Interview by Prime Sarmiento
Soul Coach Loes van Mierlo is in many ways, a true-ble gypsygal. She was born in Netherlands but have lived in Finland, Germany, India, the Philippines and Ireland. She’s now based in California, coaching clients from all over the world (via Skype) to help them gain clarity and fully step into their dream. In this interview, Loes shared how her travels around the world shaped her life and spirituality.
Q: How did your travels help you in pursuing a more spiritual way of life?
A: For me, traveling and spirituality are very much about the same things: being open (to people, places, ideas and experiences), feeling connected, being flexible (the journey is more important than the destination), listening to my own inner voice (intuition, gut feeling), expanding my horizon and stepping out of my comfort zone.
Traveling also helped me to slow down, to go back to basics and figure out what I really want in life, what I find truly important. Traveling was and still is a big part of my spiritual life.
Q: Why do you travel? How can traveling shape your spirituality?
A: I’ve wanted to travel and explore new places as long as I can remember. Sleeping under the stars in the Thar desert, seeing the sun rise over the Taj Mahal, seeing the sun never set in Lapland, sharing a smile with a five year old boy in India …these are things that make me feel connected to something bigger that nothing else can. Both traveling and spirituality are ways to connect, with myself and the world around me.
Q: How can one go on a spiritual journey?
A: I think a spiritual journey will look different for everyone.
For some people, a spiritual journey might be spending some time in a monastery or secluded place, praying or meditating. For others it might be a very physical journey, walking or cycling hundreds of kilometers. For some it might be about self love or forgiveness or expressing themselves.
A spiritual journey can take any form. It’s the intention you set and the meaning you give it that define whether something is a spiritual journey or not.
Q: Where did you go in your own spiritual journey? What did you do there?
A: I wanted to spend a year in India, because something was pulling me there. I was looking for something, I had no idea what, but I thought I would find it there. I did volunteer work as a teacher in a small village in a part of India I otherwise never would have seen.
I also took some courses that were completely new to me, such as ayurveda, traditional Thai massage and Reiki, which I had never even heard of before. I took up yoga and returned to my love of photography while exploring new places and meeting new friends.
And I found what I was looking for: I got to know myself a lot better and discovered I that whatever happened, I could deal with it.
Q: Tell us about your volunteer work in India. How did you end up there? Is this a career break or more of a “gap year”. How did your volunteer work there helped in your life, business?
A: My trip to India was in between graduating from university and starting my career.
When I traveled to India, I knew I wanted to do volunteer work, but hadn’t found anything yet. Like many of my experiences in India, I found this place through serendipity.
We met someone who knew someone who had a sister who was a teacher at a school in a small village somewhere, where they were looking for a teacher for a few months. I had been teaching in a school for kids with learning disabilities before embarking on my journey to India, so a teaching position was great.
We travelled for 24 hours before arriving in this tiny village, where we were the first white people to visit. The nearest hospital was a 3 hour drive away and often we were cut off from the rest of the world for weeks when the phone company was on strike (there was no internet or cell phone coverage), yet I felt at home there.
Spending a few months in that area as a teacher taught me to adapt to an environment that’s completely different than my own environment, to be inventive (teaching a class of 53 students in a room with nothing but four walls, a door opening and a blackboard or organizing a day trip for 25 boarding school students with no budget). It also showed me again that you don’t need to have a common background or language to connect with people.
Q: What are the things that you know now that you wished you knew back when you were just starting to tread the spiritual path?
A: The only thing I wish I had known more clearly is that we all have the answers we’re looking for inside us already.
Sometimes we may need other people’s help in accessing or deciphering those answers, but all we need to know is right there inside us already.
Listen to what other people have to say, read books, explore new ideas, but ultimately decide if something feels true for you or not, regardless of what others think. Follow your own path.
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