Andy HixMindfulness & Wellbeing Coach in Finsbury Park, North London

My story

Trying – and failing – to change the world

 

At university I became a passionate and committed climate activist. I stopped eating meat and flying, became president of the university’s environmental society, joined marches in London, and went to the UN climate negotiations twice. My nickname was Captain Planet.

 

But my point of view made me incredibly judgmental. I couldn’t understand why people didn’t care as much about this issue as I did. Why were people standing around in the Students’ Union getting drunk and leaving the lights on when the whole world was on the brink of collapse? Were they stupid? Heartless? Wilfully ignorant? It was baffling and infuriating.

 

It seemed everything was wrong with the world: everything we bought, ate or drank; every time we got in a car or on a plane; every time we bought clothes… it was all contributing to global warming.

 

But my views and actions isolated me. It wasn’t meant to be a one-man mission – everyone was supposed to be joining me. But they didn’t want to, and I didn’t understand why.

 

My turning point: discovering mindfulness


After several years of being obsessed with the issue, and after the failure of the UN negotiations in Copenhagen in 2009, I was left disillusioned and despairing. I felt that nothing anyone was doing was making a difference. I decided to step away from being an activist, stop reading the environmental news, and put everything to do with climate change out of my mind. I still thought it was the number-one issue facing humankind, I had just run out of energy to do anything about it.

 

A few years later, I discovered mindfulness while researching ways to help a friend who was struggling and I joined a meditation group. For the first time, I was paying close attention to my own mind and body instead of focusing on what other people were doing. I soon realised that I was not as ‘fine’ as I always told people I was. I was physically agitated, mentally distracted, and out of touch with my emotions.

 

As I started to meditate, not only did I become more aware of these things, but they started to change. I had some profound experiences. I started to feel more peaceful than I’d ever felt in my life, and more able to focus and be present. I even experienced bliss and euphoria, and felt far more connected to people than I ever had before.

 

Another thing I noticed was that ordinary moments took on a whole new significance. Somehow, having a friendly chat over a cup of tea with someone in the office felt deeply fulfilling to me, whereas, before, only saving the world mattered. And I felt like this most of the time – life in general had come alive to me and felt meaningful. I could sense that something dramatic had changed in my perspective on the world, but I couldn’t quite put my finger on what that was.

Mindfulness as a force for change

I felt like an activist again – this time, advocating the benefits of mindfulness. But there were a few big differences. I was encouraging people to do something that would make them feel good, whereas before it always felt like I was asking them to sacrifice what they wanted - "Don't eat meat, drive a car or catch a plane!'

 

I've also let of of needing to know that what I'm doing will change the whole word. Even as I right that now, it sounds like an unbelievable burden!

 

I trust that if I'm doing something that feels meaningful to me, if it contributes to my health and happiness, or contributes to others, that enough. And it's a huge relief to accpet that.

 

I love my work because I experience that every day. People feeling less anxious, angry, overwhelmed, tense or depressed, and more relaxed, optimistic, calm, connected and happier, because of the work we do together. 

 

 

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