by Roberta Margison
Fernando from Brazil came to New Life Foundation at the end of May as a volunteer life coach with his wife Carolina, who is also here as a volunteer. His background is in psychology and body psychotherapy. In addition to working as a life coach Fernando has shared his passion for creative fun by arranging a variety of activities such as a Brazilian dance workshop, NLF’s Got Talent night, and a games workshop. He even wrote the words of our song for NLF’s Fundraising Flashmob that was held in July!
Can you tell us a bit about yourself?
I was living in Australia with my wife Carolina over the last year. Then we traveled for two and a half months around New Zealand, Indonesia and Thailand. I’ve worked with individuals and groups in the psychotherapy field focusing on issues such as depression and relationship difficulties. I plan to stay at New Life Foundation until mid-September. I’m self-employed so have the opportunity to continue my travels around Asia and plan to return to Brazil next year.
How did you hear about NLF and what made you want to come here?
I read about NLF on the Help-X website while looking for places to volunteer in Thailand. I was excited to hear about NLF as a place I could use my skills and expertise as I hadn’t worked since leaving Melbourne in February and missed it. I felt very welcomed by Julien’s emails and excited by the opportunity to be part of a community that focuses on building with natural products, mindfulness, self development, dance, family constellations, agriculture and vegetarian food.
Did you know about mindfulness meditation before you came to NLF and what do you think of it?
I wasn’t familiar with the actual term ‘mindfulness meditation’ although I did Vipassana training in Brazil for ten days in silence. There were no books, no talking, no distractions. I found the first 3 or 4 days really challenging then something within me changed and by the end of it I wanted to stay longer. I’ve been meditating now for about 12 years.
Once I came to NLF I realised I was familiar with it. And I know that the practice is becoming very popular in psychology. I think the most beneficial thing about mindfulness meditation is that it keeps you self aware and present in your surroundings. I am usually in a meditative state while working with people which helps me be in tune with their life energy and with what’s happening right now.
I like how Julien brings mindfulness to everything you do including working and eating. I’m really in touch with my body, feelings and inner state but not necessarily always mindful of the things I’m doing on a daily basis – sometimes doing things in a habitual automatic way. It’s really nice to be reminded about being mindful and I’m practising more in everyday life.
What has been your greatest joy and greatest challenge at NLF?
My greatest joy is being part of the life coaching team and, part of the community. The quality of the staff team is amazing and the knowledge, skills and training they have is really special. I really admire them and I’m very happy to be part of the team, learning and sharing with them. I’m working with what I love and its an amazing experience to be part of this community. People are supported by the whole community which gives another perspective to the work and I have the opportunity to work on myself also. We are all growing together. Each one being challenged in their own way.
My greatest challenge was during the first couple of weeks. I was very tired and was trying to come to terms with being a member of the community and a life coach. I found myself feeling stressed. I have always been very concerned about and cherished my privacy. Usually the people I work with don’t know much about my private life. It’s a beautiful challenge really as it’s about sharing our humanity. It’s a different experience to be living with the people I work with and allowing them to know about my private life. It’s been a beautiful journey to be less rigid and relax into that space.