I attended the summer conference of the Chartered Institute of Ecology and Environmental Management (CIEEM) the other day, the topic of which was ‘Health and Wellbeing in the Workplace’. To be honest, I didn’t really pay much attention to the topic when I booked on, my main motive being accruing some much-needed CPD hours, to continue my membership of the institute as a professional ecologist. But when I looked at the list of speakers I was blown away – a big theme was making workplaces more open and ‘human’, removing the stigma of mental health issues and raising the profile of holistic well-being as an essential part of a healthy workforce. They even had a Buddhist monk talking about bringing meditation and mindfulness to the workplace! I felt a heart-bursting surge of joy and hope – my two worlds of ecology and well-being/holistic health appeared to be converging in the most beautiful way.
The conference was incredible – the speakers spoke bravely about their own break-downs and break-throughs, and the listeners were touched and inspired. We remembered that we are all human, we are all at heart the same fragile, flawed yet beautiful souls, riding the peaks and valleys of life with as much grace as possible. And there was a strong message that we can be both professional and human. It felt like yet another sign that the world is shifting. We are remembering ourselves and each other and, although not such an issue for a gathering of ecologists, we are also remembering the sacred importance of our connection to nature.
Anyhow, at morning break, something happened to me that happens from time to time. It feels like someone or something else moves through me. I act spontaneously and with utter focus and calm, as though ‘little me’ has no say in the matter. I found myself going to the organisers and telling them that, not only was I an ecologist, but I was also a yoga teacher, and would they like me to run a taster ‘chair yoga’ session during the lunch-break for those interested in bringing simple well-being practices into their daily office lives? The organisers were delighted at my proposition, and so I found myself in a circle with around thirty ecology professionals at lunch (all women I couldn’t help but note), going through simple breathing techniques and stretches to calm the mind, nurture the body and come back to present-moment awareness. It was a beautiful moment for me, kind of out-of-body.
It feels like a positive sign that gradually I’m integrating all the different parts of me, coming more and more into alignment. I’ve always struggled to reconcile these different, seemingly at-odds parts- the professional ecologist, the yoga teacher, the writer and editor, the massage therapist, the energy healer, the depression-sufferer, the eternal optimist, the totally down-to-earth, vulnerable, flawed human and the floaty divine being of immense soul-strength who connects with cosmic truth. But, these are all aspects of me, and gradually I’m letting them all play together in the same room rather than keeping them apart. And I look forward to seeing what future creations emerge from this play-time… 🙂