I used to think that life is meant to feel easy. That - if I applied the right combination of self help techniques, mixed with a daily dose of meditation and yoga, along with a healthy diet - life would somehow feel good, all the time. I knew that crap would always come my way, but I felt empowered at the thought that I had all the tools at my disposal to keep positive, no matter what.
For a while, it worked.
I left my job in the NHS, after a decade in Psychology and Mental Health, to start my own business in Life Coaching and teaching Yoga. I got married and started a little family by adopting Skye, our rescue pup from Romania. I dedicated years of hard work and commitment to my business and, to my good fortune, it grew to something that not only sustained me but that I was also proud to call my own. Over the years, I have supported hundreds of women and men in their pursuit of mental and psychological wellbeing. Even back in my Psychology days, I taught people how to shift their toxic behaviour and beliefs to ones that promote balance and mental health. When I trained as a coach, I dove in head first, loving the opportunity to finally help people live their dreams, not just manage their symptoms. I was thrilled to be working holistically, focusing on concepts such as empowerment, truth, alignment, busting blocks and finding purpose. I absolutely loved the infectious power of positivity, believing anything is possible.
Yet the more people I worked with, the more I realised how little I know…. The more I realised these concepts are, most of the time, largely misunderstood, misused and usually misplaced. That most people, although 100% willing to be positive and genuinely wanting to change, they often got stuck trying to feel good all the time, because they lacked true understanding of who they are. Without changing strategy, they were often faced with the same stories, traumas and dissatisfaction and looked to me or someone else to get them out.
It became clear to me that something was missing.
Something was off.
Making space for the real, the raw, the messy.
With this realisation, things started to shift, initially just on the inside. I didn’t really have to change my approach to my work; in the sessions I have intuitively been doing what I felt was needed all along: making space for the real, the raw, the messy, as well as the big positive vision. But on the outside, I was hiding behind the positivity bubble, it felt safe there doing what the majority do - I just didn’t have the confidence to stand my ground and share what was gradually becoming crystal clear to me.
Earlier this year I decided to embark on a 6-month mentoring program for yoga teachers with Naomi Absalom. Much more about the psychology of teaching and less about the postures themselves, the mentoring caused a massive inner stir. A kind of crisis, if you will. In reality, looking back at it now, it was the crisis that led me to find a mentor not the other way round; but going through the program, I finally started finding words for feelings I had been unable to express for some time.
The truth is I had been feeling out of place. I am not a typical yoga teacher, nor am I a typical life coach - whatever those typical presentations may be or if they even exist. I do not resonate with the majority of ideas being passed around on social media and in pop self development books. Although sounding great in theory, their application often lacks substance without involving real knowledge and understanding of human nature and the process of change. In fact the abundance of meaningless fluff more often than not makes me want to pack up and hide.
Yet I choose to stay. To do the work that is required here.
One thing I have learned over the years is that my escapism is a defence mechanism. My ego wants me to pretend I am separate, essentially giving me an “out”, so I don’t take responsibility for, well, anything. So I stay. I stay, because I believe in the work I do and I believe it is needed now, more than ever. I stay because only by staying, can I make a difference.
What I’ve realised is I don’t want to gloss over mine or my clients’ shadow side. I believe that our struggle is what gives us strength and that those who are brave enough to sit with what they feel to process and understand it, are the ones that go on to live fulfilling lives. I know that life is mundane most of the time, hard some of the time, unbearable on some days and extraordinary on others. If we aim to always feel good, we are shooting ourselves in the foot because it simply is unnatural and probably unhealthy. Our power lies in realising our humanness is our greatest asset, in building a healthy sense of who we are and realigning our priorities according to the things that truly matter to us. It is by feeling the whole range of feelings, the dark and the bright, the high, the low, the middle, that we go on to live rewarding lives.
Joy doesn’t just happen in life. Sure, small, everyday pleasures are great to pursue, but they are temporary. Real, meaningful, long term happiness takes work. I believe we have to go deep to understand what we give meaning to and why, who we see ourselves to be and how we hide behind our self made stories. We have to go deep, because otherwise we scratch the surface and eventually return to what we have always done.
