Connecting to Self in Nature
Mark [0:00] I’d like to welcome Shankar to the World Heart of Connection podcast. I’m your host, Mark Randall. I’d like to welcome Shankar, I’ve known Shankar for many years and we’re out here in the beautiful garden, at the back of Hepburn Springs and so lovely environment. Lovely to connect with nature. Welcome mate.
Shankar [0:17] Thank you. I feel a bit nervous, but here it is.
Mark [0:22] Yeah, it’s a good nerve.
Connecting & Sharing my Story
Shankar [0:24] Yeah, it is. I mean, you welcome any opportunity to share your story, I guess, too. And we’ve always had healthy dialogue, re our inner stuff. So, we’ve shared our paths a bit and we do things differently, but we share a good connection.
Mark [0:53] Now, what’s your ~ how do you conduct yourself? What does Shankar do? Do you have a daily ritual, a daily routine, how do you keep a check-in on where you’re connecting to yourself?
Daily Connection Routine
Shankar [1:07] Through consistent yoga, daily, mainly, practice Surya Namaskar – salutes to the sun. I’ve built my practice up around that, and a lot of shoulder, hips. Always focusing on different parts of the body at different times. But generally, it’s rounds of Surya Namaskar and then relaxation. And more and more chanting these days, devotional music, classical Indian music. I just find that sort of they all complement each other. Incense, chanting – I just find that I can get in a nice space to relax and do some inner work at the start of every day.
Mark [2:08] As you’re connecting to your body through that ~ those processes, what do you notice happens as you connect to your body and you come within?
Connecting to my Body ~ Happier & More Balanced
Shankar [2:21] You just get happier (Laughter). Just consistently more balanced and happier generally. The most mundane physical chores can be a pleasure if you are relaxed and feel good in your body. And I’ve just found that a vital part of daily life now. After practising, certain as I Surya Namaskar. But the long-time practice, it just becomes more meaningful as you get older. And more necessary, I think – a lot of things can happen in a day. Without and within, and it’s just become a part of my life. An important part of being able to be feel good at work, do whatever needs to be done in a good headspace. I just find without it, there’s a big sort of hole in the day I just feel fine. I’m just not as grounded otherwise.
Mark [3:46] Can you describe what the process ~ does it bring an alignment of energies through your being ~ physically, mentally, emotionally, spiritually?
Shankar [3:57] Yes.
Connecting to my Chakra System & Subtle Energy Body
Shankar [4:00] You know, a big part of yoga is the chakra system, the subtle energy body. And, you know, through the postures, all of everything gets a squeeze all the glands and all the channels. So, it’s definitely an energetic thing, as well.
Mark [4:22] And are you sort of getting out of that intellectual brain as you’re doing all the asanas with the yoga and is it sort of silencing the mind down and connecting into body connecting into your heart?
Shankar [4:36] Well, again, at the core of, of it of yoga is breath. The nice deep breathing during the postures and the breathing runs, the movement, the physical stuff, so energetically, you are getting a lot of energy moving on the subtle bodies as well.
Connecting to our Shadow Side
Mark [5:05] We all want to do this work to feel better align, connect. As we connect in there sometimes, we are going to connect to some of the shadow sides of our psyche. And we always like to disconnect and disown it. Unfortunately, it’ll keep knocking on the door of the rabbit hole to come out. How do you notice that, and have you learned over the years to bring a loving-kindness and compassion to that zone?
Shankar [5:38] Well, I’ve had a huge journey with working with anger, and those ‘course’ male physical ego stuff. Anger has really been the most potent, inward force for me. It’s been a big problem and a big blessing in my life – at different times. I think the whole self-awareness thing becomes huge, you become more aware of those subtle things you can tap into those feelings earlier and manage it better. And at some point, you’ve got, you’ve got up on that stuff and it’s not easy.
Connecting to our Hurt & Pain underneath the Anger
Mark [6:44] And as I’m noticing it more of a subtle level ~ are you then able to have a different connection toward rather than let it boil up into the angry reaction. Because I wonder sometimes whether we men, we convert a lot of that subtle stuff into anger, pain, deep pain, being converted to anger, react.
Shankar [7:13] Yeah, it’s subtle, of course. And it’s different for everyone. For me, to maintain evenness in my day, and in myself is, is hugely important. And it’s very difficult to do that without some practice. So, it’s that combination of, sensible choices and living and choosing to do something each day to help you maintain a balance. So, though, I guess, then through that awareness, you’re able to manage yourself better.
Connecting to a Better Energy ~ Flows to Others
Mark [8:04] And as you manage yourself better, do you notice you’ve got a better energy flow? Throughout your being?
Shankar [8:12] Well, it just helps all your relationships, then, doesn’t it? And all your interactions?
