Angela Scott - Forest City Mindfulness
Tell us about yourself
Greetings, London! My name is Angela Scott and I’m the owner of London’s first mindfulness studio, Forest City Mindfulness. This project has been a long time in the coming and really is the culmination of all my experience and education.
I began my career in corporate training and development with undergraduate degrees in journalism and psychology. My passion has always been helping people “widen their lens” and understand themselves and others better.
After leaving my corporate day job, I earned a M. Ed. in Learning Psychology and worked for a decade in private practice, coaching and counseling. During that time, I consulted with police organizations delivering sensitivity, diversity and radical conflict resolution programs. The focus was instilling an understanding of others that fostered empathy and compassion as opposed to hatred, fear and judgment. Basically, communicating that we all have a story. It was challenging work, but highly rewarding.
What led you to start your business?
About 2005, a period of intense personal loss began that would continue for several years. My particular education and training gave me a really large toolbox from which to draw on, but the relentless onslaught of tragedy and loss continued and I eventually found myself depleted. As the caregiver to so many, personally and professionally, I just ran out of gas. At a very low ebb, I reached out and tried meditation, something that had been recommended to me by many people over the years. It had always sounded intriguing, but I’d never actually tried it. Looking back, I think I thought I was “smarter” than meditation. After all, what good was sitting and doing nothing? In the end, I believe it may have saved my life. It certainly restored a healthy frame of mind and made me better able to adapt to stressors, most of which I had no control over.
It was a silent retreat in 2011 that ultimately changed my life, but it wouldn’t be until 2017 that I allowed myself to consider offering mindfulness-based interventions professionally. I literally woke up one day and thought, “If this is something that has so dramatically helped me, why couldn’t I be sharing it with others?” And, so I began to train to deliver a number of evidence-based mindfulness programs, all of them aimed at reducing stress, increasing self-compassion, and improving focus – something that we’re all so badly in need of today.
Tell us about your business
After significant training and preparation, I opened the doors to Forest City Mindfulness in late 2018 and began running courses from our Wortley Village location in January 2019. Our very first offering was MBSR – Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction, an industry-leading program backed by medical science that’s just plain life-changing. Since then, our programs have expanded significantly with courses for educators, caregivers, teens, children and parents, and people addicted to tech. We also run day-retreats and bite-sized intro classes so people can ease into mindfulness. In late 2019, we added weekly practice mindfulness sits, which are a great way to build community and stay “on the cushion” (keep on practicing).
In 2020, we are planning to release even more offerings, including the long-awaited Mindfulness-Based Eating Awareness Training (MB-EAT). As one of only two teachers certified to deliver this program in Canada, I’m really excited to get that off the ground and help people foster a kinder relationship with food and their bodies.
What's the best business advice you've every received and why?
I’m continually learning what it takes to run a successful business. I know it requires a lot of skills and know-how, but once you’ve satisfied those requirements, I honestly believe it comes down to tenacity. Not giving up or letting doubt set in. You’ve got to be willing to learn to do a variety of things that aren’t necessarily in your wheel-house in order to succeed. Marketing, networking and thinking competitively aren’t things that come easy to all people, and they can be particularly difficult for people in the helping professions, and yet, they are all things that must be embraced if your business is to survive. In this respect, the Small Business Centre’s programs really opened my eyes and helped me begin to build these crucial skills. The way I look at it, if I’m not willing to step out of my comfort zone, I won’t make it long enough to actually help people. When I frame it that way, it makes it much easier.
I use meditation (obviously) and humor to cope with challenges. When I’ve had a particularly difficult day and my partner asks “how’d it go?” I will often quote the line from Jerry Maguire: “Every day is a pride-swallowing siege that I will NEVER fully tell you about.” We laugh. Tension released. But, honestly, the best advice I ever received was from my mom. One steamy, summer morning when I was about eight we were walking to the corner store to grab a newspaper and we passed a group of older boys getting ready to race each other. They yelled to me, “Hey kid, wanna race us?” I looked at my mom and she bent down and whispered to me:
“You can do it. Just look straight ahead and run as fast as you can. Don’t look behind to see if they’re gaining on you.” I’ve never forgotten that. Wise words, and applicable to so many situations.
What's in the future for your business?
As for the future, you’ll likely see Forest City Mindfulness bringing on another teacher, continuing to add more programs, and inevitably expanding into larger space. I look forward to connecting and meditating with a lot of Londoners before my life is over.