The Story Behind The Free Spirit Project
Why do we ‘work’ on ourselves?
Why do we try to optimise our health, our mood, our mind, our relationships?
Why does it so often feel like a one step forward, two steps back operation?
When we work hard to get rid of the stuff we don’t like—fear, sadness, frustration—we usually just end up with more of it. We get sad about being sad, anxious about being afraid, angry at ourselves for being angry so much of the time.
So why work at all and what are we working towards?
Years of watching people’s journeys has taught me that we make richer progress when we’re working towards getting free, rather than getting better. When we understand that we are in fact free, and live accordingly.
Not free of pain or fear or sadness—they all come as part of the human experience. But free of the struggle, free of the common tyrannies of the mind, with all its rules and shoulds.
Free of suffering.
Free of the crushing idea that we can achieve some kind of permanently ok state—if only we try hard enough/are smart enough/have enough of what we ‘need’.
To get free we need to consistently make some counter-intuitive moves. Experience our feelings rather than fight them; not believe everything that goes through our mind; learn to pause and step back when all our training is screaming at us to launch forward at full throttle and do, do, do.
This practice of committing to being human, of accepting the waves of human experience while pursuing what’s important, is most helpful when seen as a project.
The word project turns the heat down. It reminds us that we will never be finished—that there is actually no ‘there’ there. It helps keep us engaged and interested—focused on the process, rather than on the goal or the problem.
We can have many projects going at the same time. We can jump around and work on different things when we get bogged down, self-critical or frustrated.
Usually we’ll be experiencing movement in one project, while hitting road blocks in another.
A project gives us room to move.
We can also break down what we want to change into clear parts rather than stay mired in the malaise associated with a mountain of ‘just not right’.
This approach to our freedom work becomes light and creative as we focus on our ‘mindfulness project’ or our ‘improved relationship project’ or our ‘self-compassion project’. We are no longer just the beleaguered ego working on itself and always coming up short.
Rather, we are the Spirit, Soul, the Wise Self patiently putting one foot in front of the other in practical ways through projects that will help us recover our expansiveness and freedom.
In this way we experience ourselves as simultaneously the masterpiece and the work in progress, as both contented and unsatisfied.
We can learn to relax with the challenge of this and just move along. And connect with others to share resources, comfort, encouragement and good ideas. A community of escape artists: that’s what we'd like this to be.
Our training at The Free Spirit Project uses only mindfulness and ACT. We embrace an approach that is focused on harnessing natural strengths and abilities, developing self and other compassion and moving in valued directions in order to live a more vital life.
Briar Jacques - Founder
Briar is an Acceptance and Commitment (ACT) Trainer, Mindfulness Trainer and Yoga Therapist. Her work focuses on helping people build and sustain a kind and compassionate relationship with themselves, so they can grow and transform and contribute more to their community in values driven, creative ways.
Originally from Australia, Briar has been in Dubai for four years working with individuals and groups on a wide range of psychological and emotional issues. Prior to this, she was in Vietnam for six years where she worked in a hospital and with an NGO (Education for Development), again with individuals and groups and also with a focus on mindfulness and ACT training.
In Australia, Briar started Brisbane’s first certified organic farmers market, the Northey Street Organic Market. This came out of a strong desire to build a community of like-minded individuals and connect farmers directly with families, so fresh organic food could be made affordable for all. Briar’s areas of specialization are stress, low mood and anxiety management through mindfulness and ACT and helping people achieve vitality and purpose through working with their bodies, minds, emotions and spirituality. She runs two eight-week Mindfulness and ACT group courses (‘Mindfulness Foundations’ and ‘Deepen Your Practice’) and also facilitates the six-week ‘Embody Compassion’ course—using mindfulness practice and ACT to develop kind and healthy relationships with body, food, ageing.
· Bachelor of Applied Social Science (Counselling, Psychology & Sociology)
· Masters in Counselling Psychology
· Yoga and meditation teacher since 2002
Doctorate in Psychology (in process)
Manager - Mindful Schools Program
Mindfulness Trainer & Tutor
Dom is a Mentoring Consultant for Gabbitas Education and a Mindfulness Trainer & Tutor for The Free Spirit Project. He heads our Mindful Schools Program, through which we help the teachers, students and parents of the school community to properly embrace Mindfulness practice to benefit them personally, socially, academically and as families. Dom has been studying Mindfulness and personal transformation since the age of 15, when he was at school under the guidance of Chris Cullen, who started the Mindfulness in Schools Project in the UK. He always sought to apply Mindfulness in the classroom in his previous work as a teacher and has taught workshops and courses of Mindfulness in schools to children (ranging from 4-18), teachers and parents for 5 years. In the UK, Dom also worked for the British Tennis Association as a Sports Psychologist, creating a Mindfulness-based program for a player in Britain’s top 5.
Dom’s work focuses on helping others to flourish in their lives by seeking to understand themselves and their way of being in the world. He uses simple, enjoyable and direct inquiry to teach Mindfulness to people of all ages. He has a relaxed but dynamic teaching style which allows difficult topics to be explored in a lighthearted and open way, which allows people of all ages and backgrounds to feel comfortable in his groups. Dom runs the 8-week ‘Mindfulness Foundations’ course, as well as the other 8-week offerings - ‘Mindfulness Foundations for Teachers’, ‘Mindfulness Foundations for Kids’ and ‘Mindfulness Foundations for Young Adults’. Dom also works one-to-one with students of all ages to assist them in their academic achievement while integrating Mindfulness practice and values into their daily lives.
· Bachelor of Science (Psychology & Philosophy)
· Postgraduate Certificate in Education