~3.5 minute read
In 2018, Hayley Mckenzie started a small business called HALF MOON Mindfulness & Meditation, teaching Mindfulness, primarily to children and families. She is also a casual primary school teacher in Brunswick, Melbourne.
Join us as Hayley shares her stories of courage with us.
How would you describe workplace courage?
I think workplace courage is very similar to everyday courage. Each involves the risk of adverse effects. Although, I believe most people would be more likely to show courage out of the workplace, where their job is not at risk. I think that courage is different for everyone, but in general, it is doing what you know is good and right, even if it is scary and could result in adverse consequences.
Courage in the workplace could be calling out bad behaviour, challenging outdated practices, standing up to a colleague, disagreeing with a popular idea, and even asking the questions that no one else is willing to ask. It could also be trying something new or pushing boundaries, knowing you could fail. I think if you can remain calm and respectful, you can usually get your idea across with the least resistance.
What does courage look like in your workplace?
I am a casual primary school teacher and I also run a small business teaching Mindfulness to children and families. For the past few years I have only worked at two schools, which means I have been able to incorporate teaching and mindfulness in a really meaningful way. Some days I am employed solely to teach mindfulness (which I merge with social and emotional learning) to small groups of selected children. I have also conducted professional learning to both sets of staff on how to incorporate Mindfulness into the classroom.
Courage for me, at work, would probably revolve around suggesting and implementing change, trying new things, asking the questions that many shy away from, and pushing boundaries around learning, and to develop and strengthen relationships with colleagues, parents and children. I am also known for being incredibly transparent and vulnerable around my own life experiences, openly sharing about my challenges, growth, mistakes and my mental health. Actually, around pretty much everything, ha.
Please describe 1-2 examples in which you have been courageous. What did you do? Who/what enabled you to be courageous? What was the outcome?
When I was 24, I began experiencing panic attacks. At the time, I had no idea what they were or why I was having them. They were sudden, terrifying and relentless. A few weeks after they began, there was a fire in my house which destroyed almost everything. As devastated as I was, the fire didn’t compare to what was happening inside my head and I decided to go to the doctor. I was diagnosed with anxiety, depression and severe panic disorder and was put on medication. This began my exhaustive journey of trying to ‘cure’ myself.
A few weeks after my diagnosis and still suffering from debilitating panic attacks, I called my mother and sobbed into the phone. I vowed to her and to myself, that one day I would find a ‘cure’ for what was happening to me, and I would not stop searching until I did. I would then share it with everyone I possibly could, because the thought of anyone feeling that kind of pain and hopelessness breaks my heart into a million pieces.
For this journey of learning and discovery, I have had to be incredibly vulnerable. I have had to go way back to my childhood, examine everything, re-live hard times, face fears and guilt, admit mistakes, apologise and forgive, including forgiving myself. I have spoken openly about it all, both with people I have encountered as well as on social media. I have tried so many new things, pushed and challenged myself and also asked myself and others the hard questions that I needed to ask. I have worked so hard to grow and to change and to love and accept myself just as I am. And I will continue to cultivate that love for myself so I can help foster it in others.
Over the last 16 years, there has been little I haven’t tried, in an attempt to rid anxiety from my life. This exhaustive search has lead me to discover a boatload of tools, resources and practises that keep me very well, and anxiety is now a rare visitor indeed. Unfortunately, I have not yet found a cure, but the practise of mindfulness and meditation has been a very close second for me (and a growing number of others).
Practising the skills of mindfulness and meditation has been without a doubt, the most effective treatment for managing my mental health that I have found. I truly believe that if every child was taught mindfulness, our planet and humanity would be in much better shape than it is today. Teaching children and families the life-changing skills of mindfulness brings me great joy and fulfilment, and through my business, I will continue to learn, up-skill, research, practise and share these skills as far and wide as I can.
I have worked so hard to grow and to change and to love and accept myself just as I am. And I will continue to cultivate that love for myself so I can help foster it in others.
From your point of view, to what extent are Australia’s leaders leading with courage?
If we are talking about our politicians, I won’t pretend to be an expert. I admire anyone who seems to put the ‘right thing’ above ‘the popular thing’, and prioritises people and the planet over everything else. In saying that, I don’t believe courage is what’s necessarily lacking in many of our leaders. I think it’s more like the ability to TRULY empathise with people who are unlike them. Maybe they lack the courage to get that ‘real’ and challenge beliefs they have held for so long, I’m not certain.
I do know though, that it takes real courage to get really ‘deep’ and really examine your core values and beliefs, especially if they may differ from your family, friends or community. And I think that is the courage that is definitely lacking in many people, not just our politicians. It is much easier to stay comfortable, not ruffle feathers or address the hard stuff. But creating positive change is no walk in the park, so you must have courage.
Practising the skills of mindfulness and meditation has been without a doubt, the most effective treatment for managing my mental health that I have found. I truly believe that if every child was taught mindfulness, our planet and humanity would be in much better shape than it is today.
If you would like to connect further with Hayley and learn more about the wonderful work she is doing, she can be contacted in the following ways:
m. +61 415 946 562
If you need support for your mental health please visit/call:
I was e-introduced to Hayley by Courtney Sheehan a few months ago, after Courtney exclaimed “you must learn about Hayley’s work!” Since then, I have enjoyed doing just that! Most recently, I watched this video that Hayley created about her work and it filled my heart. If you’d like to smile, it’s a must watch!
Hayley, thank you for trusting me with your story. I look forward to the day that we can meet face-to-face.