Stories from FDCW facilitators

Integrating Body & Mind

Stories from FDCW Facilitators

We live in a fast-paced world where the demands of daily life can be overwhelming and we often find ourselves disconnected from our bodies and disconnected from our minds.

To explore the intricate relationship between our bodies and minds and to discover transformative paths toward a more holistic health, last May FDCW offered an online forum to our community of facilitators where we delved into the profound interplay between physical and mental well-being and how we can use the 16 Guidelines along this journey.

The forum featured Lorna Forsyth, Gillian Watt and Hilary McMichael, 3 members of our community of facilitators, who took turns to share their stories and their experience on body and mind integration.

We learned how Lorna integrates the 16 Guidelines and qigong, practiced EFT (Emotional Freedom Technique) having the Guidelines as inspiration with Gillian and learned about the framework of TMM (Transformative Mindfulness Methods) with Hilary.

We were so touched by their depth of experience and by their journeys that we decided to share their stories with our community, we hope you will find them as inspiring as we did!

Gillian’s story

Finding Inner Strength: A Journey of Healing and Transformation

Eight years ago this month (July 2015), I experienced Sepsis, Septicaemia and Septic Shock. My body began to shut down and I’m told I survived because I was very fit and healthy when it happened. It was caused by an undiagnosed blocked kidney that had been rumbling for a couple of months. I was in bed for many weeks followed by a lot of time resting which left me physically very weak. In addition to the physical weakness, I experienced chronic fatigue, brain fog, joint pain and what I call a ‘clunky brain’.  In my life, I have experienced many ups and downs and feel confident in meeting challenges. I am a resilient person. But this was different. I attempted to get back to work (I was a head teacher at a Primary School in Scotland) a couple of times with the last attempt of 18 months where I basically went to school, came home and went to bed on repeat, using the weekends to rest to get better for Monday. In January 2018 I went back on sick leave and ended up taking partial ill health retirement.

Throughout that time I went from being a very active triathlete, someone who could multitask endlessly, a dedicated head teacher and active Granny, to someone who had lost the ability/mental agility/strength to work and whose aim was to try to walk down the hallway. On a personal note, my relationship did not survive this period either.

HOWEVER, in October 2015, there was an online Mindfulness Summit facilitated by Melli O’Brien. Every day throughout October there was a speaker who shared their wisdom. I quickly realised that these speakers were experts in their field and these daily sessions became my focus. I was like a dry sponge soaking up every drop of wisdom they shared. I had already been ‘dabbling’ in Mindfulness but became a complete convert at this time! This was also where I learned about the Mindfulness in Schools Project (MiSP) which led to me becoming trained in several of their programmes. I later found out that it had been the world’s largest mindfulness conference with over 250,000 people attending online. I’m so grateful that the Universe provided this for me at just the right time.
One of the highlights was a discussion with Jon Kabat Zinn.

During one of my attempts at returning to work, a parent at school loaned me a book about EFT (Emotional Freedom Technique) aka Tapping. This book fascinated me. It was all very well to mindfully notice that I was always exhausted and how I felt about that, but here was something that could help me to dissolve those negative emotions, allowing me to move forward more positively. I read more and eventually began to train as an EFT Practitioner. I am now an Accredited Advanced EFT Practitioner, working with humans and animals of all ages (yes, I work with animals too!). Mindfulness and EFT work well together and I share both in all my sessions.

I had been a Reiki Practitioner for many years but, as I evolved throughout my recovery, I became more proactive and am now a Reiki Master. Reiki can ease pain, calm the mind and generally create a strong sense of well-being in both humans and animals. I am grateful to have this special tool in my toolkit.

Lastly, but by no means least, was my introduction to 16 Guidelines! My dear friend, Claudia van Zuiden asked me to go to Findhorn in September 2017 because she was training in something she thought might interest me. By lunchtime on the first day, I was hooked!  Immediately, I saw how I could implement 16 Guidelines into both my professional and personal life, something that continues to this day. As with previous tools introduced to me on my journey, I went on to become a 16 Guidelines facilitator, sharing how 16 Guidelines can influence and enrich our daily lives, as meet the challenges of life.

I now work as Gillian Watt – Wellbeing Practitioner, supporting others through difficult and challenging times, using the same tools that got me to where I am today. The challenges we experience in our lives can enrich us, enabling us to have greater insight and empathy for others. I reached very dark depths during my recovery and it is now my turn to be there when others are going through tricky times. It’s my way of giving back.

Hilary’s story

Embracing Transformation: A Journey to Inner Balance

Imagine closing your fist tightly, feeling the tension spread through your body, and noticing how your breath becomes shallow and short. Now, try prying open that clenched fist, finger by finger, with the other hand. It’s not easy; discomfort accompanies discomfort. Take a moment to observe the frown on your face. This simple exercise is a metaphor for stress—the clenched fist—and our resistance to it, as we try to force it to disappear.

