S3 E10. The Story of Human: Inner Work for Outer Healing with Remi Olajoyegbe

[00:00:00] Section: Podcast introduction

[00:00:00] Anna Stoecklein: Welcome to Season 3 of The Story of Woman. I'm your host, Anna Stoecklein.

[00:00:05] Anna Stoecklein: From the intricacies of the economy and healthcare to the nuances of workplace bias and gender roles, each episode of this season features interviews with thought leaders who provide fresh perspectives on critical global issues, all through the female gaze.

[00:00:20] Anna Stoecklein: But this podcast isn't just about women's stories. It's about rewriting our collective story to be more inclusive, equitable, and effective in driving change. It's about changing the current story of mankind to the much more complete story of humankind.

[00:00:37] Section: Episode introduction ​

[00:00:38] Anna Stoecklein: Hello, and welcome back to what is technically the final episode of this season. But today's episode is a little bit different. So before we get into it, I wanted to give you a quick background...

[00:00:58] Anna Stoecklein: So, over the past [00:01:00] year, year and a half, I've been thinking a lot about what humanity and the world most need at this very critical moment in our existence, and while we undoubtedly need feminism, the Black Lives Matter movement, movements for disability rights, LGBTQIA, and all the other movements that we have, it strikes me that we don't have a movement for humanity since at the end of the day, all of these groups are essentially fighting for the same thing: equity among all people.

[00:01:34] Anna Stoecklein: And I know why that is feminism and all of these movements are absolutely crucial because they work to repair the very real broken and inequitable systems that we currently live in, and they support the people that are most impacted by these systems, even though of course, we're all impacted.

[00:01:54] Anna Stoecklein: So we need this work and these movements, without a doubt. However, in addition to [00:02:00] thinking that we should also have a movement for all of humanity, these movements are kind of first line defenders dealing with the symptoms of the problems, the symptoms being the broken structures and the biases and all of the things that we examine on this podcast.

[00:02:16] Anna Stoecklein: But what about the root cause? Because at the end of the day, systems are run by people. So to change systems, people need to change. All of the solutions in the world won't solve our problems if the underlying hatred and fear that created these systems in the first place is still there. That's why, you know, while things have certainly improved for women over the centuries and decades, our problems have not gone away. They've just evolved to fit with the times. In a way, you know, the problems have just kind of been modernized.

[00:02:53] Anna Stoecklein: So we can keep working to repair and modernize our systems, but if people with their [00:03:00] fear and misunderstanding and their own suffering continue to operate these systems, the problems will just continue to modernize along with them.

[00:03:09] Anna Stoecklein: And there are many, many, many people much smarter than me who have been saying this sort of thing for a long time, that in order to heal the outer world, we first have to heal from within. As they say, change starts from within. So until we look at and address the suffering that exists within each and every one of us, we'll never heal ourselves and this planet.

[00:03:34] Anna Stoecklein: Not to mention, learning how to identify that suffering, understand it, and turn it into compassion will allow us to develop our own inner peace that will enable us to do all of this work much more effectively and prevent us from burning out, which is a big problem in this work.

[00:03:53] Anna Stoecklein: So, I have ideas for evolving The Story of Woman into The Story of [00:04:00] Human, and this evolution represents my own personal evolution that I've been on, and the evolution that I believe we all need to undergo to survive our current, uh, predicament. It's still activism, but activism that focuses on connecting with and healing yourself in order to heal the world, and really going to that root cause, as I mentioned.

[00:04:23] Anna Stoecklein: And there's so much more I could say as I've got big, big ideas for it, but I'll leave it there for the sake of time. If anyone wants to chat and learn more, please send me a message. All my contact links are in the show notes. I'm on the lookout for sponsors or supporters to help me bring this big idea to life and without which I'm not sure that it ever will be able to come to life, uh, only time will tell. So if anyone has ideas or connections, I'd be very, very happy to tell you more.

[00:04:54] Anna Stoecklein: So today's conversation is a very small glimpse into what this new podcast would [00:05:00] explore, speaking with people and looking at practices that can help us form deeper connections with ourselves and with others so that we can address that root cause and finally heal.

[00:05:12] Anna Stoecklein: Today I'm speaking with Remi Olajoyegbe, a systemic coach who looks at systems and helps mostly female leaders transform how they show up in the world.

[00:05:23] Anna Stoecklein: She focuses on compassionate leadership and making an impact. She's also the founder of a retreat space called Isumataq Retreats, which is a space for women to dive into their inner knowing and wisdom, explore it unapologetically and integrate it into their lives.

[00:05:39] Anna Stoecklein: And she's the co founder of Medicine festival, which is mainly what we'll be talking about today. It's an incredible and very important gathering I had the fortune of attending this past year, which you'll hear all about very shortly.

[00:05:54] Anna Stoecklein: You can hear more about Remi in the bonus Patreon episode where she dives into her background [00:06:00] and how she arrived to where she is today. There is 15 minutes of bonus content available because Remi and I had a lot to talk about.

[00:06:09] Anna Stoecklein: In the conversation that you'll hear now, we dive into what it means to connect in more meaningful ways with ourselves and with others, why this inner work is needed in order to heal ourselves, the systems that we're living in, and ultimately the planet, how Medicine festival can help with all of that, and so much more.

[00:06:29] Anna Stoecklein: Whew, that was a long one today. Uh, thanks for sticking around. As mentioned, please do get in touch if you have any ideas, connections, thoughts, or just want to hear more about this new idea. But for now, please enjoy my conversation with Remi Olajoyegbe.

[00:06:48] Section: Episode interview

[00:06:49] Anna Stoecklein: hi, Remi. Welcome. And thank you so much for being here today.

[00:06:53] Remi Olajoyegbe: Hi, Anna. Hi. Thank you very much for having me. It's an absolute pleasure to be here.

