Wow, what a year it has been! I don’t know you, but for me 2015 passed with great speed and intensity. In this post, I will reflect on the past 12 months and share the main events for Conscious Beginnings.
The Science of Happiness
It all started with signing up for the Science of Happiness course offered by the UC Berkeley. It is an online course that looked at how we can improve happiness based on scientific research. Here is a link if you want to participate in this free online course.
When I mentioned this course to Louise, the director of studies at Navitas English Language School where I used to do some casual teaching to supplement my income, whilst my psychotherapy private practice was up and running, she invited me to speak at Navitas’ professional development seminar. I accepted her kind offer and prepared a 45-minute presentation based on the latest research on happiness and mindfulness. My presentation looked into practical ways to increase happiness by harnessing the effects of social connections, kindness, compassion, forgiveness, and mindfulness.
The presentation was well received and the feedback showed that it inspired the participants to cultivate mindfulness in their lives. To my surprise, Louise generously paid me, which was not discussed before and this event became my first paid public speaking gig. I felt an immense gratitude to do what I love: spreading consciousness and empowering people to transform their lives and get rewarded.
This presentation became the foundation of a half-day “Boost Your Happiness” workshop that was organised at the end of February 2015. You can read more about this event in a previous article
The gradual progress of life brought me into the “Mind, Body, Spirit” workshop in March, where I worked along with Michael Askill, from Perception Sound and Iris Six from Iris Six Yoga. This 3,5 hour workshop included yoga, mindfulness and sound healing.
Time off: Healing and another Workshop in France
Mid April was the beginning of a well-deserved holiday. We took 6 weeks off to relax and also visit our families in Europe. The first stop was of course Ubud, Bali which has now became our second home after visiting the island for 5 times and living there for 3 months in 2014. We spent our time by catching up with friends, doing yoga, meditation & breathwork, visiting our favourite healers, getting lots of massages, participating in kirtans and many other consciousness enhancing activities.
Whenever I go back to this island of Gods, the name given by the locals, some deep healing occurs. I used to believe that if I put the effort in and I work on myself, then I would heal all my traumas once for all. However, after many years of therapy and personal growth work, I understand that the journey of healing and personal growth never ends. It simply goes deeper and deeper, like peeling the layers of an onion. The healing cannot be rushed and happens in accord with divine timing.
At the end of this healing journey in Bali, I realised this trip was about letting go of resentments & anger towards my parents (especially my mother), developing self-reliance and integrating my own power. On a deeper level, the task was to heal my relationship with my parents through forgiveness, and developing a heart-felt connection. I am happy to say that through deep reflection and lots of healing work, I was able to let go of the issues that were hindering a meaningful relationship with my family.
The next stop on this 6-week journey was Paris to visit my wife’s (Alex) family and also to run our 1st international workshop. After getting over our jet-lag and connecting with her family, we started the preparations for the next event “Boost your Happiness” workshop in French.
We had 14 participants and most of them did not speak much English. Alex did an amazing job translating my comments into French and clarifying any issues that arose during the event. This workshop included practical mindfulness exercises, guided meditations and the latest research on happiness. It was a very different experience compared to previous workshops I had run in Australia, as French people tend to argue and question almost everything. Nevertheless, we had great feedback from the participants who seemed to have enjoyed the afternoon to learn about mindfulness and cultivating present moment awareness.
After 6 days in Paris, I visited my parents in Turkey and we had a great time together. One of the most rewarding aspects of personal development is going back to our family of origin and developing new ways of responding rather than repeating the same old habitual patterns that may not be helpful to create deeper connections. As I often say to my clients, you cannot change your family. You can only change yourself and through that, everything around you changes. This change, however, is not an easy process and requires willingness, courage, patience, forgiveness and love.
Back to Brisbane
Returning to Brisbane in the middle of winter was a challenge. I always feel a bit lost after a holiday. It took me a couple of weeks to get back into the swing of things.
A new public speaking opportunity came my way when a member of our Mindfulness Circle asked me to present on the benefits of Mindfulness in one of their monthly meetings. I have been attending Toastmasters, an international organisation focusing on communication and public speaking, since September 2014 to become a better speaker and the time spent at their meetings was definitely paying off with these new public speaking opportunities coming my way.
My next project was to organise mindfulness based corporate and group courses. This idea required a lot of research, thinking and experimenting. I came up with new concepts, mindfulness exercises and developed 2 manuals to be used in the upcoming workshops and courses.
Meanwhile, the West End Mindfulness Circle, which was created in October 2014, had grown into a big community with more than 1,000 members. We continue to run free workshops every Tuesday to empower others to live a conscious life and give back to the community. I have to admit that this has been one of the most rewarding projects I have been involved in. Serving others without expecting anything in return is such a humbling and heart-warming experience.
The Conscious Change Program
My efforts of marketing and creating a new mindfulness course paid off and the first 8-week mindfulness based personal growth program – Conscious Change – was offered at the end of October. It was rewarding to see amazing positive shifts among the participants, who worked diligently to make mindfulness and meditation part of their daily lives. Next year, I will be running 4 new courses starting in March 2016. I would like to acknowledge the hard work and amazing designs created by Alex. Without her support, I would not be able to achieve all these remarkable milestones.
I have also started running some introductory Mindfulness courses organised by Mindfulness Works. This is also a great opportunity to spread consciousness amongst general population, as Mindfulness Works is currently teaching up to 600 people per month in its courses both in Australia and New Zealand.
Some of the recent months were spent putting proposals together for the corporate mindfulness programs. One of my goals in 2016 is to offer more mindfulness trainings for the businesses to help their employees’ deal with the workplace challenges and stresses in a better way.
One of the biggest highlights of 2015 was seeing Dr. Wayne Dyer live in Brisbane at his “I am Light” seminar. He became one of my greatest teachers in the last couple of years. I truly enjoyed meeting him during this incredible 2 day seminar and was shocked to hear about his sudden death 2 weeks later. I consider myself very fortunate to be able to meet this incredible wise man in this lifetime. May his soul rest in eternal piece.
Besides all the workshops, research and courses, I still offered counselling and psychotherapy for a number of clients struggling with anxiety, stress, trauma, and relationship difficulties. One of the most rewarding aspects of being a psychotherapist is to see the transformation of these brave individuals, who often arrive with immense difficulty to cope with life’s challenges. I see it as a privilege to work with them in a safe and sacred space where they discover the power within, change their lives accordingly and be the best versions of themselves.
As this year comes to an end, I wish you a wonderful festive season with your loved ones & a great start to 2016. May you find peace and wisdom within you.