But let’s take a breath together. Feel your body relax as you inhale. Now, hold your clenched fist with the other hand, as if it were a tender, loving, and supportive cradle. There’s no need to resist the stress. Instead, slow down, recognize it, feel it in your body, and try and name the emotion. Be caring and kind towards this part of yourself, this tension. Notice your breath and your abdomen now—aren’t they more relaxed and soft? Isn’t the fist softer too, now that it is held and seen?

This simple demonstration illustrates the profound connection between our body and our state of mind.

My method of finding balance when I sense any sign of contraction is to follow the transformative steps of Transformative Mindfulness (TMM)*. TMM guides me to explore the felt sense of my emotions, as emotions are like thoughts that manifest as sensations in the body.

In a playful manner, I use colours, shapes, metaphors, and words to step away from my thinking mind and fully immerse myself in the body’s sensations. I even document what this part of me looks like and note anything it may have to express. Gradually, transformation unfolds, and the inner feelings begin to shift with the following steps of asking for help and then sitting back to observe. The emotion becomes more positive, leading to compassionate action.

As I fill in the second sheet of paper, I find it is a joyful expression of the shift and my whole being feels the weightlessness that replaces my previous discomfort. Since adopting the TMM method, I no longer carry the burden of heavy suitcases filled with worries and anxiety. The secret lies in remembering to take time for self-care and to go through the process.

*Transformative Mindfulness (TMM) is an associate program of FDCW, which I have the privilege of teaching in both French and English.

Lorna’s Story

Nurturing Body and Mind: A Personal Exploration of the 16 Guidelines and Qi Gong

My journey with the 16 Guidelines has been a rollercoaster of self-discovery. It was challenging to navigate and accept my own habits and beliefs at times, but I always felt supported in an environment of pure compassion and acceptance.

I was first introduced to the power of the 16 Guidelines through a course held by a dear friend in Scotland. I attended to support her journey as a facilitator, expecting to learn something new, but hadn’t bargained on the depth of learning. The simplicity of its application allowed me to easily incorporate the guidelines into my busy life – as a full-time Community Learning & Development Worker, a mother to four grown children, a grandmother, a community volunteer, and a Qi Gong class instructor.

I was finding myself becoming impatient and judgemental of those I was working with, especially frustrated with management as staff’s input was reduced/ignored/dismissed. For me – especially as I progressed on through the levels to become a facilitator – the gentle introduction of the shadow side was the game changer along with the tools readily at hand that I could use myself at any given moment was an amazing and powerful gift.

The 16G have helped me grow(up), put in place boundaries for myself, be more responsive rather than reactive, and appreciate others’ points of view and choices by allowing me to consider a situation from another’s perspective. I became less of a victim, I seemed to land in myself if that makes sense, my heart seemed to expand and I became part of a community that willingly encourages exploration of subjects that are often avoided, like Me, White Supremacy and Death using compassion and wisdom at its heart so that you begin to recognise where your understanding of the world has come from, how your beliefs have been formed and adopted.

I have been learning Qi Gong for my own personal use since 2014, becoming a tutor in 2016, as a way to deepen my inner work and mindfulness practice. I have never very easily managed to sit and calm the “monkey mind”, by practising Qi Gong (the art of effortless movement) I became much more able to find stillness and be present in my body and the moment, my eyes would feel brighter, my body more supple and my mind clearer.

The practice of Qi Gong involves slow rhythmic movements focussing on acupressure points in the body. These points relate to certain meridian channels and organs which in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) also relate to emotions. By moving in a particular pattern you can clear stuck energy in the meridians and so relieve pain or dis-ease in the body/organs eg; Anger stored in the Liver and shadow of Patience and so by following a pattern that connects us to the liver we can release anger and help heal the Liver and cultivate Patience.

As I became more confident in delivering Qi Gong, I started to incorporate the 16 Guidelines into my sessions, including loving-kindness meditations and insightful discussions. Pick a card, read the quote from the role model and the paragraphs sharing what the guideline is. Then in the following week, we might begin by connecting with the guideline from the previous week, what people noticed through the week, and how it impacted their week/decisions/relationships. Morphing this way opened up to a 2-hour session involving the Conversations that Matter resources and reflections. Qi Gong really assisted those who took part in their inner knowing, being grounded, still and calm. I find myself now being able to go inside when challenged/triggered and reflecting, using the prompts and discussion group guide or BOB resources to help unpick anything that I am less able to connect with/see/accept.

Foundation for Developing Compassion and Wisdom (FDCW)

At FDCW we are committed to a more compassionate, wiser world. We provide resources, courses and training to develop qualities such as kindness, patience and honesty – qualities which are essential for meeting the challenges of the world we all share.

The Foundation for Developing Compassion and Wisdom (FDCW) was established as a global charity based in London in 2005. Since then we have provided secular training, programmes and resources across many sectors of society – schools, universities, hospices, workplaces, healthcare, youth groups and community centres. Our courses have reached thousands of people across the world through our dedicated and growing network of facilitators in more than 20 countries.

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