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Linda Hall interview on Kosmopolites.org

You are a Meditation Teacher, Personal Development Coach, Audio Author. It is wonderful to combine all this knowledge to provide concrete help to others.

How did you start approaching these disciplines?

I started meditating in my early twenties to help me manage a natural sensitivity of stress when I was an art student in the 1970s.  In my early forties, I trained as a holistic massage therapist and went on to do further training as an intuitive energy healer. It was from this time onwards that my meditation practice deepened as I began to use it as a means to explore my personal and spiritual development. I learned from various teachers and discovered mindfulness through reading Jon Kabat Zin; I felt drawn to mindfulness as a way of life.

I started training as a psychotherapist but was unable to continue my studies when I become chronically ill with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. Over the next eight and a half years I relied increasingly on meditation to help me manage the symptoms of my illness and support my recovery. I eventually realized that I wanted to teach meditation because it had helped me so much, so I started running meditation groups from my home and, in time, my own mindfulness-based meditation courses.  I then went on to train as a psychology practitioner with The Optimum Health Clinic, an award-winning clinic who had helped me get better. This deepened my understanding of the mind/body connection and informed my work as a meditation teacher.  I began running mindfulness-based meditation courses with the clinic to offer patients a spiritual as well as practical means to support their recovery. From that time, I began recording my own guided meditation audios for stress management and self-growth as a learning aide for my students.

How does, your combined approach, determine a concrete impact on individuals?

As a personal development coach, I help people identify the issues they need support with, and as a meditation teacher, I show them how to use meditation practices to work on those issues.  An important aspect of my work is helping people to understand that in order to manage stress and anxiety, (a common reason people seek me out), it’s necessary for them to develop mind/body awareness, and explore their own self-growth. My audios offer opportunities for people to experience the power of the mind/body connection and how they might apply that to their everyday life.

Mind/body balance is the perfect combination to achieve a joyful life. However, modern times seem to flow a different path. In fact, more and more individuals seek alternative ways to achieve that balance they seem to have lost.

Why, in your opinion, the number of individuals who lack mind/body balance seems to have increased over the last decade?

I think there are several reasons. One, is that the last decade has brought greater financial insecurity and people are finding they need to work much longer hours than they used to.  The result is a ‘time poor’ culture that doesn’t prioritize mental or physical health. Another, is that people have become increasingly reliant on their Smart phones and addicted to social media. Children don’t get to play outdoors as much and everyone spends too much time on their screens. The rise in technology has been so fast and people’s nervous systems can’t cope with the constant sensory bombardment. Also, paradoxically, the rise of social media has made people more image conscious but increasingly out of touch with their own physical and emotional needs.

Having full control of our mind sounds almost impossible. It is in the nature of our mind to wander. However, this is what we are trying to achieve through simple but powerful practices such as Mindfulness.

How your approach can provide benefit in achieving a better awareness of an individual’s thoughts and daily experiences?

My approach is body-focused with an emphasis on being mindful at a sensory level. Through being more in tune with our bodies, we are able to notice the effects of unhelpful thinking patterns, such as anxiety, and this provides the incentive to break those patterns. When the brain is in sensory mode, it also naturally triggers the nervous system’s relaxation response. Greater integration with our bodies, promotes emotional intelligence because our bodies house our emotions. The more in touch we are with our physical and emotional needs, the more aware we are able to be of the effects our thoughts have on our physical, psychological and emotional states.

Work-life balance is one of the individual’s modern struggles. Many people declared to be dissatisfied with their life even if they have clearly achieved amazing results over their careers.

What is the real nature of this dissatisfaction? Where would you suggest to start?

I suggest that a good place to start would be for people to examine their relationship with themselves Do they like, love, respect and accept themselves? I find it interesting that many high achievers are unconsciously trying to fill an empty space that never actually gets filled through achievements alone.  Developing a healthier relationship with themselves establishes their core level of inner contentedness, and this is reflected in how they interact with others and their life generally. 

Multitasking is a required skill by many companies for their employees. Our daily life brings us toward multitasking by simply using the smartphone while working on other tasks. Assuming that our nature should not be led by multitasking behavior, where is, in your opinion, the first area of intervention to revert this harmful habit?

I would recommend that people practice mindfulness to become aware of the physical, emotional and psychological effects caused by being constantly on their smart phones whilst working on other tasks. By noticing the physical tension, sensory overwhelm, energy output and distress to their nervous system, they can choose not to do that to themselves and put the smart phones down. I think it’s really healthy to designate regular spaces in their day such as meal times and rest times as smart phone free zones and make a ruling to switch off an hour before bedtime.

Kosmopolites.org

I did read somewhere that generating new habit is the main source of changes. It does sound like a paradox, but it is surely not.

What is your opinion about generating new habits to change our life?

As humans we are naturally hard-wired to generate patterns of thinking and behavior. Habits are just neural pathways. The good news is, that due to neural plasticity, each of us can generate an almost infinite amount of new neural pathways in our life-time.  This means, we can choose to change old unhelpful habits and create new, more useful ones. In my experience, mindfulness is the key to identifying unhelpful habits. A willingness and commitment to invest in our own well-being needs to be in place to establish new, more helpful ones.

What are you planning for the near future?

I’m currently working on a series of guided meditations for pain management and creating a course on the psychology of the chakra system.

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Simone Santarelli

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