On Being A Jungle Gypsy | Lauren Lee
Lauren Lee inspires us to go deep, to live in service, and to be free from systems that don't serve. Lauren shares her journey of living a fully nomadic lifestyle. Lauren is the founder of the platform, Raise Your Beat, the transformational festival, Wild Vibes, and assists teacher training events in Ibiza with Suzanne Faith Yoga.
What is your soul+work?
Sharing the gifts of holistic health through transformational events around the world.
I share the gifts of holistic health through transformational events hosted around the world to open people’s minds through perspective, and hearts through self-love and community. My soul+work is to encourage myself and others to live as their authentic selves and tap into their unbound potential with clarity, skillfulness and grace. Through these immersive experiences, workshops, retreats and trainings, people are given the space to dive deeper into themselves to listen closer to who they are and how they are moving in the world. I aim to share accessible tools through practices of movement, breath, contemplation and philosophy that support the process of self-inquiry. Ultimately, I offer my small bit of insight which has worked for me over the last decade, and hold space for others to do the work themselves and spark alchemy in the body and mind.
How did your former life prepare you for this work?
I truly believe that everything in life takes place for a reason. We are given experiences to learn more about ourselves and the lives we want to create. Throughout my teenage years I was a ‘wild child’ with a rebellious streak, challenging authority without crossing too many boundaries and experimenting in all sorts of ways to attain some sort of fulfillment. I was never engaged or inspired by school and basically went to socialize and plan for the weekend. I graduated high school with as little effort as possible and followed my families suggestion to go to University, although I knew in my heart I really wanted to be out of a system which didn’t support me in my abstract thinking and need for hands on experiential learning. Thankfully, by year two at University my partying slowed down as I began waitressing to save money to travel during breaks. I soon discovered hot yoga; I was intrigued and finally found something to look forward to. I remember often times going to two classes a day and I am certain it's what saved me throughout the long New Hampshire winters and a tumultuous relationship.
Tell us about your transition to living a life of service?
Fast forward 4 years, I couldn’t be more excited for the opportunities and freedom I felt at the time of graduation — I had initiated plans with 3 other girlfriends to backpack through India for 6 months. Slowly but surely, each one backed out, yet I insisted I was going anyways. As a 22 years old female my loving (and very wise) mother encouraged me to do some sort of exchange work for the first months to help me acclimate. I listened, surprisingly, and landed on a small palm-lined beach in tropical South Goa at a yoga retreat. My mind and heart was blown open. I lived in a plywood hut with a sand floor, alongside the 6 Nepali boys who worked with me, 10 meters from the ocean with about 20 pieces of clothing — and had never felt so fulfilled in my entire life.
I can now better support other people who may feel stuck in a system that doesn’t suit them.
I became sponge-like, and for the first time soaked up every bit of the experience. Each week a new international retreat leader led groups and, as the naturally outgoing and friendly being that I am, I managed to get invites to participate in most. I was refreshed with the international friends I made who shared a similar outlook on life, nourished by the Goan sunshine and present as I was totally engaged and inspired. My first trip to India was the catalyst in discovering my life’s purpose, however, I know that each step along the way was crucial and served (and will continue) to help uncover who I truly am. I am grateful for the previous experiences before India as I can now better support other people who may feel stuck in a system that doesn’t suit them.
I... landed on a small palm-lined beach in tropical South Goa at a yoga retreat. My mind and heart was blown open. I lived in a plywood hut with a sand floor, alongside the 6 Nepali boys who worked with me, 10 meters from the ocean with about 20 pieces of clothing — and had never felt so fulfilled in my entire life.
What do you perceive to be one of the biggest issues in our wold?
I believe that one of the biggest issues in our world is that people are not fulfilling their souls unique purpose or ‘dharma’. There is such a disillusionment to happiness which often gets clouded over by money, material items or titles…a lot of society prepares us to move through life striving and achieving, yet staying within the boxes and not challenging the way things are run. We are taught to seek approval and acceptance of others, instead of being taught that we are born wholesome, unique and perfect. Just as many of us have felt this pressure at one time or another, or possibly daily, many of us have also had flashes of moments when we are ‘in the zone’ — flowing through life with ease, contentment and freedom. These moments can come as often as we allow, but are much more likely to arise when we are aligned with our highest selves — working with our natural gifts, nourishing and loving our bodies, surrounded by supportive relationships and community, spending time connecting with nature and exploring our creativity in various forms.
How can we live more fully in our dharma?
