#SeriouslySocial The Podcast
with Simone Douglas and special guest Amanda Goodfellow
Our guest today is mindfulness teacher Amanda Goodfellow from Agile Mind. She chats with Simone about mindfulness, misconceptions about meditation, and how social media can affect our mental health.
Special guest: Amanda Goodfellow
Check out our page for updates and teasers about upcoming episodes, https://socialmediaaok.com.au/podcast
Hosted by Simone Douglas
Videography by Marie Carbone
Audio by Chris Irving
Music used in this episode is “Alte Herren” by KieLoKaz, used with permission under a Creative Commons Licence This production is protected by a creative commons CC-BY-NC-ND 4.0 licence.
Chris Irving 0:00
Welcome to the seriously social podcast with your host Simone Douglas. Our guest today is mindfulness teacher Amanda Goodfellow from Agile Mind. She chats with Simone about mindfulness, misconceptions about meditation, and how social media can affect our mental health.
Simone Douglas 0:17
So welcome to today’s seriously social podcast. Today I am joined by the fabulous Amanda Goodfellow from Agile Mind. Amanda, thanks for coming along.
Amanda Goodfellow 0:26
Thank you so much for having me.
Simone Douglas 0:27
Oh my absolute pleasure. Can you just give us, and the audience, a brief overview about who you are and what it is that you do?
Amanda Goodfellow 0:35
Yeah, sure. So I’m an Adelaide girl. So born and raised in Adelaide, working now as a meditation and mindfulness teacher, mostly in the corporate space. So teaching people and giving them the tools to manage their own mental and emotional health, and also working a little bit in aged care as well teaching older people how to be mindful.
Simone Douglas 0:59
Yeah, cool. It’s an interesting concept, I suppose teaching older people to be mindful. because as we get older and older, what I tend to find is there’s two types of people. There are the people who kind of actively engage in expanding their life and their opportunities and doing things and then there are the ones that kind of default into a constriction of options and their life in general. How can mindfulness allow us to avoid that constriction, or help us to do that?
Amanda Goodfellow 1:32
It’s really interesting. And what I’ve found happens most often is that there’s been a change in their life. So they’ve lost the mobility, or perhaps they used to be really active or had some activities that they used to participate in. And for whatever reason, usually health or you know, an injury, they can’t do that anymore, so they’re kind of stuck at home, they become lonely, they’re become socially isolated. And then there’s sort of this downward spiral. Where mindfulness and meditation come in is that it’s helping us to be more at peace with those feelings, of more of those more uncomfortable feelings. As human beings, we tend to just want to avoid anything that feels uncomfortable or painful and pursue everything that feels nice. I mean, that’s kind of our put together. So meditation can help us understand firstly, that that’s not reality, because there’s both, there’s always both, and that we can sit with the uncomfortable stuff, and it’s gonna be, It’s okay.
Do you think that there’s a challenge currently with, you know, that instant gratification society that we have, but also this story of, when I have x, y, and Zed, I’ll be happy. If I do A, B, and C, I’ll be happy. I always think- I kind of think happy is a bit of a dirty word.
Oh yeah, absolutely. It’s um, it’s a trap, particularly for Western culture. I think- I think we’re always not enough. You know, whatever it is, there’s always something to be learned or gained or had. And so it’s really a relearning of knowing that we are enough in this moment. And not attaching a judgement to that, whether it’s good, bad or otherwise, or I want this or I don’t want this. But yeah, I agree with you that the word happiness, I guess has an implication that it’s something to aspire to, and it’s something that we all want to have. But it’s actually not reality. Life has everything. It’s not just happiness.
Simone Douglas 3:34
Well it does, but I think um you know, I’m a big believer in cultivating those small moments of joy, whatever that looks like. It might be, you know, joy that I got to drink my morning coffee in silence, you know, or that the sun was hitting in the windows certain way or, you know, someone was pleasant to you in an email, but I think, joy or gratitude, or whatever you want to call it, I think, if you’re cultivating that mindfully and very aware of how you create that for other people too, you have a much happier existence in terms of what you’re doing in life.
Amanda Goodfellow 4:15
Spot on. Yeah, absolutely. And what I suppose I found interesting when I started to learn and become interested in it, is that why didn’t – like no, we’re not taught in it is, you know, sort of, we’re all having to figure this out for ourselves, which I feel was a fairly important piece of information. I would have liked to have had as a younger person. And I definitely think it’s a cultural thing. I think in Eastern cultures, they’re much more in tune with this. We’re a lot more outwardly focused. So yeah, I think it’s sort of learning to cultivate that for ourselves. can feel a bit strange. Doesn’t happen fast enough. Not good at it straightaway so we can sometimes, you know, give it away. I don’t know how many people have said to me “Yeah, I can’t meditate, it’s boring.”
