At 28, Karen Ruimy began a spiritual journey that would change her life. Born in Morocco and raised in Paris, where she became a very successful investment banker, Karen left her career to study and become a spiritual writer and professional dancer.
But to say this career change slowed down Karen’s life is an understatement. The mother of three now lives between London, Paris, Morrocco and the US, practices yoga and flamenco every day (and was one of James Duigan’s first clients). Karen has a gender equality charity with Mariella Forstrup, is a published author and was this month featured in Psychologies in an interview with close friend Eva Longoria.
We spoke with Karen about what triggered her shift to greater self awareness, a holistic approach to wellbeing, the power of creative expression, and ZIK’R – her internationally acclaimed flamenco show being performed in London on Friday 21st November.
Karen, at what moment in your life did you feel a real shift occurring?
After working in Finance for 8 years, I suddenly felt that I was very bored and uninterested. At 28, I felt in me an inner call saying ‘now it’s time for you to understand what is going on in your life – because something is not right.’
From that moment, everything became more focused on wellbeing, from spirituality to everything I was eating, everything I was doing for my body, my health, my spirit and my mind. I realised that none of these things were separate.
How did you realise that inseparability?
I had a very intense spiritual journey where this inner call was impossible to ignore. It takes a long time to understand, but after a while, you learn that everything is interlinked.
I started to write. I became a published author and began running workshops in Paris and in America.
After a while I decided that it was time for me to express myself through dance. So at 35 I became a professional flamenco dancer and singer, producing and performing in shows around the world.
I’m very happy people are now trying to understand that there is no way you can have a happy life if you’re not aligning everything in yourself to wellbeing. What is important though is that each one of us is unique, with a certain recipe.
Do you think you learn this kind of self-awareness?
Yes, I learnt it through my journey. If you are in harmony spiritually, you are in harmony with your body. The body is always showing you what’s wrong in yourself.
If you are connected to your inner being and expressing it – then your body will tell you what it needs. It means knowing the difference between the ego and your soul, and how to clear yourself of negative energy to embrace the positive aspects of life.
How does this link with the food you eat?
You need to find the right food that is the right fuel for your body, rather than filling it with toxins. Just like bad emotion is toxic to your body, so is bad food.
It doesn’t mean that I’m perfect, but it does mean that I know when I’m eating too much sugar. I’m not obsessed – since that is just another way to create drama. It’s not easy to create a balance; you must still enjoy life.
Having given up your career in Finance to pursue your passion for dance and spiritual writing, how do you think your job influences your wellbeing?
I think a lot has changed since I was a child. I think that the consciousness of how our work shapes our wellbeing has shifted and parents now are paying much more attention to the creativity of their children – which is a big gift. People are becoming more daring about the job they choose because it is important to enjoy what you do.
What does your typical day look like?
My day always starts the same way. The first two hours I must have alone *laughs*… I wake up, usually by my children who say hello. Then I do my yoga.
I take a bath, have breakfast and do my meditation and writing. This is how my day starts every day.
When I don’t have a show, I do three dance classes per week – 2 hours each. On the days that I don’t dance, I go to the gym by myself, which I feel is a time of meditation. It is part of my life and when I can’t exercise I feel very strange in my skin.
The expression of my creativity is through dance, so there is no way I can escape the wellbeing of my body. As long as my body is in good shape – I can express myself.
Why is meditation an important part of your routine?
It connects me with a higher source in order to receive energy and to give energy back. When I am able to connect myself, it is heaven…
What does wellbeing mean to you?
Wellbeing is where the body has been trained in any kind of movement… even just walking… your mind is peaceful, you have good food; fresh and right for you, and you can meditate once a day to connect with the universe. Most importantly to connect all of these things – you must be able to express your creativity. That is wellbeing to me.
Your show ZIK’R is being performed in London on the Friday, 21st. Can you tell us a little more about it?
The show incorporates the Sufi spirit and follows the journey of the gypsy from India to Spain. It is reflective of the journey of the soul. The story follows the ancient musical narrative of flamenco’s journey southwards with dance and music. On stage we are 3 dancers and 9 musicians and singers! It really is beautiful.
ZIK’R returns to London on Friday 21st November to the Union Chapel, Islington after a sell-out London premier at Lilian Baylis Studio, Sadler’s Wells earlier this summer. The official trailer can be seen here.