[00:06:58] Anna Stoecklein: Yeah, the pleasure is [00:07:00] all mine. I'm really excited to chat with you about Medicine, this wonderful festival that you co founded. Tell us what is medicine festival. And since you are one of the co founders, let's go back to the beginning a little bit and talk about why it was started and what's its purpose. Yeah,

[00:07:22] Remi Olajoyegbe: I think what happened at the beginning was that a group of us, I would say, change makers, solutionaries, visionaries, and sort of galvanized our thinking around this central question: how can we be the medicine for people and planet at this time? And I think it was a time where the world was really receptive to this sort of gathering emerging.

[00:07:59] Remi Olajoyegbe: [00:08:00] What I would say is that Medicine is a movement and a platform where these like minded individuals in the initial stage really mobilized around this common purpose. And wanted to create, craft, curate an opening, a platform, an opportunity where we could have an ability to physically and virtually connect, to better our relationship with nature, to better our relationship with our communities, to better our relationship with ourselves, and to extend that vision out to the global community and the planet.

[00:08:40] Remi Olajoyegbe: And I often say that Medicine Festival is not a festival. It's a gathering. We use this format of the festival to bring together groups of people, you know, to bind and connect them in ties that transcend family or [00:09:00] village or town and, as a result engender very deep feelings of belonging to a larger community and that central purpose is about taking care, taking care of the land, taking care of each other, taking care of our communities, taking care of society, taking care of aspects and elements of ourselves that really remain often unattended to because of the busy lives that we lead and because of the, you know, just inability to find the spaciousness, to connect more deeply, to these internal spaces and inquiries.

[00:09:39] Remi Olajoyegbe: But I would say that through the lens of what's very central to our purpose, through the lens of indigenous communities, we have created a container um, and that allows people to really deepen into [00:10:00] some of these are inquiries and their relationship with the natural world.

[00:10:06] Remi Olajoyegbe: And I think that's what really fuels and weaves us is that you know, in a time where there's such a huge identity crisis, and it's sometimes hard to bring about change, because we feel so separated and so isolated, this is an opportunity for us to do our work at all of those levels, inner and outer, and to bring about change as a collective, where we are asking questions around and about what needs to change and how can we bring about change within ourselves and beyond ourselves, you know, so that we're not careering into the next human disaster.

[00:10:45] Remi Olajoyegbe: Um, Does that answer your question?

[00:10:50] Anna Stoecklein: Absolutely. I mean, I know it's, it's so much to summarize, right? It's a movement, it's a gathering, it's a journey, it's a platform, [00:11:00] it works on inner and outer work, you know, it just, it really does so much, but I feel like, yeah, at the heart of it, is this coming back to our wisdom that we have, especially through indigenous wisdom keepers and using this culture and this knowledge to, like you say, both heal ourselves and the planet.

[00:11:26] Anna Stoecklein: There's this common thread of inner and outer work, because you really can't have the first one, you can't heal the planet without healing ourselves kind of individuals and as a collective. So it's it's definitely a lot. I think it was a great summary.

[00:11:42] Anna Stoecklein: I want to ask a follow up why indigenous culture and wisdom specifically, because just to read a little, two sentences here from the website, you know, about the purpose of medicine, it's to or one of the purposes, I should say, "to support indigenous communities around the world who protect and preserve a [00:12:00] large amount of the world's biodiversity, to preserve and protect their cultures, share their generous healing and inspire people to come in connection with the natural world and themselves by example."

[00:12:11] Anna Stoecklein: So yeah, I guess I'm wondering, rather than just coming together to talk about different ways we can preserve biodiversity and deal with the mental health crisis that we're all undergoing, why is the focus on indigenous culture and wisdoms to address those two problems?

[00:12:31] Remi Olajoyegbe: That's a great question. Yeah, I suppose I would start by saying that we see indigenous culture really embody some very simple principles. yOu know, certain indigenous cultures, certain indigenous leaders that we talk to and are influenced and guided by, understand that we are nature. We're not separate from it, right you know, we are of the earth [00:13:00] as opposed to from the earth.

[00:13:02] Anna Stoecklein: Mm.

[00:13:03] Remi Olajoyegbe: I remember Matt McCartney once saying, and it's stuck with me, since, we were once all an earth honoring people. And that is why one of the reasons, there are many reasons and I'll try and be succinct, but that's one of the reasons that preserving indigenous culture and honoring indigenous culture is one of our central, guiding principles or guiding lights.

[00:13:31] Remi Olajoyegbe: These communities represent guardianship and custodianship of the biodiversity in the natural world. That relationship with the natural world is a system and a way of being that, you know, I think it's wouldn't be unfair to argue we have lost our way in the Western world.

[00:13:53] Anna Stoecklein: Mm Mm.

[00:13:56] Remi Olajoyegbe: We live in an extractive, consumerist [00:14:00] culture that amplifies the distortions and the separations that we feel from the natural world such that, you know, we are not always even conscious of how an animal is slaughtered and how it ends up on our table.

[00:14:14] Remi Olajoyegbe: I'm not criticising meat eaters, I eat meat. I'm just saying as an example, we are not potentially even conscious of how you know we might cut down trees because as a dominant species, we need to get somewhere. Right. So we don't even think about the impact that that might have on our ecosystems and our environments.

[00:14:31] Remi Olajoyegbe: That level of removal and separation is something that is rife in our culture. And so one of the reasons, one of the teachings that really comes through from indigenous communities that we work with is their relationship with the land, their relationship with the earth and how that is honored and preserved through mythologies and stories and narrative and language and how much power that holds because it really helps us [00:15:00] reconnect with the wisdom of this extraordinary, flourishing, diverse planet that we live on and that we call our home.

[00:15:09] Remi Olajoyegbe: And I think our sense of removal, because of our separation within ourselves really makes it increasingly challenging, of course, to hold within our consciousness some of the impacts of our actions on the world that we live in.

[00:15:26] Remi Olajoyegbe: So I think that's one of the reasons that they are very important. And as I've mentioned, you know, being custodians of the land, of the earth. And being able to witness how that transpires in terms of respectful practice and mindful practice is really inspiring because it helps us remember where we need to return to.

