What does your relationship to your body look like? Have you ever explored movement and body awareness as an opportunity for personal healing and transformation?
In this episode, Brit shares her struggle with overcoming negative body image and self-talk, and how yoga and dance helped her heal. I hope your find value in her transformative journey. Enjoy!
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Brit Wassef 0:00
Pay attention. Pay attention to why you're doing something like get really, really honest about why you're doing something. And in the process of getting honest about why you're doing something, you don't have to be hard on yourself. You don't have to kind of criticize yourself a ton. Just get curious about why you might be doing something. And when you actually are aware of why you're doing something, then you have more power and you have more ability to choose if you want to continue to do the thing. The thing is, the thing is not a problem. Unless it is a problem unless you decide it's a problem, and you want to change it.
Stuart Murray 0:43
Welcome to episode number two of the connected movement podcast. I am your host, Stu Murray. Are you disillusioned with our old outdated systems and stories? Are you tired of the growing polarization in society? So am I my aim is to engage in and unpack conversations with people from all walks of life as a means of CO creating a way forward for humanity. Today's guest is Britt Wassef. Britt has been teaching movement and yoga for over a decade and is currently studying to be a yoga therapist. She is passionate about helping people get out of pain, become stronger and create a life that they love. Britt is truly someone who practices what she preaches. She brings presence and playfulness to her practice, which she eagerly shares with others. Helping people from all walks of life, get out of pain, become stronger, have more energy, and feel more connected to themselves. I really hope you enjoy this episode. And before we dive in a thank you to our sponsor, Karen Phytoplankton. Many daily discomforts are the result of malnourished, you may be malnourished, if you crash in the afternoon, you have digestive issues, you get lots of headaches, have trouble sleeping, you have muscle or joint pain, have trouble concentrating and so on. The good news is the right supplementation can help with this. I've personally benefited from using Karen Phytoplankton, which has helped me find more energy in the afternoons and beat that crash. You can find Karen Phytoplankton products at Costco locations or online at the Karen project.ca. Without further ado, let's dive in. What got you in I know about almost 10 years ago, we had started to cross paths in the yoga and mindfulness space and what brought you into that world to begin with?
Brit Wassef 2:42
Yeah, I grew up as a dancer. And in that world, I was pretty harsh and awful to my body. For a lot of years, I really struggled with some pretty bad eating disorders and some depression, anxiety. And I was just so tired, I think of treating my body in that way. And somehow I stumbled upon a yoga class. And I just kept going back and I kept going back. And I found something really cool there. It was, you know, being a dancer, you're in front of a mirror a lot. And I found that in the yoga world, I was able to be in front of the mirror with less judgment and less competition on my brain. So that's kind of what got me started. And I kind of got hooked. I'm a type of person that when I do something, I tend to go all in I ended up becoming a teacher like it wasn't just like, Oh, I'm gonna go to yoga and it's gonna be something I do is like, No, this amazing. Well, now,
Stuart Murray 3:59
Do you remember when you first like... Do you remember that first day? Was there just like a certain moment? Or like, I'm gonna go check out this class? Or what was it that at least got you in that door? That first time?
Brit Wassef 4:11
I don't really remember. I yeah, I just think there was a new like studio that had opened. Like it was a pretty new thing in Fredericton. So I think there was just maybe a little bit of hype, and I was like, Oh, I'm gonna go check it out. And my very first class of my gosh, it was a hot yoga class. Yeah, and I they were like, Do you want a towel? And I was like, no, no, I'm good. Like, I don't sweat that much. Oh, my God. I was like, flip flopping around the entire class. It was a hot mess. But
Stuart Murray 4:48
oh, yeah, I know all about that. I had a similar start with the hot yoga and sweat you sweat like crazy no matter what. It's it's inescapable. Feel so good, though. So you got into it. And what started to happen as you dove into the the yoga practice, you started to mention that reflection in the mirror. But what changes did you start to notice, as you were just being as a practitioner into that? Yeah,
Brit Wassef 5:15
as a practitioner, I just, I found this new way of like relating to my body. And I had spent a lot of time. How do I explain it, just being really aware of my body, like I thought about it so much, it's kind of like embarrassing to me that even say that out loud, because I just didn't have a healthy relationship. And I would like, watch what other people would eat when I was in public. And I would kind of like, navigate how much they were eating based on what I would eat like it was really messed up, honestly. But it was just something that became kind of a habit and a pattern for me. So yoga gave me this opportunity to go with it. And to not compare myself, it took a little bit of time to get there. You know, as a dancer, you're definitely always competing with the person beside you, you're trying to kick your leg higher. So I know you've, you've taught some yoga. So you've maybe seen people like me before, where I was just trying to get my leg higher and higher and higher, and like a dancers pose or whatever, and really didn't know what I was doing. Yeah, but somehow in the process of just continuing to go back, I was able to connect with myself in a new way.
