Rafe Colton

Home City: Milwaukee, WI

Department: Creative Services

Q: Tell us about yourself.

A: I grew up in a somewhat typical Midwestern, suburban household, with a strong emphasis on family togetherness and being a kind, well-rounded person. My intense desire for autonomy drove me to seek higher education out of state, where I considered college to be a “controlled exercise in independence,” in addition to a valuable education. I studied computers, and less formally, how to be a responsible adult human. I’m still working on that second one. I bounced around from coast to coast and learned that money and corporate life are not inherently fulfilling. I’m in a transition period in my life now, and I’m excited to see who I become.

Q: How did you find the Himalayan Institute?

A: My parents attended a couple of programs at the Himalayan Institute before I was born and when I was very young. They found the Institute through a holistic health practitioner, a student of the tradition, who has been a lifelong family friend and mentor. I visited the Himalayan Institute once when I was 16, and that experience remained tucked away in a corner of my memory. In more recent years, as I wrestled with balancing the demands of the world and the aching in my heart to live a fulfilling and purposeful life, my experience at the Institute came back into my mind. I knew that the Institute would be ready for me whenever I was ready for it.

I knew that the Institute would be ready for me whenever I was ready for it.
Q: What inspired you to join the community?

A: A big factor in my decision to join the community was the interview process. Believe it or not, I didn’t know I was being interviewed! In my mind, I was just visiting for the weekend. So when I was introduced to one person after another, I thought to myself, “There are so many wonderful, kind-hearted people here. They all seem so…normal…and grounded…and they are all so eager to talk to me. What a friendly place!” I later learned that I was being introduced in large part to determine whether or not I would be a cultural fit. I had so much fun being with them, and they with me, that cultural fit it was!

Q: What have you learned during your time here?

A: I have learned, through the example of many that serve here, that being a leader is about selfless service. It means giving your time and attention, to the fullest extent of your capacity, in order to help others find space. It means doing the job nobody else wants to do but that needs to be done; taking full responsibility for endeavors undertaken; and humbly offering the fruits of your labor to those who may benefit. And I have learned that when you are met with a challenge, though it may be painful or difficult, it is because you have the capacity to overcome it and to grow by doing so.

Q: If there was one thing you could share about the Himalayan Institute, what would it be?

A: If I could share one thing about the Institute, it would be this: if you can get here, get here. Living here is one of the best things that has ever happened (and continues to happen) in my life. Don’t get me wrong—undertaking personal and spiritual growth is hard work. It is the hardest work I have ever done. Socrates said, “The unexamined life is not worth living,” and I am inclined to agree. Getting to know myself by living at the Institute has changed and continues to change my life. Whether you stay for days, decades, or somewhere in between, being at the Himalayan Institute is an experience everyone deserves the chance to have.