Last month was a major milestone for me. I delivered 6 Kindfulness workshops in the international online fashion retailer, ASOS and had the privilege of sharing Kindfulness to around 150 people in 3 days. So, I thought I’d take some time to reflect on it and on my Kindfulness journey so far.
From tiny acorns....
When I first started my Facebook page back in April 2018, it was simply a place to capture and share my thoughts and ideas about cultivating a healthier and more positive lifestyle, through a shift in mindset. A place to share motivational quotes, photos, poems and stories that had helped and inspired me on my journey. As it evolved it became more and more aligned to mindfulness, kindness, gratitude and care for this wonderful planet we call home. And so The Kindfulness Effect was born.
I was already running meditation classes at the school where I work, with my wonderful colleague Chris. And the school also supported me by inviting me to run a mindfulness workshop with the admin staff there. These opportunities and activities were a real catalyst for what I’m doing now and I'm so grateful for that.
I subsequently ran workshops at my friend’s business and at EC English language schools in Manchester and Oxford and the weekly meditation classes became more and more popular. I also ran a Kindfulness and yoga retreat in Cadiz with a yoga teacher friend I had met 3 years before.
With every step I’ve taken, my knowledge, interest and passion in the topic has grown, as has my confidence in my own ability.
I had no real plan, no destination or clear goal, I still don’t. I just have a desire to take action and to share my passion and experience with people in an authentic, accessible and engaging way. The stars just seemed to align and things just unfolded before me.
Some may refer to all that has happened as luck, but I’m not sure I’d agree. I believe you have to be on the path to encounter the opportunities in the first place and that requires taking the first step on that path, regardless of whether you know where you’re going or not. Sometimes the path may lead you in a different direction, one that you’d never thought of. Sometimes it might become clear to you that it’s not what you want. And sometimes it might feel like this is what you were meant to be doing all along. Whatever it is and wherever it leads, you’ll never know unless you take that step.
Baby steps still move you forward...
Now I’m not going to sit here and say that taking my first step was easy. It wasn’t. Actually, the process of getting to where I am now has been a slow burner. I’ve learned that taking baby steps towards the things that I want to achieve or try in my life is as valuable as taking a giant leap. For example; I volunteered as a teacher at a refugee centre before I took the plunge of doing my teaching qualification, I attended talks about happiness and wellbeing, I read a lot, watched videos and tentatively ran my first meditation classes with recorded meditations, before starting to guide them myself.
There doesn’t always have to be a grand gesture or a giant leap of faith.
I’ve also learned that sometimes your steps may go in all directions. Forwards, backwards and from side to side. It's a bit like dancing the salsa, you move in all directions and it's definitely better if you enjoy it, take it step by step, go with the flow of the music and learn to let go!
When I sat down to write the first blog for my facebook page I had loads of fears and worries. "What if people judge me?" "Why am I doing this?" "Will I be able to maintain it?"….I’m having the same nagging doubts and worries as I write this blog too. But after a few conversations with myself, my fabulous friends and colleagues, I thought, f**k it, what’s the worst that can happen! A phrase and approach that has served me well over the years!
So, how do I feel now?
Oooof, where do I start? I feel bewildered, like, wow! How did that happen?! A bit like waking up from THAT kind of night out, you know!! I also feel exhilarated, motivated, inspired, excited and a bit overwhelmed. I also still suffer a little from imposter syndrome. Am I really doing this? Are you actually good enough? Are you just muddling through? What will people think?
But actually, these doubts keep me humble and grounded and they’re also offset by the incredible and humbling feedback I regularly receive. Feedback from the students in my meditation classes, the attendees at my workshops, the messages on Facebook and Instagram, the kind words of support and encouragement from my colleagues at school and of course my wonderfully supportive friends and family.
The doubts and worries I have keep me connected to why I’m doing what I’m doing.
We all have those inner demons and critical inner voices, but we need to learn how to manage them, to live with them, to find some comfort in feeling uncomfortable, and to find a greater sense of inner peace and acceptance.
As I reflect on this part of my journey, I think I’m really starting to believe that I am making a difference to people. That what I’m doing is having a positive impact on others. I am starting to see the ripple effect.
Yes, there’ll be critics and those that judge me and laugh or sneer. And yes, that makes me fearful and anxious, but I’m choosing to not allow one of those critics to be myself! (Trying anyway!)
I’m helping to heal myself by helping others and that is an absolutely AMAZING feeling and I choose to hold on to that.
So I guess what I’m saying is, take the step.
If there’s something you’re interested in, find out more. Participate in activities related to it, attend talks, read books, study, write, volunteer, speak to like-minded people.
It also helps to have great friends, who listen and support you, no matter what happens.
If there’s something you’ve been wanting to get around to doing but the timing never seems right and you’re not ready to take a huge leap of faith, find a way to start doing something alongside what you’re already doing.
Don’t wait for a perfect time…there never is one.
Find a way you CAN, rather than telling yourself the reasons you can’t.
Ask yourself if you're TOO comfortable. If so, have a look over the edge and see how you feel. Step out of that comfort zone.
It doesn’t have to be a new career, but it will feed a passion or desire, satisfy a curiosity, or simply allow you to move past a block in the road.
Regret the things you do do, not the things you don’t! Take the first step – you don’t need to see the whole path, but just take the first step.