I would encourage mindful walking as a practice. For most people, this can be integrated easily into daily life and interestingly, it is connected to ancient Buddhist traditions. As you are walking, pay attention to all of sensations you feel — truly being present for and tuning in closely to the whole experience.
As a part of my series: “How to Develop Mindfulness & Serenity During Stressful or Uncertain Times”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Rosie Peacock.
Rosie Peacock, MAPPCP, PGCert, BA (Hons), Cert HE is a business and mindset coach. She has a Master’s degree in Positive Psychology and Coaching Psychology, and she is also a qualified yoga and meditation teacher. Rosie helps coaches, thought leaders, changemakers and visionaries step into their power, know their purpose and reach their full potential, so that they can make a huge positive impact online.
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?
A few years ago, I worked as a secondary school teacher at a nunnery in Tenerife until personal circumstances brought me back home to the UK, which in turn led me to train in Business Management at a Further Education college. Whilst holed up in the nunnery, I developed a passion for wellbeing and coaching and, following a series of burnouts at work, I decided to start look at my life differently. I love to travel, and took myself to an ashram in India, where I learned about Yoga Nidra and Sanskrit chanting before ultimately falling head over heels in love with Eastern spirituality.
I have always had a thirst and curiosity for knowledge, so after I returned to the UK, I embraced a call to undertake a Masters’ degree in Positive Psychology to better understand how to live a whole, happy and successful life. After qualifying as a yoga and meditation teacher, I began to understand the importance of a holistic approach to personal development (physical, personal, professional, social and spiritual) and so I created my first wellbeing business: the Institute of Positive Wellbeing — teaching yoga and mindfulness, coaching clients, and leading positive psychology workshops. I absolutely loved this work but found myself back on the road to burnout, longing for more freedom. I missed the teaching holidays, and if I wanted to travel or break the weekly class routine, I had to arrange cover teachers and lose money. I was working so hard for my business, but my business wasn’t working for me.
I decided to invest in a business and mindset coach last year, and I have been able to combine my love of learning and experience in coaching, teaching and wellbeing to give me the freedom I needed. I had already worked extensively in the online since 2015, helping run online schools, creating successful sell-out online courses and mentoring and supervising people digitally as they set up their businesses — all in preparation, it would seem, for this year, when everything moved online.
Over the last year, I have helped many spiritual business owners pivot their businesses online. My group The Soulful Success Society welcomes all kinds of spiritual and wellness businesses, including Reiki masters, yoga teachers, healers and therapists; helping them to upskill and take their offerings to an online space that feels good to them — in turn enabling them to continue to offer their products and services during lockdown periods. My mastermind group is peppered with practical “how to get started” guides and resources such as beautiful gong ceremonies and meditations, which all help my clients to feel held and supported through the process.
I have also begun to explore the potential combination of personal development coaching with the “quantum leaps” in self-discovery: investigating the holistic healing properties of psychedelics and plant medicines. I am currently conducting research into Psychedelic Integration Coaching, developing theories around the processes, methodology and competencies involved in integration work. I am also planning a Psychedelic Business Mastermind Retreat in 2021 (the first of its kind) to access the creativity and connectedness of plant medicine with a group of inspiring, conscious leaders, along with looking at ways to improve focus on physical, personal, professional, social and spiritual development.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started your career?
One of the most interesting things that has happened to me since I started my career as a business and mindset coach was the business advice I received from plant medicine, of all things! I enjoyed travelling and going on retreats, and one particular retreat had a focus on magic mushrooms. I see then as a pivotal point in my change of direction from schoolteacher to mindset coach.
Once the journey began, I got some amazing messages — one being that I am here to help thought leaders create massive change through a connection with plants. I was also told that I must teach, share wisdom and write books. The guidance was so clear and freeing that I embarked on several more similar ceremonies, and am now hosting the first legal plant medicine retreat for business owners in April next year. In fact, one of my missions is to normalise the use of these types of ceremonies, in order to help business owners truly step into their life’s purpose.
What advice would you give to other leaders about how to create a fantastic work culture?
My business specifically helps people to step into their dharma so that they can become a thought leader in their zone of genius, packaged in a way that helps them to generate abundance and freedom in their lives — whether that is time, money or confidence.
I believe that when you truly find your dharma, you are able to help change the lives of others. One thing about finding your dharma is knowing what you are good at — and knowing when to ask for help — to clear the way for the things that light you up!
I know many business owners try to do it all — accounting, social media scheduling, copy-writing, organizing diaries, promotion, online course creation…the list goes on. In building the structure of a team to support you, it means you get to stay in your zone of genius AND you don’t burn out.
