This is my story…
by Cat Duval
What I love most is bringing people together and helping them feel more authentic and confident in themselves, laughing, moving and studying happiness as my profession.
I’ve been blessed with an almost unrelenting lust for life, a loving family, deep long lasting friendships and I have lived and worked all over the world. I grew up in Hackney, back pre hipsters and pre-gentrification, and that was a total blessing too as I developed my idea of who was ‘like me’ in amongst one of the most multicultural cities of the world – leading in no small way to my perception of ‘us’ being ‘all one’ as the spiritual gurus may put it. We then moved to Sussex and country living became the thing before I discovered the creative Brighton vibe and frankly never looked back!
Fast forward an incredible college experience in Brighton where I made friends I still have 24 years later and a redbrick university course in Geography and Development which fed my thirst for travel, diving and conservation. I travelled extensively for 2 stints of 2 years and eventually I came back home and wanted to be close to family and even create one for myself. Although that part has not yet manifested, I have created a thriving yoga business and life around me, with Acroyoga, music and stand up paddle boarding as central to my lifestyle. There are certainly worse ways to live.
I was an active kid with an amazing group of friends in London as a child, I stopped pronouncing the T’s in butter and so we moved to the country – there everything changed. My parents marriage broke down and finally they split in my final year of GCSE’s – we all celebrated though as it was totally the right thing – and now both are happily re-married in later life and living the dream with their respective partners’ in their own ways – one living the buzz of London town and the other escaping Brexit by way of emigrating to the Pyrennes. Happy days. Authenticity is king.
Being a city kid in the countryside meant I was different and the bullying inside school led me to shut off there and seek friendships outside school. I escaped to my local village theatre club and immersed myself in comedy improv and world of the theatre. In school I was a shy mute waiting for the moment I could hit the grades and escape the system. Outside school I expressed myself as a carefree rebel girl that’s unf***withable. I was fortunate enough to have a very well socially adjusted family and a healthy dose of bravado aka ego to protect me which made for a fantastic survival kit at the time! Little did I know about thriving on a soul level til years later!
When we lived with my ill Grannie, I remember my Mum calling upstairs “Get down here now and stop doing your homework!”. Hiding behind work was a very effective coping strategy for life’s ups and downs, still is – and one that is rewarded in our money and career-driven society. I have always sought work I love though so I can work all day happily. Boredom is the biggest numbing agent in our society aside from alcohol and substance abuse and shopping and so instead I’ve always bought my clothes in ‘vintage’ shops and sought to keep my senses alive and kicking either by being outdoors or doing something that scares me as often as possible. I’ve led a vibrant career path – a decade in the music and events industry, community arts and youth work for another 5 years, yoga came along to revolutionise my life in 2002 and personal development has been my professional path since 2009. All the gems that have helped me I wish to share, as often as possible. I’ve got some of my own theories and other trends I’ve noticed in running workshops and programmes with upwards of 25,000 people over the last decade around the UK, Europe and Scandinavia. Hopefully, some of it will be of some use to you.
My Moment of Truth
Like all families we had our challenges and my moment of truth came when, after a family row, my sibling rejected me via email (no doubt through wanting big sis to stop being so loud and overbearing and carve their own path for a bit). This led to my looking over the balcony window 16 stories up in a way I shouldn’t in 2012, my world crumbled around me in that moment and everything I knew fell away. My sense of humour in the drama of the moment allowed me to sit the fuck down on the couch instead and a call with the good samaritans was well timed. Ha! At that moment in my life I had a choice: either continue to define myself through the eyes of others and implode, or define myself through my own eyes, to love who I am warts and all from the inside out.
This was the mark of the biggest shift of my life and the moment I think has changed the trajectory of my life forever. I suffered with a bout of anxiety and depression at that time, never diagnosed – but very real. And as I dragged my existence out of bed each day I became fascinated by the power of language, thought patterns and physical practice – yoga, meditation, acroyoga, running, swimming, diving, SUPing amongst others – to change how we manifest our lives from the inside out.