[00:15:57] Remi Olajoyegbe: So it's really critical for us that we [00:16:00] work with these wisdom carriers. And, not just wisdom carriers from far flung lands, but wisdom carriers from this land, too. And the way that we enable that is through these practices, these rituals, these songs, these ceremonies, which allow people to drop in and have a lived embodied experience of that, rather than, you know, feeling removed, feeling separated, reading something in a book, not quite being able to connect.

[00:16:28] Remi Olajoyegbe: And so we're really trying to create this container for that magic to flourish within and for people to find something of their choosing that really resonates with them, that can kind of guide them back, that can guide us all back, can guide us all home.

[00:16:44] Anna Stoecklein: That's beautiful. And yeah, that's a great way of putting it as well. It's going to be a very different experience when you're living and embodying and coming face to face and hearing talks and connecting with other people, you know, in person over all of [00:17:00] these versus just reading about it in a book or however else that information.

[00:17:06] Anna Stoecklein: But yeah, and that's lots and lots and lots of reasons. And then just to add one more on top of that, I mean, you mentioned, yeah, they're the custodians of our planet and I've had Hindu Umaru Ibrahim on the podcast before she's an indigenous environmentalist from Chad. And she said on the podcast how indigenous people are around five to six percent of the world population, yet, they protect 80 percent of the world's biodiversity. So if everything that Remi said it was not enough just that fact alone, that they are protecting 80 percent of the world's biodiversity is yeah, testament enough.

[00:17:47] Anna Stoecklein: So I think it's just really incredible what you all are doing It was a really really unique experience to be at this gathering and not just learning about the environment and connecting with each other [00:18:00] from you know the types of people we can always hear from but from these ancient wisdom keepers, I like that term as well. It's a really really unique and beautiful space.

[00:18:09] Remi Olajoyegbe: Thank you Anna, I'm so glad you came and immersed yourself and, and really have your own perspective on what it is that we're trying to bring.

[00:18:17] Remi Olajoyegbe: And I also, you know, it's such an important statistic to think about that Indigenous communities, what they hold on our behalf, and to present a or create a platform where we can not just keep extracting from their generosity and their healing, but also, you know, give thanks, raise funds for, do things that can help their journeys, because they're subjected to an awful lot because of this extractive consumerist culture that we live on because we don't know the provenance of things, I mean, if you think about everything that we eat, everything that we wear, every car part that is necessary for the cars that we drive, every road that is crafted, [00:19:00] every house that is built, every single thing, right, is a natural material, is of the earth.

[00:19:05] Remi Olajoyegbe: And yet, how many of us, think about that day to day? It's hard to think about it because we've got lots of other things to be thinking about and managing. But if we can, we, and our intention is to create that container, that space where we can drop for four or five days, you know that the to do lists and the habits, all of the things that consume us and make that space create that spaciousness for people to start engaging through content through talk, through sound, through dance, through song, through prayer.

[00:19:42] Remi Olajoyegbe: Something happens within us where we start to remember and feel grateful and understand gratitude and service to be part of what we are as humans, as human beings, to be part of our offering back. And so, for [00:20:00] those that are doing that on our behalf, these indigenous communities, you know, profound thanks.

[00:20:06] Remi Olajoyegbe: It's wonderful that people can have an opportunity to meet with and be in the presence of these humans that are doing so much work on so many of our bars, right? And also start to remember perhaps what our contributions might be in that regard. And so all of that is happening within this gathering.

[00:20:29] Remi Olajoyegbe: And we are certainly doing our very best to ensure that people are remembering their own, you know, through these experiences, you're getting to connect with your own special medicine, your own offering, because we all have such riches to bring when we are able to open up to them, to look at them, to heal parts of ourselves that have maybe distracted us from even seeing them.

[00:20:52] Anna Stoecklein: Yeah, I like that, starting to remember, andwe have this innate wisdom in ourselves, kind of an intuition [00:21:00] about maybe what's best for us in the world that we often don't listen to because we overwrite it with our thinking brain, but also this innate wisdom that stems back generations and generations that feed into everything that you're talking about here and allowing that to come to the surface through these different modalities, which I want to get into next actually, is how, how do, okay, so we show up at this festival, we understand the what, and a little bit of the why now, but how do we begin to remember and what does that look like at the festival? Can you just walk us through some of the different components is what as an attendee we might find?

[00:21:41] Remi Olajoyegbe: Mmm. Oh my goodness. I mean, there's so much. I, I find it overwhelming. But there's certainly something for everyone. I think what's important to share is that this is an in real life opportunity, right?

[00:21:56] Remi Olajoyegbe: It's a physical opportunity for people to come [00:22:00] into connection with themselves and each other. We do continue to maintain that connection with our communities throughout the year online, encouraging that deepening and encouraging that expansion, but it's a physical opportunity.

[00:22:16] Remi Olajoyegbe: And so you arrive and you are immersed in a journey. This year, the festival is going to be the 14th and the 19th of August. So that gives you a good chunk of time, we actually don't even encourage day visitors because the immersion is really important. You know, to go through the process.

[00:22:36] Remi Olajoyegbe: And it is a process, it is a journey where you do emerge often feeling different. We want to make sure that we allow for time to do that. And so, you arrive and over the course of that five days, you get to choose what you do, whether that's movement workshops, listening to all [00:23:00] sorts of extraordinary and exquisite music, having really deep conversations or listening to really thought provoking dialogues and talks, there is an opportunity for you to immerse, for you to immerse and have fun, for you to immerse and crack open, for you to immerse and be really stimulated.

[00:23:22] Remi Olajoyegbe: And so our intention, our endeavor is to create a safe container within which you are held and whatever occurs for you as a result of who you're interacting with is in a space that's safe and held which is why one of the reasons we were very clear and intentional around not having alcohol but I won't go into that just yet.

[00:23:45] Remi Olajoyegbe: What occurs in that container is almost like a kind of chaos magic in that we can't dictate, you know, your experience Anna or someone else's, but we know that through balance and a beautifully [00:24:00] curated journey, you are safely held to seek your own journey, and your own journey to unfold and your own connections to unfold. And there is always ritual and ceremony being held, so that you can find places to really deeply explore what's coming up and going on for you.