Mark [8:17] Yeah, that’s where I sort of ~ that’s a good segue into as you notice that you ~ you got much more energy? How do you notice that impacts on your relationship and your connection to others?
Shankar [8:33] As I say, and at the start there, I’m just a happier person, when I do inward stuff. So, you’re able to connect to people easily, understand people well, and be sympathetic, empathetic. Through that awareness of yourself, and it just helps you, I think, connect with other people generally. Because you’re connected to yourself, then, it feels great when you relate to other people and connect on whatever level. In doing physical work or mundane stuff. I take pride in maintaining a good headspace when you’re doing a shit-house job.
Mark [9:37] Staying inflow, so to speak.
Shankar [9:38] Yeah, I mean, why can’t it positively impact all parts of your life? If you feel good about who you are.
Connecting to Our Heart Space
Mark [9:50] Are you noticing that you’re connecting more to your heart in this space?
Shankar [10:01] Definitely, it’s really a subtle thing, isn’t it to settle into that space of connection. It’s all pretty Heart Chakra work. I think it becomes easier for men, as they get older, to feel into that and to be a bit more comfortable with the whole aspect of that.
Mark [10:34] What do you believe is prohibiting men in the early days of their lives to connect to their heart and do a lot of work around the heart chakra?
Shankar [10:47] I think it’s for me, it’s always been about being able to be in better control, being able to control myself and my emotions has been a huge inward motivator to do that sort of work. I think it’s inevitably it’s emotional pain and going through a difficult thing that motivates one to do more work. It’s not easy work. It’s not easy work facing yourself and, owning your shadow side.
Men Connecting to Our Painful Emotions
Mark [11:40] I always like that Monty Python skit, ‘Run away, run away, run away’. But unfortunately, I’m back…(Laughter)
Shankar [11:48] You can only run so many times from yourself. It can be deeply painful stuff, confronting yourself and coming to grips with some aspects of your being.
Mark [12:07] And coming into that ~ those aspects, how healing have you noticed that to be?
Shankar [12:15] Well, healing, wholeness – how well do you feel? Inner work seems to have such a deep effect on everyone around you. As you get older, your relationships with your partner and your kids and your family become more and more profound. And there’s a lot of healing to be had by maintaining that good vibes with whoever comes into your life. Healing, wholeness, it’s a – if you’re alive and kicking here, you’re doing work, aren’t you.
Men Awakening & Healing into Wholeness
Mark [13:17] From your experience do you believe that more men are awakening and wanting to explore their ~ become more evolved and open the door to their heart and connect to their healing and their wholeness?
Shankar [13:33] Yeah, look, it’s changed a lot for me, in the last 25 years. I know, from how much I’ve changed within myself, from the early raw days of being a man and a parent and a partner. It does seem like the S.N.A.G.S – the Sensitive New Age Guys. Well, being more involved in their families with their kids. It is a different time for mem. Of feeling into those deeper aspects of who you are and healing those rougher edges of your personality.
Mark [14:20] Would it be fair to say those rougher edges of the personality part of the ego-self and not the true self?
Men’s Ego ~ not Connecting to Our True Self
Shankar [14:26] Yeah, definitely. Ego can be hugely painful. In yoga, it’s all about being able to subjugate the ego not to eliminate the ego. That’s a tough gig. It’s about being selfless and it’s not all about you (laughter), all that sort…it’s important. It’s important everyone’s got the truth, and everyone’s has a valid story.
Mark [15:10] I’m just curious, as men, our more evolving are we allowing ourselves to have more acceptance of vulnerability, the sensitive side of ~ my experience working with men is at some level, we men are very sensitive. Our ego just doesn’t want to admit it. But as we’re moving forward with the proliferation of awareness around mental health vulnerability is an important part of that. Instead of rejecting it, are we coming into a more of an acceptance of a vulnerability and connecting to that?
Men’s Suicide isn’t Looking Good
Shankar [15:47] I think so. It’s much more common for people to be – out in the open to the problems in their life. For men, all those macho issues. Sure, it’s a big, a big social problem and, and suicide rates with men, it still doesn’t look very good. But I think people are now more and more comfortable with them with saying, I’m going through a hard time. And I’m a bit unbalanced, and my mental health needs a bit of work. I think people have mental health days off, are RUOK day, depression, the whole sphere of mental health, has expanded. And it’s more and more common people – you see high profile athletes and AFL players, having to say, well, guess what, I’ve got to do some, inner work. And that’s a priority – that’s the biggest priority in my life. And sometimes it takes that centre stage and I think it’s healthy, that people in media and high-profile people come out and say, yeah, I’m going through hard times. And, it is okay? You have those stages in your life where everything is tough? Just part of life, isn’t it?