Simone Douglas 5:09
Well I think too, like this, and I don’t know, because I’m very good at active meditation, so it’s – I’m passive, like sit, lay still meditation is uncomfortable for me – So I should probably practice for, but if I find I’m doing active meditation, where I’m in a physical activity, like even if it’s like the gardening or it’s, you know, like running or then it’s much easier for me to let all the other things fall away. Is there like a myth or a perception around meditation that you always do it seated with the legs crossed, and … ?
Amanda Goodfellow 5:49
oh, my goodness, like, so huge. I think it’s a really big barrier for a lot of people. And you know, some of the comments that I get all you know, “do I have to wear my robes?” And “will we be chanting?” and, and I generally say, “well, we can if you like”, you know, I quite like that kind of stuff. But mindfulness, in particular is about just bringing your attention to the present moment, and so definitely, that can be when you’re running or eating or writing an email. It’s just bringing your awareness to what you’re doing. Which most of the time we’re not, we’re in “what’s for dinner” or “whose picking up the kids?” And, and I think a really good illustration of that is the driving home, you know, and you get home and go, “Oh, my God, I can’t remember the gym. I’m not sure what happened. Yeah, it wasn’t there.” Your mind is somewhere else.
Simone Douglas 6:45
You’re definitely on automatic pilot on the way through. What are the benefits of cultivating a mindful life?
Amanda Goodfellow 6:55
Oh, well, I’m not- I’m gonna butcher this phrase. But there is a saying that goes something along the lines of a, an unattentive mind is an unhappy mind. So when our mind and our thoughts are scattered, we’re generally less happy. So bringing mindfulness to them, to every moment, good or bad and just being able to sit with that, generally, will increase our levels of peace, happiness, contentment. Compassion is another word that’s, you know, people are kind of growing in comfort with I think, because that’s also a big part of it is, is feeling compassion for ourselves, and therefore others. You know, create some more happy and peaceful life as well.
Simone Douglas 7:50
I often get asked, you know, how I manage to do all of the things that I do, and still seem to be relatively well adjusted and content in my life. Often not as well structured, the questions that I get like “oh my God how do you do all the things.” But you know, I accidentally, well it wasn’t by accident, but I wasn’t aware that that’s what I was doing at the time. But I have a very carefully constructed happy bubble, which is, you know, like, my entire routine in the morning is mindful, you know, doing all the, all the things I will literally, you know, the alarm will go off at 5.30 and I’ll get up and I’ll turn on the sauna, which I’ve got myself and it’s like, amazing. And so you know, when that is ready, I will get in the sauna, I will watch certain types of YouTube videos that are designed to set me up for success and get me into a good state of mind where I can be emotionally available to the people around me. And then, you know, I’ll walk out, I don’t go anywhere near my children until I’ve had the sauna in the morning and then I go out and I see the kids, you know, because then I’m not “what have you done? Are you ready for school”, though? I’m actually fairly chilled out and I’m like, “Okay, what are we having for breakfast? You know, where’s the world going? How are we going for time?” The only reason that I worked out that I had a very carefully constructed happy bubble was when my mum first moved in with me, (so we share a house now) and thankfully, she doesn’t do it anymore, but she used to start her day, with the world news at 5.36 in the morning, and so the challenge for me with that is I would float out into the lounge room and usually I’d put on some music that had the right cadence so everyone was quite calm, you know? And she would start with Donald Trump this and the plague that and blah, blah, blah, blah. And I’d be like, I feel all this tension in my body and I’m like, What is wrong with this picture now and then I had to say to her, look, you can’t talk to me about those things in the morning and if I give you the hand, it’s not that I don’t love you and I don’t want to engage with you and have a conversation, I just don’t want to talk about all those things that are external to myself, my reality and where I’m going today. But you know, so I did that, I created that unconsciously, but what are the steps that someone can take, perhaps, to start engaging consciously in that mindfulness, if it’s a completely foreign concept to them, and they have never heard it before?
Amanda Goodfellow 8:38
That morning sounds amazing by the way.
Simone Douglas 10:55
I do love it.
Amanda Goodfellow 10:29
Oh, my goodness, sauna in the morning. Amazing. A couple of things that you said there, I think are really important. And you know, around the choice of what we’re digesting, so you know, that news and social media is having an impact on our mental health. And because it seems quite passive, you know, it’s just kind of always there scrolling along in the background. Something that I’ve found really useful is first thing in the morning is not looking at my phone, because I’ve got emails on my phone as most of us do, so I don’t look at that for the first 30 minutes. Now, that sounds pretty lame, but it’s actually, it was so difficult
Simone Douglas 11:10
That’s a long time!
