REFLECTIONS FROM TWBS22 – EMILY ELDREDGE
Founder + CEO of ChangeLight
“This seems so incredibly spot on!!!”. Such was the WhatsApp message that popped up on my phone in early April, and attached was an invitation to the Wellbeing Summit for Social Change.
The message came from my dear friend and colleague Marlou Cornelissen who had received the invitation and immediately recognized that, without question, I needed to be there. As an emotional health innovator who is passionately focused on increasing the well-being of leaders and changemakers, I couldn’t agree more.
However, the weekend of the Summit was the same weekend that my husband and I would be driving cross-country from Arizona to New York! We’d be finalizing his move from Tucson to New York City, and we’d been planning this drive for months.
I just couldn’t make it work.
And yet… the Wellbeing Summit kept sticking with me… and sticking with me…
Finally one day, I said to my husband, “Hey, honey. Ummm, I know we’ve both really had our hearts set on doing this drive together, but I really feel like I have to be at this thing in Spain. Is it okay if I don’t join you on the drive or maybe only join you for part of it?” He was clearly disappointed but understanding and supportive. Our original plan was to drive to Dallas and spend the night there with my parents, so I mentioned my dilemma to them. By complete coincidence, they were already planning on driving up to New England a couple of days later! So my husband and I drove from Tucson to Dallas, I flew from Dallas to Bilbao, and my husband and parents drove in tandem to New York! (And they had a perfectly wonderful time without me!) We made it work.
As an impact-driven leader and changemaker myself, I spent years struggling with my own “demons” and burnout. Working hard to live one’s own Truth and fulfill one’s life mission has a tendency to trigger one’s deepest wounds and defenses! And I’ve seen so many of my fellow leaders and changemakers struggle with similar stresses and pressures. However, prior to learning about the Wellbeing Project, I hadn’t heard of any collective efforts to address this pervasive issue. Typical changemaker, I felt like I was the only one focused on it.
The Wellbeing Summit changed everything. Immediately, I felt embraced by a tribe of lovely, loving human beings who, in their own unique ways, are working hard to make our world better while, at the same time, recognizing their own vital need for health and well-being. I met activists, philanthropists, coaches, spiritual figures, artists, innovators, investors, yogis, and others with whom I felt an immediate connection and trust. Though we had only just met, we were instantly open and vulnerable with one another – sharing our struggles as well as our joys.
One thing was also clear: every element of the Summit’s program was deeply intentional. We had time to experience, time to learn, time to connect, time to rest, and time to heal.
What surprised me the most was how profoundly I was impacted by the art. When I had initially read about the Wellbeing Project’s commitment to art as a source of healing, I thought with a shrug, “Oh, that’s nice”. However, the Summit’s well-curated artistic experiences left indelible – and, yes, healing – impressions on me. For example, on the first night, we were treated to a kind of poetic sound bath in which a woman read a long poem while someone stroked a gong to make it shimmer. The sound vibrations penetrated me so deeply that all of my tension was released, my body fell away, and I felt myself floating in a space of pure peace. That and other experiences since have helped me discover the incredible power of sound in my own self-care and healing.
My dear friend, Marlou was right. She, too, was “spot on” that I should attend the Wellbeing Summit. And, oh my, am I grateful that I could forgo that cross-country drive to be there!
I left the Summit feeling healed, encouraged, and inspired by the transformative experiences I had and the wonderful people I met. I’ve made friends for life – some of whom I’ve since rendez-voused with here in New York City – and I feel so much less alone in my commitment to changemakers’ well-being. In fact, to cement my support of the Wellbeing Project’s mission, I joined the Wellbeing Welldoing Network, a group of visionary philanthropists who sustain and grow The Wellbeing Project’s work.
Emily Eldredge is the founder of ChangeLight , the creator of the ChangeLight System™, and a member of the Wellbeing Welldoing Network at The Wellbeing Project. With her rare blend of deep compassion and fierce determination, Emily leads global leaders and everyday heroes through inner work that accelerates their power to change the world. As an innovator, entrepreneur, and humanitarian, Emily’s mission is to accelerate the healing of humanity and our planet.