Cool guy, powerful artist, teacher and transformation guru, Jamie Catto says that if you want to be delicious, you need to stir the pot!
“Enlightenment is… loving the freaky, wounded creature you are – right now!” JC
Jamie Catto has done some SERIOUSLY cool stuff!
Famous musician, ground-breaking film-maker, world-traveler, life-changer, world-bridger and Professional Good Guy, Catto was the brains and the heart behind One Giant Leap, founder member of Faithless and is on his way to the Bali Spirit Festival to share workshops designed to make every one of us just as cool.
In life beyond mega-fame, his mission is to take what he learned working with the likes of Bono, Michael Stipe (REM), Billy Connolly, Tom Robbins, Noam Chomsky, Bob Geldof, Kurt Vonnegut and shaman, criminals, healers and saints across the planet to help us turn our own ordinary lives into living, breathing examples of… wow!
Perhaps it’s understandable that the man they call ‘the human icebreaker’ doesn’t have a lot of time before flying from London to stir some yogi-soup in Ubud to speak to little old me. It’s the stuff that either frustrates or terrifies a writer dealing with hi-profile people… will they really talk to me? Are they too big to bother? And if I can grovel some minutes out of them, will they be nice to me? God, I hope I don’t bore them to death!
But in the end he says he can squeeze me in if I make a call to his car while he dashes about in London. And I agree to get out of bed in soggy Ecuador at 6am for twenty precious moments of Jamie Catto’s time.
But they had warned me he could be dangerous. He even admits it on his website. So I made a cup of tea, smoked a Marlboro watching clouds get born off the flanks of the Andes and dialed the phone of the man they call they call.. “oddly arousing”.. hmmm.
Me: Hi Jamie, it’s Jade, calling from Ecuador, how are you?
Me (to self): Oh God…here we go!
Me (to human icebreaker): Jade, from Bali Spirit Festival…
Jamie: Oh, yes. Ok, you have fifteen minutes. Go!
Me: So I wanted to ask you, you’ve worked with people all over the world; famous people, ordinary people, screwed up people, businessmen, gurus, criminals and mums… what’s it like to work with a room-full of yogis?
Jamie: What I love to do with the yoga crew is just lighten them all up.
Me: Lighten them up? But yogi’s are already all about the light, no?
Jamie: [laughs riotously] Basically, there are two groups in yoga: there’s the ones who get it, who are playful and loving and allowing it all to flow, and then there’s the other half who are looking for a finish line. The ones who are pushing so hard for what they see as perfection or for that moment when they think they will get there… when I get this, I’ll be happy, I’ll love myself, life will be better when…. it’s those ones I want to get to, to play with, to shake up and show them that the whole thing is to love yourself fully here and now.
Me:… you mean the ones who are struggling with their crappy Warrior, their saggy yoga bum and their secret that life on the other side of the Festival is really not all that cool?
Jamie: You see, the whole point of it is to find a way to get to the place with whatever we’re doing where we’re ok with the actual reality of it – the good and the bad, and the shitty, broken, messed up crappy stuff that comes with it, and love that! Now! Just as it is.
When we do that we free up an incredible amount of energy for life, for creativity… for making a masterpiece out of it all, and finding more love, genius, freedom…. all of it.
It’s from right here and not from your ten-thousandth headstand that you get free. Not from any point where you say… when I can do that, I’ll be better.
Me: So many people who do yoga are here for that idea, we talk about it all the time… do you think it’s really working for us?
Jamie: If you’re doing yoga and you’re having fun whether you’re the worst yogi in the room, then it’s working. Yoga, like anything, can easily turn into a big trip. If your dark side, your shadow, is sneaking around in your yoga telling you you’re crap, or that you’re better than the others, or faking it so you look good.
Me: I think there are a few of us who are afraid of that.
Jamie: The question you need to ask yourself is What Do You Use Yoga For?
Me: Well, let’s see… I use it to calm down, get fit, try to be a better person and maybe find some magic when my chakras align and the nectar finally starts dripping down my nadis… that sort of thing.
