Recently I gave a 30 minute talk entitled, “I’m not stressed, I’m relaxationally challenged”, to a large group of associates from the Mansfield/Richland County Public Library. As I’m organizing my talk and creating the power point, I am becoming increasingly more aware of the fact that I am actually extremely stressed.
Ok, so fast forward to the day of my talk with the Library associates. By this time, I have fully acknowledged that I am a stress monster, and I am planning to use my experiences as talking points during my presentation. And then…that morning, I found it necessary to make the very difficult decision to pull out of reconstruction of a gorgeous facility that would house the new company I was building.
At the moment of my talk, 11:30 am, I was the antithesis of calm.
I was so stressed, I must have been undulating; parts of my body visibly rolling from head to toe, toe to head, like a shock wave, an earthquake, or the graph of an EKG. (I feel that actually, the EKG graph; my body convulsing with every beat of my heart.)
So, I’m halfway through my talk and approaching the point when I take a deep dive into the teaching about mindfulness, and out of the blue, appearing in my head, is a story about a leading mindfulness teacher. (on a side note…this story is from my memory and is likely not exactly what happened, so please don’t judge me if bits of it have been embellished or altered)
This teacher, who had given hundreds of talks and presentations on mindfulness, was giving a talk to a packed room of academics, when his mind went blank. There was absolutely nothing in his head; he couldn’t remember why he was there, or about what he was speaking.
He remained completely silent.
He was silent on stage, with his eyes closed, and in front of the microphone for many minutes. So many minutes, that the crowd began to fidget and cough; I imagine they were uncomfortable and confused.
Finally, at just the point the host was going to save this teacher from further embarrassment, the teacher speaks, saying just one word – “Scared”. This one word followed by a long pause – “confused”, pause, and “embarrassed”.
At this point, the room begins to feel charged with an indescribable energy, (think goosebumps) as the crowd is beginning to realize what the teacher is demonstrating. Then the teacher continues to speak in single words, listing the emotion he is feeling in that moment. Eventually he lands on words like “calm”, and “comfortable”, and with full mental clarity finally returning, the teacher began his talk.
Following the talk, the attendees expressed their gratitude to the teacher for demonstrating, in a very vulnerable way, the practice of mindfulness; being present in this moment, with a deep awareness of what’s happening (physical sensations, emotions, thoughts, and intuitions), and with acceptance or no judgment. In that moment he truly had a lapse in memory, and instead of laughing it off, or covering it up, he allowed that lapse to be an impactful teaching tool for those who were lucky enough to share that place in time with him.
So, I told the story about the mindfulness teacher to my room full of librarians, basically as I transcribed here. Following, I offered the attendees my mindfulness practice in that moment. I stood up straight, balanced my weight on my feet, closed my eyes, and took a deep breath. My first word was “sadness”, and as the tears slid down my cheeks, “anger”, followed by “frustration”, and “hopelessness”.
I have to admit, I was pretty surprised, and yet, I accepted that this was how it was to be in that moment. I then offered the attendees the opportunity to note their own evolving emotions on a piece of paper.
My one regret is that I didn’t ask them to share.
In that moment, for me, disappointment revealed itself as sadness, anger, frustration, and hopelessness. Disappointment, for me in the moment I am writing these words, is felt as – “empty”, “numb”, and “resigned”.
And…now on the day of publishing, a full 13 days later, my feelings have evolved. I no longer sense disappointment, only gratitude and excitement. The vision for Mind Body Align was never about the space; it was about the collaboration. It was about investing energy in the community and it’s people in order to create a woven community of support and wisdom shared. Watch out – Mind Body Align has great plans and I hope you will join us!
For more information visit us at the Women’s Business Expo at the Renaissance Theater, October 14th, 11:00 – 2:00.
Annamarie Fernyak is the founder and CEO of Mind Body Align LLC based in Mansfield, Ohio. She is a certified life coach, mindfulness meditation teacher, and serial entrepreneur. The development of the MBAwareness Education Program was conceived while Annamarie was volunteering to teach mindfulness in a local middle school and found that the teachers and students were struggling to grow calm for their guest teacher, students seemed unable to pay focused attention, and the teachers were growing frustrated.
Annamarie’s focus was to create a program that would transform the lives of the students. She focused on hiring a licensed teacher to create and instruct the mindfulness-based social and emotional learning curriculums to elementary and secondary school students and teachers. Due to the challenges associated with global health concerns, Annamarie’s mindfulness education program is further now evolving into online mindfulness education focusing on teaching tools that reduce stress and support a life where people can feel more at ease. We also teach as a part of corporate wellness programs.
In 2017, Annamarie launched Align Mindfulness which is a FREE app downloadable from your app store that sends prompts a few times a day, bringing attention to what’s happening in your world. Intentionally simple, these reflections help you build a well-rounded “mindfulness” muscle by offering variety in where you place your awareness.