Do you practice Mindfulness for yourself or someone else?

I have personally been on a journey with Mindfulness, overcoming anxiety and changing my life but I never thought this would happen, it wasn’t my original intention.

When I first learned it, for me it was about helping others. I had studied for 7 years part time for my degree and while I was doing that I was working in various roles in accounts and somehow ended up in software testing and then release management.

It was a very stressful job and I was responsible for many systems. Although I was quite good at the job it was very stressful and I noticed my team and those around me getting stressed out. There would be tears in the office quite regularly and arguments would break out between my colleagues. Alongside this I was surrounded by friends going through break ups, suffering from anxiety and having confidence issues.

I looked at those around me and I knew things could be different. I had my degree in psychology but it just wasn’t practical enough to be able to actually use it with the people around me who were struggling and needed help. Knowing that children went through an ‘Anal’ phase in their development (Thank you Freud) just wasn’t serving me right then!

So when I discovered Positive Psychology and this gave me a window into Mindfulness this is when I started to feel everything shift for me. I was given practical tools to help people and I wanted to dive straight in and start applying it straight away. I started to teach Mindfulness (this was even before my Mindfulness teacher qualification) at the Women’s network groups at the company I was working for. I could see (and even feel as an empath) people feeling calmer, with more clarity, being able to do more in their jobs and have less stress and anxiety.

As I continued this journey and started to get immense satisfaction from helping people and balancing out the stress of my work I noticed a couple of things. Firstly that I was burning myself out putting all my energy into helping people and secondly that actually I was finding quite a few situations were giving me anxiety. As Mindfulness built my awareness and as I threw myself deeper and deeper into it with an incessant desire to learn more and more to help people it brought to my awareness that I did actually have anxiety.

For so many years I thought that everyone ‘gets nervous’ and that it was just the stress of the job but as I began to share how I was feeling with people I realised that I did have anxiety and certain situations in particular were actually making my physically ill. I used to have tonsillitis a couple of times a year, several colds and IBS. What I didn’t realise is this wasn’t normal, this was a sign of someone being burnt out.

So my intention was originally not about me. Mindfulness was never about me helping myself, it was never about self care ( I didn’t even know the word existed). It was about helping me help people more, more and more tools to change the world and the people around me. It wasn’t until I pushed myself to become the best I could be for those people that actually I started to uncover I did need it for me, I did need self care, I was completely and utterly burnt out.

So who do you want to help? Perhaps its to help the people around you? To better your relationships? or do your job better and more effectively?

How could you help others around you with Mindfulness? Do you deserve to be helped too?

Gemma Sandwell - Bsc Hons Mindfulness Teacher and TEDx speaker

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