpose. And so .

I thought about.That so what advice would? I give and particularly this probably speaks to the part of me and maybe in other people. I felt I had to do everything. By 30, and if it wasn’t done by then. It was too late. You know, I think to take time. To find out what it. Is you’re going to do and within that. To let go of the. Shoulds. And we’ll go with the musts. Even if you’re not quite sure. And then let the purpose emerge from between the cracks.

Francis Lynch: And I mean, that’s interesting. I’m really glad you brought. That up because I have neglected to ask. That question I do try and ask that. Question to people but. It’s an interesting. Having this space. So you’re talking about really having the space and the there is an element there of of. Space in terms of being able to notice. The experiences that you have and the you know whether it’s just. I I wonder whether sometimes that’s it’s not a blindingly, you know, it’s not a a flash. Of lightning that that. Comes to to most of us, it’s probably much more subtle than that. So

Francis Lynch: how do how do you get there? Like how? How does somebody who’s perhaps got a really busy life and and. How do you create that? Opportunity to to notice.

Rachael West:Yeah, that’s a really good way of putting. It of creating the. Space to notice and. One, I think beautiful example of showing how a purpose evolves over a lifetime was the Oliver Sacks. Sort of biography. And I’m mentioning that cause I just I’ve only just. Read it and it’s a. Very gentle read and he’s done amazing things. In his life. But there’s no. Grandiosity in the way, he writes. But. There’s these beautiful things that he produces that over time. Build out to this real contribution and then. You know, by the end of the. Book. It’s just this feeling that there was. This legacy he left so. That’s kind of one example. Of being able to feel. That you might be in it for the long haul. That this is it’s. Not something that you have to do and then finish and then sign off. So you can go retire. But it’s going to be part of the way. That you live. And so if it’s gonna be part of. The way that you live, how? Might you start now in really small doses and? That might be that you do. 5 minutes of meditation in the morning and that might be. Where you start? And gradually those little practices that you do. They start to become habits. Even if it’s as simple as five breaths. In the morning. And then I think to take time to reflect, to write the artists way. Was a really influential book for. Me and giving me. The time to to. Write and consider how I could be more creative, but also just to get things out of my head.

Francis Lynch: Is the artists way is that a Book is it? Yeah.

Rachael West: It’s by Julia Cameron. It’s sort of a 12 week.

Francis Lynch: OK.

Rachael West: Guide to helping people recreate their creative self and what it does is in creating the space for creativity. Things come up that you never would have expected if. You said I must make a. Macramé Potholder by next week. It’s a bit more Open then that.

Francis Lynch: What was going through my mind at one point when you were talking there is, is that perhaps this is what Oliver Sacks’s book was sort of pointing to as well is the, is it life is a process rather than a project. So it’s. Not sort of a. You know, yet there’s a clear set of objectives at the beginning and you can. Sort of, you know. To periodic reports against. The objectives and then you can say that. It was all achieved. So not the engineering perspective. Yeah, and funnily enough. Just I was speaking with a friend who I went to engineering school with. And we were talking exactly like this, this feeling that. We need to know the purpose of. What is the purpose of?

Francis Lynch: Yeah, yeah, yeah.

Rachael West: This, and I think it’s really. Helpful to to create things of tangible value.

To write a.Book or to do a performance or to? Write a blog post or to make a piece of art. Show. What you’re thinking at a time, yeah. But yeah, not to be so set on. That end results. Yeah, but if something comes up along the way. You can’t go with it.

Francis Lynch: And I think, I mean this is just reflecting something I read recently and I can’t remember where, but you know, as humans, we’re we’re constantly making meaning of what we’re experiencing. But we’re also making meaning retrospectively in terms of what we’ve done. So you know, we Francis Lynch: look back and and perhaps see things that were in a sense really. Completely unrelated, but we try and make the meaning as to how. One led to. The other and. And and then that may be the case, but it may also just be that you know you had one opportunity and then you had another and they were actually unrelated, but yeah.

Rachael West: Yeah, we seemed to. Like telling stories?

Francis Lynch: Yeah, yeah. And it’s been. Really interesting to hear your story. So in stories, because there’s been a whole series of things that you’ve spoken about and and. I’ve really appreciated your honesty and your openness about telling some of those stories, and I’ve really. So a couple of really interesting things in what you’ve said. I mean, even just right at the end there, where you speaking about that sense of of You know, doesn’t really matter that we know our Francis Lynch: purpose. Maybe it is. Just that sense. Of of you know, having the opportunities and the experiences and and. Yeah, creating the space each time to understand where you’re going. I don’t even know I’m doing these interviews around. Living with purpose. I don’t think that there is. For me anyway, a grand purpose that is being, you know, unfolded over time. I think it really probably is much more about, you know, the day, the week, the, the living experience of being able to reflect and and understand. Yeah. What what’s the right thing there?

Rachael West: Hmm, that’s a good question.

Francis Lynch: Yeah. So it’s been a pleasure to spend the time with you and I wish you all the the best in terms of working with people and. Yeah, creating the spaces for reflection and growth for all the people that you’re gonna come. Into contact.

Rachael West: Thanks, Francis.

Francis Lynch: Thank you.