[00:24:24] Remi Olajoyegbe: I mean, we've got over 16 areas, I think, now, which, have phenomenal talks, tents, you can listen to anything and everything from decolonization and racial activism to soil health and regeneration to, women's empowerment and womb health. It's a very expansive program.

[00:24:46] Remi Olajoyegbe: And what I would say is that the way that the space, the way that the land is curated is incredibly intentional. It's the offerings of the workshops and the music and [00:25:00] dialogues and the inquiries and the talks, but also the land itself.

[00:25:05] Remi Olajoyegbe: Every little detail is really thought through and curated so that if you're having a very deep reflective moment by the sacred fire every evening you can go and be with music that allows you to just drop into a very deep, meditative ceremonial space, versus if you want something that's a lot more active, you'll probably go to main stage in the evening and find, again, something super embodied, but a lot more lively and energetic because you want to move and actually you want to move because you've had a strong experience in the day you might have been sat in a tobacco ceremony and had profound moment of insight or healing or teaching and, you know, you need to really embody that.

[00:25:50] Remi Olajoyegbe: And so the spaces are curated and devoted to the mind and the body and the soul that we can allow [00:26:00] within the container, holding of all of those aspects of ourselves, as well as allowing that liminal, chaotic energy to also be present, knowing that you're safe and that you're held.

[00:26:13] Anna Stoecklein: Yeah, that is such a wonderful way to encompass all of it because once again, a lot to go over and describe. I mean, 16 areas that, Remi is talking about, 16 physical spaces on this massive property of land. I mean, the area is just so large and in every one of these areas almost every hour of the day you have something different.

[00:26:37] Anna Stoecklein: So exactly as you're saying, this is what I found and everyone I, I spoke to found is that, everybody's experiences different and curated to themselves as they wish it to be. And you can go from doing yoga and breath work in the morning to talk about storytelling and then maybe a workshop on play and embracing your inner [00:27:00] child.

[00:27:00] Anna Stoecklein: And then you learn about psychedelics and then you do some forest bathing and then you end it in a beautiful jam session where people from all over the world are coming together and connecting through music. Because clearly music is a very integral part to the festival slash gathering. And that was one thing that really stuck out to me was just seeing, you know, talking about our interconnectedness, talking about connection with others is just seeing how people from all over the world were connecting in the most glorious ways because of music, it was just such a beautiful experience.

[00:27:36] Remi Olajoyegbe: Absolutely. It's a transmission as well. You know, it's a real form of very deep transmission. And so again, the music is very beautifully crafted and created. And this year we actually added a music temple because we've got these extraordinary musicians and world music, you know, every part of the globe and beautiful sacred music that we want people to be able to drop [00:28:00] into wherever they're at.

[00:28:01] Remi Olajoyegbe: And, thank you for that summary. I was just actually looking through the program just being like, wow, I mean, you know, in any one moment you could go to from Keridron's Cauldron where you're being schooled on the rise of the divine masculine to sexual embodiment work to men's work and the rites of passage to women's work and power of the womb to create and to craft and birth, not just children, but how women birth other things in our world and the importance of really understanding our ability and our capacity for such birthing beyond our children and how important that is to hear this, you know, so much.

[00:28:38] Remi Olajoyegbe: There's this history of magic. I mean, , and then you want, if you want to look at land, very particular, you know, there's tons on land, extraordinary talks on so many subjects, as I said, everything from our sleep to radical love, to altered states of the brain, as you said, psychedelics, spiritual complexities of transformation, I mean, it's full, it's [00:29:00] full.

[00:29:00] Anna Stoecklein: It is full indeed. And I think that can really start to paint the picture of how it's about inner work and outer work. So you're learning so much about what needs to be done in our external physical world, but also you have so many opportunities for inner connection and for sitting with yourself, seeing what comes up, connecting with other people, having talks about whatever it is that might contribute to inner work and healing. And then on top of that, you also have just connecting with other people and finding community. So I, I don't know if you want to talk to that point at all, you know, even beyond the workshops and the talks and the music, just finding a place where you feel like you belong and connecting with a community of people and kind of the power that that has.

[00:29:52] Remi Olajoyegbe: Mm. Mm. I mean, our deepest longing as humans is to belong, right? Our [00:30:00] deepest, you know, we go to great lengths. I mean, it's something that I look at in systemic work all the time is we go to great lengths to stay in systems, for good and for bad sometimes actually that enable that sense of belonging.

[00:30:14] Remi Olajoyegbe: When we feel that connection to tribe, something settles in the nervous system and yet, we live in such a global world now that the whole notion of connection and village the fact that actually, you know, how can we really truly be connected to so many people everywhere beyond that of a village, but yet we live in a world that dictates and demands that of us, you know.

[00:30:41] Remi Olajoyegbe: And of course there are many opportunities in life to be had being part of a global community and I'm sure many of us probably pride ourselves on being global citizens. And yet isolation, diassociation, disconnection has probably never been more prevalent. [00:31:00] And indeed, such levels of isolation, such levels of, you know, one of the key impacts on mental health is loneliness.

[00:31:09] Remi Olajoyegbe: If you just take it back a few years to the COVID years of how we all had to manage and, that sense of isolation and separation in a very real and very particular way. And so when you can create a space that feels expansive and interesting, but big enough that there is still an opportunity for you to find tribe, find connections with people around a common purpose of healing and growth and empowerment and love around these very deep principles of being in these environments that support self love and love beyond.

[00:31:54] Remi Olajoyegbe: It's heady stuff. It's often what we're looking for, right? This deeper sense of [00:32:00] loving connection. And because we live in such a global world, and it's harder to access, unless you are lucky enough to live in communities where there's great connection and dialogue. But, you know, for many people living in urban environments, they don't, we don't.

[00:32:17] Remi Olajoyegbe: And even within community, , this common purpose allows you to get stuck in in a way that perhaps you might feel more separation and more divide because you don't know you don't have the time to inquire whether you and your neighbor are both into the same thing and suddenly you're in an environment where you can pretty much assume that you'll be able to find somebody within a stone's throw that you can have a good conversation with, that you can go on a journey with that you can feel connected to.

