Emmie on social meditation, counselling training, and powerful customer feedback
By Dana Jaffe
Recently, our editor Dana Jaffe sat down with each of the buddhify team members to find out what they’re all about. Here she chats with Emmie McKay about the ways her counselling and mindfulness training overlap, what she likes about multiplayer meditations, and her experience with buddhify’s sister project Kara.
I’ve found that I use meditation to ground myself before seeing clients and sometimes while I’m with clients. For example, by doing a quick awareness practice to remind myself where I am in relation to the floor and the space, I can stop myself from being caught up in the client’s experience or story.
There are also some elements of counselling that come more naturally to me, and I do think that this is partly due to my experience with mindfulness. I often find myself noticing what is happening in my body when a client is talking and I use this to respond. For example, “while you were talking just now, I find there’s a feeling of tightness in my chest. Does that fit with you at all?”. This is formally referred to in the counselling world as ‘embodied empathy’. Sometimes this is a kind of validation for the client and sometimes it’s an offering with which the client can explore (“yes! It’s really tight. It’s like it’s stopping me from breathing.”). Perhaps it doesn’t fit at all or isn’t quite right, but the client can search for what it is that they do sense instead.
My training massively impacts my work here at buddhify. I think this is most noticeable when working through customer service. It can be easy to get caught up in things you can’t fix immediately for customers. For whatever reason, I find it really helps if you imagine where someone is coming from (to offer empathy) and to remember that it’s not about you (offering empathy to yourself).
I also sometimes find myself having sensitive conversations with users and I think that my training really helps to hold that person in their experience and honour what they need, as well as keeping track of my own boundaries and energy.
It’s not at all glamorous and often involves holding multiple people’s changing workflow, diaries, and locations. We added approximately 140 tracks to the latest buddhify update which were written, edited, recorded, and mastered in seven different locations in four different time zones. I manage this entire process and the people in it. That means budgeting, editing written content, directing voice, booking, quality control, and working with all the teachers, engineers, and audio wizards who make it all happen. The most exciting/nerve-wracking day is visiting the developers with a pocketful of freshly mastered tracks to drop – like magic! – into the beautiful frame they’ve built for them all.
I’m truly touched by every piece of feedback that I read and hear that comes through Kara. I think the most surprising thing has been getting a lot of feedback from partners, family, and people who are close to someone who has the illness. I remember one person in particular reaching out to let me know just how much the meditations had helped her in moments of extreme rockiness or unsteadiness. It touched me deeply because it resonated with my own relationship to cancer and my heart went out to her. I recall her using the word ‘heartsick’ and I imagined her feeling so lonely and pained in this experience — so I was incredibly moved to have her tell me how much Kara had been helping with this. That feels like real connection.
With a practice like ‘out loud noting’, I particularly like having the ability to let someone else know where I’m at or how I’m feeling in that moment. And vice versa, it’s useful to know where others are and how they’re experiencing the world, as well as how that affects how you’re experiencing yourself and the world.
I also find that other people’s energy is a really lovely thing to be part of. When you have a group of people concentrated on a practice, the space has a different kind of stillness to it then when you’re practicing alone. Sometimes it’s distracting, which is an opportunity to see how you hold yourself amidst distraction from others. Other times, the quality of air is different — as if it’s thick with stillness. And that’s a lovely thing.
With a background in arts production, Emmie manages the creation of all the audio and video content. She is currently training to be a counsellor alongside her mindfulness work and leads on buddhify’s sister project Kara, a mindfulness self-care tool for people affected by cancer.