Sammy recently participated in my Mindfulness program. She had wonderful success and agreed to be interviewed in the hopes of inspiring and educating others.
I hope you enjoy the interview as much as I enjoyed teaching Sammy throughout the course.
1) How did you feel before attending the course?
In a word. Desperate.
I felt very lost and broken. Anxiety, self doubt, my constant negative inner critic, were debilitating to the point that at times, I felt like I was actually going “crazy” and didn’t know who “I” was anymore.
2) What if anything were you nervous about before deciding to join?
That my own inner critic would convince me it was a terrible idea before I had even started. (My inner critic ALMOST succeeded here. I’m so glad that for once, I didn’t listen to it!)
I was also nervous that I might have to speak in front of other people. I stopped speaking for a long time, because it wasn’t worth the torture of replaying the conversation over in my head later on, and deciding that the other person must really hate me.
I was also nervous of it being a little bit too ”hippy dippy airy fairy” and lots of yoga. I wouldn’t have lasted the 8 weeks if it was anything remotely like that!
It’s a very practical course, with many mental health tools for my #toolbox to bring down my heightened stress response. Which is EXACTLY what I needed.
3) What were you hoping to achieve by attending the 8 weeks?
I was hoping to get a grip on the icky feeling that had taken up permanent residence in my solar plexus. I was hoping to find ways to control the “fight or flight” response, which I was plagued with constantly.
I really just needed someone to tell me that what I was thinking and feeling was “OK” and I wasn’t losing my mind!”
4) What specific results / changes have you experienced
The understanding that my thoughts are NOT ME. The understanding that I cannot control thoughts and feelings, they will come and go and that’s OK! Learning to observe my thoughts and feeling as being separate to “me” has been truly liberating.
I am not free of negative thoughts, I know I can’t be. I now know I am designed by human engineering to be this way. My overactive primitive mind is just trying to do its job and keep me safe.
The biggest “ah ha!” moment for me, was a saying that “action alleviates anxiety” for me, this is absolutely true.
Flight is my natural response to stress, so for me to face situations with action instead of fleeing from them, has been the first huge step in healing.
During the course I went from never being able to drive through the M5 tunnel, to finally doing it.
The above pic is of me being really brave, preparing myself before my very first adventure through the M5 tunnel alone!
I have spent the last 3yrs going the LONG route….just to avoid the tunnel.
I avoided all confined spaces including lifts, because I couldn’t control the panic. After learning some toolbox tricks from my first session, I was able to put them to good use and be driven through the tunnel as a passenger.
By week 4, I had successfully driven the tunnel alone, a number of times.
I still dont like it. I don’t think I ever will. But it wont stop me from doing it any longer!
5) Practically speaking, how did you find the running of the course.
I loved the set up and found the support of the other participants in the group to be really motivational. Being vulnerable is difficult!
I really loved the simple homework tasks that were set, as they were a fantastic reminder of everything we covered that week and helped me to revisit parts of the session that I found particularly beneficial.
The balance between practical and theory was excellent. I’m glad our first couple of sessions focused on actual, physical, practical ways to manage the stress response.
6) What would you tell someone considering joining?
You don’t have to live in the whirlpool that’s in your head. You don’t have to carry the weight of these thoughts and feelings internally. You don’t have to live with the constant flood of cortisol running rampant in your nervous system. You don’t have to doubt yourself or your own self worth.
You can learn to find ways to manage all of this!
And you are not alone!
7) Anything else you would like to add?
Just my gratitude. Thank you for gently guiding me through this re-awakening and return to self.
Thank you so much for taking the time to do this Sammy. I’m sure your story will inspire and educate others. It has been my absolute pleasure sharing this journey with you.