So yes, it was a brutal time, and a tough decision, but it has since revealed to me a happiness and ease within myself like never before.
The potency of our thoughts, words and deeds – how we can change the trajectory of things with one sentence. We can create magic and destroy it in a moment, any moment. So let’s be mindful of what we think, say and do and who we do it with.
Do not stay where you are tolerated, go where you are celebrated.
I decided not to chase anyone if they choose to walk away from me – and instead trust that life has something more aligned coming up soon. “Be real, be loving, be inspired” became my mantra. We all have ur own free will, and people walk out of your life for their own reasons, as long as we live by our values and try not to be a dick, then we’re gonna win more than we lose.
I decided instead of constantly trying to be strong for everyone else I began to notice who was showing up for me, and flowed with that more. I tapped into this feeling of flow in other ways too – I stopped battling to overcome my weaknesses so much and started to find apps that make it easier, partners who love my creative splurge and enjoy doing the bits I don’t like so I can focus on my strengths and invest time in what nourishes me and makes me feel alive. And hence I grew professionally which led to more travel opportunities and explorations, more authentic relationships and a loyal and inspiring team around me.
Trust is not built by being perfect, it is earned by being present.
Presence. So simple, yet possibly the most powerful thing in the world. But to be present we have to be comfortable for our imperfections to be seen. That’s the clincher. Being seen as imperfect – and being Ok with that. Woooah! Now that is some scary shizzle. But perfection is an illusion. This betterment of ourselves causes so much missed opportunity for depth: “Wait, not yet, I need to sort this out first. I’ll be ready when…” insert favourite insecurity of the moment here. Pfffft! It’s rubbish. It is presence that heals. Being with ourselves as we are. I’m not perfect and neither are you. And you know what, that is not just okay – that is totally awesome!
The relationships that last are the ones where we can just be where we are at and that’s okay. There is no cure to being human, and there doesn’t need to be. The perfection is in the imperfection. Noone needs to shrink, noone needs to compete. There is space for us all.
We just need to learn what space we need to breathe our own breath, in our own time.
Brené Brown says – we bond most deeply when we reveal our vulnerabilities. And as Natalie Taggart said – In our deepest pain, our greatest gift is born.
It seems for presence to be possible, there is a calling to cultivate a calm courage to be seen. A fearlessness that comes with an element of exposure. The risk of rejection, the power of owning it, being grounded enough to say – this is me. And with that a natural acceptance and love of one another flows freely. We can give space for one another to be, when we have space to be for ourselves.
And with that insight we can support our shadows with grace and humility, we can love deeply and be present powerfully. We can connect more authentically. We can use our energy not to show eachother up but to build eachother up. We can help eachother expand and grow in loving ways.
The simple act of being present through it all, sitting with discomfort when it comes and instead of ducking away, breathing through it, allowing it to pass, instead of engaging with the drama, see the joy of being alive beneath it all. In this way we can always choose a deeper understanding, and transform our deepest pain into a higher purpose.
So that is why I lay myself out here. There it is. No blame, just lessons learned. I have a great relationship again with my sibling now. My trans brother – an amazing inspiration to me in so many ways. We’ve got here after a number of years later – to a peaceful place again – by becoming mindfully present and honouring our different ways of being. My deepest transformational journey.
Passion and Purpose
Our deepest pain is the birthplace of our most powerful purpose
I developed a passion for cultivating connection between people. Partner yoga and acroyoga are my main tools but also NLP, mindfulness, visualisation, entrepreneurial coaching, neuroscience – there is always more to discover! I create embodied bonding experiences I guess, taking the initially novel experience of partner stretches and dive into the practice to a deeper level where people can relax and explore their consciousness together. Open the door to personal development for those who felt a bit alienated by the esoteric wafty stuff, but felt fundamental shifts in themselves through the practical embodied stuff.
