EMMY FROM THE PEACEFUL MINDS PROJECT
“The state of our world is a direct reflection of our individual consciousness. We can all help the world become a better place if we create a higher awareness within ourselves, change the way we treat each other and be compassionate. Change actually does come from within.”
Emily Rose Sorensen does a multitude of things, including teaching yoga, teaching music, doing yoga, and doing music. By doing music, I mean playing at bars and weddings around Newcastle and the Hunter, under the name of Emmy Rose.
After high school, Emmy moved to Byron Bay and studied a University degree in music and teaching, before moving to Canada and then finding her way back to Newcastle, where she now works as a yoga instructor, casual high school teacher, and musician.
Personally, I think the coolest thing about Emmy is that she decided to do her own at-home silent retreat over New Year’s. I don’t know many people who would be totally cool with switching off all technology, not saying a word, and spending time alone meditating for three days at one of the most festive times of the year. Talk about inspo.
Speaking of inspo, she’s also in the process of launching The Peaceful Minds Project – running in-school workshops for kids in the art of meditation and relaxation.
I am really passionate about teaching people how to successfully relax and meditate (to create more clarity, peace and wellbeing within their lives). Most of us struggle with stresses that we don’t even realise are causing us so much tension and often both poor physical and mental health.
On a rainy Tuesday morning over coffee at Saluna, we shared our philosophies on life, finding peace, and breaking social norms.
What does COOL mean to you?
Cool is doing something that really sets you on fire. Someone who is really not caring about what other people think of them and is doing what makes them feel happy and free.
So I guess the question now is… do you not care what others think of you and are you free?
I’m pretty happy to say that… Yeah! Ask me that question a few years ago and it would’ve been a no. Does that make me a cool person?!
Hell yeah. What’s the path that led you to this moment now, in your working life?
Five years ago, I had just finished Uni and I was living in Byron Bay, wondering what to do next. I always knew that I didn’t want to work full time in the one job. I imagined a life where I could do lots of different things and be flexible with my weekly schedule. I don’t know how, but I’ve managed to create that for myself!
You manifested it!
Yes! I thought about this yesterday… I’m 32, single, don’t own a home, not working ‘full time’, but I’m a grown-up, paying rent, I’m self-sufficient, making enough money to survive, and doing the things I love. It’s pretty cool. I mean, I don’t always feel so content, but most of the time I can honestly say I do.
So you sometimes get lost in the “shoulds” of life?
Sometimes I do let the expectations of others and society influence me a little bit. I used to grow up listening to people talk about the pressures of society and I never really got it. But now I’m like, holy shit, society actually does expect you to behave a certain way! I love the freedom of doing what I want to do.
When did you start teaching yoga?
I studied two years ago. When I first came back from living in Canada, I had a full-time teaching job and I loved the connection with the kids in schools, but I realised that teaching wasn’t igniting me the way yoga does. I especially love one-on-one work, and the idea of taking yoga to people who don’t normally get to class, like those in a corporate lifestyle. Teaching them how to relax and be mindful of their bodies and how to improve their mental health.
Have you always done yoga?
I’ve done asana – the physical yoga practice – from a really young age. I was a gymnast growing up, so it was an easy transition. About five years ago, I solidly realised the deeper power of a yoga practice. I’m really passionate now about trying to get the real meaning of yoga across to people who don’t understand.
What does yoga mean to you now?
It’s a lifestyle, and a practice that allows me to see things as they are and to be okay with however things present themselves. What most people don’t realise is that yoga is a complete system aimed at understanding our own minds. It is a way of learning to navigate through life’s many challenges with a sense of equanimity and ease. A way of bettering our mental health. I’ve found so much peace and contentment from my yoga practice and I want to give that to people!
Emmy teaches at Merewether SLSC on a Monday night and Twine Yoga Studio in Adamstown. join her for a free meditation every Wednesday morning during school terms 6.30am at Merewether Beach.
Tell me about your free meditations at Merewether Beach.
Meditation has been a part of my daily practice for years now, and a lot of people don’t realise it’s the core foundation of yoga. It’s been so positive for my life. This summer, instead of doing meditation at home I started to wander down to the beach some days and do it there, so I thought since I was already there I could share it with others. Meditation is so accessible for everyone. Can you get better than sunrise, beach, and peace?!
So you do your own meditation practice every day?
Absolutely. I even did my own little silent retreat over New Year’s, just at home by myself to deepen my practice. It was a huge challenge. I’ve done some periods in silence before, including a week of silence at my last yoga teacher training. So I wrote up my own little schedule: rising at sunrise, seven hours of meditation a day, walks to the beach, some asana and breathing practice in between. My friends laughed at me because I had a little sign ready to explain that I was in silence, in case anyone tried to talk to me!
Did you find it difficult to stick to the schedule?
I admit, it was hard. But I had my schedule written and printed on the wall so I stuck to it. I had a moment on New Year’s Eve when I wondered why I was doing it! Then I thought, ‘You know what, why not?’ I might never get that opportunity again.
It’s funny, I had a moment when I sat down for the first meditation hour when I realised… I actually don’t have to sit here. I can get up right now and walk away and pretend this never happened. But I stuck to it.
What did your New Year’s look like?
I was up at sunrise on New Year’s Day, at Merewether Baths doing my practice and swimming. It was beautiful. No music, no reading, no technology for the few days. I think everybody should spend some extended period of time in silence at some point in their lives! It is the biggest teacher. Until you’re really forced to sit with yourself, you don’t know who you are.
So many people say, ‘I don’t want to sit with myself!’ Well that’s totally the point, right? If you don’t want to sit with yourself in silence for any length of time, then you’ve got some work to do. It’s going to be just you for the rest of your life. I get sick of my own bullshit so much, but it’s important to face it.
It’s like an act of kindness to yourself.
Exactly. It’s so good for everyone. I’ve actually just created a little organisation called The Peaceful Minds Project. This program is aimed at teaching people who have never meditated before how to develop a regular practice themselves. I will be offering The Peaceful Minds Project to workplaces and schools in 2017, so keep an eye out! As a school teacher I see the need for young people especially to learn how to self-regulate emotions and stress. I teach kids and I see how anxious they are and it’s not nice for 12-year-olds to be so full of anxiety.
So will you teach the workshops in school time?
It will probably be either in sport time, or before or after school. I am by no means any authority on wisdom and techniques but I would really love to share what I’ve learned through my yoga training and personal experience so far. There are some real basics that people can benefit from. It only just dawned on me last year that the state of our world is the direct compilation of our individual consciousness.
It’s a reflection of our inner world and how we operate internally.
Sometimes I feel at a complete loss as to what I can do to help our world. But we can all help out more than we think. If we each were committed to doing our own work, to creating more acceptance, less judgement, more kindness/compassion and less reaction within ourselves, then we could bring this to others. And like a ripple effect we could slowly create a better place to live. Change actually does come from within.
Have you always wanted to be a musician?
Definitely. I think most other artists would agree that the dream of being a full-time musician never really goes away. For me now, music is an expression. I’m always writing and recording at home and whether it gets released or performed or not, I’m super happy creating music for me. When I’m not creating, I feel less like myself. But my main focus right now is sharing yoga with people.