“Because of New Life, I’m looking forward, not back.”
By Jojo Furnival
How did you hear about the New Life Foundation?
I came across New Life via HelpX. I needed a change and wanted to do some volunteering, and I was immediately taken with New Life ‘cos it offered a program to help with depression and anxiety using meditation and things like farm work. It really spoke to me. I was stuck in a rut and desperately wanted a different lifestyle.
You shared your life story with the community recently, which is a pretty daunting task. What sort of process did you go through in preparing for this?
I prepared during my Life Coaching sessions [with Ciara], identifying key moments in my life that had influenced my future in negative ways, bringing them to light and properly processing them. This really helped me to move past those obstacles that were holding me back.
Sharing your life story has been described by many as cathartic. What did the experience mean to you and how do you feel about it now?
It was definitely emotional doing it, opening up to a group of people I didn’t know that well, but it was extensively rewarding because of the support of the community. It felt like I’d concluded that chapter of my life. And I love talking to people, sharing it…my favourite part [of New Life] is the community. It’s so diverse, international, people are so genuine, open and supportive. I’d never had that before, I’d always tried to go it alone. It made my transformation so much easier. I don’t like to think about where I’d be without New Life.
I can relate to what you’re saying, Peter. Why do you think this support doesn’t exist outside in the ‘real’ world?
That’s difficult to answer! I don’t know. This place is built on mindfulness and the core of this practice seeps into all the healing here. Plus, the foundation is perhaps a bit more out of the way than some retreats or recovery centres, so those that make the journey out here choose to do so very consciously and for the right reasons. Everyone here feels pride in the foundation, because it’s community-built. At other places, everything is set up for you, but here people feel more a part of it and have that sense of belonging because they feed the ducks, prepare the breakfast, weed the fields, or whatever. And that openness starts with the meditation we do. But nothing is ever forced on you. People are happy to contribute, to be here. It’s almost like there’s some sort of positive peer pressure, so when you’re having a dark day, it’s easy for the energy of the place to pull you out of it because everyone is constantly working on themselves and sharing their journey with you. I’ve had a similar experience of this both times that I’ve been here, a year apart, so it’s not a one-off – it’s ingrained in this place.
Is there something special that you have learned here that you will take with you when you leave?
I fell back in love with life here. My work in life coaching, being present, grounded in the moment…I could see how simple things are beautiful again. And there are so many different activities here: I’ve been exposed to yoga, cheese making, meditation, laughing meditation, taking care of cows…it helped to open me up to the world.
Will you miss the cows?!
I will miss the cows definitely… You become really attached to them, and see all their different personalities and how they interact. They remembered me when I came back this year, for sure. They moo-ed at me!
Do you have any ideas for your new life after New Life?
So, my plan: part of what I learned here is that I love travelling. It’s something that I need to do at this time in my life. So, to fund travelling, I’m going to Australia on a working holiday visa, where I intend to continue the growth and progress I’ve made here by keeping up my spiritual practices. The majesty of the 5-Rhythms Dance, for example, I will seek out after I leave here. Then I’m off to New Zealand. But the dream is to learn to sail over these next two years and go island hopping in Indonesia via boat, feeding my child-like want of wonderment and adventure. I’ve always had this and wanted this as a kid, but now I’m actually doing it. Now, because of New Life, I’m looking forward not back.