What Sets Your Soul On Fire? Do That
In the end, we only regret the chances we didn't take.
My last entry here was in June informing you of the Global Wellness Day celebrations which was a huge success. If you scroll to the bottom of this blogpost, you’ll find the link to our youtube channel capturing highlights of the event. We hosted almost 600 people at Nairobi Street Kitchen with the running theme of #ThinkMagenta; an invitation to encourage everyone in society to add color to their thoughts by developing a positive mindset.
Introducing safe spaces for hosting discussions on mental health was the most highly requested activity from attendees. On the day, I moderated a panel discussion anchored on the question of how we can improve our mental health through exercise, nutrition and therapy. Beautiful testimonials were shared, and tears were shed. People openly spoke about living with depression, being a caretaker to a loved one with mental illness, and life after attempting suicide.
After the life changing insights from Rhotimmi; Dr.Vundi and Aldo, who are all certified wellness experts, we opened up the floor for to questions. After the event, I couldn’t help but deeply ruminate on how I could extend those conversations beyond the event. Seeing that GWD is an annual celebration, how could I convince more partners to come on board outside of the main day? How could I positively contribute to my community where existing systems have failed?
This question has stayed with me for three months now. Another beautiful experience was the afro-beats dance class facilitated by Afro-fit! It was such a joy to see everyone in their magenta tee shirts dancing and letting go. The inspiration behind this activity was that we wanted to show everyone that wellness encompasses the body, mind, and spirit. For our bodies, we needed to have an enjoyable class which would illustrate that fitness can and should be enjoyable.
We also had a powerful group guided meditation facilitated by Shallini- Bhala Lucas. She shared her journey on dealing with grief, her new book and educated us on mindfulness and meditation. In the past, we never dedicated an activity for our soul or spirit because I didn't fully comprehend its impact. During the pandemic, I have come to appreciate the importance of having a spiritual practice.
The inspiration behind this session came from my own personal experience of how the daily practice of meditation improved my mental health. During a period where lost our loved ones, depression, increased levels of anxiety, job loss, unemployment, and even heart break, working on my spiritual wellbeing kept me going. I wanted to share this realisation with my community by creating a space where people could learn about mindfulness and experience meditation. Having a spiritual practice has not only grounded me but shifted my perspective of how I view the world.
Throughout the event, we had free mental health assessments by Prometheus Kenya and Mental 360. People from all walks of life had the chance to interact with counsellors and therapists to understand their mental health, and many booked therapy sessions. For this activity, I felt we needed to bring mental health care service providers in one space in a fun setting that would remove the stigma affiliated with treatment.
One of the biggest misconceptions of treatment is that it is only needed in a crisis. Seeking professional help is also a preventative measure of how best to improve your mind. Similar to fitness we don’t exercise only for an event or lose weight; we train our bodies because it’s a lifestyle that offers long term benefits.
I’m forever to grateful to Nairobi Street Kitchen for sponsoring the venue space; Pink Lady for sponsoring the entire event including free tee-shirts and apples; Breathe Media for being our strategic partner; Afro Fit for hosting the fitness class; Mental 360 & Prometheus Kenya for running free mental health assessments; Myers Kenya for making sure we were all hydrated; St.John Ambulance for being on stand by in case of any emergencies, and our talented MC Yafesi for keeping us engaged all through!
This year, I heavily leaned into my network by doing media interviews. If it wasn’t for the platform offered by Capital FM, Homeboyz Radio and The Loop on K24, we would not have been able to reach the diverse groups of people. Seeing the excitement on everyone's face all through the event was so fulfilling; all the sleepless nights definitely paid off.
Working with Nailah, who is the appointed Key supporter for Kenya was great because we were able to work as a team representing the organisation. I'm deeply grateful to Margaret and Faith for being key volunteers throughout the event and lending us any help we needed.
Curating this entire event was not easy, but a challenge I would happily take on because as an ambassador for GWD Kenya, I absolutely love what we stand for. "One day can change your while life!" If you're looking for a sign to pursue what sets your soul on fire, do it and most importantly be fearless about it.
Yours in Wellness,
Writer: Loise Machira
Location: Nairobi Street Kitchen
Production: Eastlando Production
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