I love working with men who are consciously curious, emotionally sensitive and switched on, as well as powerful dynamic women who are atypical and not conforming to the stereotypes of ‘what you’d expect a yogi to be like’ in a world where gender fluid means just be who you are. I love people who mindfully explore the polarity within themselves. What excites me is holding space and watching a new paradigm of gender equality evolve where men get to feel and women get to be powerful and everything in between has a place. So for that reason I am always pro integration and pro equal voice.
We are in that time now carving that path, we are discovering how our conscious choice impacts everything we are capable of, and underneath it all we must learn to love ourselves or else we can upset the balance in one clumsy flick of the wrist. It’s fascinating, being alive now. We get to discover all this newness, we have unravelled ‘toxic masculinity’ and ‘victimisation’ and called them what they are, #metoo took the lid off and now we are unpacking it all. So much support for female tech now, for women’s groups – it’s great. But also where is the conversation happening? In wellbeing, that’s where. In our industry we are tackling the healing of centuries of pain. No wonder we get distracted away from the practical business stuff, we are way too busy processing the depth of karmic pain and emotional blocks that go back lifetimes! We witness for so many (and ourselves) a crisis of confidence, and it’s up to us to seek the magic of opportunity. We are in the birthplace of a new way of being. And we get to explore unchartered territory and draw the maps for ourselves. Exciting times.
We are living in a material world
So to bring it back to earth. Staying on top of the practical stuff as we professionally deal with all the other dimensions of body, mind and consciousness – is vital to our success in this mission of making health and wellbeing integral to our lives.
The deep wisdom is no longer reserved for the monasteries meditating on mountaintops – it’s in our bodies and at our fingertips in apps in an age of information overload. We can spend 12 hours a day online by accident without moving for hours! It is our job to integrate healthy habits with ancient wisdom into modern life, live amongst it.
We get to translate it, so lets try not to dilute it into some generic vanilla spiritual bypassing – keep it potent and powerful. In some way we might even get to be revolutionaries, as yogi’s have always been – and that will piss some people off! Let’s have courage to be OK with that in the name of honouring our values. Navigating that is just part of the ride and so is mastering the business stuff, and doing it our way.
There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same.
There is a place for power and a place for peace and it is with a sense of purpose and the people who connect us that we make dreams happen.
It is our vision that steers our trajectory
Reality is shaped by our ability to see the evolution that is possible in every moment. Let’s take an active role in creating our vision. Let us be intentional in our days and where we give our attention. Let us choose a path that we believe in and not be swayed by perceived limitations. Limitations only exist in the mind. If you don’t choose your future, someone else will. Life is short. So we might as well give it everything we got. Lets make your dreams happen.
Release your mental blocks and find your flow.
Join your tribe
Get the support you have been looking for
Grow and thrive in 2019
If you resonate with that,
here are 5 ways I am in service to you right now.
12 weeks to transform your business mindset, demystify key aspects of running a successful, thriving business and bringing your purpose into balance with the practicalities. This 12 week course can be booked separately or drawing all 4 threads under one Complete Life Vision.
One off 1-2-1 coaching sessions that offer you personalised focussed attention to your challenge and help you gain clarity and direction in your next right steps. These are solutions focussed and can explore any aspect of your life or business that feels blocked right now.
Join an energised tribe of inspiring doers to empower eachother to grow, learn and thrive. Receive challenge and support with your blind spots and to evolve as an entrepreneur. Our Mastermind group meet every month and commit for 6 months at a time.
Embodied Goals Workshop
Get clear on your vision, mission and purpose and for the 9 key areas of wellbeing. Balance your business goals with your wellbeing from the inside out to truly embody the goals that align with how you choose to evolve as a person and bring it in balance with your whole life vision long term. This workshop enables you to create truly authentic goals.
Complete Life Vision
This combines all 4 threads together into a transformational 6 month programme. Clarify your complete life vision in alignment with your aspirations as a person. Step up to envision who you choose to be in your 9 areas of wellbeing from your character development to your health and fitness, your spiritual practice and your travel and learning goals. Give purpose to your priorities this year and dive into a community of people just like you.