[00:32:47] Remi Olajoyegbe: And as I said, we long to belong. We need it. And we really, that's one of our prayers for Medicine. I mean, you know, we hold this big prayer that people can feel this sense of [00:33:00] settling and belonging and healing, so that we can then go out into the world, refreshed, revitalized, regenerated, and do the same and take energy onwards.

[00:33:11] Remi Olajoyegbe: So yeah, this is a big piece. It's community.

[00:33:16] Anna Stoecklein: We long to belong. I love that. And I've thought about this before and I mean, we don't have time to get into why this is, but I just find the irony so painful that exactly as you say, our greatest desire is to belong, is to connect with other humans. And that means that every single person on this planet wants the exact same thing and it's mutually beneficial and yet, we have all of these barriers socially, culturally, structurally, that prevent us from doing that and like I said, it'd be a lot to dig into that right now but it's something that, you know, the irony of that just strikes me.

[00:33:57] Anna Stoecklein: But I think, yeah, community [00:34:00] and connection with others was a huge through line at medicine. And so was, and we've kind of alluded to this, you know, going into the festival and emerging slightly different, this kind of inner healing. And I think what a lot of that comes back to is connecting with yourself.

[00:34:16] Anna Stoecklein: So we've talked a lot about connecting with nature, understanding more where food materials, all of these things come from, tapping into indigenous wisdom. We've talked a lot about community and connecting with others. And then there's this third thread of connecting with yourself. And I just want to kind of go back to the basics for a minute, because I think, you know, lines like that can be thrown around.

[00:34:40] Anna Stoecklein: And people might not even like, what does that even mean kind of thing. So I just want to ask you, what do you think that means to connect with yourself? And then if there's anything you want to add about the challenge that we face in today's society in doing so, and ways that that can kind of be overcome at the [00:35:00] festival?

[00:35:01] Remi Olajoyegbe: Such a fine balance, isn't it? Because, you know, we need, we need to keep an eye on what's going on out there. And we don't want to be navel gazing so much that we miss what's going on out there. And yet, we also need to find ways to connect with self. And it's, that is a really, really good question.

[00:35:20] Remi Olajoyegbe: And as I sit here and I tune into that, I think about the neglected places, the untended places within ourselves that, that require our attention in order for us to serve others. We have to serve ourselves and those places require our attention, our service. It's important that those neglected untended two spots get some attention and that can be in the way of healing, self love, more mindfulness, more awareness, [00:36:00] but that connecting back to self, there's so much trauma that sits within the human system when we're so resilient, robust often, that we don't always find or have the capacity or even the tools actually to come back to places that need attention and yet when those places don't have the attention then we find they, they play out in some way or another.

[00:36:28] Remi Olajoyegbe: And So being in an environment that enables you to deepen into, to tend to what is, what really is, you know, those unspoken realms, those unspoken places within us that can often be driving forces if we're not aware or not careful.

[00:36:49] Remi Olajoyegbe: I think that for me is a very important part of connecting to self, connecting back in to see, you know, what do I need? It's such a hard question sometimes you ask [00:37:00] somebody, what do you need? It draws a blank. Because we're not sure. We don't know what we need. We're not even sure that we've ever been shown how to think about that, you know.

[00:37:10] Remi Olajoyegbe: We can often say, What do we want? And, you know, what we want can sometimes be, you know, I think that's often what can fuel this consumerist society that we live in, where we amass more stuff because we think that we want that and that's going to make us feel better. But actually what we're seeking is something that helps us feel, and enabling that feeling, I think comes through an understanding of our needs where we can articulate, articulate them in a nonviolent way.

[00:37:39] Remi Olajoyegbe: Often when we're articulating our needs in a violent way, it's because they're unattended and we don't have the language. We don't know how to express them. And of course, when we're doing that to another, that's, you know, potentially problematic, look, just, you know, we can relate to that as individiuals, you and I talking right now, or, you know, the global stage that we see, [00:38:00] witnessing horrific, human behaviors as a result of these unexpressed needs and inabilities to speak our truth. And so I think, yeah, for me it is that attending to those places within ourselves that are neglected, that are not feeling heard, that are not able to reflect and speak our truth because we've had experiences in our life that haven't allowed us to do so or, have been even more extreme than that. And, you know, the extremities of things that we humans go through is real.

[00:38:39] Remi Olajoyegbe: And so, of course, we need have that in balance and keep that in balance, but I really see when I walk around at Medicine, people are tuning into parts of themselves, and are moved to do so. And, as I said earlier, sometimes [00:39:00] we need the immersive space where we can keep the list of to dos and distractions and all of the chatter of the mind that stops us often doing what we actually really need because it's sometimes too painful, to be able to, to go there in a safe environment. Yeah. Does that answer your question, Anna?

[00:39:22] Anna Stoecklein: Absolutely, in so many ways, and there's so many points I want to talk back to in response, but I'll just say, you know, I'm really glad that you brought up the parts about how these neglected areas, how when we're not connecting with ourselves can be the driving forces. Because I think that a lot of times, you know, in the work of any type of movement, we look at the outside, you know, we look at the outer work that needs to be done.

[00:39:48] Anna Stoecklein: Which, which is important, obviously the, the systems, the planet, the people that we need to connect and come together with, but we are not always talking about the [00:40:00] inner work that needs to be done in order for that outer healing to happen. Because if that's not taking place, you know, that's what's exactly you say, the driving forces of everything else.

[00:40:10] Anna Stoecklein: So that is kind of the foundation, I think, of all work that needs to happen to heal ourselves and to heal the planet is that inner work and connection with ourselves, but for a multitude of reasons again that we won't have time to get into, it's it's not easy.

[00:40:29] Anna Stoecklein: But the last point that I'll just make is I think a lot of that connecting with yourself comes back to that innate knowing, you know, kind of being still and listening to your body and what comes up.

