I accidentally became a psychologist. I was busy trying to figure out the answers to life, the universe and everything as a young person. Studying psychology seemed a good route to pursue this quest.
Then, in my first job in the profession (Child Protection and Juvenile Justice work in 1989), I ended up face to face with real people; real struggles, real suffering. It was quite a shock. My learning took a new twist as I realised my job was actually to facilitate change in others. I learned more techniques to help my clients make changes so their lives could be less struggle; less suffering. However, I was often bamboozled. The light bulb has got to want to change! What do you do if it doesn’t????
Change appeared like it was an inside job.
Now I was suffering because change wasn’t happening in my clients in the direction or speed that I wanted it to. I was busy trying to fix people, not realising this way of looking at them might be the problem itself.
People are not a maths problem to solve, but a sunset to behold – Kelly Wilson, founder of ACT
Also this “fixing the broken” attitude had me personally alarmed. When my own life looked a bit messy, I thought I’d better not let anyone know this!!! I thought needed to have it all together, or at least look like I did. And I didn’t!! On so many levels… body, heart, mind…
In my confused and close to burnt out state, I started to learn Yoga (1992) and later Buddhist meditation (2000) for myself. Many years on the path, including learning to teach in both of these traditions, restored me (and allowed me to continue to pursue my quest for answers to life, the universe and everything, which, by the way, I now know is 42!!).
Looking for answers keeps us from seeing that life is a paradox; a mystery unfolding.
I returned to psychology because mindfulness had entered the field with sound evidence. Yoga studies are also finding good results. I love it when contemporary science catches up with ancient traditions.
I began to have faith in the profession of psychology again.
Others were realising our interactions ARE the context for change for our clients. Our presence seems to matter.
In so many ways, as Gandhi said, we need to be the change we wish to see; to restore ourselves to wholeness, to remember our interconnectedness with the fabric of life itself, so we can presence others to remember; to act in the world from this knowing too.
How do we do restore ourselves and others to wholeness?
I know the evolution of my own body, heart and mind depended on engaging deeply in the practices of yoga and meditation. So deeply I was teaching these disciplines.
I’m humbled as well as pleased and excited to offer Embodied Mind, Evolved Heart a Yoga and Mindfulness Meditation Teacher Training Program for Mental Health Professionals in 2018-2019. This work enlivens my heart.
From my study and direct practice experience, I know we all have great potential for living free and vital lives.
Our values and our pain are poured from the same vessel.
Deep connection to our struggles and pain, moment to moment, in our bodies, with authentic acceptance, compassion; love; allows a transformation that opens us to this deep joy, happiness, gratitude and vitality. Then we can be guided by our values; what we care about deeply.
Whole, we are then available to life and others.
Photography by Narelle and Glen McKerrihan at figandagave.com