by Lisa Ball
I wanted to be a lawyer from a young age. Initially I was drawn in by the excitement and glamour of TV shows like Law & Order. I would passionately read the closing address I had prepared as lead prosecutor in a pretend court case to my grandfather. In true Ally McBeal style, wearing my mother’s heels and lipstick. Suffice to say I had clear ambitions from an early age!
I studied diligently at school, with steady vision of where I wanted to go. I’ve often wandered what it was that made me so sure I wanted to be a lawyer. I’d be lying if I said it didn’t have to a little to do with the prestige and perceived glamour. But it was much more than that. I had a deep desire to be of service. To give voice to the voiceless. To empower those people most disempowered in society.
After graduating high school I begun an Arts/Law degree at Monash University. While most people would describe their uni days as carefree and fun, I felt anxious about how competitive the legal world seemed. In first year someone told me that if I wanted to get offered Articles at a good firm I would need straight distinctions. Driven by a fear of failure, I worked hard. In my final year I secured Articles at a reputable mid tier firm.
Before starting my Articles I went to Europe for a few months. I found myself in Assisi, Italy, where I did a week long meditation retreat in the breathtaking Italian countryside. Although I come from a family where spirituality is part of daily life, I had never been that interested. On this retreat I connected to something I had not experienced before. I felt a profound sense of joy and peace that emanated from deep within me. It was different to anything I had experienced before because it was not dependent on external conditions. In the past I was happy because of something- a boy, a job, good marks. Up until this point I had lived my life completely at the whim of life’s circumstances. If the boy called, I was happy. If he broke up with me, I was sad. If I went well in exams I was happy, if I had an argument with my best friend I was sad. And so on. My sense of happiness and peace was completely dependent on my external circumstances. And as result I felt uneasy and insecure in myself and about life.
Upon returning to Melbourne I began my Articles. I also continued diving deeper into my meditation and yoga practice. These practices helped me to manage the demands of corporate life.
Although there were aspects to being a lawyer that I enjoyed, I increasingly began to question whether law was the path for me. I was finally ‘living my dream’ and yet I was constantly stressed, anxious and tired. I looked around and saw that although my peers also experienced these issues, the enjoyment of the work and legal culture outweighed the negatives.
Amidst the business of corporate life, I maintained a regular yoga and meditation practice. In my meditations I glimpsed moments of stillness. And in that sweet stillness I connected to a deep knowing that told me I was not on my soul’s true path. This was hard to acknowledge, as I’d spent the last 10 years feeling certain I was on the right path. I derived a sense of identity and purpose from being a lawyer. I had worked hard to get here. How could I give all this up? What would people think? Who would I be if I wasn’t a lawyer?
These questions overwhelmed me. For the next four years I tried my best to reconcile my spiritual path with the legal path. I tried big firm and small firm. I tried different areas of the law, hoping to find my niche. In my final year of practice I worked at the Children’s Court in the area of child protection. I also studied Family Mediation, desperately seeking a sense of fulfilment through my legal work.
Eventually, on the eve of my 30th birthday, the pain of living an inauthentic life became too great. I didn’t want to wake up when I was 40 or 50 and wish that I’d had the courage to make a change. I had no idea what I would do if I wasn’t a lawyer. All I knew was that the pain of living a life not true to my heart was far greater than the fear of the unknown. And so I dived into the unknown and quit my job.
I decided to go to Bali to complete a yoga teacher training. I wanted to further my own yoga practice and hoped that some time away would help clarify what I wanted to do next.
Soon I realised that sharing my passion for yoga with others was my deep heart’s longing. As soon as I completed my training I began teaching yoga in Bali. I lived there for almost 2 years, teaching yoga, leading retreats and sharing my passion for inspired and authentic living.
Recently I have returned to Melbourne where I continue to teach yoga and meditation, as well as lead retreats in Bali several times a year.
I see yoga and meditation as the way to balance the busyness of corporate life. My intention as a yoga teacher is to create a space for people to connect with the deep sense of inner joy and peace that has transformed my life.
Lisa is a former lawyer following a deep heart calling to teach yoga and share her passion or authentic living. She teaches yoga and meditation in Melbourne, Australia and leads retreats in Bali several times a year. Her full teaching schedule in Melbourne and Bali can be found on her website www.lisajulieball.com