How to Develop Mindfulness and Serenity During these Stressful & Uncertain Times
Asa part of my series about “How To Develop Mindfulness And Serenity During Stressful Or Uncertain Times,” I had the pleasure of interviewing Ryan Haddon.
Ryan Haddon is a certified Life and Spiritual coach, Hypnotherapist, and certified Meditation teacher with over 16 years of experience with clients around the world. A sought-after public speaker for corporate retreats and wellness events, Ryan does private workshops such as “Stepping Into Your Purpose,” “The Work/Life Balance,” and “Finding Your Center.” She’s also the in-house Life Coach at Kourtney Kardashian’s website Poosh, where she writes mind/body/spirit articles.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you share with us the backstory about what brought you to your specific career path?
Ifound myself waking up from a dark period of my life many years ago, when I realized everything I had built and understood to be important, fell apart. I didn’t know how to live life on life’s terms, and I sought out mentors, spiritualists and healers, to help me create a blueprint for living a more fulfilling inner life, which in turn, created an outer life of value and purpose. I began giving away what I was learning, to other women, mentoring them and showing them what was working for me, as a spiritual mentor. I became a certified life coach, hypnotherapist, and meditation teacher to further support my work in helping others thrive on their chosen path.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started your career?
The most interesting thing that’s happened to me in my career is how much I continue to learn and grow alongside my clients, while leaning into my own hard-earned wisdom and cultivated skills. A story also comes to mind about a client who approached me for help around her long-standing fear of water. She lives near the ocean, and was saddened that she couldn’t swim in the beauty of the water that surrounded her. She had been taking swimming lessons in a pool with an instructor who was helping her gently work through this debilitating phobia, but 5 minutes into each lesson she would be seized by a panic, and have to get out of the pool shaking all over. She wanted to try hypnosis in helping her lessen being in the grips of this irrational panic, having never previously experienced a negative event in her life around water. We agreed to several sessions together, both of us believing the fear originated from her subconscious mind. We had our first session, then I got a call from her a month later, and she was delighted to tell me that she was swimming daily in the ocean, and loving every minute of it! The fear and panic were gone for good. I was floored, both at the power of working with the subconscious mind, and of how responsive it can be time and again, to hypnosis. When someone is truly ready to upload a new idea and blueprint for living, it can happen quickly.
What advice would you give to other leaders about how to create a fantastic work culture?
My advice to other leaders would be to create an environment where people can feel safe, physically as well as emotionally. Where there’s a sense of real community, and conversations are had outside of formal boardrooms that address the workplace climate, where meditation is encouraged (an onsite meditation room would be ideal). Where mindfulness instructors and life coaches are regularly brought in, not to improve productivity levels, although that will be a wonderful byproduct, but to discuss how people are growing individually and collectively. As people are growing in the workplace, being mindful, feeling ‘seen’ and honored, they will feel a sense of purpose and pride in their work culture, and everyone benefits.
Is there a particular book that made a significant impact on you? Can you share a story or explain why it resonated with you so much?
I have so many books that have left an indelible impression on me. It’s so hard to narrow it down to just one. But I’d have to say “The Power of Now” by Eckhart Tolle, as it crystallizes why mindfulness is so vital to a sense of contentment, and it provides practical ways in which to go about creating a mindful life.
Ok, thank you for all that. Now let’s move to the main focus of our interview. From your experience or research, how would you define and describe the state of being mindful?
The state of being mindful is being fully present with What Is. That the mind is fully attending to what’s unfolding in the moment, to what you’re doing, and to the pace you’re moving through it. Often, we are projecting into the future or scanning the past, neither of which are here in the present moment. Being mindful requires we drop into a surrender of right now. And no matter what outer drama is going on, when you can be in the moment, for the most part, you realize you are actually OK. You are alive, you are breathing, that’s all we ever have control of, anyway: how we show up for this moment, and working at being fully present while we’re in it. We can face anything when we are in balance, responding rather than reacting to life’s curve balls.
This might be intuitive to you, but it will be instructive to spell this out. Can you share with our readers a few of the physical, mental, and emotional benefits of becoming mindful?
By practicing mindfulness, we physically feel calmer as it alleviates stress, we feel more grounded and connected to ourselves; the mind stops its whirring, blood pressure drops; it lowers the heart and respiratory rate, and relieves muscle tension. It can also improve memory and aid with better sleep. Practicing mindfulness regularly can help us lead happier lives long-term, as we cultivate an internal experience, a set point of neutrality, regardless of external dramas. Preferences and attachment to outcomes, which can cause suffering when not met, cease to be as important, and contentment becomes an inner core from which we live our lives.
Ok. Here is the main question of our discussion. The past 5 years have been filled with upheaval and political uncertainty. Many people have become anxious from the dramatic jolts of the news cycle. The fears related to the coronavirus pandemic have only heightened a sense of uncertainty, anxiety, fear, and loneliness. From your experience or research what are five steps that each of us can take to develop mindfulness and serenity during such uncertain times? Can you please share a story or example for each.
