Specialising in live events, including the only spirituality un-conference in collaboration with lululemon athletica, 1-2-1 coaching, and original online content, #HigherSelfie empowerS digital natives waking up to the cosmic alarm clock, via the proposition ‘Life ThRU the Spiritual Lens’.
Jo Westwood AKA ‘The Spirit DJ’ breaks down spiritual concepts better than the Beastie Boys break beats! Hailing from Nottingham, not New York, she remixes ethereal, deep, spiritual concepts to make them accessible, practical and relatable to help the digital generation be more present, peaceful and connected in this manic modern world.
Do you want to ditch frustration, procrastination, anxiety, overwhelm and confusion for happiness, confidence, clarity, energy and ease?
Sure you do.
Meet Jo Westwood.
Firstly, tell all, exactly how exciting has this past year been?
In hindsight it has been wild, but you don’t realise when you’re in the midst of it! And honestly it’s all felt really natural and normal – and I don’t say that to minimize everything that has happened or to be big headed and like “Yeah of course we totally expected all this awesome to happen!” rather that it’s made us realize that we really are doing what we’re meant to be doing. And obviously it’s pretty cool when running #HigherSelfie, writing and promoting a book, speaking in front of a few hundred peeps, talking to journalists and helping hot young things transform their lives through coaching is your day job!
How has your own personal journey influenced your work and life choices?
Personally I’ve had a few different careers – some that I enjoyed, others that I didn’t – and all my life experiences have helped me to know that what I’m doing now is what I’ll be doing forever in some shape or form. Also coming from a coal mining town where “spiritual life coach and author” is not a normal career option keeps me real and grounded, and it’s also given me a pretty killer work ethic and a certain toughness. Not in the way that I’m guarded or mean or harsh! LOL! But in the way that I don’t get knocked easily or put off by what some people might perceive as failures, rejections or underwhelming reactions. I feel my feelings but I try always to be moving forward and looking for the opportunities and wins in work and life.
What are the key challenges you see facing people today when they want to switch from feeling frustrated and stuck, to feeling energized and fulfilled?
Of course everyone has their own story and their own stuff going on, but the most common thread that I see running through the lives, especially of the younger generations, is that we live life on autopilot. We go to school, go to uni, get some debt, get a job to try to pay off the debt, we sleepwalk through dating, find a partner who seems like a good fit, say yes to all the social events, don’t think too much about our health and what feels good to us and we follow a path that we think has been laid for us, so it would be foolish no to. On a daily level we get up, check our phones before we check in with our own bodies, we turn on the news, we get on public transport and again we sleepwalk through our working day and feel exhausted at the end of it and have no idea why. Then we self medicate with food, booze, drugs, love, cigarettes, Netflix or whatever. So that sounds like a pretty damning conclusion of modern life, I know! But the common thread is that we rush through our precious time on Earth totally unconscious, ironically thinking that if we took just a minute to breathe, check in with ourselves, meditate, pray, take a bath or get present that we’d get less done, we’d be less productive or useful or successful. The truth of course is that taking a cosmic audit of your life and getting refocused on your truth, your passion, and what feels good to you, in health, career and relationships, actually creates the kind of energy and fulfillment that feels like true success.
What approach do you take to helping others find happiness?
We work on two levels – the spiritual and the practical, and we start from the top – that is to say whatever is top of mind for our client. So what’s the thing that is driving you craziest right now, what’s the thing that made you say “I need coaching!” Then we work down through the layers to find out what’s underneath that and help our client to unpick those pieces and also make connections between seemingly unrelated stuff – because the thing, is never the thing! We’re holistic beings and as much as we try kid ourselves that we can compartmentalise stuff, feeling crappy in one area of our life is bound to affect – or be the effect – of something else. Then we offer spiritual and practical solutions – because we get that you still gotta pay the rent! – to help our clients move forward in the way that feels best for them and their desires.
Your book with the gorgeous Lucy Sheridan is out soon, what can we expect?
She is a babe ain’t she?! 😍 You can expect a modern manual for spiritual seekers – age old universal spiritual concepts broken down, explained and most importantly I think, applied to real 21st century life situations. I always say of course it’s easy to empty your mind and get present when you live in a Himalayan monastery surrounded by peace and silence, but the real challenge is to do it when you live in the modern world full of constant distractions and expectations with people and things always pushing your boundaries and invading your vibes! #HigherSelfie: Wake up your life. Free your soul. Find your tribe is the answer to that conundrum.
Your new #HigherSelfie site is AMAZING! It is clear A LOT of love went into it. Are you guys pleased?
Yes, we’re thrilled! We’re so excited to provide a platform for all the awesome voices out there who have something really worthy and helpful to share. Plus we’re attracting a pretty substantial global audience which is amazing to watch on our Google analytics! #geekingout!! But seriously we love seeing how many people want to connect with the pieces on the site, knowing that we are touching lives all over the world. Just a few days ago someone came up to me and told me that she’d recommended our Crystals section to a fried of hers who had been really struggling in his life. It wasn’t necessarily “his thing” but he was open to it. He read some of the posts and she bought him some rose quartz. He’s been working with it ever since and had gotten two job interviews and felt so much better. It truly warms my heart to know that our site hosted the article by the relatively new contributor who created it, and because of that someone’s life situation has improved.
