Eszter Szabó

My Journey

to become a mindfulness teacher

My journey to become a mindfulness teacher

This text was written for finishing my education at Mindful Academy Solterenno

The first time I realized I want to teach people, show them my passion and encourage them to go for it, was in the beginning of my 20’s. I slowly realized in the university that sitting in front of a computer all day long – even though I studied landscape architecture that sound like a lot of connection to nature – is not my cup of tea. Therefore, I opened up to the calling of the mountains and became a ski instructor. Then a sailing coach and a snowboard teacher training then next levels of instructing. From the high physical exertion, I ended up practicing yoga. First for the sake of stretching – then I realized how big difference it made in my life as a whole. I started to meditate and somehow encountered mindfulness. And it all made sense. Not full of himi-humi, rituals, etc. just the pure attention to the present moment. My life opened up in all different areas, ways. The universe offered me opportunities in a tray. I was even struggling which one to choose. I ended up in India for a yoga teacher training then a moth later in Japan as a ski instructor – where living in a small mountain village and traveling for month I encountered Zen. Zen as an art of living. Not Buddhism particularly nor Shinto just the way of living life to the fullest.  I even started to meditate more, seeking possibilities to join communities – well not being settled down is not that easy – so I ended up in online communities. Then a life changing opportunity found me: we travelled around West Africa with a self-built camper bus to raise awareness and money for SOS Child villages. As good is sounds as difficult it was. Most of the group even quit as the trip didn’t fit their expectations – and that’s when I realized why was I able to stay, even learned to appreciate the difficulties of the trip. The answer is mindfulness. I was able to embrace change, I was able to let go of my expectations, accept what was given to us in that moment. Before I only meditated to rewind, to calm down my monkey mind, to prepare myself for yoga. However, from that point on it became something else. Something essential for my survival. I started consciously learning more in the topic. Reading about the science behind, the possible sociological outcomes, understanding past events of my life – placing the missing pieces of the puzzle together. But I never thought about teaching it. I didn’t even know it is possible for someone like me – who is not enlightened, nothing special just a girl from Hungary. Until I met Nelli Krajcsó. I participated on her mindfulness retreat – where I had the calling to teach mindfulness. So I followed her path and using all of my saved money I applied to Mindful Academy Solterreno. Honestly I haven’t heard about MBSR before – and given to the fact that I was living in the countryside and completely broke financially I took the free online course of Palouse Mindfulness. Then I dedicated my next 8 weeks to mindfulness. Practicing, studying, joining peer groups, living my days as mindfully as I could.

Then 2019 October came with a trip to Solterreno, for the TT1. I knew was in the right place at the right time though I was full with uncertainty, questioning myself If “I was good enough, right enough?” “I don’t even meditate for so long…” “I only did the online version of the MBSR course – not with a group of people” “Am I still not too young for this?”. Deep down in my stomach it just felt right. I have always struggled with self-esteem, self-love, worthiness and here it was the case again. It took me a while to accept that I am good enough for this. I have a right to be here. This is my path. I am extreamly grateful for my teachers’ (Bodhin and Claire) encouragement, the good feedbacks I received and the whole group’s support. What continues even today. After 2 years of the TT1 we still have our little peer group, have a call from time to time. 

I might have rushed into TT2 next winter – but as I was unemployed and did not have a stable home – there was nothing to loose. And I feel lucky to be able to do it personally, live in Solterenno before the pandemic kicked in. So for the course it might have been a good time but to teach for sure early. All different life events happened not to support me in that. Even though I hosted some successful workshops and an online 8 week MBSR course – which was supervised by András Barta – I felt that something is missing. It might not have been connected to teaching mindfulness – but that was the most difficult times of my life so far. I was alone, in the middle of the pandemic, not having a stable home nor work. There was not enough energy to give from. One morning when I just couldn’t get out of my bed I realized I need help. I went to therapy and dedicated my time only for healing. Meditating, being in nature, eating healthy food. Giving time for myself to get out of this burnout. And that was the greatest learning period of my life! With professional help, I have gained self-confidence, strength to start over. 

Since then I participated in another 8 week MBSR course and a 6 week deepening course with Nelli Krajcsó, and a 9 week long MSC course with Siri Chandler and Raphael Adjani, joined Sheena Burke’s SIT groups, learned about the Poli vagal informed MBSR and how to teach Trauma sensitive Mindful Movement from Monique Leverington. Participated some weekend retreats and a Silent Retreat learning about the 4 foundation of mindfulness. 

Looking back to that dark, difficult period was a key to my personal development. It was necessary for settling down, with a little detour – but finding my path again. It was about 1,5 year ago but feels like a lifetime. I cannot even list what have happened it is so full with moments. Mindful moments. Sometimes less sometimes more practice but I have learned to accept that. Mindfulness is anyway woven though my days. Without noticing became essential. I even created a meditation space in my new home. I have some other good daily practices like a gratitude journal, offline evenings and mornings, watching sunset and sunrise as many times as possible – and guess what – they all fit into one day without compromising anything. I read and learn a lot in the area of self-development and what I realize from time to time, it is always goes back to the foundations of mindfulness.  Like last week I participated in a fantastic training funded my Erasmus Plus called Seeds of Connection. We explored Mindfulness – in a bit different way then MBSR, Bill Plotkin’s Nature based Wholeness map, our Ikigai and life purpose, all though our connection to Nature and each other. This training feels like the restarting point of my life after the 1,5 yearlong burnout period – and made me cleat that my way of contributing to society id though teaching MBSR.

So here I go writing my reflections on my journey to become a mindfulness teacher. I think after 2 years of starting the TT1 in Solterenno finally I have arrived to a place and time when I feel I am ready. I am able to write and submit this form for a qualified status with an ease in my heart – knowing I did learned my lesson to start this journey. I cannot wait to see what else is there for me to learn, I am looking bravely into the future, trusting the process as my teacher Bodhin once said.

19. November 2021. Balatonfüred, Hungary

Freedom after hiking