5 Steps to Mindfulness:
- Notice when you’re not in present time. This can be challenging, as we have about 60,000 thoughts a day, most of which are unconscious, so starting to notice, to observe your thoughts, is a great place to start and a revelation for some that even you’re even having thoughts…
- You begin to notice that you’re not your thoughts. You are the one thinking the thoughts. And you realize you have the capacity to choose them, as you get better at pinpointing ones that are negative, replacing them with more positive ones.
- If you catch yourself spinning in a negative spiral, it’s helpful to bring yourself into the present moment through your senses. If you’re washing the dishes, feel the warmth of the water on your hands, the sudsy soap, the steam reaching your face. Again, noticing, and bringing the mind into the mundane moment to be experienced fully.
- Breath is helpful, by taking three deep conscious breaths you can shift chemicals in the brain, come into the moment, where all is actually well. We have no control over the future and outcomes, but we can consciously work to be wherever we are right now, and cultivate peace within us.
- Start and end your day with meditation, even if it’s just for 5 minutes. Set a timer, so you can drop into the quiet space, and just focus on your breath. Breath coming in, breath going out. If you notice a thought, bring the focus back to the breath. This will help you maintain your state of calm and peace, and also train yourself to stay with the breath throughout your day, allowing thoughts to come and go. It will support you in staying calm at the deepest level.
From your experience or research what are five steps that each of us can take to effectively offer support to those around us who are feeling anxious? Can you explain?
By practicing good self-care through our mindfulness practice, we offer that stability and calm to others. It’s the same as when there’s air turbulence, and the gas masks deploy, the pilot urges us to put the mask on ourselves first, and then place it on the child/person next to us. In the same way, we have to know how to self-soothe, through various techniques that work for you, to be able to show up for others, holding the space for their anxiety at this tumultuous time.
We help others by being a power of example, and by being mindful of our thoughts and the power they have to create our reality. As well as through the mindful practices we commit to as a priority in our lives (meditation, journaling, breathwork, etc.). When we are truly coming from a peaceful place, we can hold space for others’ fears and anxiety, by showing up fully to listen with our whole being, whilst not taking any of that on, because we feel an unshakable inner knowing that we are supported from within. External happenings have less power to rattle our foundations as they unfold, when we are rooted in steadiness and we’ve cultivated stillness.
What are the best resources you would suggest for someone to learn how to be more mindful and serene in their everyday life?
There are so many types of meditation, and some of us are better suited to one over another: calm focus, present moment awareness, energized body and mind, and transcendence. Some find mindfulness easy and some harder. Finding which type suits you best is helpful — The Veda Center will help you do just that (thevedacenter.com) and you can even take a teacher training if you felt the call to go deeper with your own practice. Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT) or Tapping is helpful too. It’s a powerful tool to shift your negative mindset quickly into a more positive one, that combines Chinese acupressure points and modern psychology. The Tapping Solution app will walk you through all you need to know Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Do you have a story about how that was relevant in your life?
“Acceptance is the answer to all of my problems today. When I am disturbed it is because I find some person, place or situation — some fact of my life — unacceptable to me. I can find no serenity until I accept that person, place, thing or situation as being exactly the way it is supposed to be at this moment.” Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous.
This quote has kept me in good stead, remembering that I have to get right with what’s unfolding in my life. The pain is in the resistance of it. Railing against it, wishing it were different — becomes an energy leak. I can’t control a whole lot, but I can shift my perceptions around it. I can move into acceptance. Doesn’t mean I have to like it, or agree with it, but before I can move into action around changing it, I have to first shift into acceptance of it. This is mindfulness in real time, where the rubber meets the road, and we can stay steady as things don’t go our way, expectations aren’t met, or disappointment grips us. This quote is both empowering and humbling, reminding us, that we don’t always know what’s best, that there are other forces at work around us, and that we have the ability to adjust our state accordingly and find contentment no matter what.
You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
Self-Love would be the movement, in the highest sense, for the greatest good of all. Heal yourself, honor where you are in your emotional life, stop looking outside of you for elusive solutions, lean into you for the love and comfort you are seeking, become your best ally. All good things on the planet happen from this place of love, and it really does begin with your relationship with yourself. You can’t give away what you haven’t got. Fear and external focus are what pulls us away from our center, and it is what the World has been propagating. The biggest act of rebellion in relation to governments and society is to love and honor yourself above all others. From that perspective, you can be of maximum service to those around you, your community, and the World at large. It then becomes about recognizing that boundless love in the hearts and minds of our fellow men. If everyone could be coming from this place of total responsibility for getting your own emotional and spiritual needs met on a daily basis, we would live in a utopia of shared greatness, without fear, lack and the need to dominate or control. We would be free. It always begins with me, and you.