You ran the first spiritual un-conference last year. Firstly, how awesome was it, and secondly, are you doing it all again this year? (please say yes!)
Firstly, yes! We do plan to do another this year, most likely in the autumn as our spring is pretty busy this year what with launching a book and a ton of other stuff (casual!) And secondly again, it felt super normal to us – in the same totally appreciative way we’ve experienced everything in the last year. It just felt like a “day at the office” should feel for us! But what is truly awesome are the enduring connections that are still being made and nurtured almost a year on. Nearly 12 months later people are still talking about it and crediting it with helping them to come out of the spiritual closet, bust through their fears of getting visible and public speaking, helping them to tell their story or just showing them that there is a tribe out there and they can connect with like minded souls. The friendships that were born on are so beautiful. The biggest compliments we got on the day were “I didn’t think I was spiritual before I came to this” and “I didn’t think I was spiritual enough to come to an event like this but I felt really welcome”.
What key pieces of advice would you give to anyone wanting to (1) wake up their life, (2) free their soul and (3) find their tribe?
- Do a cosmic audit! Check in with how your daily life looks – your health, your work, your schedule, your relationships, your social commitments. What’s working for you? What’s not? What do you need to change to get in closer alignment with how you really want to live?
- Take a leap and speak your truth (sometime people say “speak your truth” and they mean be rude and have a rant on Facebook! LOL! I do not mean that!) Start sharing in a really easy casual way about what you’re passionate about. Take your vegan brownies into the office and chat with your workmates about your organic window boxes and plant based diet. Invite your cool auntie along to your crystal healing group or take your dad to a yoga class. Stop dividing your life into “woo” and “normal” and allow the different parts of yourself to blend out in the open – as they are natural blended inside of you.
- Don’t buy into the mystic myth that you’re the only “woo” in the village! If you don’t live in an area where there’s loads of spiritual stuff going on, be the initiator. Get on meetup.com and start an event or stick up a flyer in the local village hall or pub. You can start the fire but you don’t have to be the only one that tends it.
What does Holistic living mean to you?
It means living in alignment with what feels good to me. What feels good for my physical health, my emotional and spiritual health and my desire to create something meaningful through my work. If ever I feel off kilter in any of those areas it’s time to check in and recalibrate based on what makes me feel good.
What is your message to cynics, skeptics, and the intrigued?
If it feels good to you, like really truly good in your heart and soul – not like the temporary high of drugs on a night out or the release that too many glasses of wine give after a taxing week at work – but like down in your bones fulfilling and real, go with it. I’m not going to try and convince anyone that a “spiritual” way of life is the best and only way. For some people their fulfilling, energizing place of connection is running marathons. For some people it’s hanging out with their animals or singing in the choir. For some people it’s meditation and prayer and yoga and green juices. If it works, it works. Go with the flow of your own life and trust the experience. If your experience is “this makes me feel good” go with that instead of the ego based thoughts that tell you “this is weird / uncool / gross / too girly / too woo / doesn’t match my hipster image” or whatever! And for the spiritually intrigued, check out higherselfie.co or jowestwood.com and see if anything there floats your boat or takes your fancy. Reading a blog or two does not count as joining a spiritual cult, promise!
Finally, what are your top five tips for self-love?
- Listen to your body. If you’re tired, sleep. If you’re hungry, eat. If you feel heavy and full of toxins (big night anyone?!), cleanse. If you’re sore, take a rest day. Don’t battle your body, it’s the only place you have to live!
- Don’t be so hard on yourself. You’re closer to your own life situation that anyone else. You live with every emotion, success, failure and foible smushed up against your face 24/7 so everything feels waaaay worse and more magnified than it actually is to you. Take a breath and get some perspective before you go medieval on your own character.
- Laugh, dance, dick around! Allow yourself to let loose. Bust some LOL dance moves – if only when you’re alone in your kitchen! Tell the cheesy joke that’s on the tip of your tongue in that achingly cool hipster bar. Give someone a fake name and tell them you’re professional duck washer when you get chatted up at the bust stop. Have a laugh, don’t take yourself so seriously and enjoy life. It’s not permanent.
- Take your time. Apols for sounding like your dad RN, but Rome wasn’t built in a day, and neither was anything awesome. As long as you’re moving forward – and sometimes that totally looks and feels like taking two steps back as you learn or relearn something you need to – you’re going at exactly the right pace. Whether it’s pulling off a full crow pose in yoga, writing your book or figuring out what you really want to do in your career, steady and consistent really does win the race. One thing every day is 365 things in a year. 365 things you won’t get done if you spend all your time beating yourself up and running around in a blind panic stressing about how slowly things are moving.
- Love. Sprinkle that shit around like glitter. Love on yourself, love on your loved ones, love on the people who do your head in. Use loving thoughts, feeling and perspectives to help you grow compassion for the people you struggle to love. Life is so much nicer, not to mention, easier, more successful and more fun, when you experience it through love tinted glasses.