Stuart Murray 6:40
Hmm, very interesting, I can relate on that non competitive nature of of such a practice having grown up in the parallel of sports, it's always, you know, trying to win or trying to be better than an opponent or better than that person next to you. And, man, it's interesting to see how that ripples into our culture and into our own world and the way we view the world and view ourselves.
Brit Wassef 7:06
Yeah, absolutely. It's quite something.
Stuart Murray 7:09
So when you got into yoga, and you started practicing that, how long was it before you started thinking, wow, I, you know, started to make that a regular practice for you.
Unknown Speaker 7:19
You know, I went to my first class, and I never stopped that it just became a thing that I did. I was finding so much joy in it. And I was going to two classes a day sometimes like I was constantly there, I started volunteering at the studio. So they have a they had an energy exchange program. So I would come in and clean the studio. And that's how I was able to afford going to yoga. And I would come in clean, and then I would stay and go to a class or I would go to a class and and staying clean. So I started to just really get comfortable in the space. Amazing. Yeah. And it just, it just became something that I did. It was Yeah, and it kind of hasn't really stopped. I've certainly changed my relationship to yoga has certainly changed a lot over the last 10 years.
Stuart Murray 8:15
interesting, we'll get into that as we roll along, no doubt. So as you got into it, you mentioned I imagined pretty early on because I know when we collided, you are already starting to dive into that teaching space and going much deeper into your practice. What did that look like for you as you went from practitioner to wanting to go deeper?
Brit Wassef 8:37
Yeah, when I made the decision to go and take the training and kind of dive into that, deeper, I didn't realize that there was going to be this. This shift that happened for me were stepping into the role of the teacher really takes away a little bit from the practice in a sense. You kind of you know, when you're just a student, you have these kinds of like shiny, this is new, this is amazing. These glasses on that you see everything through. And then when you start to become a teacher, you just your lenses change a little bit. So it was actually kind of challenging to to make that change. And it was fun though. It was really fun. You learn a whole bunch of new things about yourself. When you become a teacher. You probably know this but your students give back so much to you that you end up learning so much throughout the teaching process.
Stuart Murray 9:45
Did you enter that to become a teacher? Was that the intention?
Brit Wassef 9:51
Yeah, yeah, I did. I I was getting pretty close with the owner of the studio at the time and she She had just kind of mentioned that I was interested in the training. I didn't really say anything more than I was like, Oh, I might be interested in this one day. And she was like, Yeah, we need teachers today. So you should go to training. And the training was like, coming up in like a month or something, maybe a little bit less than that. And she was like, I think you should do this now. And I was in university at the time, and I actually dropped out for the semester to go and do this training.
Stuart Murray 10:33
Wow, wow. Okay. Very interesting. So, when, when that happened, what, what did you feel in your body? How did you know to make such a big jump? That's a pretty courageous leap into the unknown.
Brit Wassef 10:48
Yeah, like I said, I'm really good at going all in. And when I decide on something, it's like, no, I'm doing this. And I didn't know how I was gonna do it. But I just tend to make these things happen. And I think I've always been like that were just always been really connected to something when I know it's the right thing for me. And I don't know if I have an explanation as to why. There are a lot of things that I have absolutely no concept of, and I struggle with, like little decisions. I'm like, Oh, I don't know. I don't know. But when something is the right decision for me, I just know when I go all in. I love it. I
Stuart Murray 11:32
can relate to that with that fiery nature for sure. Yeah. So you, was it a month long intensive style training? Was it that deep dive?
Brit Wassef 11:42
Yeah, it was the deep dive.
