From Depression To Discovering My Life Purpose

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After getting through depression a year ago after a break up, I had lost my purpose.  I had hit rock bottom, so it was time to rebuild myself. I faced going back to a full time corporate job as I knew I needed stability, even though I knew it was not right for me.

This time last year, the vision of what would become Xstatic Sunsets was not even in my head.  I would have never imagined I would be on TV talking about Australia’s largest sober dance party I was launching on Shark Island!

Today I feel the happiest I think I have ever been.  Having discovered a mission and a purpose that aligns my passions and strengths with a business that can have a positive impact on people and society.  I have discovered new meaning in my life and a new better view of myself. Never could I have imagined this as I woke in those dark days having lost faith in myself.

Realising my true potential after holding myself back my whole life is like an awakening into my true self.  As the man who was born into this world with a unique set of skills and super powers. Not held back by childhood experiences which made him feel stupid and the need to conform and please others.  

Further to my last post sharing my journey getting out of the darkness, here is my story from depression to finding my true purpose with Xstatic Sunsets.  I hope it provides some inspiration. As no matter how low you feel, these feelings will not last forever. There is always light at the end of the tunnel and this light can be brighter than you could have ever imagined.  

1 year ago…

It February 2018 I was finally regaining my strength and feeling happier, my intentions were set on doing what served me. Being conscious of what raised my vibration versus leaving me feeling anxious and depressed.  

With a full time corporate role lined up to provide the stability I was needing, I had a month up my sleeve, so bought a ticket to the Bali Spirit Festival to reconnect with myself followed by a 2 week trip to NZ with a good friend.  I knew I needed some time away.

At the Bali Spirit Festival doing yoga, breath work, dance workshops and meditation every day really helped me to release the pent up emotions and to move to a place of gratitude for everything I have in my life. Not to mention the beautiful surroundings of rice paddies and the interesting people I was meeting from around the world.  It was like medicine.

Dancing for hours every night at the main stage of the festival with great bands and DJ’s, I tapped into something I had not fully appreciated before.  I experienced an elevated ecstatic high, just from dancing… to the point I felt like I was flying!!

As I moved and grooved to the beat of the music and connected with new friends this high was sustained, leaving me feeling at peace at the end of the night.  Going to bed at 1am and getting up 7am for another day of workshops I repeated this for days in a row. I felt great!! My vibration had been raised to a new level.   

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The natural high achieved through dancing was an epiphany.  As this high was better than anything I had experienced before, not only in how great I felt, but also how I was left feeling.

After the festival, dancing on the beach at sunset on Gili Air with my good friend Nez behind the decks, I saw most people preferred the comfort of their beach cushion and smartphone while sipping cocktails.  Couples were together but not talking. It occured to me how people are afraid to express themselves and how their inhibitions hold them back. And also how disconnected we we have become with the distraction of our screens and social media.

Realising a problem I could solve

As I danced my way into a natural high feeling elated with my new positive mindset, I had a VISION!  I realised the problem and saw an opportunity for me to solve it.

I realised why no one experienced the natural high.  Every venue serves alcohol and because of habit and the drinking culture everyone drinks. Alcohol helps us lose our inhibitions, but it's a depressant and does not help you dance better, putting your focus on the bar rather than the dancefloor. I recognised drugs are part of the party culture creating a habit and dependency which can be hard to break.  How else do you stay awake when parties start late and go all night?

I reflected on my own dependency on alcohol in the past and how I often took substances to let go and have fun.  But then there was the hangover and a downer that follows. I could see how addiction is inevitable when people chase the same high, needing it as an escape.  The more you take the more you need to get the same high as your body adapts.

But why are people trying to escape? Clearly this was because of the challenges people face in life.  The party culture evolved as a means to escape. We are human after all. Life is challenging - we need a way to let our hair down.

But what if partying could still be an escape but actually improve your mental health at the same time?  What if everyone could experience this natural high? I wondered if I was the only one to get so high from dancing?  

Coming back to Australia I started exploring the various sober dance events available in the conscious community.  At every event I was able to get high naturally which I really enjoyed! Was I getting addicted? :) While some of these sober dance events were not always at the coolest venues or have the best sound, the energy that was whipped up on the dance floor was like nothing I had experienced.   It’s like everyone’s natural energies were circulating and vibing off each other. I could look into people’s eyes and see the joy as we connected.

In contrast I found myself at an electronic music festival where the music, sound and environment was incredible. I have so much respect for how festival organisers keep raising the bar with the decor and sound. It was a beautiful sunny afternoon in nature and walked into a dance floor of mostly youngsters under 30 yrs old. They all looked ‘high’ probably on MDMA or Ketamine (or both).   I observed no one was really expressing themselves and letting go or connecting. It was like there was a sense of waiting for something to happen. Waiting for the drugs to work? But I did get lots of attention in my colourful outfit leading to brief connections, but never a real conversation.

As I started meeting more people who loved to dance and enjoyed the natural high, I realised I was not alone.  In fact I continued to meet many people of all ages to who enjoyed it. People told me stories of getting to highly elevated states almost like a trance.  In one case an orgasm!

