Hello lovely humans
I’m writing this on a train back to London from Newcastle. I’ve been up north supporting the teams on the Ignite pre-accelerator programme.
Facilitating workshops is one of my favourite things about the work I do. It’s exhausting but I feel so privileged to share my work and support other founders in bringing their vision into the world. Supporting groups is a beautiful complement to connecting with people one-to-one and really listening to what they need to share.
It’s been a busy time for me and workshops. Two last week for Stress Awareness Day, a session on mindful productivity for the rest of my own cohort on the Pathways programme, and a mini Instant Pause for a few friends at my home. It’s a good job I’ve been in the follicular and ovulation phases of my cycle, when my energy is up and I’m feeling sociable and open.
But it’s not all been about me facilitating. I got to sit on the other side of the fence at The Trampery’s Decelerator programme two weeks ago – just how much do I wish I had thought of that name?! Taking a day and half out to focus on myself, reconnect with my vision and reflect on how I manage my own energy proved to be just what I needed. Since then, I’ve had so much more energy for my work; I’m brimming with ideas and confidence and purpose.
So, I’ve been sat here on the train, allowing my mind to wander and mull over the last couple of weeks. And what strikes me about all of these experiences is the power of space.
Don’t get me wrong, I think the tools and techniques I and others share about mindful productivity and how to plan your week are really useful. They really do make a difference to people’s lives. But the elements that seem to connect most with people are the spaces to be quiet. For things to feel a bit simpler and a bit clearer. Spaces where there are no expectations, no to-do lists, no pressure.
And yet, space isn’t always comfortable.
In the quiet spaces in between, we come face to face with our true selves in all their messy, dark, chaotic, wonderful beauty. We see our light and our shadow. That’s hard. We spend so much time and energy trying to hide and block out the darkness. We buffer. We spend hours on our phones mindlessly scrolling; we immerse ourselves in the latest boxset; we numb our pain with food, drink, drugs and sex.
As difficult as the silence can be, there’s a peace to be found there. There’s a freedom. There’s the present moment and nothing else. In these moments, we can connect with all that is good and wise and powerful about ourselves. Our bodies and our souls speak to us in these instants and they tell us exactly what we need to know.
My coach always starts our sessions with silence. I hate it. I feel this overwhelming pressure to perform…to say something deep and insightful that will open up a profound coaching conversation. Because, you know, I’m a coach and a teacher and I’m meant to have this all figured out, right?
In fact, we were talking about this just this week. She told me that we teach what we need to practice in our own lives. That my journey is bound integrally with yours; we are walking the same path. So, I’ll be the first to admit that I am terrified of what sits in my shadow. That I’m petrified of the anger, and the shame, and the loneliness, and the pain that lurks just below the surface. I’m scared that if I look into it, I’ll be sucked in and will never be able to escape. And yet, even as I write these words, I can feel hope swelling in my heart. I feel power surging through my solar plexus. I am being filled with light and gratitude and love. I don’t know how this is going to turn out, but I trust the path. Something is calling me and I’m going to keep following that passion.
Wow, sorry, that took me somewhere I wasn’t expecting to go. If you didn’t know, I often write these kinds of posts as a stream of consciousness; I just let the words flow and take me wherever they want to go. Which apparently is tell you that this is actually one of the practices I shared with the Ignite cohort yesterday. So, let me share a couple of them with you now
The six-minute write
Get a piece of paper and a pen – these exercises seem to be more effective with a pen rather than a laptop. Set a timer for six minutes and start writing and don’t stop. Write whatever’s in your head. Write continually, without stopping to think or to be critical, however disconnected it might seem. You can reread what you wrote afterwards but you really don’t have to. This is the kind of practice you can incorporate into your morning or evening rituals.
The internal mentor
Mentoring is a powerful process, but we often get stuck relying on other people’s advice and knowledge without tapping into our own.
Start by thinking of an event you’ve found either challenging or rewarding. It can be something in the past or something you’re currently experiencing.
Imagine your ‘internal mentor’, whom observes what is going on all the time, supports, comforts, and can advise on difficulties and problems. They might be modelled on a real person but give them a fictional name. Really visualise this mentor and hold them in your mind’s eye.
Imagine you’ve gone to them for advice and perspective on your chosen situation. Write their response to you in the form of a letter, beginning ‘Dear [your name]…’ You can also do this with a partner; the other person shouldn’t say anything but just listen while you explain the situation and then you talk to them as if you were your internal mentor. At the end, the person listening can summarise what they heard in a minute or two.
I really love these practices and there’s so much value in practicing them yourself. Sometimes, though, it can be hard to create and hold the space for you to do this on your own. So, I would like to invite you to join me at my upcoming one-day urban retreat, the Instant Pause.
I am hosting an Instant Pause on Saturday 1st December at LABS in Camden, central London.
During the Instant Pause, you will experience a series of exercises and practices, all designed to allow to pause, reflect and refocus. You’ll find out how to reconnect with yourself, take stock of where you and how you feel, and tune into your vision for your life in a creative way.