Are things feeling a little steadier this month or am I just picking up on a sense of things being so? The lifting of many lockdown measures has certainly created a lift in our collective spirits, even if it is presenting a new set of challenges for us to navigate moving forward. Things might even be moving a little too fast for some of us, and I include myself in this. One-step-at-a-time is the approach that I usually favour, even if that means sometimes taking longer to process new events. My whole sense since the onset of the pandemic has been to pause, wait, move slowly and steadily.
Mindfulness as a skill, has taught me to step back and hold steady, instead of rushing right in, trying to force some preferred outcome I would like to see or to ‘fix’ things for others. Prior to discovering mindfulness a decade ago, this pattern of trying to ‘fix’ would have been a lifelong pattern of mine. Nowadays I usually tend towards an attitude of allowing, letting things unfold in their own space and time. This attitude seems to have infiltrated my work ethic as a mindfulness teacher.
I have been a community worker and worked in adult education most of my life, before making the move to teaching mindfulness as a fulltime career in 2017. Mindfulness really ‘fits’ with community work and I continue to teach mindfulness in many community-based and adult education settings as well as the private sector. I am so grateful that I love what I do for a living and see no great difference between how I behave in my work or home life. They seem to weave together more and more as I make intentional lifestyle choices.
Lockdown for me presented an opportunity to deepen my own practice by participating in online trainings with many world leaders in the mindfulness arena. I have a keen interest in mindful leadership and recently participated in an online conference, the mindfulness and compassion summit. This summit gathered together many guest speakers presenting on various topics related to compassion-based mindfulness, including the topic of mindful leadership. My community work background has sometimes created a tension within me between business and community, and, at times I have struggled with merging the two effectively yet equitably. Listening to Tami Simon of Sounds True at the summit helped me resolve this. Tami spoke of living by “the promptings of your own heart” and suggested taking a “deathbed perspective”, which means reflecting on your life as if it’s the end of your life. She invited us to reflect on how we would like to look back on our lives.
Mindfulness can really help us to align with all aspects of ourselves so that there is a sense of flow in our lives, between personal and professional, between mindfulness meditation and mindfulness in daily life. Perhaps beginning as a skill, mindfulness has the potential to grow into a trait or a quality in us and in our organisations and work practices. The good news is that we all have an innate capacity to be mindful. Mindfulness is an attentional skill that can be cultivated, even if it has waned in us. We learn to pay attention to how we are living and working. So, instead of there being a constant tension between profit vs non-profit, we can make intentional choices about how we conduct our business and lead with compassion and vulnerability within our chosen fields, no matter the sector.
I recently named my ‘business’ Mindhaven and did this for several reasons; haven literally means “a place of safety or refuge” or “an inlet providing shelter for ships or boats; a harbour or small port”. As well as giving a nod to two local areas that I really love, Castlehaven where I grew up, and Baltimore where I now live, I am also aware that mindfulness can help make our minds safe havens of health, strength and resilience.
My service continues to grow and evolve in an organic and natural way, I tend not to force things or use a ‘hard sell’ approach, however, this year my work has, like so many others, adapted to change and taken a giant technological leap forward. As well as developing a social media presence earlier in Spring, with a new facebook page, I am so delighted to be launching my new website this Summer, Mindhaven.ie where you can find out a little more about the benefits of mindfulness and the type of supports and training on offer.
Plans for July, August and September will include online mindfulness, as well as outdoor workshops and nature-based wellbeing practices. Online mindfulness sessions continue to run on Monday, Wednesday and Friday evenings at 8pm. These 45-minute drop-in sessions have been running since late March with extremely positive feedback. Keep an eye on my facebook page or visit my upcoming website for more information.
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