One thing I do want to share is that in creating a balanced work culture, we must make sure we do not lose sight of our own self-care in the flurry to build our businesses — often the very reason we started our ventures in the first place. Self-care isn’t only about having an Epsom salt bath or a walk in nature. There is so much more to it than that.
Part of self-care is acknowledging is when we need a balance. Time to allow for creative flow balanced with time to act. It’s a delicate dance. One that I hadn’t realized was out of kilter until I headed off on a legal psychedelics retreat that I had the pleasure of assisting on.
When it came to participating in the first tea ceremony on that retreat, I truly went within; listening to and allowing the plant medicine’s wisdom to filter through to me. I came away from that first tea ceremony with such clarity. Clarity that I needed to rest, regain a balance and practice my own self-care, and to share those insights with others.
Lastly, there is so much evidence out there to suggest that beginning your day with a gratitude and meditation practice, along with a journalling practice, really enables you to tune into yourself. In fact, as the lockdowns gave us time to think (and in some cases retrain and others an option to do things differently), it sparked an increase in online businesses. If you are one of those who has started on that path, then I applaud you in taking those exciting and sometimes scary steps.
Is there a particular book that had a significant impact on you? Can you share a story or explain why it resonated with you so much?
Full Catastrophe Living by Jon Kabat-Zinn. This was a 1990’s bestseller about taking the approach of accepting whatever life throws at you.
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?
I would say that mindfulness is the awareness that arises from paying attention, on purpose, to the present moment — and doing so without judgment.
The hardest part here is “without judgment”. I place a real emphasis on being compassionate and kind to yourself, and advocate not just being able to have an experience — but also learning to sit with experiences.
This might be intuitive to you, but it will be instructive to spell it out. Can you share with our readers a few of the physical, mental, and emotional benefits of becoming mindful?
Some of the physical and mental benefits of becoming mindful is that it slows down the heart rate, shifts your nervous system to a parasympathetic state (in other words, you are no longer fight or flight mode). It also creates space for clarity and creativity, because in a mindful state we can tap into the parts of ourselves we block when we are existing on autopilot and in survival mode.
On an emotional level, mindfulness makes us more balanced. It allows us to become an observer of our thoughts; looking at life from a more grounded and balanced perspective. It increases neuroplasticity, assists with shifting away from old patterns of conditioning, brings about self-compassion and heightens that sense of connection to a higher self.
Ok. Here is the main focus of our discussion. The past five 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 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 during such uncertain times? Can you please share a story or example for each.
Before I launch into this, I wanted to put it into context a little. I am fascinated by the fact that evolutionary psychology suggests that human beings have an inbuilt survival mechanism known as ‘negativity bias’ — in other words, we tend to place a mental emphasis on the so-called ‘bad’ things in life over the good. Unsurprisingly, with the coronavirus pandemic being perceived as an overwhelmingly ‘bad’ thing to happen in 2020, it’s so easy to be swept into downward spiral of despair: it may be difficult at times for us to see any light and hope as the restriction-filled days roll and blur into one. However, there is a way to combat the aforementioned bias and to switch focus to the positives of 2020, and this can be found in learning the art of savouring — the first of the five steps to developing mindfulness that I will share.
The sweetness in savouring is that it is a practice which combines both mindfulness and gratitude, along with gently encouraging us to bring awareness to the present moment. Savouring is also proven to boost our mental wellbeing and our immune system — all the more reasons to give this practice a try.
So, how can the art of savouring be mastered? Savouring can be found in that moment when you are making Christmas pudding with your children, relishing the experience with all of your senses: the smell of the mixture, the feel of the pudding in your hands, the sound of your children’s shrieks and laughter. It’s in walking in the forest and noticing how the sunlight peeks almost cheekily through the boughs of the trees as they rustle gently in the autumnal breeze. Taking pleasure and joy in the smallest and most fleeting of threads in the rich tapestry of our lives.
The second step I would suggest is cultivating a preset moment gratitude practice. This is simply using the full scope of our awareness to recognise what we feel grateful for at any given moment, which links and weaves nicely with savouring. The subtle difference is that if you feel that there is not something in your external environment that you can savour, practising present moment gratitude can involve going within. You can close your eyes and focus on your breath; breathing in and out slowly, and feel gratitude for the life-sustaining force that the breath is to us as human beings.
Thirdly, I would encourage mindful walking as a practice. For most people, this can be integrated easily into daily life and interestingly, it is connected to ancient Buddhist traditions. As you are walking, pay attention to all of sensations you feel — truly being present for and tuning in closely to the whole experience.
