Singhashri Gazmuri is Breathworks' Programme Director and has the great opportunity-cum-challenge to set up a new Breathworks office in London. Here Singhashri is going to report on how Breathworks London is going in its first few weeks of inception and how she is finding her new life in London, so please, check back for fresh updates:
14/03 – Singhashri is reminded that 1 in 5 people live with chronic pain and she wonders who around her might need help.
Today I left the office early, as I was feeling like I might be coming down with a cold. Before heading to the tube, I realised that I still hadn't eaten lunch so made a mad dash across the road to Waitrose, intent on trying out one of their freshly made sandwiches from the bakery.
While scoffing down a slightly stale mozzarella, sun-dried tomato and rocket sandwich in a haze of viral fatigue, I noticed an old woman sitting close by. She was slowly moving from sitting to standing, with a pained look on her face. I noticed a cane hanging from the back of her chair. As she stood up, her bag fell on the floor in front of her. I watched her struggle to bend over and pick it up.
All of a sudden I realized that I had been waiting for someone else to offer her assistance.
"Come on, Singhashri." I thought.
As I looked back over, she was making her way, without her cane, to the garbage bin. A fur scarf that matched the coat she was wearing lay under the table. I slowly went over and placed it on the back of her chair with her cane.
She never saw me. She simply collected her things and went on her way. I thought of the staggering statistic we often talk about at Breathworks - that one in five struggles with chronic pain. I looked around me. The bakery was full of people. I wondered who else might need help.
07.03 – A reminder of our interconnectedness. On a day packed full of meetings, my favourite was the one that wasn't planned.
Today was full of meetings: Skyping with our Training Director, Gary Hennessey, in the morning; lunch with one of our accredited teachers, Karen Liebenguth (who gave me some great marketing ideas!); a supervision session with an associates in Manchester, Andrea Cygler; a face-to-face with our Administrator in the new office, Sarah Campbell, (who is doing a fantastic job!), and then in the evening, another supervision call with associate, Anjali Chatterjee.
But my favourite meeting of all was the unscheduled one.
After getting off the call with Andrea I hit a wall of tiredness. Without even considering the possibility that a body scan might be useful, I gave in to an irresistible urge for coffee. So I went across the street to Lou Lou's café, which serves up the best flat white this side of Paddington station. As I was heading out the door I grabbed some of our newly printed flyers that say things like "Are you breathing?" and "Awaken the force within yourself."
When I got to Lou Lou's I asked the barista if he would be happy to display our flyers, explaining about our courses and how they can help people with pain and stress, to which he happily agreed. He asked me a bit about how it's all going, getting things up and running, and we had a nice chat about the ins and outs of setting up a new mindfulness venture in west London.
He made me my flat white and as I was sweetening it up with half a packet of brown sugar, a young man who had been quietly sitting in the corner approached me and asked if he could have a flyer. Well, of course!
"I live right down the road, but I've never had the guts to go over there (to the West London Buddhist Centre). I get a lot of anxiety, so maybe your course could help."
"What's your name?" I asked.
"Alex." He said.
"Well, Alex, I'm glad you had the guts to say something today, and I hope you'll come along."
He was smiling from ear to ear and said he'd definitely be in touch. I walked back to the office with an equally toothy grin on my face. I love the opportunity for spontaneous interactions with strangers. It's an immediate reminder of our interconnectedness and how we all long for meaning, even if it's through a brief chat in a coffee shop. And I hope I'll see Alex again, whether it in a Breathworks course or simply walking down the street.
02/03 - The mindfulness of non-judgement and being with things as they are.
Today, I've learned that I have absolutely no filming or film editing skills at all. This is after trying, for the whole day, to film myself and my team at the centre, talking about how the courses we'll be offering can help people suffering from long-term health conditions and stress. Instead of an inspiring end product, we got what appears to be a shoddily thrown together mash-up with low sound quality and an awkward looking feel. It's so endearing, that I actually created a second video of the out-takes that communicates more about the mindfulness values of non-judgement and being with things as they are, then anything we actually said in the video. Stay tuned to see it. (Note from Breathworks - we think the video is pretty cute!)
28/02 - Loving-kindness in the London crowds.
I moved to London from Manchester last October to set up a new office in London. I knew it wouldn't be easy and would provide me with countless opportunities to learn. After all, up until now, I've always been more of a "facilitator" than an "initiator." More comfortable coming into pre-existing situations and helping them grow. So I knew my next big adventure would be a stretch.
A couple things I've learned so far. First off, there is no "normal" when it comes to London commuting patterns. In a hopeless pursuit to avoid the crowds, I've tried leaving home on the hour, every hour between 8am and noon, and leaving the office at different times between 4-7pm, and the pattern is, well, not a pattern! It's totally random, like life, and uncontrollable, also like life. I've finally given in to the uncertainty, and my commute has become much more enjoyable.
The opportunities to do loving-kindness practice are endless, and I particularly look forward to the escalator at King's Cross St. Pancras where I get to send a silent wish of wellness to everyone going down, while I'm going up, and vice-versa. And sometimes, upon eye contact, a smile.