Living mindfully doesn’t mean that you have to live a wild nomadic life in an eco-community off the grid (however it can totally help and I recommend for everyone to experience this!) — freedom can be found living in a big bustling city well within modern day society, as long as you are on a path of self-realization and living out your authentic gifts. The world is at a crucial point and I truly believe that more people are uncovering their souls purpose to share and inspire others to do the same. If everyone was living from a state of happiness, they would feel an inner abundance and freedom which would naturally impact their thoughts, words and actions within their families and communities. Harmony would take over as opposed to dis-ease and, literally, the eco-system on a global scale would thrive.
Tell us about your darkest hour. What did you learn from the difficulty?
The most difficult experience has been the death of a parent, my Dad, almost four years ago. My parents divorced when I was young and he moved across the country, however he was present in my life to the best of his ability, always sharing his love for nature and travels with me. Over the years, I had subconsciously suppressed feelings of anger, sadness and abandonment — not feeling worthy enough as he chose to move far away and couldn’t be as present as I needed growing up. When I was in University, he became ill and then, there was a 5 year battle with Leukemia. Those years encouraged me to move beyond my own ‘self-pity party' and any resentment, to see him for the first time as a loving and perfect being. I accepted and forgave him, and surrendered to the reality that the disease brought. My dad leaving his physical body has been one of the most challenging, yet heart opening experiences in my life. It helped me to understand life beyond the physical existence and truly believe in a higher force that is always present. Most importantly, it showed me how sacred and precious life is… I have since began to heal my relationship with my Mom and her husband and view family in a whole new light.
What are your daily practices for mindful business and your daily practices for soulful living?
My daily practices are very simple. I always try to start my day with presence and quiet. After I wake up, stretch in bed, and go to the bathroom to freshen up, I drink a massive glass of water to rehydrate and begin my sadhana. Some days I move through an hour flow, other days it is a few simple rounds of sun salutes - and as often as I can, I go to a led class. Before or after movement, I always sit at my sacred space, which is constantly changing with my nomadic lifestyle, but will include a simple alter with something from nature, a stick of palo santo or a candle. I take a moment to welcome myself, light something to clear the energy, and close my eyes. I sit for a minimum of 10-20 minutes focusing on my breath.
I always sit at my sacred space, which is constantly changing with my nomadic lifestyle, but will include a simple alter with something from nature, a stick of palo santo or a candle. I take a moment to welcome myself, light something to clear the energy, and close my eyes.
Besides my morning routine, there is little in my every day existence that is consistent. I admit I like the dynamic and creative flow of my days - however I aim to set up an inspiring space, whether it is at home or in a cafe, to work from, nourish myself through wholesome meals, make lists of the most important tasks for the day and take time (even if 10 minutes) to be in nature. Unfortunately, I do spend a lot of time on my computer - planning and cultivating, networking and marketing, writing and researching for both my businesses, Raise Your Beat and Wild Vibes, and for my boss/mentor Suzanne Slocum-Gori who I assist. I absolutely love being freelance and having the ability to work from anywhere in the world. I am learning to create boundaries for myself, as I have a tendency to overwork if I don’t set 'working hours’ at the start of the day. However, I know the hard work behind the scenes (and screens!) always pays off when I have the ability to spend days (or weeks!) at a time immersing with co-leaders/students/mentors collaborating, teaching, practicing and learning.
If everyone was living from a state of happiness, they would feel an inner abundance and freedom which would naturally impact their thoughts, words, and actions, within their families and communities. Harmony would take over as opposed to dis-ease and, literally, the eco-system on a global scale would thrive.
What helps you be a soul+worker?
I love and would highly recommend are the inspiring online platforms Teach.Yoga, Yoga Trade and Mystic Mamma…they all provide me with juicy inspiration for my teaching and have community offerings to get involved in. Books I am currently loving (and re-reading!): The Four Desires by Rod Stryker, Tending the Heart Fire by Shiva Rae and Awakening Shakti by Sally Kempton.
Words to live by?
The little space within the heart is as great as the vast universe. The heavens and the earth are there, and the sun and the moon and the stars. Fire and lightning and winds are there, and all that now is and all that is not.
- The Upanishads
Lauren Lee has been dedicated on the path of yoga for over a decade and is passionate about holistic health, exploring the world and empowering others to live authentic and vibrant lives. Lauren is founder of Raise Your Beat, a platform for holistic health, Wild Vibes, a transformational festival which celebrates diversity and community, and is a devoted assistant to Suzanne Faith Yoga, leading immersions in some of the world's most stunning locations.