Amanda Goodfellow 11:11
For the first – and I got, and then I watched what was happening in my body when I did that. I was so stressed and I thought “This is insane. I’m so upset that I can’t look at my emails on my phone for 30 minutes.” This is actually a reason why I shouldn’t do it.
Simone Douglas 11:30
I need to assume control over my domain now.
Amanda Goodfellow 11:33
Yeah. So I think you know, things like that, that work for you in your own life. So that’s something that I’ve been able to maintain every now and then I’ll find it starts to creep back and I’ll have to just go “Oh hang on. back into the emails from bed again!” you know, so just kind of checking in. Also, and it will be different for everyone, but relationships, you know, I think you have some relationships that really restore and revitalise your energies, and you learn and grow from those people, and then some that you don’t so much, but we are stuck in these habits where we feel like we have to or
Simone Douglas 12:10
Maintain them, yeah.
Amanda Goodfellow 12:12
Yeah, it takes a lot of energy, and it’s taking us out of ourselves and back up into our heads. So that’s something else that I thought I did for a bit of a spring clean. And also connecting with nature. I think if that’s another thing that’s happening for humans, we are becoming sick from not spending time in nature…
Simone Douglas 12:36
And not being outdoors. I’m really lucky with the house that I rent at the moment. It’s, it’s a little bit of a cross between an Australian house and almost like one of those Spanish. So like, not in the architecture, which would be lovely, but it’s got the indoor courtyard with all the big doors open up so the whole house gets fresh air, like pretty much every day, depending on how bad the weather is. But over and above that, it’s so easy to stop the things that we know are good for us too like, I used to go hiking at Morialta out every single week, at least once or twice a week for two hours, you know, and just have the world disappear. But I worked out about three months ago that I hadn’t done that for a year, and I’m like where did that year … Why did I stop? Now, it was just everything else became more important, so all these noisy things that you’re talking about, so like my phone, the businesses, what other people wanted from me, like that all became more important than what I needed to do to nurture myself and it’s really a trap.
Amanda Goodfellow 13:42
Absolutely. And it’s habitual. You know, we were kind of always just jumping to, to please others. And I guess that’s how I got into it in the first place. You know, being a people pleaser (as many women are I’m going to say). That doesn’t end well for me eventually. So-
Simone Douglas 14:03
Actually, it’s kind of funny. I am, I was having a really, I had a really good conversation with one of my other guests, Tracy Korsten. And we were talking about just the issues for women in general, not discounting the fact that there are issues for men. So I always like to be reasonably careful when I bring gender into play. But you know, the reality is that if you throw in, you know, you’re a woman, you have children or don’t have children, you’re getting loaded up with issues either way, let’s be honest. And then you have businesses, you know, we get asked different questions and there are different expectations in terms of how we balance all of those things that we really are expected to be the perfect wife or partner. You know, emotionally available, they’re emotionally available and fully present for our children and at all their school plays and everything else that could possibly be happening with the school communicate with you 24 hours beforehand. Your diary is booked out six weeks in advance, you know, and then tick the boxes for all the business things, but then, you know, you’re held to account to things can’t possibly have, you know, three successful businesses and two children that you keep happy and you know, a healthy relationship. And so you actually start doubting yourself. So you go, Oh, hang on a minute, can I not have those things? Should I stop now? Do you think that we’re ever going to get to a point where women in particular will just be allowed to get on with being who they are and doing what they do without having all of these people throwing measuring sticks at us?
Amanda Goodfellow 15:39
yeah, I mean, I hope so. I think, certainly, for me, the biggest measuring stick was myself. Certainly, that’s where the compassion, and that sort of something I’m really interested in at the moment, is listening to the language I use for myself. It’s pretty rough. Like, I wouldn’t use that language to a friend. So I’m starting to sort of watch that and go, Oh, hang on, you know, yeah, it’s not really necessary to talk to myself like that. And changing that. Yeah, you know, consciously changing that and bringing more compassion to myself and judgments on others. You know, it’s all very innate. And it’s just kind of happening all the time, but it’s nice to watch and it’s interesting to watch.
Simone Douglas 16:27
It is interesting to watch, I think, too I was actually talking to one of my other guests, I did an exercise many years ago in my 20s, where I was like, I wasn’t allowed to judge anyone or anything for 30 days and I had to notice, every time that I did it, and progressively pare back my judgement. Was one of the most painful exercises I’ve ever gone through my life, but it was amazing because it changed how I interfaced with and saw the world. And it also changed, like I ceased having an external measuring stick for who I was, because I’d kind of got to a point, the first two weeks I went, you really are a judgy cow. This is not you know what, I can’t believe that you just rolled your eyes at that person’s wardrobe choice or you know, like, so it was fascinating. But you know, towards the end of it, you get to this point where you cease seeing people’s wardrobe choices, you cease seeing you know people’s body composition, or the colour of their hair, or you what you start seeing is the person and you start having conversations with people, where you really just meeting them where they’re at. And it kind of changed my whole way of being in the world after that, because you are free to start conversations and have relationships with people that aren’t “oh that person’s much more successful than me”, or “that person’s, you know, much prettier than me”, or whatever it might be that you get saddled up with growing up.
