Why I created Mindful in May? What’s your WHY?

Someone asked me recently why I do www.mindfulinmay.org

Here’s what came to mind…

IMG_20150327_103723 I’ve had the fortune of travelling to many places in the world that have opened my eyes to new cultures, people, languages, music…but also to the world of injustice, human suffering at the most profound level, and inequality that made me deeply disturbed and oftentimes filled me with a sense of despair and futility – a sense of “well this is just the way the world is” – and I should just count my blessings that chance landed me in Melbourne with a loving family, enough food, water, and a warm, safe place to live.

Along my travels, I remember…

India circa 1996

watching as old men pulled human rickshaws on the streets of Bombay coughing their lungs out with likely TB and being paid 5cents to take their higher caste/tourist passengers a few blocks for dinner.

West Africa circa 2000

Walking around the streets of Guinea, Conakry during the wet season and seeing funeral posters on every second corner for children who had died of malaria that week. Knowing I had just treated myself with a tablet I had brought with me in case I was unlucky enough to get it myself.

Sri Lanka circa 2005

I worked in the camps post-tsunami and met people who had just lost their entire families to a wave of annihilation left with nothing except their irreconcilable grief, loss, and a tent that would become home for years to follow. A man shows me a picture of his three daughters and wife he has lost and I look at him and can’t hold back my tears. We cry together connected by a shared humanity and understanding despite not being able to speak each other’s language. I send him lovingkindness and wonder how he will continue to live…

New York City 2009

Watching a black man in a wheelchair with an amputated leg, dripping with sweat on a 30-degree day, as he heaved and wheeled himself across 6th avenue with his life of plastic bags on his chair – a journey just to get to the other side of the road. I brought him a drink as any fellow human would have had they noticed his plight. I sat with him for an hour and heard his story and cried as he told me, “If had the courage I’d kill myself but I’m too scared to do that – so I live each day at a time in hope and I just pray each day for something better.”

These stories and moments lay dormant in my cells. I was always acutely aware of the stroke of randomness which just happened to land me here in this life and them in theirs.

Through travel, I witnessed levels of poverty which left many having difficulty even accessing clean, safe drinking water – our most basic human need.

This is my WHY. This is what drives me.Dr Elise Bialylew practicing mindfulness

One day when I was meditating in October of 2012 – I guess this calling burst out of my cells and into my blood and my heart came up with an idea which could do good in the world by bringing more kindness, self-love, and compassion to people through mindfulness and at the same time harness this force for good into helping make a tangible difference to so many people who struggle each day in getting their most basic human needs met.

When a crisis happens like what is going on in Nepal right now – it brings us into an immediate connection with our compassion and awareness of the profound human suffering that is in actual fact happening every moment of every day…somewhere…

My answer to this suffering is to use my capacity to serve others in whatever way I can – in some way maybe with a sense that if it were the other way around – someone out there in the big wide world would be compassionate enough to do the same for me – even if I was just a statistic in their morning paper read…

There is one day left before Mindful in May begins…

I am really looking forward to feeling that shared connection with so many others this year. I’m going to ‪#‎sitforsomething‬ this May – something good, something meaningful, something life-transforming.

Click here to join me.

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"If we wish to be healthy, happy and clear-minded, we need to upgrade our “inner technology”of attention to meet the demands of our increasingly complex world. That's where mindfulness comes in.."




Elise Bialylew is the author of the bestselling book, The Happiness Plan, and founder of Mindful in May, the world’s largest online global mindfulness fundraising campaign.

A doctor trained in psychiatry, turned social entrepreneur and mindfulness expert, she’s passionate about supporting individuals and organisations to develop inner tools for greater wellbeing and flourishing, and offers workshops and training at The Mind Life Project.

Her work has been featured in the Huffington Post, New York Times and on Australian Television. She was recently recognised by the Australian Financial Review as a 2019 AFR Women of Influence.

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