[00:40:43] Anna Stoecklein: And we've kind of, we lose sight of this ability to listen and trust ourselves in a way that isn't coming just from our brain and intellectually kind of understanding and making decisions for ourselves, but connecting with ourselves...

[00:40:59] Remi Olajoyegbe: [00:41:00] Absolutely, you know, I'm sure you've heard of the book, the Body Keeps a Score, all this deep knowing wisdom, trauma patterns, all of that which is stored in the flesh and bones that, you know, we also need to find ways to tap into and unearth because it's innately wise. And the nature of mind is such that whilst it can be utterly brilliant, it can be massively distracting. So yeah. Wow. What a fine balancing act it is just to be alive and be a human and be, you know, constantly trying to find ways to balance and contend with that push pull, the polarities of both.

[00:41:48] Anna Stoecklein: Absolutely. So it's really great, you know, Medicine really, really focuses on all three of these connections with the planet, with each other and, with ourselves and you need all three of that to [00:42:00] make any progress for our own healing and for healing the world. So

[00:42:04] Anna Stoecklein: so on that note I want to ask this directly again we can probably start to assume and deduce but you talked in the beginning about one of the founding questions was how can we be the medicine, and certainly throughout the festival while I was there there was a phrase I heard thrown around quite a bit, which was We Are The Medicine So, how would you answer that question? What does that mean? We Are The Medicine.

[00:42:30] Remi Olajoyegbe: Think it speaks to the power of the collective to create solutions like we're all solutionaries. When I hear you say it back to me, it just makes me smile. We are the medicine. I, you know, it's interesting what takes form in each festival and I think that phrase is a statement of the collective sense of empowerment that we have the power within ourselves to heal to collectively heal, to heal ourselves, to heal our [00:43:00] planet, to make that choice.

[00:43:02] Remi Olajoyegbe: I feel like it's a statement of collective, well, it's almost like the sovereign statement speaking to the collective, you know, we are sovereign individuals with an ability to come together, and find solutions to be the medicine that we need rather than to be given the medicine.

[00:43:19] Remi Olajoyegbe: It's just like, you know, it makes indigenous communities and what they do well in their medicine cultures is they're not separate from the medicine and those within the culture, it's slightly different to our Western model of I'm the patient and you're the doctor and I have the solution and I'm giving it to you.

[00:43:38] Remi Olajoyegbe: To me, what emerges from that We Are The Medicine is this collective recognition of our ability to make change, to make solutions, within and without, you know.

[00:43:51] Anna Stoecklein: I love that. Yeah. We're not given the medicine, we are the medicine. And I certainly felt that, you know, you mentioned [00:44:00] that at Medicine you kind of can come in in one state of mind and leave in a completely different one or you said something along those lines. And that was, that was my experience.

[00:44:09] Anna Stoecklein: You know, I actually, I arrived at Medicine feeling quite sad. I noticed when one of the first workshops, I had this sadness inside of me and I wasn't exactly sure why, but that's what, came up for me. And like you said, Medicine is a space, a container that is safe for whatever it is that comes up. And I certainly felt that way, but of course, you know, didn't love that I was feeling sad on the first day, but that's how it was.

[00:44:35] Anna Stoecklein: And by the time the last day came around, I actually had a workshop in the exact same room that my first workshop was in that first day that I was noticing this sadness in me and I noticed this time around I felt this deep joy in my body that was such a stark difference to the beginning and that phrase We Are The Medicine just [00:45:00] became even more poignant because everything that you're saying about we are the medicine for the planet and the earth and each other, but also, yeah, we're the medicine for ourselves, when we are able to connect with ourselves on that deeper level and connect with others, because you know, yes, there was dancing and learning and other things, but at the core of what my experience was those three days, it was I was given a space to connect with myself and others.

[00:45:29] Anna Stoecklein: And I transformed, you know, my mindset changed completely within three days time. So I felt like I had taken the medicine. Well, I guess I hadn't taken, I had, I was the medicine and everyone around me was the medicine as well. And I. Yeah. Yeah. I felt that so strongly.

[00:45:47] Remi Olajoyegbe: The solution, right?

[00:45:48] Anna Stoecklein: Mmm. Yeah, exactly.

[00:45:51] Remi Olajoyegbe: Hmm.

[00:45:52] Anna Stoecklein: Okay. So then, lastly, I just wanted to also ask about diversity and inclusion. You know, obviously we've talked about including [00:46:00] indigenous wisdom keepers and ensuring representation there. But I know part of your role and really medicine as a whole is really ensuring there's diverse people that are both running the workshops and talks, but also in attendance of the festival. So can you kind of talk to us about the importance of that and perhaps how you ensure that that happens?

[00:46:21] Remi Olajoyegbe: Yes, thank you. I am, the only Black female on the founding council and there are only three women on our organising team. And so, it is a really important point. I think in terms of diversity inclusion, there's a lot to say here, but this year, for those that haven't come to the festival, we had a beautiful new space called the Ubuntu space.

[00:46:52] Remi Olajoyegbe: Ubuntu means "I am because we are", it's an African principle, it was curated by, a wonderful[00:47:00] curator called Muti Mustafari, who curated that space and it was incredibly important and meaningful for us to have that space this year, I think I would say a few things, you know, you can't be what you can't see.

[00:47:19] Remi Olajoyegbe: And so in a festival space and scene that is predominantly white, it's been really important for us to recognize and reclaim the narrative around Black excellence and people of color who hold so many keys to extraordinary practices that we look to for our healing and that have been typically underrepresented, in terms of holding these spaces.

[00:47:51] Remi Olajoyegbe: And so, Ubuntu was a space where more of these ancestral voices, I would say for diaspora traditions [00:48:00] started to coalesce and congregate. And I think it is incredibly important. You're absolutely right that is it's one of my roles and it's a hat that I probably don't speak to because I wear it so unconsciously in a way, but it's so important that we continue to explore those narratives to decolonize, I guess, the process of, or even the industry of wellness, and that more individuals bring more of their excellence to this well being space.

[00:48:34] Remi Olajoyegbe: And I know that there were, you know, some extraordinary things that happened in that space, from storytelling to self defense to an Afrofuturist ceremony, to you know, just talking about the traditional spiritualities of people from diaspora communities.