Mark [17:52] Yeah, it’s part of life. And you’re, the more we have acceptance of it, rather than the judgement of it?
Shankar [17:58] Yeah,
Letting go of Judgement & Connect to Acceptance
Mark [17:59] Let’s stop the judgement. That old, macho, egoic judgement, if we could just let that go and come into much more acceptance. As part of the conversation, its connection to self, others and ‘All That Is’ when I introduce the concept to you the ‘All That Is”, what does that bring up in your mind and in your consciousness when I mentioned that, the ‘All That Is’? And how do you connect to it? Is it your God? Is it nature? Yeah, just curiosity?
Shankar [18:33] Well, I think self-time is hugely important. I think when you do practices inward that you are touching on deeper aspects of yourself. And it’s just so important, to connect to yourself. I mean, I spend a lot of time in the garden and then in the soil and in nature. Hugely important self-time. It’s healthy, just being – just breathing and being aware of what you’re doing. It’s – what am I connecting to? I think nature, my higher self, Mother Earth, I love all that all those colourful descriptions, and it varies. Where you find comfort, where I find comfort, it varies, but we can still respect that.
Connecting to the Oneness of Nature & Mother Earth
Mark [19:53] When you are in the garden, and you’re really centred ~ can sometimes you experience the ego checks out and you just merge into the oneness of just ~ with nature and Mother Earth and the universe?
Shankar [20:09] Yeah. There you are, in your own thoughts in nature and it’s a real stillness. Again, it’s a subtle thing connecting to yourself and something bigger than yourself.
Mark [20:32] Going beyond the Self?
Shankar [20:33] Yeah. Beyond yourself and – but knowing that you’re also a part of it. That micro-universe and macro. I love all that symbolic stuff.
Connecting to the ‘All That Is’ ~ Merging of Micro & Macro
Mark [20:51] Do they then ~ in that ‘All That Is’ do those macros and macros all merge into just a being?
Shankar [20:59] Yeah, or just being. Exactly just being.
Mark [21:04] What’s that like to just ~ in that Being? And we’re just connecting to it just then?
Shankar [21:13] It feels good (Laughter). Feels good.
Mark [21:16] Yeah this is one of the wonderful things about doing the podcast on Zoom. Is when we’re having those conversations, we start exploring these spaces, and we start ~ we’re resonating. Or my senses is we were starting to resonate in that space. And on audio, you can’t see it, you can hear it and feel it but on video, on Zoom, people can see that essence of you as you’re sitting in that being ~ beautiful gift to give to yourself.
Shankar [21:48] Yeah, well, it’s important that – it’s just an important part of life as you mature.
Connecting to our ‘All That Is’ ~ Healing Mother Earth
Mark [21:56] As more and more of us begin to access that space ~ that ‘being’ connected to that energy, and it starts to multiply. The more and more of us do it, what impact do you think that might have on healing Mother Earth?
Shankar [22:15] Well, huge. Through that awareness of yourself, you then have the respect for the planet and Mother Nature itself. So, I think it influences then people’s actions, that awareness of what people do. As people become more aware of the essence of who they are, the more likely they are to be able to honour the greater. The greater good, or as you are suggesting, it’s all starts merging into the one thing (Laughter).
Mark [23:03] And it’s difficult I find at this part of the conversation to find the cognitive words that are suitable descriptors ~ to express the experience because what we’re talking about now is more than energetic, frequency vibrational level. And it’s not easy to find those words to hit that ~ to really define it.
Connecting Our Meaningfulness
Shankar [23:28] It is and it’s so varied. I love all religions. If people find something where they are finding it meaningful, and they can connect to themselves and the greater spirit, or however you want to say it or see it. I just think there are so many paths out there. And what I do in my day is different to what you do – to what anyone does. And it’s unique, it’s the same that you’re connecting to the same thing. And how you get there, to me is, just in the detail. If what you’re doing makes you feel good, and makes you care about others and the earth and that’s great. It’s hard because it’s a subjective experience. It’s like tasting an orange – you’ve got to have a bit yourself. So, people’s experience of how they connect with themselves vary so massively. It’s the same but it’s different. Your right it is difficult to put into words that where you are, then.
Men’s Mindfulness is in ‘Doing’
Mark [25:10] Yeah, there’s so much you are saying just then. So, many different threads that I could run down. And it’s interesting. Those many ways. I wonder for a lot of men, whether your mindfulness is huge. And meditation is a deliberate practice and deliberate discipline, which is the scaffolding around mindfulness. But I wonder whether men do a lot of mindfulness in their ‘doing’ ~ they’re out fishing. It’s a doing form of mindfulness ~ in the garden, it’s been mowing the lawn. There are those moments where they’re just in that complete focus. Where they can let everything else go.