On further research I learned the natural high could be explained by science.  Expressive movement, music and connection on a dancefloor can enable the release of a whole bunch of happy chemicals from the brain.  

Endorphins made sense to me as I am used to getting the runners high.  But just like with MDMA, serotonin and dopamine can also be released but in a more gradual way. In addition Oxytocin can also be released if we are on a loved up dance floor.  Just like when you get a good hug!

From vision to reality

As I sat in traffic driving to my corporate job in Chatswood - I was left thinking there must be a better way.  I was sucking it up and enjoying the stability, but deep down I did not feel fulfilled. The vision I first got in Bali like a flash of light, continued to manifest in my mind.  

I reflected on my passion for organising parties and all the experience I had gained running parties with Sunset Island.   I had developed a great network of dance floor legends and all the contacts I needed to pull off amazing parties.

I realised the challenge.  I just needed to create a spectacular dance party so good people simply lose themselves in the music.  An environment where there is no fear of judgement and everyone is sober. Where no one it thinking about a drink or taking drugs, as no else is and it’s simple not accessible.  I enjoyed pondering on the elements that would create the ultimate dance party, reflecting on the amazing sunset parties we had created at Burning seed.

After 4 months in my new corporate job, as I arrived to work one day I was called into a room with my boss and head of HR.  Unexpectedly, they were letting me go. They said “Jasper you trying to do too much, too quickly”. I was running Australia’s biggest ecommerce conference and as I saw so much opportunity to transform the event I could not help being vocal with my ideas.  Clearly this put noses out of joint and was not towing the corporate line. Was this the right environment for me?

As they walked me from the office, I had this wonderful sense of relief. Like I had just dodged a bullet which was going to hold me back from what I truly deserve.   As I drove home that day, I just said ‘fuck it’ - I am going to do this! After years of business ideas never executed I realised it was time to step up without fear.  It was time - to just do it.

While this was the moment of decision, it was many supportive conversations with friends about my vision over the preceding months that crystalised my vision to something I had to do.   I could see the potential to make people happier and healthier through organising epic sober dance parties and I knew I had the skills, experience and network to make it happen. It quite simply became my mission….something I owed the world.  Something if I didn't do it, I would be letting myself down, as well as society at large.

A day party running into sunset made complete sense, having seen the blissful sunset experiences we created at Burning Seed.  The collective appreciation of sunset brings us together at this magical time of day in presence and gratitude.

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Realising the challenge for people to dance sober was losing their inhibitions, I knew dressing up was the key element to allow people to express themselves, act up and let rip on the dancefloor.  

But what about the theme?   I reflected on how everyone loved those classic dance tunes when they came on not matter how cool the party or crowd was.  Watching the Queen documentary, I had newly formed appreciation for music in the past. A musical journey from the 60’s to the present provided such a great opportunity to play the best music of all time!

And the venue?  I was looking for an amazing nature location with a great view of sunset.  I could not go past the vision for Shark Island. Little did I know how challenging it would be to get it over the line with National Parks!  Or how costly it would end up to be. But I knew we needed an iconic location and a dance party experience that would blow people away, both to launch our brand and capture footage of a party which would attract more people into the sober dance scene.

And I needed my partner in fun to make it all happen!  I knew from the beginning there was only one man who had the breadth of skills to compliment mine and the shared passion to make it happen.  I was so pleased when Steve Peacock, my long time friend jumped on board as I knew we could do this. A multi talented creative human who worked professionally in event coordination with the mind for detail which I don’t.  I don’t think you can underestimate the importance of the right business partner. I owned the sales and marketing to sell tickets, while Steve would look after the event execution.

From the point of making the commitment to making it happen the whole thing seemed to manifest it self.  Everyone I would meet was engaged with the mission as they were aware of the mental health problem and how the getting-wasted party culture does not serve people.  People were inspired by the vision and offered support and help. It was so humbling to get so much support and encouragement.


Final reflections

Quite simply I could not have done this without my friends.  It was my friends who were there to talk when I was getting through the depression.  It was my friends who were the sounding boards as I crystalised my vision. And it been my friends who are contributing and helping out in ways they can to make Xstatic Sunsets a success.  Everyone wants it to be a success for the benefit of everyone, as they believe in the purpose and potential for positive change.

It’s our friends and the community around us that helps us get through the challenging times and provides the support and inspiration to reach our dreams.   We all play a role in inspiring each other and playing a part in enabling each others dreams.

Only when we are truly aligned to something we believe in, that aligns with our passion and our super powers can we go forth and create something which can change the world.  And I believe this is when we experience complete fulfillment and happiness. When our work can create waves around the world to help others. Turn away from the fear and be inspired by the impact you can have.

A year on from going through depression, I realise it was needed for me face up to what I needed to change.  This forced me to focus on changing habits that better served me. After a bit of experimentation, I am now a one alcoholic drink on special occasions sort of guy and everything else I may have enjoyed is extremely moderated.  I realised I am the best version of myself sober.

And that’s our message with Xstatic Sunsets.  Do what makes you happier and healthier. We simply want to remind people how much fun they can have sober with the goal to inspire a level of moderation that serves them.