By Stephen Holland
The pandemic has been tough for everyone, but these times of isolation has given us the opportunity to look inward.
This has been especially true for Kasia Slabon, who set up the Mindfulness Haven Academy, which aims to teach people mindfulness and meditation practices.
Kasia became interested in meditation amid a time of personal crisis in her life.
“My mom died in 2011 and that forced me to look for different techniques that could help me deal with anxiety, fears and depression,” she said.
“Mindfulness and meditation helped me to manage my emotions, as well as panic attacks. That was the beginning of my journey with mindfulness.
“I started to educate myself toward becoming a mindfulness instructor.”
In 2011 she started the Sound Magic Ireland project which provides sound bath experiences to promote stress reduction, relaxation and mindfulness.
“I was interested in how sound affects the process of meditation and relaxation. It is very effective for achieving certain states of mind and accessing our internal healing processes,”she said.
Over the years Kasia built up so much sound equipment that it was difficult to travel from place to place for sessions. She decided the next step was to get her own place and, in 2019, she set up Mindfulness Haven Galway.
“I didn’t see any place in Galway that was entirely focused on meditation, mindfulness and relaxation,” she said.
“There are lots of yoga places. But I wanted to make sure there is a space in Galway that has all the equipment where people can learn meditation as well.”
It was a success and saw Kasia teaching mindfulness and meditation to people from various backgrounds.
“I also had a couple of courses for people with special needs, people recovering from a stroke and many different disabilities,” she said.
“Mindfulness is really popular these days. People appreciate the benefits of it.”
However, like many businesses throughout the pandemic, Kasia had to shut the doors to the Mindfulness Haven.
“We invested so much money in the place. But we had to close it down since we couldn’t afford the rent,” she said.
This forced Kasia to rethink how she could bring mindfulness and meditation to people in a virtual way.
“The change was difficult and challenging but at the same time it presented us with some other opportunities. We decided to move forward and create online courses. Which is something I don’t think I would have done without this push,” she said.
“I had to challenge my beliefs about online meditation teaching. I didn’t really trust that this was something that should be done because I am all about face-to-face contact with the person, and running a mindfulness course is a big responsibility.”
But Kasia said once she started meditating over Zoom, she noticed the benefits and saw that it was something that could work.
“It’s the social aspect of other people that is very motivating. You said you would be there at a certain time, and you can see each other for a moment,” she said.
“It still has that connection to other people. This is so important because without socialising we cannot grow our emotional state.”
While the restrictions may have caused major changes for Kasia, mindfulness and meditation has taught her to see these setbacks as opportunities and that there is no use in worrying about what you cannot change.
“I suppose it sounds a little bit pessimistic when you say everything is impermanent and we are not really in control, but it is also very liberating,” she said.
“For me mindfulness is cherishing that moment and being grateful for what you have instead of focusing on things we cannot control.
“To just live in the moment and look at the sunset and be happy. It’s the small things.”
Kasia is launching her online mindfulness and meditation classes next month which will be available from the Mindfulness Haven Academy website.
You can read more about the benefits of mindfulness on her blog.
For more Galway related stories, visit galwaypulse.com