I was lucky enough to spend this past weekend at the London Wellbeing Festival. My thoughts on last year’s event can be found here. This was an important weekend for me, because while yes, I was looking forward to the actual workshops and pottering around the stalls, this marked a year since I had a total breakdown. I was curious how I would feel being in the Olympia Centre once more, but with an entirely different head on my shoulders this time. Would it trigger me, or offer relief?

2016 was one of the most difficult years of my life thus far (apart from 2006 which was also terrible…what is it about the ‘6’?!) and whilst I took a lot away from last year’s event, I truly did just float around totally disengaged. Eventually I made it back to Bristol and things just got worse. And worse. And worse.

But eventually, after months of therapy – and honestly I think a miracle – I woke up just fine one sunny morning earlier this year. Fine. Without a fluctuating numbness or anxiety, I woke up feeling normal. For over a year I’d woken up every single day with this kind of thick fog. This dullness. Nothing was inspiring, warm, or light. Everything was hard work and I could not see a point to any of it. But I told myself that eventually, somehow, it would get better. And it did.

I can’t tell you if it was the therapy, cutting caffeine out, or the result of a prayer that someone made for me in a time of desperation. But life works in mysterious ways and for whatever reason, I managed to get out of my funk.

London Wellbeing

Returning to the Wellbeing Festival in 2017 was an important milestone for me. Last year, I was acutely aware of what felt like crowds of mentally-unstable, self-help junkies. I felt overwhelmed by all these desperate people wanting help from whatever workshop they were attending. I felt claustrophobic and small. But interestingly, this year I didn’t see any of that. Instead, I saw like-minded, warm, kind, self-aware individuals there for connection, self-growth and improvement. The word projection comes to mind as I realise that what I was seeing both years was a direct reflection of my mental state at the time. When you feel cold, all you can see is frost. When you feel warm and complete, you see the good.

I spent my time at the festival realising that I’m really not introverted; I’ve just been spending my time with all the wrong people. And that’s a very powerful realisation to come to. My final workshop of the day with the incredible Sarah Rozenthuler proved just that. It was a workshop titled, ‘Living Your Heart’s Desire’ and used some key principles and partner work to help gain perspective on the difference between your inherited purpose, believed purpose and soul purpose. It was eye-opening and inspiring and the beautiful connections between strangers was something I’ll forever cherish deeply. We were a group of women of all ages and backgrounds who all understood the fire in each other’s bellies and the calling for a creative life. It didn’t matter that we’d only just met. We were all on the same wavelength and it’s in those situations that magic happens.

At times like these, I am reminded of my favourite quote by C.S. Lewis: “Isn’t it funny how day by day nothing changes, but looking back everything is different?” A milestone such as an annual festival or event can be that solid, external indicator of how well you’re doing and how far you’ve come. If you need that extra push to remind yourself of your progress, use it.

London, for all its madness, did not strike me as a hostile place this year. I instead chose to see the colours on the walls and the dynamic melting pot of people and realised that this time round it made me feel alive.

 

 

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Yesterday I had the pleasure of attending the Mind Body Spirit Wellness Festival in London. I chose to participate in Day 2 of this four-day-long event so that I could attend a Synchronicity workshop held by the beautiful and innovative spiritual teacher, Teal Swan.

Although the chilly air had me shivering on my trek from place to place and London once again winded me with its cold, hard hostility, within the Olympia Center there was a sanctuary to be had amidst the car horns, exhaust fumes and general sense of ‘too busy to smile’ that littered the city streets. It was so hard to believe we were in London, but then again as a mecca for people from all over the world, it made perfect sense all at the same time.

Becky and I began our day with the serenity of a world peace meditation held by Teal before parting ways for our chosen workshops. Wandering solo, I got somewhere relatively near to the front of the queue of 300-400 people and waited for the time to come and the group of us allowed to file in.

I looked around, taking in all the faces, the hope, the nerves, the intrigue and immediately felt this unexpected wave of apprehension come over me. I had assumed this would be a day of bliss, open conversation with strangers and serenity, so these nerves were completely throwing me off guard. It was partly the fear of an inspiration of mine not living up to the expectations I had. I have this real aversion to meeting any of the people I admire, from artists to public figures for the fear that my idea of them will be crushed by an ‘average’ reality. Something told me this would be OK though; that this would exceed my expectations.

There was another element chiming in and adding to this growing anxiety; it was the feeling of overwhelm being surrounded by a group that I can only describe as ‘self help junkies’. I don’t know what kinds of people I had expected would be attending this event; I suppose I hadn’t really given it much thought. I assumed peaceful people, I guess. I assumed spiritual and savvy and put together. But then I think about myself and how of course as a synchronicity event it would attract people just like me.

Most of the people attending this workshop – I assume based on the participants that volunteered to get up on the stage – were there because, like me, they feel something deeply unsettled within themselves; a resolution that must occur. The kinds of people at these events are hyper self-aware, hyper in-tune with all the things that society deems taboo. These are people who want to address their inner demons. We all have them, some of us are just more aware of them than others.

As one of the leaders in the authenticity movement, Teal attracts the kind of crowd that questions everything; the kind of crowd that is open to learning, to discovering, to helping themselves and others heal and expand in this life. In the queue, as I looked around me I was aware of this and I found it unpalatable, intimidating and emotionally confusing. Was it the feeling of being surrounded by more authentic people than I had ever encountered before that required some serious adjustment? Or was it the sadness of so many people at war with themselves and struggling with emotional trauma all in the same place that had me picking up the collective energy and expressing it as anxiety?

The nerves and sweaty palms settled after the first half an hour or so. When I got to take the focus off myself and dive into the inner turmoil of another, I could think objectively and it was no longer about me; it was no longer vulnerability I was dealing with but compassion. I let go of the pressure to fix myself and instead gradually felt the lift in my spirit and that of the collective as I watched Teal help participants work through their deep-rooted struggles and show them how they were not living in alignment with their values. It was also the most beautiful experience to have people just like me get up on stage in front of a crowd and be honest and vulnerable in a way that we just don’t talk to each other in day-to-day life.

Some talked about troublesome pasts, others cried, others spoke with broken voices from the apprehension of breaking down their walls in front of a group of strangers. But there was a remarkable thing that happened as the workshop went on; helping one person helped the collective; helping one person see why they were getting upset at the things they were or realising what truly mattered to them helped everyone realise those things in their own lives. It’s not called ‘synchronicity’ for nothing.

When I think about all the people around the world who attend Teal’s Synchronicity workshops., I am fully-filled with joy that the catalyst is doing her work and like-minded, conscious people are helping to heal each other. From each workshop, hundreds of people take away with them the desire to be authentic and live in alignment with their values. It’s a ricochet of joy and empowerment lighting up the continents.