Stuart Murray 11:45
Amazing. So what was your experience? Like during the training? What did you notice some kind of shifts happening? What What was that like for you?
Brit Wassef 11:52
Yeah, it was, it was really challenging for me. I'm a really shy, introverted person, a lot of people don't really know that about me, or they wouldn't ever get that about me, because I've spent so much time talking in front of large groups. But my true nature is very, very introverted. And to be in a room with, there was probably 50 other people there. And I was staying with some people from the training, so I was constantly with other people. And that is really challenging for me, I really need a lot of downtime, a lot of alone time. And I wasn't able to get that. And at that time, I was quite socially anxious as well. So just just the whole experience was really uncomfortable, and you're learning something new. And you're expected, we did a lot of like practice teaching in the training. So the whole thing was so uncomfortable.
Stuart Murray 12:53
Wow. Are there any key lessons that kind of came out of that training as you move through that discomfort?
Brit Wassef 13:02
Who probably so many feels like so long ago, like the person I am now compared to that person is so different? It really opened my eyes. It was one of the first times I had done any solo travelling. So it really just opened my eyes to how big the world was, and how much there was to explore out out in the world. And how many different types of people there were out in the world? You know, I had, I had been pretty, like, locked in Fredericton. Before that.
Stuart Murray 13:45
Wow. So I take it it was not in Fredericton where was it? And what did a day look like? What did your routine look like, as you had immersed in that month long training?
Brit Wassef 13:57
Man, it was such a fun experience. Yeah, the training itself was in LA. And the studio was was like right in downtown LA. And we had our first practice every day for 30 days. We got up and our first class started at 6am I think so it's quite early mornings. We we bought some bicycles off of Craigslist we decided to break our training was probably about a half an hour bike ride and I just remember like in LA people drive everywhere they don't cycle they might more so now I'm not sure but back then like the people who work at the yoga studio were like you guys are gonna flake here like you're crazy. Awesome for us. So we like yeah, we bought these bikes off Craigslist and every morning we get up at like 5am or something like to the studio. We do our practice. And then we would have like a little bit of downtime for our breakfast. or whatever. And then you're in lecture all day, you're doing another class throughout the day more lecture. And then you go home, and you're just a zombie like, you just wash your clothes, and you go to bed. So it's like that for a month.
Stuart Murray 15:17
Yeah, I remember, it's quite intense when it's in that time period to, you know, so much emotional and psychological stuff can really surface because you experience also so much stress and so much physical and different tensions that are happening. It's quite a wild experience that I would personally recommend for people who want to go in and teach yoga or people who just want to learn more about themselves.
Brit Wassef 15:42
Yes, I agree. It's so it's so nice to have that immersive experience, where it's like the rest of your life is kind of on pause, and you really get to deep dive into into that training. I think that was really, really amazing for me, and I learned so much from being able to do it in that way.
Stuart Murray 16:06
Totally, whenever we can get a chance to slow down in this hyperspeed. world, it's a good opportunity to seize. So yeah. After you started, after you started, or finished, I guess after you finish that training, did you go into teaching right away at the studio?
Brit Wassef 16:24
Yeah, it did. We had to do some practice classes afterwards. And my very first practice class actually went really, really well. I ended up having like 20 friends show up and come to class, which was like, amazing, I felt so grateful. And it went really, really well. And then the next couple of classes did not go well at all. I was so nervous. And I remember my I think it was my second class that the owner of the studio would was coming to. And I was like pacing outside the hall. Like I was so nervous. And that was yeah, that was interesting, because it really required me to learn how to trust myself, to be able to get to a place where I was comfortable to teach, because the first class went really well. Because I wasn't thinking so much. I just I just went in and did it. And there was only people I knew there. So I don't know, it was it, I was able to just be myself. And then I noticed that as soon as there was like someone who I considered some type of authority, or who knew more than I did at the time that I totally shut down. And that's been a big lesson in my life, actually, that I've, I've had to work through a lot.
Stuart Murray 17:55
Interesting. Would you like to unpack that piece around authority a little bit more and struggle with trusting oneself through that?
Brit Wassef 18:05
Yeah, there's something for me, um, I don't know what it is, I guess when I feel like I'm in control, it's a lot easier for me to be myself. And then as soon as there's any little indication that I'm not good enough. I think that's what it is truly, if I'm being really, really honest. Then I shut down and I allow myself to be quiet and small and scared.