The fourth simple suggestion I have is to look at one thing you do in your day-to-day life — washing up or washing your hands, for example — and pick one. Become aware of your thoughts each time you repeat the act, and try to make an effort to enjoy the experience whilst you do. If you choose the act of washing your hands, you could see it as a way of removing dirt consciously and mindfully.
The fifth and final step that I would like to share is the importance of having a regular meditation practice. Meditation encourages you to be in the state of observing: I would recommend that you commit to at least 6 minutes each day. If you find that your mind wanders, don’t despair because even if you are just observing the breath or performing a body scan, these are still meditative and mindful processes.
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?
As an example, my sister has suffered with anxiety for most of her adult life. Some of the things that I have encouraged and helped her to try when she has had times of struggle are as follows, and are things that you too can recommend to loved ones in their times of need.
- Tuning into the senses — noticing five things you can see, four things you can hear, three things you can touch or feel, two things you can smell and one thing you can taste. This simple process is a way of grounding yourself into the present moment by using all the senses.
- Focus on slowing the breath, by elongating it to make it as long as possible. Start with 5, before moving on to 4, 3, 2 and 1. The slower you make the breath, the more it will have a soothing effect on the parasympathetic nervous system.
- Havening, which is a form of comforting and compassionate self-touch that involves stroking your face and holding yourself.
- If your loved one is anxious and has lots to process mentally, journalling is a great way of getting it all out of the head and on to paper. It is also a useful way of helping them to see when they are catastrophising.
- In some circumstances, gently suggesting that seeking advice and support in the form of a professional therapist might be the best thing to do.
What are the best resources you would suggest for someone to learn how to be more mindful and serene in their everyday life?
I think the app Insight Timer is great for helping to cultivate a regular mediation practice. As you’ve probably guessed from my mentioning which book had a significant impact on me, I highly rate the work of Jon Kabat-Zinn: he has written several other books and is also active on Twitter (@jonkabatzinn).
With regard to another resource that enhances mindfulness and serenity, I do practice what I preach and I am a big fan of journalling as a form of interacting with myself. Day-to-day journalling is such a powerful way of reflecting upon our thoughts and actions, so I would urge everyone to give keeping a regular journal some thought.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”?
I particularly love these words — they speak to me on every level and they are never very far away from my thoughts, where they often to serve as a reminder:
Watch your thoughts, they become words
Watch your words, they become actions
Watch your actions, they become habits
Watch your habits, they become character
Watch your character, it becomes your destiny.
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 might trigger!
I would love to see psychedelics being used in the mainstream. I would campaign for them to be used as medicine, based on research around mental health and addiction. To my mind, it would make sense to start a movement to use a controlled and evidence-based way to help people to overcome the most common mental health issues that are rife in society today.
Let me explain a little more. This same sense of expansiveness and interconnectedness with the universe that arises after an experience with psychedelics can also be experienced through Holotropic Breathwork™, kundalini yoga, meditation and certain shamanic states. It could well explain why a lot of people who come out of psychedelic experiences show long-lasting increases in the personality trait of “openness” and connectedness to nature.
The indigenous cultures have used psychedelic medicine as part of their traditions to cure and treat their illnesses for centuries. They cannot understand how and why we have shunned plant medicine in the way we do. Only now is modern western society starting to wake up to the possibility that it has a widespread and deep-rooted illness — one where success is measured through material gain — and a lack of connection to ourselves and our souls.
Re-introducing plant medicine into our lives — whether through the means of cacao ceremonies or psychedelics — means we are able to listen to those parts of us that we have silenced for so long, and reconnect with our minds, bodies and spirits. Everything is connected.
Research has been conducted over the past 10 years in the field of psychedelics, and thanks to the latest technology in brain scanning, it is understood that psychedelic substances allow the brain to become more open to new ideas and thought patterns. This has proven in many studies to be hugely beneficial for people who are anxious or depressed, and who tend to ruminate or get stuck in their own limiting beliefs.
Psychedelics are incredibly powerful tools, unlike anything else we have researched in the mental health space, so these substances (when administered in research conditions) can both kick start and fast-track the mental healing process: some have described a single session with psychedelics as “like ten years of therapy in a very short session”.
A five-year study suggests the use of psychedelics could work “like a surgical intervention” for mental illness. In fact, a clinical trial completed by researchers from Johns Hopkins University induced out of body experiences in a small group of healthy volunteers dosed with psilocybin. The participants said they felt more open, more imaginative and more appreciative of beauty. Six months after the experience, 80 percent of the participants showed significant decreases in symptoms of depression and anxiety, as measured by what’s considered a gold standard psychiatric evaluation.
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Thank you for these fantastic insights. We wish you only continued success in your great work!