[00:48:53] Remi Olajoyegbe: And I think critical for us to express our contributions [00:49:00] to this sacred truth within this container that we're holding, right? We're living in a time where, you know, the diversity of people means that we need the diversity of approaches and philosophies and wisdoms. And so that is very consciously something that we hold and that we continue to weave in more deeply in every aspect of the festival. But it takes time because we're changing a model that has been inherently one way, you know, for a very long period of time. And so it's really important that communities feel represented, or increasingly, I should say, represented at Medicine Festival and feel increasingly like they want to bring and share some of the magic.

[00:49:51] Remi Olajoyegbe: I mean, I myself am, half Indian, so both my parents are dead, but my mother was from Assam, northeast India, tea country, and I'm half West [00:50:00] African, Nigeria, and so I've just come back actually, two weeks ago from West Africa, and you know, I'm deeply connected to the old Ifa tradition and Yoruba ways and the Orishas that are from that land, which underpin so much of the medicine culture in Brazil, because of course the West African slaves took the Orishas, these are the deities, and were, I suppose in some ways they were hidden, but actually they were included and enmeshed within the spiritual medicine cultures in Brazil.

[00:50:35] Remi Olajoyegbe: And so, you know, it's really important that we recognize the cost actually of access that we have been given to some of these extraordinary healing histories and cultures and traditions. And that's why having a platform to not only receive them, but to honor them is critical to what we do at Medicine.

[00:50:57] Remi Olajoyegbe: And more spaces will [00:51:00] grow and evolve. So that they feel sustainable and welcoming to people of colour and their wisdom, traditions and sharings and excellence. And that feels really beautiful and important because that is happening. Of course, I and the entire council will want that to happen more, but we are really stepping into this space as consciously and as sensitively as possible.

[00:51:29] Remi Olajoyegbe: I did a panel that was really beautiful during the festival, just talking about, you know, decolonization and racial activism and what that meant, and we don't have time to go into that, but from a personal perspective, you know, it was really beautiful and deep that these conversations are happening and they, they need to continue to happen because there's a lot...

[00:51:53] Remi Olajoyegbe: I mean, that doesn't even cut it, you know, the, the level of processing that needs to happen, and inclusion and integration of some of [00:52:00] these conversations and narratives as well as the practices and modalities is huge. And so we're making some ways into that and, you know, pray that that really continues.

[00:52:12] Anna Stoecklein: Yeah. Amazing. Ubuntu village was one of my personal favorite areas, uh, this year. So I was thrilled to see that and that's such a such important work that you all are doing in your role specifically and thank you for sharing all of that.

[00:52:29] Remi Olajoyegbe: Mmm.

[00:52:30] Remi Olajoyegbe: Yeah and alsoYou know, we're a CIC, so that's not for profit. It's a community interest company. So any profits that we make, we offer to indigenous communities that are protecting the biosphere. We don't sell alcohol, so we don't make profit margins on the sort of things that normal gatherings and festivals do, you know, we are not for profit, so whilst we might look like that, it's not an operation that has been focused on the financials, it's about getting the [00:53:00] energetics right, and that requires an awful lot of dedication and sacrifice, actually,

[00:53:05] Remi Olajoyegbe: curation.

[00:53:06] Remi Olajoyegbe: It would be absolutely impossible without that collective human spirit coming together to do this work. We're really, really, really blessed.

[00:53:15] Anna Stoecklein: amazing and just my two cents on, not to get us off track, but the no alcohol there in case that's scaring anyone off I mean, honestly, I think that was, I talked with a lot of people about this. It's like the whole energy of the place was just so much higher without having alcohol that adds this, you know, filter to everyone and the whole energy of the place.

[00:53:45] Anna Stoecklein: So I think it was, it was such a beautiful experience to be in this environment around all of these people soberly. So I was a big fan of that decision personally.

[00:53:55] Remi Olajoyegbe: Oh, I'm so, so glad to hear it. You know, we really had to go [00:54:00] through a process of decision making and we could not compromise the energetics of the festival above the financial income, right? You know, many festivals and I'm not, anti alcohol.

[00:54:12] Remi Olajoyegbe: I'm just saying that many festivals rely on this revenue. And so we needed to be super intentional about the energetics and actually if we were really offering sacred spaces and held spaces, we could not have alcohol. People would not feel held and safe knowing that they you know, that there was alcohol at large because our ability to have that self responsibility is impaired significantly, whether you want drinks or not, we know that.

[00:54:43] Remi Olajoyegbe: And so to go inwards, you know, and to really connect in the ways that we've just been discussing for this last hour would, would be near on impossible.

[00:54:52] Remi Olajoyegbe: And the other thing to say is that, you know, and of course different festivals have different vibes and they're all great, and people might be out in another festival [00:55:00] drinking and taking drugs and that might be their way of escaping.

[00:55:05] Remi Olajoyegbe: But the opposite is true for what we're trying to do. We're saying don't escape actually, don't escape from self, don't escape from these places. Let's have a little looky here, dig a little bit deeper, you know, it's okay to do that. It's safe to do that. And so, alcohol was just an absolute no, no, within the context of this festival. And we could not invite wisdom keepers from around the world to bring their prayers and their sacred work into a space knowing that there would be alcohol there. So we chose to not compromise for the financial benefits, the energetics won out for us.

[00:55:41] Remi Olajoyegbe: And yeah, we all know that was absolutely the right decision. And the community reiterates that time and time again, that the, the vibes and the feeling and the type of relating, and the type of immersion that's possible is really possible because of that key, very key [00:56:00] decision. So I'm pretty, I'm proud of that actually.

[00:56:02] Anna Stoecklein: I think you should be. And I love that, too, that it's the opposite of escaping. Yeah, you kind of unplug a little bit from your day to day world, perhaps, but it's not escapism. And that's, I think that's a really key distinction to make. It's the opposite of that. So thanks for bringing that up.