Me (to myself).. and to try desperately appear more beautiful, sexy, focused and radiant so I can make some sort of sense of this shambolic life, or at least look like I have some sortof control and am not as tragically dizzy, disorganized, confused and bed-buggish as I actually am (doing this interview in my pajamas, as a matter of fact).
Jamie: It’s easy to get all screwed up and run a self-loathing trip through whatever we do – yoga, art, music, karate, business… whatever, and just end up faking it, hating it, judging it, carrying a pile of shame and anger around.
Me: Holy man! That’s saying it pretty straight! So you don’t think much of yoga then?
Jamie: Hey! No way! Don’t get me wrong, I think it’s all great stuff – it’s not the yoga that’s the issue for some folk, it’s the human being and our stuckness in not just loving ourselves fully as we are right now. That’s why I love coming. To help shake the human being up, free up the energy, create a vent for all those exhausting masks to fall away and leave a space for the truth of all our own genius to shine through.
Jamie: It’s really just a matter of taking a big breath and letting all the madness be true.
If you really want to create a masterpiece out of your life, your yoga or whatever you do, you need to become fascinated with all the places where you’re wounded.
Me: Jamie, that sounds like it could be kinda scary.
Jamie: My medicine is very gentle. I am a walking permission slip for people to be complete idiots, to fail and mess it up and be just the most foolish possible excuse for a human being possible.
Me: Is that called compassion?
Jamie: Yes, and it’s called being weird too! I know what I do is beneficial, but I also know I have my own shadows. I’m lost, needy, angry, perverted, angelic, generous, on the money… it’s just that I’m not hiding from all that, from the dark side of who I am. I love myself more and therefore I love other people more – it works like that.
Me: What did you learn through your work with One Giant Leap and all those amazing people that helped you ‘get’ this?
Jamie: The key is to really get that we are all on a journey towards darkness and light, NOT away from darkness towards the light. That was the old misguided trip where we deny our wholeness. We are all dark and light.
Me: You know, it’s a secret, but sometimes, in yoga, I feel like I’m caught up in a sort of weird passive aggressive beauty show that just makes me more frustrated and cranky with the world. Can you help a messed up yogi like me?
Jamie: If you use the yoga to love yourself more, and the yoga is helping you love yourself more – when you fall on your ass, fart in class, get it wrong for the hundredth time and fall down laughing… then you’ve got it! If you can love yourself and the others even while all that other distracting chatter is going on, you’ll have it all – you’ll be freer, more generous, happier, wiser and all sorts of cool stuff.
Me: Sounds like a big job!
Jamie: Look, we’re all lost.
We are, every one of us, like a wise guru in charge of a mental patient.
We’re all bent, twisted, scared and wounded. We’ re all approval addicts desperately wanting to be loved and carrying around a big sack of what we’re afraid and ashamed of. The thing I do, my assignment here, is to tenderly play with the parts of us we are excluding, bring them to the party, free up that shadow stuff and include it all. The way to enlightenment, to freedom and genius is to get to a place where we can be ourselves – our whole selves – now. No excuses. No faking. Not just the dolphins and rainbows and sparkly stuff – but the truth of it all.
If God came into the room and said you are never going to be one inch more enlightened, one inch more free, more wise, more flexible, could you still love yourself fully?
If the answer is no you have a problem and I’d seriously readdress your ‘path’. Enlightenment is loving the freaky, wounded creature you are right now, not at some future finish line reality where you’re a bit better. Ugh!
Me: So what do you think about the vision behind the whole yoga scene, the ideals and the stuff we say we’re here to create?
Jamie: My assignment as an artist here is to create more us-ness – less ‘us and them’, and more inclusion. What I found in my work as a musician and an artist is the ideals of Unity and Oneness are real. I heard that word, ‘oneness’ a lot early on, working with arty-types, and in the beginning when people said ‘We’re all One’ it used to kinda disgust me. But I was one of the luckiest artists in the world – I worked with the cream of the world’s musicians, with gurus, writers, chiefs, criminals and many, many others in the jungle, the rainforest, slums, office blocks and sidewalks and I found out that the more diversity I explored, the more unity really was revealed underneath.
