The day I realised that my life was no longer mine was the day I sensed the floor opening up beneath me. And then suddenly feeling that I was suspended in a white void, I gripped on to my chair in panic. Waves of vertigo swept over me and I was certain I was going to fall. I was terrified. Though still aware of the executive meeting I was part of - I could see my director and our client discussing an important deal - their words lost any meaning for me. Everything happened in a lonely silence. I sat tight, desperate not to fall into the vast whiteness - hope against hope that my colleagues wouldn't notice anything strange about me.
At the time I was living in Paris and had a successful career in finance. I was one of the few female traders in the Bourse (the Paris Stock Exchange) and before I was 28 I'd been fast-tracked to the board of one of the most respected and high-profile stockbroker companies in France. I was living the life my parents had wished for me - and one that society, not just accepted, but considered aspirational. I was meeting people with the most extraordinary brains in the world of finance, eating at the best restaurants in Paris, entertaining our clients on beautiful business trips...isn't that the best life? It was for me for a few years. But then it had come to feel like a heavy duty. Everything had begun to feel forced. I knew that my overwhelming shock that day was a sign that something had to change.
I had always taken scientific subjects and had graduated from a top business school, so it was totally unexpected that in the days following my brush with the void, I found I was compelled to write. It was as if a force carried me to my kitchen table everyday and made me sit and write. And as the sound of birdsong flowed through the open window, daily meditation became a natural part of the process. My friends and family were horrified. My life had been focused on doing well in a brilliant business career. My upbringing and education had all been to that end. I'd achieved what I was supposed to achieve and had a good reputation to uphold. But I left my job and turned my back on the hectic high-life of finance and Parisienne society: I felt that the wind of change was blowing on me and nothing could resist it. All I had built for myself until then - everything - toppled like a house of cards.
I found that through writing about my experiences I would access a flow of wisdom that seemed to come to me from a source outside myself. I felt connected to an energy that was greater than my own. Everyday, in my writing and meditating I experienced this transcendence. Gradually I realised that I was in the process of discovering my true nature, which was very different to the personality that I had constructed - that we all construct as we grow up in this life - to deal with the demands of the world. And I smiled because I suddenly realised that when everything is meant to change, it changes and is helped to do so by this wind that I've learnt to call faith in life.
In the weeks and months that followed I understood that I was starting out on a spiritual path and discovered that this is not spooky or weird or grand: it is in fact the simple process of learning who you truly are. It is the path to your soul. Through my writing and meditating, I began to recognise habits and actions and default mechanisms that sprang from my personality but obscured my true nature. I saw that these aspects of myself were unnecessary energies that blocked my path and I learnt to clear them, developing tools and techniques to do this that worked for me.
Clearing the path to your true nature is the work of everyday: it's very easy to fall back into old unhelpful patterns and thought processes, and once you start, the transformation you set in process feels so good in your life that you never want to stop it. As you begin to recognise whom you truly are, which is a creative soul, you are set to live your life in tune with the authenticity of your self. Through writing I found the path where my life could resonate with my deep self: experiencing this made me understand the joy of being that comes from doing 'your thing' in life. It's a universal feeling, irreplaceable, like kissing your beloved. And when you experience this, you know you are not being led astray. You are on the right path. Life is about seeking that happiness that springs from being in agreement with your deep self.
Having been told that I could not write since I was a child, I became a published spiritual author. It transpired the words that had been pouring through me were helpful and inspiring to others. They weren't just for me! Discovering this I realised the true meaning of success. I understood that success for me did not lie in the life I'd had before. My life changed completely and my writing became central to it. I began leading workshops in France and the US to help others on the way to understanding their true nature.
The discoveries about 'self' did not stop there. I felt an extreme call to become the dancer-performer I had never allowed,nor trusted myself, to be. During my upbringing in Morocco and France, I'd been told music and dance were 'just hobbies' for me. I believed this until I felt my soul urging me to express myself through music and dance. And so at the unlikely age of 38, I created and performed Flamenco shows in Paris and London. I feel really blessed to have found and expressed my authentic gifts that I believe belong to my soul. And I've had the chance to make records with some wonderful musicians and producers, including the late Phil Ramone. My latest show, ZIK'R, which explores the roots of Flamenco on its journey from India through North Africa and into Spain, has played in Jodhpur in India, in Marrakech and in London. The show will be touring the UK in Spring 2015.
Life is a search for your self. It is a never-ending process of finding the true expression of your soul and unlocking the joy of your true being. When you are on the path to the discovery of your soul, you will uncover and unleash your creative self. And that is the gift of the path. As you start to live the life of your authentic self, that is where you thrive in your life, where you enjoy life to the full and where you truly connect with others.
In this blog I'm going to share with you what I've discovered helps us to clear away the clutter blocking our path to our soul, so that we can recognise the unique gifts that each one of us has in our deep self: because I know that when we're living in tune with our authentic self we can create the life of our dreams.
ZIK'R is at the Union Chapel on November 21st. Tickets cost £22.50 (plus booking fee). Please visit http://store.unionchapel.org.uk/events/21-nov-14-zikr-union-chapel/