When I was young, I was not terribly joyful. I was always perplexed by my existence, and I had a strong spiritual longing ever since I could remember. I was very sensitive. Quite early on, I could feel energy in my body. I didn’t know what it was, but it was very alive. Later, I realised that it was sexual energy, which, I also realised, was not OK to talk about. Mine was a fairly conventional family and an Orthodox upbringing.
I was trying to look for role models among religious figures: Virgin Mary, Mary Magdalene, various Saints… but I could not find any woman with whom I could identify. So I thought I must be the Christ – maybe that’s why I was suffering so much. Around me there was so much drama, deception, manipulation… I just couldn’t get it. Questions were not permitted. As I was growing up, I became quite introverted. Music was my way to express my innermost feelings and to escape from a discordant world. I was pretty good at school, so I had lots of time for myself.
I spent most of the day reading, drawing, and doing my music. I looked for answers in books, exploring mythology, psychology, religious studies, biology, anthropology, history, archaeology, philosophy… I was very drawn to German Romanticism. I thought there must be answers somewhere, some system that makes sense of life, as we know it.
By the time I got to university, I was interested in many subjects. But I realised I had to choose, because everything required passion and focus, if one were to become really good at it. Of all the things I was interested in and had a talent for, music was the one that I could not live without. So I was compelled to go into music. Luckily my parents were not against it.
My father didn’t really understand music. He was never musical, but he supported me. My mother was musical and also ambitious. She thought I’d be a great pianist, a soloist, recognising I had real talent. But she was conflicted inside; part of her wanted me to be an independent, self-sufficient woman, have a good education and not depend on a man; on the other hand, she wanted me to do the conventional thing, get married and have children.
When I got my music diploma in Greece, I was already at a pretty high level, but I knew there was more for me to learn. Then, I met this lady. She was a former professor at the Royal Academy of Music in London, visiting Athens for a masterclass series on how to apply the Alexander Technique specifically to piano performance. I was curious and eagerly signed up for her classes. She was working with advanced students, the competitive, self-critical, technique-obsessed, driven kind.
Her approach was very different, though. She was very calm and soft-spoken, and I was struck by the way she moved—ever so gently and fluidly, like a dancer. She would talk about things like breathing and energy, make the subtlest adjustments and then, what the student could not get right after months and months of practice, was mysteriously perfected in just a few minutes. It was jaw-dropping. To me, this was pure magic! I thought to myself: “I want this; I want to know what this is all about”. So I left Athens and came to London to study with her. It was not an easy relationship. She was quite harsh. She got me right back to the basics of making a sound. It was very tough, but somehow I persisted. Not long after our first meeting, I discovered that she was a spiritual teacher—my esoteric studies had officially started.
I hadn’t planned to stay in London very long, but music and mysticism were very compelling. I also loved the international culture and arts scene. There was always so much going on, concerts, exhibitions… I didn’t have much money: every penny went there. Really, there was no reason to go back. Being away from my family, my country, I was finally able to discover my Self, my own identity and my soul. I was constantly reprogramming myself. It just went on.
As I became more ambitious in music, however, something felt off inside. But nothing really changed, until I was hit by another wave of existential shock when my younger brother passed away. He was only 39. I couldn’t help but question everything about me and my life again. I realised that the spiritual quest that I had embarked on from an early age had somehow been forgotten. Even though music was always one way of connecting with myself, my soul, God and all of humanity, I had become too caught up in career demands: publications, conferences, performances, competitions… music had become fraught with pressure and endless striving, damping down the joy of inspired creativity.
There was this intense self-criticism all the time. I was pushing myself so hard taking on multiple jobs and creative projects, all very demanding, striving for career success, and my system started to break down. I realised something had to change. Becoming an international examiner was the opportunity I needed. I gave up most other things and travelled the world. I loved Singapore, Hong Kong, New Zealand and spent long stretches of time there. I wanted to be on my own, as much as possible, and to feel myself, feel life again.
I wanted to try new things and embraced danger, hoping I would come to some critical moment when all ideas about myself would be suspended and I might see the truth of my being, the real meaning of my existence. I wondered what would happen, if I honestly thought I would die. Would my whole life flash in front of my eyes? Would I discover some big truth about myself, about life? Would I see God? The afterlife? In New Zealand, I went bodyboarding on white water.
It wasn’t long before I went under. There was the intense noise of the water, and I was pulled down, sinking deeper and deeper. I held my breath and kept going down. Time just expanded. I waited for something to happen, but nothing happened. I was running out of breath. Still nothing. Inside me, there was silence. Peace. Someone pulled me out. I went under again. Still nothing. In the end, I decided I had to go back to the spiritual searching—the journey continues.
That’s it really: following impulses, responding to life’s—sometimes extremely painful—nudges has changed everything for me. Along the journey, I’ve met so many soul sisters and brothers, people there to support the soul’s journey, to discover and to realise the Self. It’s like a big family. That’s what I’ve been discovering throughout my life.
We have this illusion of being isolated and imagine we have to be ego-driven and competitive, but we are, in fact, all connected, loving in essence and destined to thrive through synergy and cooperation. The whole point of this life is to allow our spirit to advance, to express and to share. We do this through our work, relationships, families, through our creativity and little things—the way a meal was prepared, or the way we dressed one day… Those special gifts each one of us is blessed with are felt inside, but they become actualised when they are shared with others.
Your self-expression is your gift to the world. Your self-actualization comes as a happy coincidence. Through the process of giving, you are also realising your Self. Today, many people spend most of their time working hard at a job they don’t enjoy much—or at all—as a means of making money, so that they can do things they enjoy when they’re on holiday. What if our economy was such that we can spend our time doing something we love, and this something is enough to sustain us? What if what you’re really good at, your talents, are actually worth something to others?
I see that young people today are very aware and creative, and I’m filled with hope. I believe that if we really want to make something happen, if we really make use of our creative gifts, it’s going to work out. Or we wouldn’t have been given those gifts in the first place! I think we are evolving, and the next step is a more conscious expression of humanity as a collective entity. It’s happening more and more.
This is what my work is about: connecting you back with your Self, your soul, and with others on that same level. I help you to make co-creative partnerships based on acceptance and recognition of your individual uniqueness and purpose. You’re given permission to dream again and receive support to pursue these dreams. It is your dreams that will inspire you, light you up, give you meaning and move you forward in life with a smile on your face. Trust that it is OK to do that. It’s OK to enjoy yourself. It’s OK to express yourself. You don’t have to do what anybody else requires or expects of you.
Be yourself, open your heart, find the aspiration, the creative impulse within and follow that. Inside you, you will discover immense love and joy, and remember your essential benevolence. We all share the same essence and a desire to do good and be happy. So, make that connection in your heart, connect with others, with soul mates, and see what happens. Maybe you’ll embark on a project together, maybe you’ll find a romantic partner, maybe you’ll connect deeply with someone and never see that person again, but isn’t a single, magical moment of soul connection something to treasure in this great city we live in?
Story of Elena Angel
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