“We are living in a time that changes faster than anything we have ever experienced. This is putting our nervous system under tremendous stress and triggers our stress response often without us noticing…”
I speak with one of my favourite people. Someone who has shown me what it is to be still and stop in a world, which is constantly moving. Palma Michel, founder of Profuse29 tells us her story, talks about her huge shift in careers, gives us an insight into her new book and explains why it’s so important we slow down in our rapidly paced society.
Getting to know you...
What do you do?
I work as a mindfulness & meditation teacher and also as coach supporting clients in accessing their full potential and creating the lives the want. Profuse29 introduces mindfulness to organisations and we have worked with brands like Mario Testino+, The Soho House Group, Cheil and Converse.
Why do you do what you do?
I experienced the transformative power of meditation in my own life and once that happened I felt a deep calling to empower other people to find the same inner peace and lasting fulfilment. Once I learned more about neuroscience and what happens in our brains when we are faced with uncertainty, pressure and change and how meditation can reverse that unconscious reactivity, I felt everybody should know about this. I have also seen people in their mid 50s being out of a job and suddenly realizing that they did not know who they were and what their purpose was.
What did you do before?
I trained as a lawyer, worked briefly in strategy consulting and then spent ten years as a board-level headhunter. My last role in the corporate world was a junior partner in a global executive search firm, where I placed CFOs, CEOs and Chairmen into private-equity-backed portfolio companies.
What do you love about your job?
If you make your passion your profession, it never feels like a job - I get to do all the things I used to do in my spare time, talk about my passion and get paid for it. What I love most is to empower other people to step into their full potential and to help organisations create purpose-driven compassionate and innovative cultures.
What is your morning routine?
I start my morning with a few minutes of gratitude, loving kindness meditation and a visualization, plus 1 hour meditation which is non-negotiable for me.
What is your favourite part of the day and why?
I don´t really have a favourite part of the day but particularly enjoy the calm when the city wakes up and the beautiful sunsets in the evening.
Why is it important to slow down?
We are living in a time that changes faster than anything we have ever experienced. This is putting our nervous system under tremendous stress and triggers our stress response often without us noticing. In addition if we continue to push ourselves past a certain point, our performance slows down and we risk a burnout. Most importantly though, if we never stop and keep on busying ourselves, running from activity to activity, we are somewhat cut off from our true nature and intrinsic happiness; we become human doings or thinkings and stop being in touch with our beingness and intrinsic capacity for happiness.
What do you feel is the biggest challenge we face today as a society?
The biggest challenge is that we have been looking for happiness outside of ourselves in all the wrong places and as a result have overused the planets resources and created a huge imbalance between poor and rich.
Who would benefit from having a session with you?
Generally anyone who is looking for more inner peace and bringing more focus and balance into their lives. On the coaching side, I often help people who are in transition - be it changing careers, founding a business, moving countries, starting or ending a relationship, starting a family or dealing with loss of some kind.
What advice would you give to someone who feels they don't have time to stop and be mindful?
Ghandhi famously said “If you don´t have time to meditate, you need to meditate twice as long”. All jokes aside, I would ask the person how well their current schedule and the “not-stopping” is working for them. If they feel all is fantastic, they are calm and balanced and able to focus then they might not be ready for mindfulness; but if they don´t then it is about assisting the client in creating sustainable new habits. I also tell them that it is not necessary to add mindfulness on top of an already too busy schedule, but rather a way of bringing an alert attention and way of being to everything they are already doing.
A bit more about you...
You have released a book - tell us about it - what's it about/what inspired you to write it/who is it for?
The book is called The Authority Guide To Mindful Leadership. It is about mindful leadership and offers simple techniques and exercises for managing yourself, managing others and building a culture based on purpose and sustainability. It is written for busy professionals, entrepreneurs, start-up founders, leaders, aspiring leaders and anyone who is working with other people.
How can it help someone trying to manage the ups and downs for a start-up life?
The start-up life is characterized by volatility and uncertainty, which is the environment that usually switches on our caveman brain and makes us do things that are not very smart. The book offers simple exercises for creating more self-awareness, which is the first step to self-mastery. It helps founders, CEOs and employees to become more focused and comfortable with the space of not knowing, the space where creativity flourishes.
How has your life changed since you took up a more mindful approach to your every day life?
I would say by now it is not just a more mindful approach to life but a natural way of being. It has helped me to uncover a deep sense of peace and serenity no matter what life throws at me; it has increased my compassion and creativity manifold. Life feels effortless and I am experiencing a lot of positive synchronicity.
What advice would you give someone looking to make similar changes to their life?
Start with small changes to create new habits. If you would like to start a meditation practice, make a commitment with yourself to practice daily. Like training for a marathon, start with a time that stretches you but not to the extent that you would not do it. For example start with 5 minutes and then slowly work up to 20 minutes per day. Stop believing your thoughts and bring curiosity to all of your experiences.
How can people find out more if they'd like to get in touch?
My website offers a good overview on al my activities www.palmamichel.com - I also post one empowering message on Instagram every day @Herenowalltime