Stuart Murray 18:39
Isn't that interesting? I think that what you're speaking to would resonate for so many people living in this world where we're constantly looking outside for validation, looking, particularly to those that we put on on a higher pedestal, often figures of authority where we're wanting that conditional acceptance to be reflected back at us to, to remind us that we're good enough. It's weird. It's a weird thing that we get caught up in.
Brit Wassef 19:09
Absolutely, absolutely. Yeah.
Stuart Murray 19:14
So how do you move into starting to trust yourself as you're going through those challenging first few classes, stumbling your way through, challenging that self dialog of not being good enough? What allowed you to start to look at that and overcome this issue without being not being able to trust yourself?
Brit Wassef 19:38
I think it was a really long journey to be able to address myself. I think that only recently, within the past couple of years, actually, I would say that I have been able to, to really truly trust myself. And in those early early years of teaching, there was a lot of stumbling around there was a lot I have being afraid and doing it anyway, of not really trusting myself. But knowing that I, I really enjoyed this and seeing that other people were enjoying what I was offering. So there was this, this, there was still this external validation that was kind of carrying me through. And I don't necessarily always see that as a bad thing. I think that there's lots of benefit through external validation. But it's only been in the past couple of years that I've really been able to, to find the internal validation. And in doing so, life has gotten really, really good. Wow,
Stuart Murray 20:44
that's amazing. I'm curious now, because I would actually agree with you on that internal versus external. And that external validation, if appropriate, can actually lead to the ladder to more internal validation, as you were saying, how, like you said, it can be a good thing. When is external validation, a useful tool? And when does that start to be something that could be negative?
Brit Wassef 21:11
Hmm, I think that when it becomes our only form of validation, or when we start doing things, where we're seeking that external validation, and we're starting to use it like a drug, where we need that to keep us motivated to keep us going, I think that's when it starts to become a negative. And I'm a big believer that everything can be medicine, or everything can be poison, it's all about our relationship to it, why we're using it, how we're using it. So there's got to be a lot of self awareness and reflection when we're doing anything.
Stuart Murray 21:59
Do you have tips for somebody? If they're perhaps struggling with that line? Do you have tips to help somebody kind of transform that into a healthy relationship with external validation?
Brit Wassef 22:10
Hmm, yeah, just pay attention. Pay attention to why you're doing something like get really, really honest about why you're doing something. And in the process of getting honest about why you're doing something, you don't have to be hard on yourself, you don't have to kind of criticize yourself a ton, just get curious about why you might be doing something. And when you actually are aware of why you're doing something, then you have more power, and you have more ability to choose if you want to continue to do the thing. You know, the thing is, the thing is not a problem. Unless it is a problem unless you decide it's a problem, and you want to change it.
Stuart Murray 22:52
I love it. That's amazing. So what's what's your wife, and that's kind of driven you through the practice of becoming a practitioner is starting to teach yoga, stumbling your way through.
Brit Wassef 23:04
Um, I think that right now, I have gained so much in my own world, by continuing to connect to myself by learning about my body, about learning to trust myself, and all of those lessons have really come from my time spent on my yoga mat. I don't even really use the yoga mat all that often anymore, but anyway. But that's sad, but I'm so I have learned so much about myself through the process. And it's allowed me to exist in this world in a new way. And I think that if more and more people were able to connect with themselves, that this world would look a lot different. We spend an awful lot of time going through the motions of, of being really fast moving from one thing to the next to the next that we don't take a lot of time to slow down and reflect. And I just think, you know, yoga offers you the opportunity to do that. And that can really transform a lot. So basically, I'm just trying to change the whole world by helping people connect to them.
Stuart Murray 24:30
I think that's beautiful at it. You know, being a practitioner of yoga myself, I've noticed massive transformations. Why? Why do you think it's so important that we slow down and connect with ourselves and what what can that bring us?
