I'm not one for telling my story, yet I've taken on a 28 day story telling challenge with Nick Bowditch. An opportunity to step outside my comfort zone. On Day 2 of the #storychallenge – we have two options to choose from. I’ve chosen to attempt to answer: What’s your why? Why do you do what you do?
I’m a long way from having a punchy elevator pitch to explain the reasons “why I started Mindful EAS” and “why I do what I do?”
My short answer is “to help anyone who is suffering to suffer less and to tap into their capacity to thrive.” That’s it. For me, each adversity I have faced in life has led to a renewed determination to move forward with a resolve to live better. Not with better clothes or a better car, job, house, although those things are nice, but rather with an inner strength and stillness that allows me to surf the waves of life without being overly affected by the ever-changing form and intensity of the waves. And in the practices of meditation, mindful living and mindful movement (yoga and long distance walking for me), I have developed, nurtured and grown the ability to live with greater calmness, patience, ease, resilience and clarity. All at a depth that simply would never have been possible without interweaving these practices throughout my daily life.
My training in applying these practices to life has come from engaging in courses and retreats with many great Western and Eastern teachers spanning 20 years. I’ve had the good fortune to attend several retreats led by H.H. the 14th Dalai Lama. At one such retreat he asked all present to consider how they could bring simple meditative practices and the ethics that go with them, to their communities and especially too young people. He talked about the urgency to create greater peace and ease in a world marred with conflict and significant inequalities.
Although consciously I had forgotten this message from the Dalai Lama, I held in my heart the desire to help lessen the burden of worry, anxiety and stress on young people and adults alike. This desire stems from the benefits I have experienced from these life changing practices and therefore a knowing that anyone can ease their own burden, if they have an opportunity to be guided in how to cultivate mindfulness, gratitude, compassion and empathy first for themselves and then for others.
With Jon Kabat-Zinn’s Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction program, I found a way to do this, a program where anyone, no matter their age, gender, ethnicity, health, educational, religious or financial status can learn these skills in a safe, nurturing, non-judgemental environment. An opportunity to share mindfulness practices that have the potential to reduce the burden of suffering of those who take the challenge and begin to weave these new found (although ancient) skills into the fabric of their lives. And in so doing, easing the burden of anxiety, depression, work stress, chronic pain, low self-esteem, a sense of feeling lost in our chaotic world, relationship break down, grief or any other ill of life.
Mindful EAS is growing into something bigger then I first imagined. I believe this stems from my commitment to stay with evidence based programs like MBSR. The care, support and safety of those who choose to put their trust in Mindful EAS is my first-priority. And that’s why I have undertaken extensive training in the intricacies of delivering all components of MBSR, which is so much more than simply a course in meditation. I continue to uphold the internationally set “good practice guidelines for Mindfulness Based Program teachers”. collaborating with my peers in supervision throughout each course and attending annual silent meditation and teacher development retreats with world experts in this field. Both retreat components nurture my two great passions, meditation and continuous learning.
To bring the benefits of mindfulness to young people, I have trained in three internationally recognised mindfulness for young people programs, MiSP.B, MBSR for Teens and the Mindful Schools curriculum.
Mindful EAS now offer Mindfulness programs across multiple sectors including in schools, health centres, workplaces and sporting clubs. We have a vision to bring face to face mindfulness based programs to remote and regional areas, delivered by highly skilled teachers and to those who may not have the means to access the programs in a traditional way.
I work and collaborate with some of Australia’s top Mindfulness education providers including Openground and Smiling Mind and simply love and feel blessed to do the work I do and work with my peers in this field.
Why? My inspiration is drawn from the sometimes subtle and often profound affects I witness in those who choose to take the skills and practices taught in the courses and make them a part of their everyday lives.
So, this long story comes back to my one simple and short answer, “to help anyone who is suffering to suffer less and tap into their capacity to thrive.”
Words by Karen Haddon, Founder of Mindful EAS