There is a massive Unity you can experience with all people, and animals and the whole of reality by just being yourself.
Me: you mean by just giving up trying to be a better person?
Jamie: Yes – then you find that just being authentic creates a huge permission slip for everyone else to lighten up too. No clever techniques, in fact the opposite, just you being you is all that is required..
That’s the beauty of it. It’s very, very simple. It’s really quite ordinary.
Me: So here we are in 2014, and the world is looking like it’s in a pretty scary place with war looming, pollution, cruelty, drugs and big nations in collapse – what do you think about all that?
Jamie: We’re all on a path toward the darkness and the light. Including myself and everybody – when we get the wholeness of it, we get what we came to planet Earth for – to experience limitation – not just fluffy bunnies and oneness. When it’s all oneness there’s no challenge, no duality, no contest between the ego and the world, between ‘me’ and authority figures, ‘me’ and my wish for an end to violence, discrimination, animal cruelty… ‘me’ and my fat bum, ‘me’ and pizza or chocolate or booze.
This whole adventure is about experiencing the pull of opposites; the good, the bad and the ugly and finding your joy, your genius, your true expression in it all.
Here on the planet it’s all about that – you can find it in any shape; corruption, pollution, domestic violence, rape, war, factory farming, drug addiction, money crises, racism… everything! It’s all here, suffering, loneliness, competition, alienation, addiction, despair and grief. We’re all carrying a bucket of some of it and as long as we keep that bucket stashed away in our cloaks it’s going leap out and sabotage us somewhere. It’s going to make us mean and confused and weird.
I’m definitely not saying we need to fix any of it! But to lighten up and accept that we are all a mess and not hide. Intimacy is brave, hiding is the opposite. Intimacy is daring to be seen in more of it all, not just the appropriate nice bits.
Me: And what will we discover then?
Jamie: That everybody, in their humanity, when you treat them with love and respect, will bless you with the same.
Me: Do you do any yoga?
Jamie: Me? Well, I’d love to be more physical with what I do. I love Chi Gung, internal energy work, art. I can love myself not doing yoga too, but I think it’s all cool!
Me: Was there anything about your trip to the Festival last year that stayed with you? That changed your life in any way?
Jamie: Yeah! I totally love the Balinese Kecak – totally mind-blowing! And I love the monkeys in Ubud. You know, seeing a monkey makes me feel the way other people feel when they see whales [laughs]… weird, isn’t it?
Me: And I was just wondering, since I’ve got two minutes left, what you think about aliens? Do you think they’re real?
Jamie: YES! I’m glad you asked me that. It used to be that people didn’t take you seriously if you believed in aliens and UFOs and all that: now people think you’re an idiot if you don’t! Me, I can by-pass the need for proof and just say that it feels right – something is definitely going on and I think 2012 was a date set by other evolved species as the time to check in about whether we were ready on Earth for help with evolution. I’m certain of it.
Me: So do you think that’s a scary thing then?
Jamie: [laughs very loudly] When a paradigm shifts there are always people who freak out, get afraid and project their fears and shadows on the changes – let’s not be surprised by the obvious anymore! To be honest, I’m way more horrified about what human beings do to animals on Earth than by what nasty aliens may or may not be doing. We are so F**** Up! about animals it is a deep, deep horror for me – factory farming, animal testing, using parts of their bodies for health products, what the hell happens between childhood, when we adore animals, to adulthood when we do stuff to them you couldn’t handle in a horror film?
Me: Yes, I feel it too… you’re a vegetarian for this reason, right? But how do you cope with your anger about what’s going on?
Jamie: I accept that too, I embrace it and make a space for it. My urge to be compassionate here is included in my experience (but it will be a cold day in hell before I give up eggs and cheese) – I give love to my horror over it, my choice to be vegetarian and the world as it is.
Me: So you’re saying it really does boil down to love, then? I mean, I love… love – don’t get me wrong – but sometimes I just feel so … exhausted when people come up with that line.
Jamie: Haha!! Just turn up and be the twisted freak that you are!