‘The scariest thing I ever did was when I went off the beaten track in Colombia during a very dangerous period, there were lots of big guns and snakes, it was very exciting. But that was an answer from my ego, I will now give you an answer from my heart, genuinely. It was when I was a kid and asked out a girl that I fancied, it was definitely scarier,’ says Chris Flack. He works in fundraising for MS Ireland and also is involved with several other projects. He was instrumental in bringing Morning Gloryville to Ireland, an alcohol and drug free pre-work rave. He is The Suited Yogi and has just set up UnPlug which we will go into detail later in the article.
Flack has a presence about him which is owed to his air of confidence, his athletic physique and bright blue eyes that arrest your attention. He peppers his sentences with the word, ‘genuinely’ which bar his accent is a hint that he’s originally from the UK however he’s been living in Ireland for fifteen years.
His worlds can simply be broken down into ego and heart. Let’s delve more into his ego. ‘I was so materialistic, I’m now on a third of what I was earning five years ago. I used to be all about money, it’s so strange because now there is no big TV only a little Buddha and a Mr Tayto side by side!’
Flack studied European Economics and upon graduation started to work for a US company that instilled the dream in him of having a fast car and a big house. ‘Every weekend was spent in London going to the best restaurants and drinking champagne. I was basically trying to earn more money to fulfill a life that I wasn’t really enjoying which was bizarre.’ He is also very candid about the type of person that he was, ‘when I was just focused on earning more money I was a bit of a prick,’ he laughs.
After several years of this cycle he eventually decided that he had to try to stop it. ‘It clicked with me that I needed to get out of the corporate sales world about six years ago, it just wasn’t a good fit for me anymore.’
It took him a few attempts to make the leap, ‘it was burning there for a long time but it wasn’t until 2012 that I was like right I’m out of here. I left without a job so I was unemployed for a while looking for jobs in the charity sector.’ When questioned whether he was ever scared about his choice he confidently answers, ‘I’m excited by change.’
Beats In India
And now to stage two of this story, the heart. Flack is self deprecating especially when it comes to the subject of India. It’s the cliché of finding yourself that he is keen to avoid. He lived there for eighteen months in a jungle whilst volunteering for Water Aid and a children’s charity. ‘I was camping in the jungle, I was in a mud hut and there was solar electricity so it wasn’t hardcore camping but there were snakes in my hut! At the time I was thirty-eight and I thought maybe I should have been looking at a more comfortable trip! But having spent alot of time in The Middle East, Sub-Saharan Africa and Latin America I was keen to see India before I was forty. From all my travel, India is the closest I’ve been to another planet. It’s absolutely crazy and beautiful at the same time!’ He worked for a charity called Kalkeri Sangeet Vidyalaya, you can learn more about the charity in the first video and get a guided tour from Flack in the second video of the school.
After a year there he admits that he did find himself or as he puts it, ‘I learned to be comfortable with myself. I had previous mental health issues and it doesn’t mean that my life is perfect now but I’m content.’
When he returned to Ireland a friend connected him with Morning Gloryville. UK. ‘As I was just back from India I was in a very spiritual place. I had been doing lots of yoga and I looked at Morning Gloryville and I thought this little bubble of love can be packaged up and delivered in a western way.’ It’s a project that still continues to humble him as he points out his wacky sparkly attire that he wears for it, ‘we had a lady in her fifty’s drive from Tipperary in the very early morning to attend it in Dublin. She’d planned to come for months. Afterwards she said that she hasn’t had a happy morning like that in a decade,’ he grins, ‘you know that’s an inspiration.’
His most recent project is called Unplug, their tag line is that they help you manage your technology instead of it managing you. ‘All my projects involve me taking the best of eastern philosophy and mixing it up.’ Having mastered the art of media exposure for Morning Gloryville, Flack and his team were well positioned to promote Unplug but the angle the media took was not what they wanted. ‘Tech addiction is all they wanted to talk about because it alarms people that’s why the media got excited. There are a lot of concepts around called digital detox which is all about switching off from all technology. We are different because we take a more scientific approach with retreats and seminars. We want to focus on the benefits of being more in control of your consumption. For example I teach a kind of yoga that you breathe to the beat. That means when we are doing breathing exercises we do them to music that you know. It’s to make it more accessible and normal, something that you can practice commuting into work.’
What makes Flack engaging is his how relatable his story is, well maybe not the snakes and guns but definitely his earlier workplace frustrations and his honesty about the mental health issues he used to have. However above all that, is his natural skill in achieving a spirituality that is firmly grounded in adapting it to his mainstream environment. It’s a very smart way to appeal to the masses and it’s his path to do that. He’s even noticed that some of his old friends from when he worked in sales have joined him in their own way of creating more balance in their lives. ‘They find it amusing that I don’t have the latest car or I’m not going on luxury holidays. As I’ve become more content in myself I’ve noticed that I’ve also started to influence friends. Many of them have become less focused on materialistic goods and instead focus on being content with themselves by simple things like physical exercise, art or meditation. That makes me very happy!’