Brit Wassef 24:46
It brings us choice. It keeps us curious. If we allow ourselves to slow down, we can start to ask better questions. We can start to look at the world Get ourselves and our relationship to the world and to others around us in a new way, in a way, where we start to realize that we actually have a lot more power over our lives or with our lives than we think. And when we're going so fast, we don't, we can't see all the choices that we actually have. When we can learn to like, really slow down and be aware, we just, we have a power in how we respond. And instead of react to certain things, we can learn that everything is really about our own selves and how we relate to the world. I think before I felt like the world or my life, it was happening to me. And and now I know that I have a lot more choice with how things happen.
Stuart Murray 25:54
Wow. Yeah, that's incredible. I couldn't agree more. I think so much of what we're struggling with. societally is an individual and a collective based victim mentality, that that life happens to us. And so we seek to look outside for, for how to live. And it's, it's almost a paradox, because we live in an age where there's never been more choice. And yet, the choices that we're deciding on are so trivial, versus the choices that I think you're talking about, to me seem very much more of an inward reflection of choice. And these deeper things that are contemplated, would you like to speak a little bit more about shifting from the victim to being in power?
Brit Wassef 26:47
Yeah, wow, it's a journey. It is such a journey to get there. And I will say, it's been a really difficult journey, I've had to really take a hard look at myself, and why I was doing the things I was doing and why I was showing up the way that I was showing up. And, you know, I cried a lot. And I was angry, and I felt all of the feelings, but that ultimately led me to more freedom, if you can just kind of fit through the uncomfortable parts, the really hard parts, and just be really honest with yourself, and really just look kind of where look at how you got to where you bought to. And if it's the where, if it's where you want to be. Yeah, it's an interesting journey, for sure.
Stuart Murray 27:47
No doubt. Yeah. So you had been teaching for I imagine a few years at the studio. Was that your full time gig?
Brit Wassef 27:56
It was? Yeah, I guess I taught some dance classes on the side. So I've been, yeah, I had been teaching yoga and dance for a very long time. Kind of simultaneously as my full time job. So I did end up finishing my university degree after I dropped out. I went back and finished it and then I never ever used it.
Well, yeah, that was kind of my full time gig. So I was, in the early days, I was teaching a lot more than I ever could now.
Stuart Murray 28:34
Yeah, so what happened? I guess you had been teaching for a while teaching dance, teaching yoga. And then a few years ago, you decided to make a big, make a big move.
Brit Wassef 28:45
Mm hmm. Yeah. So I had been teaching yoga and dance pretty much consistently for my gosh, a long time. And I moved to Charlotte town throughout this for the same reason, kept teaching dance, kept teaching yoga. And then my partner had gotten a job in Fredericton and was like, Okay, we're gonna move back to Fredericton. Well, it didn't really go with that it
was for the purpose of this, that's what happened when he came back. And I was I had really enjoyed my time in Charlottetown. I had made an amazing community there. And so I was kind of grumpy honestly, about moving back to Fredericton. I knew that I wanted to move back. Our relationship minded my partners was really great. And I knew it was worth pursuing coming back to Fredericton. But for the first little bit of moving back, I was grumpy I was actually pretty miserable. And I had this moment where all of what we were just talking about I came into play, I was washing the dishes, which is where I do a lot of my best thinking. And I realized that I was being the victim, I was playing the victim in that moment, I was unhappy, but I wasn't doing anything to change how unhappy I was, I was just letting myself be that victim. So in that moment, I was like, alright, something has to change, I need to try to find something in Fredericton that I'm going to enjoy. And, and that's kind of where I decided to open a dance studio and see what that should look like.
Stuart Murray 30:44
Amazing. So what did that journey look like as you as you put that decision out into the universe? How did that start to manifest physically?
Brit Wassef 30:53
So I, um, there was my my business partner at the time, or, at that time, my students would be business partner was holding some dance classes for adults. And she was doing a really awesome job of promoting them on social media. And I literally reached out to her, I did not know her at all, I reached out to her and I was like, Hey, I like what you're doing. We should grab a coffee and chat about opening a dance studio. I literally thought that was so insane. I'm, like I said all in. We ended up having a coffee and we chatted for probably three hours, we actually had a ton in common. And it was in that moment that we were like, All right, let's do this, we're gonna make it work. And, and so we just started planning, we just started. Yeah, organizing, planning, learning, trying to figure out all the things you need to open a business, you know, funding and, and all of that. Yeah, that's crazy.