[00:56:19] Anna Stoecklein: Oh, right. So then just some questions to bring us home to wrap here, even though I could talk to you all day about all of this, but if listeners haven't come up with their own reasons already, why do you think anyone listening should consider going next year?

[00:56:36] Remi Olajoyegbe: I think anybody that gets to a point in life where they, and you know, gosh, we can come up against this question, but it's a question that I really feel in my work that arises in many humans: is that it? Is this it? I think if anyone can't answer that question, they should come. Because there's always more.

[00:56:54] Remi Olajoyegbe: It's being in an environment that really encourages us [00:57:00] to be curious and look more deeply as to how we might answer that question. Sometimes we hit points in life where, beyond the day to day, it's hard to make sense of what else might be out there for us. Whether that's in relation to another human or, you know, community or our professional careers.

[00:57:22] Remi Olajoyegbe: But I think these spaces allow you to unpack and inquire in a way that, as you've just described, and actually smiling ear to ear hearing about how you emerged feeling that different after three days of immersion. We all need a reboot, right? In order for us to be our best selves. We hear that phrase all the time.

[00:57:46] Remi Olajoyegbe: Be your best self, you know. Bring your whole self to work. I mean, what does that even mean, right? If we don't even know in our long lives how to refresh, how to regenerate, how to restock [00:58:00] ourselves. And I think if you're curious about how you might do that, and what you've been doing hasn't been working for you, you should come.

[00:58:07] Remi Olajoyegbe: There really is something there for everyone.

[00:58:09] Anna Stoecklein: Absolutely. I couldn't agree more. And I think, there's something just really important I think as well that just came up for me while you were talking about just putting yourself in new and different situations. So even if you don't know exactly what you're searching for or what Medicine festival could even offer you or whatever, if it's still a little murky, just putting yourself in new and different situations and exploring those, seeing what comes up, being curious and being open is just such an amazing quality and trait to have, and will help move you in the direction that you want to move in life, even if you don't know what direction that is.

[00:58:48] Remi Olajoyegbe: Exactly. The answer lies within, right? You just need the space to look for it.

[00:58:52] Anna Stoecklein: Mm. Yes. Yes.

[00:58:56] Anna Stoecklein: If people take one thing away from this [00:59:00] conversation with you today, what would you want it to be?

[00:59:03] Remi Olajoyegbe: Oh my goodness, I mean, I, guess it would be something around, yeah, what aspect of your self do you need to remember, do you need to give space to and what riches might lie in there, what medicine might be so beneficial to yourself and others if you were to give it the space. How, how might you get there? What one thing might you do that allows you to connect into either that space of your own healing or just a greater awareness around your contribution, you know, it's something that you often hear, you know, people say, God, I feel so strongly about X or Y, but I don't know what to do about it.

[00:59:48] Remi Olajoyegbe: And so I guess if that's you, I would love people to take away invitation to come and join us and to do whatever is right for you, whether that's to, [01:00:00] you know, you don't have to be out there saving the world. You might come and spend the entire time looking within and really deepening and then emerge feeling like, actually, I, this is the direction I, or this, I've now connected with people that can help me feel like I'm making a difference or a contribution in the world that feels right and good for me, that connects me with my medicine. Sorry, this is a very long winded answer to say, yeah, takeaway, my takeaway would be to invite you to join us, because you're curious about yourself and your own healing, and you're curious about the contribution you want to make.

[01:00:34] Anna Stoecklein: I love that. And that answer could be as long as you'd like it to be. So it was, it was a perfect length. And is there anything else that you'd like to say or talk about that we haven't covered before we wrap?

[01:00:47] Remi Olajoyegbe: I mean, I could talk to you all day. It's lovely. you know, this is a thing get a passionate person on a soapbox and you could have a four hour podcast. So, I mean, there are, so but I also, I tell you, the one thing I will say is [01:01:00] it's also a lot of fun. You know, it's not just all deep process work,

[01:01:05] Anna Stoecklein: Yes.

[01:01:05] Remi Olajoyegbe: Like, do you know what do I really want? It's, it's also fun, you know, because there's just a level of freedom of expression that's happening that is infectious and gorgeous and beautiful and the music is exquisite.

[01:01:18] Remi Olajoyegbe: And so it does not have to be, you know, it's as deep a dive as you want it to be, but it's a lot of fun and yeah, I'm just reminded of a friend of mine that sometimes says, you know, God, sometimes we do some deep work and you might be in a ceremonial context, you're sort of really doing some deep work, but actually joy is really important.

[01:01:36] Remi Olajoyegbe: You know, we have to find ways to really connect with and remember, what are we doing and why are we doing it? And where is the joy in it? And there's a lot of joy. There's a lot of joy in seeing people, you know, you could walk past two people who are deep in conversation and floods of tears and another two will just be rolling around laughing and And again, those opposites are so true and so important within us [01:02:00] and around us. And so I would just say that, yeah, that would be my final point, which is, the invitation is there and joy is there too. Joy and fun is there too.

[01:02:10] Anna Stoecklein: Yes. What an excellent point to end on and I second, third and fourth that lots and lots of joy, is there as well. So thank you for that. Thank you for your time. Thank you for your work. It has been such a pleasure and I could have gone on all day as well. So maybe, maybe again one day in the future.

[01:02:31] Remi Olajoyegbe: Well, thank you. Thank you very, very much. And, um, yeah, delicious, delightful to talk to you and I'll send you all my contact info just in case people want it.

[01:02:40] Anna Stoecklein: Yep. And I'll put all of that in the show notes. So thank you again, Remi.

[01:02:45] Remi Olajoyegbe: Great, thank you Anna.

[01:02:47] Section: Outro

[01:02:47] Anna Stoecklein: Thanks for listening. The Story of Woman is a one woman operation run by me, Anna Stoecklein. So if you enjoy listening and want to help me on this mission of adding woman's perspective to mankind's story, [01:03:00] be sure to share with a friend. One mention goes a long way. Hit that subscribe button so you never miss an episode and make sure to rate and review the podcast while you're there.

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Remi Olajoyegbe
Remi Olajoyegbe
Co-founder of Medicine festival