I realise this makes it seem like hard work. Good.
Because it is.
LET'S DO THIS TOGETHER
I am not here to feed you regurgitated cliches about the magic pill that will change your life forever. Oh and effortlessly. That by working together I will give you the formula to rock your confidence, to get anything you want in life and basically live the most amazing life - every day.
I would rather be straight with you from the start. There is no magic pill. There is no one thing that will change your life. While those promises can become truth when you work on yourself, change is gradual (sometimes intense, sometimes gentle, sometimes intentional, sometimes forced). Change is something you commit to, again and again and again through your choices. And change, my friend, does not happen overnight, because we naturally resist it. We fear change because it takes us out of our comfortable bubble and comes with loads of uncertainty which incidentally, we also hate. So changing the beliefs you’ve had since you were a child, the habits you keep coming back to, the ideals you hold yourself and the world to, takes real, freaking guts. And not everyone is willing to go there.
So if you’re looking for a guru, please move on.
I am not your woman.
If you need someone to tell you everything will work out the way you want it, move on.
I am not your woman.
If you want someone to teach you to spiritually bypass your negative feelings, move on.
I am, definitely, not your woman.
But if you’re willing to trust me, I will take you on a journey of meaningful, real and deep transformation.
If you’re willing to take responsibility for where you are and what you do in life, I will be there to give you the tools to support and elevate you. If you’re ready to look at yourself, I will lovingly hold the mirror up for you to see your humanness, your imperfections, your scars and I will be there as you figure out that these, in fact, are your superpowers.
If you commit to your own journey, I will help you build healthy boundaries, a stronger sense of self and an unapologetic belief in your own self worth. I will be your anchor while you take time to explore, reflect and play. I will be by your side as you embrace your real, multi-coloured, messy and vulnerable self and remember your resilience. While I will emphasise the positive, I will also remind you to look into the uncomfortable, the dissatisfaction, the resistance you feel and use them to know yourself deeper.
And from there, YOU will create the change you want to see. YOU will have the understanding, the compassion and drive to choose how you respond to life and what you do with it. YOU will have the strength to do things that matter and YOU will look to yourself for guidance.
I am not here to fix you because firstly, you are not broken. Secondly, and probably most importantly, if something needs to be fixed, YOU have to be the one engaging in the process of fixing it. The greatest moment is the one you realise you have found the answer yourself. So while I will hold your hand and walk right next to you, YOU will decide which way to go. Which mountains to climb, which seas to dive into. YOU will make your own journey.
YOU will guide yourself back home, to you.
So that, eventually, I will let go and you won’t even notice. You will be your own comfort, your own guide, your most trusted friend.
And that will be my job complete.
Ariadne Kapsali is a Certified Life Coach, Yoga Teacher, Meditation Guide and Mental Health professional. She has completed her studies in Psychology with training in Health Psychology, Behaviour Change, and Mindfulness Approaches, amongst others.
She works with individuals to support them in creating meaningful and sustainable change in their lives using a unique union of her training and experience in Life Coaching, Psychological Therapies, Mindfulness and Positive Psychology tools.
She also works with organisations providing Corporate Wellbeing Sessions and Events, with various clients including BBC Worldwide, Lonely Planet, Innocent Inc and the charity sector. Ariadne also runs regular classes, courses, workshops and retreats in London and worldwide.
Qualifications & Training
Life Coaching Diploma - Beautiful You Coaching Academy (2015)
Yoga Teacher Diploma (200hr) - Yogacampus London (2012-2014)
MSc Health Psychology - City University London (2010-2011)
PGDip in Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (Low Intensity Interventions) - UCL (2012)
BSc (Hons) Psychology - UCL (2002-2005)
Yin Yoga Immersion/Training - Norman Blair (2017)
Liberate & Elevate Mentoring Program - Naomi Absalom (2018)
Mindfulness for use with clients/Group Facilitation training - NHS (2013-2014)