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- Posted on April 13, 2023

Member in Spotlight: BFFP Europe’s Mindfulness Circle

In Europe, members of #BreakFreeFromPlastic host a monthly meeting, inviting members from across the region and beyond for a mindfulness session. We’re here to learn more about the initiative and how more members can get involved. 

Myrto Pispini (Greenpeace), Caroline Wagner (Greenpeace) and Suze Govers (RNB)

Tell us about the mindfulness circle: When was it set up, what is its aim, what do you do? 

Hi everyone! We are Myrto, Caroline and Suze and together we host the BFFP Mindfulness Circle.

In 2021, we participated in the Resilient Mindset Programme that was offered to BFFP by Robert H. N. Ho Family Foundation and provided by Potential Project. We experienced firsthand the benefits of practicing mindfulness in a work-related group setting and saw the positive impact it had on all participants, well beyond our ‘office-lives’. This - together with our personal years experience with other practices such as meditation, Qigong, energy work, yoga, kinesiology and more - inspired us to take initiative and start sharing these practices with the wider BFFP community.

Our aim is to provide a friendly and safe space where BFFP members can get together informally and practice mindfulness exercises, such as meditation, breathing, and conscious movement. We get together every first Wednesday of the month and the three of us co-facilitate and guide the session, which is different every time! With this initiative, we hope to introduce mindfulness to everyone and support the community in wellbeing and self-care at work and in life.

Why should BFFP focus on mindfulness? What role does it play for organisations and individuals fighting plastic pollution? 

Many of us live out the mission to take care of the Earth and all its inhabitants, be it plants, animals, rocks, humans, rivers and forests. We sometimes forget that this inherently means also taking care of ourselves! We are, after all, a part of this living planet.

And, as everything is interconnected, we simply cannot take care of the outer world without taking care of our inner world: ourselves, as colleagues, as a movement. In a way, our body is the first planet that we need to take care of. If we want to realise the systemic environmental shifts we deem necessary, we need to balance our hard work out with enough self-care.

For some of us, it might help to remember that in today’s society where it is normal to deplete the Earth and also ourselves, loving self-care is actually a radical activist thing to do.

Are there any surprising learnings that you have made whilst running the mindfulness circle? 

We are very happily surprised to see so many BFFP colleagues coming by to practice together. We know that everyone who joins proactively has to make time in their agendas to do so, and we respect that a lot. For some, it is a very first taste of mindfulness, others have some or more experience - it is really a mix and that works very well.

We noticed that it is rather common to feel some resistance in taking time for a mindful moment - and during the work day on top of that - but that it always pays off. Everyone always leaves with a smile on their faces!

We experienced it for ourselves and we are also hoping that for the colleagues who are joining us, and practicing slowing down together, breathing and finding our center again helps to (re)start and energise their day with more clarity. We notice that these 15 - 30 minutes can have a very positive effect on the rest of our day or sometimes even our week.

What’s next for the mindfulness circle? What do you hope to do in 2023 and beyond? 

To make the Mindfulness Circle more accessible, we would love to invite more regions to join us (if it works with the different time zones) and to organise more than a once-per-month session. Also we started to offer Mindful Moments per request if you would like to bring a taster of mindfulness in your own organisation.

In the future, we would like to bring guidance on how BFFP members can bring mindfulness within their own team and we have even been dreaming of organising a Mindfulness Circle Retreat someday!

About us:

Myrto Pispini works for Greenpeace, is a Freelance Plastic Campaigner in Spain and Greece and has more than 20 years of experience of inner work, practicing Qigong, other bioenergetic techniques and meditation. She applies these techniques in facilitation of campaign meetings in Greenpeace and elsewhere.

Caroline Wagner is Global Campaign Coordinator and Global Mindfulness Lead at Greenpeace where she makes a link between mindfulness and environmental changemakers. Additionally, she is a yoga & meditation teacher.

Suze Govers is Senior Policy Officer at NGO Recycling Netwerk Benelux and has years of experience with inner work, meditation, yoga and has recently started to practice Tai Chi.

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