If you’re feeling as if your mind is in a different space than your heart, or you are feeling like the world has more to offer to you, you might want to take some advice from Charley Patton. We had a chance to interview Charley, a native Californian who spent 16 years lost in a stressful corporate world. He not only felt like he had lost his sense of self, but also his soul and the fire that ignited it. His discovery of yoga led him to Burning Man, inspiring him to re-examine his life path in search of greater passion. Charley made the decision to say goodbye to his high paying career and live a life that aligned with his passion for helping people.
Charley’s story starts like many others. He felt as though he barely had enough time to focus on himself. “I would have to put on a mask and go to a job that was not congruent with how I felt as my own being.” With the limited time that he did have, he attended a 9 pm yoga class, taught by Ish Moran, in LA. “I could work a 12 hour day, then eat something quickly and run over to this yoga class. I had no life outside of just working… I was interested in the stretching aspect… I started realizing that, ‘Wow, I actually like this stretching thing.’ This other door started opening up. This is more than stretching, with breath. This is actually helping me out.”
He had practiced yoga for a couple years and sensed it had slowly started to ‘place seeds of doubt’. He began to question himself. “Am I living a fulfilling existence? Am I doing what I want to be doing? What Am I doing with myself? What am I doing with my life? Am I living a congruent life?”
He finally took one week off from his demanding job for a pilgrimage to the desert and attended Burning Man. “I experienced a reality where people were sharing and creating from a place of heart and art, with no expectation of reciprocity and return. And this is how it works in the spiritual world: you give of service without expectation of return , and the reciprocity is such that you’re going to get it back 10 fold if you don’t expect it.”
“I experienced a reality where people were sharing and creating from a place of heart and art, with no expectation of reciprocity and return"
Charley got only a few hours of sleep between the festival and beginning work again. “I found myself in a conference room. And everything was this: ‘Blah blah blah. Maximize shareholder value. Increase efficiency. Average price per invoice…’ I was just going, Oh my god, I’m done. This is not me. I can’t do it anymore. It was at that point that I made the plan to get out of this; to get out of it because it’s not right for me. I’ve always been a cyclist, but I strategized and I planned for 15 months from that moment and I actually left the company.”
Sounding strangely familiar? Here is Charley’s advice:
“Nothing you have done up to your present circumstance is wrong. Your whole life is about your life experience. Your life experience up to this point is there to prepare you for your next step, but don’t be afraid to take that next step. Don’t let fear guide you, which was really interesting because the corporate experience that I had, the tools that I gained, from working in that world, have been invaluable to running a yoga center. Same thing, but now I’m doing something that’s more congruent with my belief system. I don’t for a minute denigrate or degrade or am unhappy that I spent those years in the corporate world. You learn a lot about sociology, you learn a lot about process, team-building, working toward a goal. There’s a lot of great experience about that….
“Nothing you have done up to your present circumstance is wrong. Your whole life is about your life experience."
Don’t beat yourself up. Accept where you’re at, and that whatever’s come before you in the past are the building blocks that are meant to take you to your next step. The most important thing is to let fear not allow you to take that next move. When I finally pulled the trigger and said, “Ok, I’m done.” 50% of the people were like, Oh my god, are you crazy? Then the other 50% were like, Oh my god, I wish I could do that...That’s my second bit of advice: you can do that. Anyone can do it. We’re all the same, it’s just that you lose more by not following your natural calling.”
Charley took his love for cycling and pedalled 8000 miles across Southeast Asia in just under a year. He explored other destinations too, but Bali called him back. He worked with an NGO and managed a little fair trade shop called ‘Bali Cares’. When a tsunami hit in December 2004, the NGO then turned their mission into a relief effort. Working in this environment is where he met his current business partners, Meghan and Dek. Together they co-founded what is now “The Yoga Barn”, in Ubud, Bali. Charley truly created his reality and developed a life that he enjoys every day.
“You owe it to yourself to find whatever it is that you’re passionate about, and in doing so, once you start doing, work’s not work, work is play. It’s not your work, it’s just your passion. It becomes an extension of you.”
Charley Patton is a founding partner of The Yoga Barn which has been running strong for over 10 years. Charley is passionate about helping others find their true calling and "follow their bliss". To learn more about The Yoga Barn, visit it's center page or it's website here.