Shankar [25:58] Yeah. And for a lot of men, that’s the only time that they have with themselves. I know from personal experience, having grown up on farms and in the country. Fishing was a massive, inward thing for me. Hunting generally, I grew up on farms. So, hunting and fishing were – was something that I did as a young person by myself.
Shankar [26:32] It’s hard to get that out of your blood when you’ve grown up with that. So yeah, it’s huge. I know for some men, it’s the only time that they – that’s the only – they love it so much because that’s the only space they get it. So yeah, again, it doesn’t matter how you get there.
Men taught not to Connect to Emotions
Mark [27:00] Yeah, I wonder for a lot of us men in that space. Because my experience in the therapy side of working with men is that we were very emotional beings till about five years old. Then it was the metaphorical backhander ~ stop sooking. So, we stopped navigating that emotional landscape and went up into the intellect ~ into the rational logical mind, two plus two always equals four. In the fishing, I jokingly say, ‘back of the boat’. Just put your finger on the line ~ and I wonder whether it’s also an opportunity for them to get out of that racy intellectual mind. It’s constantly whizzing around at 88% per cent negative mindset ~ I’m joking, but do you know what I mean. And it’s like just that moment ~ where they can get out of that racy mind and just connect with what they’re doing.
Shankar [27:51] Yeah and the environment. Say, go on the Murray River. I mean, it’s like the Ganges of Victoria. It’s special. How is it special? Well, it’s beautiful. It’s in nature and you’re getting that whole experience of being right in there. Particularly in boats when you’re on the water.
Men’s Mindfulness ~ ‘At the Back of the Boat’
Mark [28:15] Yeah. And I say ~ if you are thinking about home, or you’re thinking about work, you might as well be Jesus ~ get out of bed, walk across the water, and go back home. Because your mind’s taken over, get off the boat, go back to the back of the boat. In one of the questions, I have always been asking of late. When you’re in that zone, of the ‘All That Is’ ~ whatever that is to you. You’re in that oneness ~ can you describe what happens to your mental health when you’re in that place?
Shankar [28:50] I think you feel self-assured and confident and just comfortable with yourself and others. You feel sure about yourself and you have that confidence that you can take on challenges and solve problems complicated, external, but also your internal dialogue.
Connecting to Flow-State ~ Contentment
Mark [29:23] As you’re in that space, would you describe it like being in an energetic flow-state that just brings this peace and freedom, and equanimity, and tranquillity through into your whole body physically, mentally, emotionally, spiritually?
Shankar [29:40] A deep feeling of being satisfied and content. It’s contentment, it’s a big word for males. And so many things going on in your life and it’s so easy to feel as though you haven’t achieved enough in your life – that you haven’t done enough. For me I know I’m on the edge of self-connection when I feel so content with the day or with the challenges of the day. Again, a little bit hard finding the words to describe it.
Mark [30:42] In drawing the conversation to close, I always invite guests to ~ what piece of advice would you have for a younger Shankar about to embark on his adult journey?
Connection to Ayurvedic
Shankar [30:56] Well, at some stage, your focus is going to have to focus inward. And there are many ways as we’ve spoken to do that. For me, my background Ayurvedic and yoga have been the management tools for me to connect with who I am – on a deep, energetic spiritual level. And, that practice and has developed and continues to develop to the point where without doing those, you just don’t feel as able to get through days. It allows you the balance and awareness to take on any challenges internal or external. My advice is to is find your happy place whether and do it. If it’s through fishing or hunting them. But you’ve got to nurture that time.
Mark [32:19] You do ~ and in nurturing that time, would it be fair to describe it as you’re giving yourself the loving-kindness and compassion that needs and will need and forever need?
Connecting to Self-Love
Shankar [32:32] Yeah, you’ve got to the end of the day, you’ve got to find self-love. You want to find love for others, you’ve got to love yourself. And I think it provides a platform and a space to embrace loving yourself.
Mark [32:52] Thank you, brother, for this wonderful.
Shankar [32:55] Thank you, Mark.
Mark [32:56] It was really lovely to ~ it’s always been lovely to connect with you. And I really appreciate the long-time connection we’ve had. And it’s lovely to be able to chew the fat with men, other men around this sort of work. It’s sometimes it’s a bit of a rarity to be able to have those open and transparent and it’s a real sign of men are shifting; men are wanting change.
Shankar [33:20] Yeah, and I trust that it comes across okay. That’s my experience. At the end of the day, it’s been a process it hasn’t – healing who you are and rounding off your rough edges is a process. It’s a timely process and you’ve got to find something that helps you chip it away to get through all your inner and outer challenges.
Mark [33:55] Great brother.
Shankar [33:56] Thanks, Mark.
Mark [33:57] Namaste.
Shankar [33:58] Namaste. Thank you.
Transcribed by https://otter.ai