So how has 2020 been for you, Jonny?
It’s been a really challenging year for everyone and far more so for others than me I am sure, but the pandemic has stopped many of us in our tracks and left us with no option but to become more acquainted with where we are right now and how we have constructed ourselves. This always reveals limitations and brings up difficult experiences, but facing them and resolving them on a deep level is what transforms our worlds.
What’s helped you get through?
With everything, we all need support and we all need to uncover passion and opportunity. Family, friends, movement and exploration – be it mental, physical or emotional – have been really important.
How do you generally look after yourself day to day?
Looking after myself is about recognising the powerful impact of stress and allowing myself to follow passion and excitement instead. This is all about accepting, about gratitude and about fully engaging in whatever arises right here and now. Whether it be exercise, doing tasks or connecting with people, the key is about giving to it fully and letting go of the need for it to be a certain way.
Is there anything else you do to look after your mental health?
Mental health for me is the catalyst for turning inwards and exploring myself rather than trying to control everything outside of me. This change in direction has completely revolutionised my world and the way I experience life. It all comes down to realising that I know nothing. Once I let go of my ideas about myself and life, then I can begin to experience them as they truly are. The same goes for my back stories and ideas of others.
What do you do to stay in shape physically?
I eat well and take time to appreciate what I am eating. I move a lot, I try to sleep a good amount and, most importantly, I really focus on grounding myself in restfulness throughout the day. Without this grounding, everything becomes about stress and survival; with it, everything appears as a form of opportunity in some way.
What have you learnt from lockdown?
That all limits, potential and opportunity exist within me. I will only access this dimension through exploring my own conclusions and being. Trying to change the world and the people around me on the outside never seems to get me anywhere closer. Through gratitude for being alive and well, and in respect to those who have been personally affected (and who have been putting their health on the line for us) I have been seeing how I can make more and more of every moment.
What are you looking forward to doing again soon?
It's great the England rugby team is back playing again, so I'm happy to be out there doing a little coaching again – and hopefully meeting up with my family when things ease off, as I haven't seen them for a long time.
Do you miss playing yourself?
I don't miss playing and neither does my body! I am still playing the way I did but just at a different, far bigger and more exciting game. This is the game of life and finding out all I can be, instead of just trying to be the best rugby player I can be.
What do you think makes the difference between just playing pro rugby and winning the World Cup?
With a never-ending willingness to fully commit, listen, explore, accept and respond, anything is possible. Passion, natural talent and an unconditional respect for teammates also underpin these characteristics.
What does it feel like to win the biggest prize of all?
It was a sense of ecstasy and incredible joy… for a very short period of time. It continued to wane and drop off until I felt a great deal of emptiness in its place. This helped me to realise that fulfilment and happiness do not exist in objects, status and achievements, nor does potential.
So when you reach the top very early, where do you go from there?
For me, the experience of achieving my main goal was actually one of my biggest challenges. It is always great to set yourself new goals and set off on new journeys, but it was key for me to realise that whatever I achieve makes no difference to my worth as a being. Exploring the potential that lies within is the ultimate journey that always takes us somewhere new and life changing.
How do you stay motivated today?
By setting a goal without destination. If you are inspired by the search for true potential, every moment becomes exciting and full of possibility. The now is where life is. Not the then. The World Cup win is a beautiful memory, but I can't live in a thought. However, I can fully experience this present moment.
Back to the present then… You’re now in the wellness drinks business. How did you make the jump?
I’ve always been fascinated – perhaps a little obsessed – with my potential and what I am capable of. Towards the end of my rugby career I started to realise that this potential lies in mental and physical health and wellbeing, and not where I was looking for it in fitness, achievements, respect and recognition. This led me to become more deeply interested in diet and, specifically, a living diet. From around 2011, I had been exploring all kinds of natural and harmonious products. Then around 2014 my journey into mental health and my wife's journey to becoming a nutritionist came together over the discovery of kombucha. We started making it at home and that’s when I noticed it wasn’t very easy to get it in the shops.
What has kombucha done for you?
I've always been committed to the understanding that if I truly let go and engage fully with ‘right now’, I give myself the best chance for the future. The number one priority in this idea is wellbeing. What and how I eat, drink and feel is a great door through which I can explore this. Back when I was playing rugby, it was all about fitness and just seeing food as fuel and telling my body what to do for me rather than listening to it. Kombucha has been a revelation in the way I feel that it works with my system, energises me, and brings a sense of balance and alignment to what is happening on the inside.
‘No.1 Living’ could cover a lot of things – will the business eventually be about more than kombucha?
I'd like to think so. We’re all about exploring and moving in the direction of what brings out the best of us and our health and balance. The journey has been incredible, with so much learning taking place at every step along the way. We’re growing now by launching Water Kefir and a couple of Kombucha shots – for Gut & Immune Health and Gut & Brain Health. They’re 100% natural, and full of live cultures, and naturally sourced vitamins and minerals. It's a really exciting development, and I'm looking forward to seeing what sort of an impact we can make with our products and how people feel about them.
Where do you hope No.1 Living might be in five years’ time?
Having a vision is really important I feel. Ours has always been a healthier, happier population operating more through the innate inclusiveness, compassion, passion and energy that come with feeling more alive and at your best – we recognise this is a big vision and that we play a very small role in it!
Finally, Jonny, beyond the business, do you have other ambitions outside rugby now?
I have lots and they all revolve around trying to help people reveal their own potential and experience it in the form of amazing life journeys.
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