Amanda Goodfellow 17:54
Simone Douglas 17:57
Do you think we’re ever going to get to that point? I would like to say it being a parent that we teach these kind of things in schools, because as much as our poor teachers are loaded up with, can you please parent our children these days, depending who you talk to. But I feel like if we could get to that point where kids learn not to have this external view of the world, and they very much had this internalised view, it’s going to take a generation or two, but we would literally get to a point where we had a much better environment for everybody.
Amanda Goodfellow 18:29
Absolutely. And I think there has to be a shift because of the rates of anxiety in kids at the moment is just nuts. There needs to be a shift, and I don’t think the way we educate kids has changed that much. Since I was at school, which was a long time ago, really it hasn’t changed and society has around them. So I think we’re definitely going to have to try and somehow get mindfulness and self compassion into children at a younger age, because we’re seeing them get really stressed out.
Simone Douglas 19:09
Oh, and I think too, if we can teach children that they go home and teach their parents. This is the thing, your kids come home and teach you all sorts of things. You know, I get held accountable for environmental stuff and it’s good because I had no idea once upon a time, my children have taught me all the things. But it’s … they do. They question things, they’ll question your use of language, they’ll question why you say something the way that you do or why you’ve judged somebody to be deficient or otherwise. And I know in my house, you know, I’m very obsessive about language, because I think it’s really powerful. And so, simple things, like one of the kids will go “oh I’m so shit” or whatever because they’ve just died on a computer game and so I’ll sit down and I’ll go, “Really, what is it about what’s just happened that makes you a horrible person? Can you just explain to me what’s going on?” And they’re like, “Oh, well, you know, I died and I should have lived and whatever else.” and I’m like, “Okay, so just so I can be clear: so you’re playing a computer game that’s quite difficult, and you’ve inadvertently died because someone else playing a game that you have no control over, it all has shot you, or whatever it is splattered you, and that makes you a bad person, how?” And I end up getting the rolled eyes like, “Oh mum for God’s sake. Okay, I’m not a bad person, obviously”. And I’m like “maybe don’t call yourself shit because it’s not very nice to yourself.” So I think those conversations need to keep happening, but you know, not everyone has a background in counselling, not everyone has, like, done all of this reading and excavated themselves, and I think that’s why as parents in a society, we really do rely on the education system and the teachers to change that from the inside out.
Amanda Goodfellow 21:01
I agree. I agree. Like not everyone is that interested in looking at themselves and their behaviour. And it’s really hard. And I think kids are doing that. It’s already there. You know, I’m not certainly not throwing blame on parents, my daughter does the same thing, she puts herself down or says she looks a certain way. Oh, my God. You’re only eight!
Simone Douglas 21:25
It’s fascinating when you see them, and they’ve got that external lens, you’re like, you’re not meant to have that yet, I’m meant to have kept you safe from that to a degree. so it’s really a big challenge. I guess just to close out nicely, what would you say is a good first step for someone who’s maybe listened to this podcast and gone, “Do you know what? this mindfulness thing sounds like it might help me navigate the world differently?” Where do they start?
Amanda Goodfellow 21:56
Yep. There’s a couple of really good apps that people would know about, so Headspace is one, Smiling Mind is another. They are both mindfulness based apps, so they’re not long seated meditation. They just give you a couple of short little exercises. But essentially, all we’re really doing is switching from our thinking back to our senses, so if you can sit and notice the sense of smell, sound, breath, you know, the sensation of breath. Pick any one you like. Just notice that it just moves you back in. Because when you’re connecting with the senses, you’re not thinking, even if it’s just for a second.
Simone Douglas 22:40
Yeah. Yeah, that makes sense. Absolutely. Well, Amanda, thanks very much for joining me on the #SeriouslySocial Podcast. If you’re looking to connect with Amanda, you’ll find all of her details in the caption above, and by all means, reach out to her and have a chat. Thanks again.
Amanda Goodfellow 22:56
Thanks for having me.
Chris Irving 22:59
Thank you for listening to the seriously social podcast. See our website for more details at www.socialmediaaok.com.au/podcast. Check the show notes for credits, music used in the program, and more details about our guests.