Stuart Murray 32:08
That's a big step from teaching at somebody else's location to renting a space and coming up with the business plan.
Brit Wassef 32:15
I was in way over my head in the best way possible. Um, I had no idea what I was doing to be honest, or no idea what I was getting myself into so much respect for business owners, it's not an easy job, you wear so many different hats, you know, you have to become an accountant. And, and you have to be good at marketing. And you have to learn all these roles that have nothing to do with what you actually want to do. No, I was a teacher, not a marketer, not an accountant. So you learn a lot.
Stuart Murray 32:58
No doubt. How did you navigate doing that with somebody else? I'm sure there was some, you know, perhaps some challenges just getting going? And what kind of tools or skills allowed you to smooth out that process?
Brit Wassef 33:14
Yeah, I think something that was really beneficial for us at the time was that we weren't friends first. So we were able to be really honest with each other and really have good communication where we were business partners, before we were friends, we became friends on this journey together. But at first it was it was great, because we were actually able to express ourselves and we had concerns, then we could bring them up very honestly. And that was really important. And I can't imagine trying to do to run a business with someone that you don't feel like you can be completely open and honest with.
Stuart Murray 34:02
I'm very curious. I think that's one tremendous skill is I don't think you can have trust without honesty. That's my delusional opinion of that. But what else in terms of building connection be it in the business world being friendships? What are things, fundamental underpinnings of connection or friendship, or business connections that are required for deepening those bonds?
Brit Wassef 34:28
I think it really again, comes back to what I was learning on my yoga mat is that I needed to know myself so that I could be honest with other people. So if I don't know myself, and if I don't know what I'm capable of, and what I can actually take on in terms of running a business, like what's realistic for me? Then I can't communicate with anyone and then I'm gonna be letting people down because we have a tendency to be like, oh, yeah, I can do this. If and this and this and this and this. And then you actually get into doing this and this and this and you're like, oh shit
right. Have you been there? Oh, yeah. Yeah, so really like knowing what I am capable of what I need what I want. And I think that really becomes important in all relationships is this ability to know what we want and need, and the ability to ask. And I think that's something that's really important in my, like, my romantic relationship is also having the ability to know what I need to be able to ask for it, and the ability to get it myself.
Stuart Murray 35:54
Why is it so important to be able to ask for what we need?
Brit Wassef 35:59
Because people can't read our minds? Yeah, no, they just they, we don't know what the other people are thinking we might think we know. Or we might assume certain things about people. And it's not always true. So when you can just be honest and ask, then you, you can usually get a better conversation, you don't have this period of resentment with people.
Stuart Murray 36:29
Man, I couldn't agree more, I noticed that resentment boiling up in me at times, and you're like, you get going with the stories and then all of a sudden, it's like, Shit, I haven't even told them what I'm needing. And I'm sitting here, just trying to figure out what I need myself, and expecting somebody else to know what I'm needing out delusional is that
Brit Wassef 36:50
it's crazy. But we all do it, we all do it. And it's this piece of we're not being honest. And, and we're not doing it on purpose. I really believe that a lot of the times, we're not being honest with ourselves, because we're busy, because we just haven't taken the time. Because it's hard, it's hard to kind of clear away all of the clutter and get to like the center of what you actually want and need.
Stuart Murray 37:16
Totally. And a lot of times what we want and need is wrapped up in stories of what other people are doing, rather than, you know, making it about what's happened and what's alive in us not this story about somebody else's intentions or how they're going. It's it's very interesting.
Brit Wassef 37:33
And then our culture plays into that as well. Because we have these ideas of what we're supposed to want and how we're supposed to be or what we're what our life is supposed to look like at such and such age. So it is a lot of clutter to kind of navigate through to really get to the root of who you are and what you want.
Stuart Murray 37:55
Yeah, can make it a super convoluted journey. But like you said, again, it comes back to being honest with yourself and starting there, to be honest with others, if you're not with yourself, that's for sure. Yeah,
Brit Wassef 38:07
exactly. And I think that like our, our bodies are really good at telling us a lot of information they can, they can really help us navigate what we want, what we feel if we're willing to listen, I say this a lot. But our body communicates in such subtle ways that many of us are too busy, too loud, too, whatever, to actually hear what our body is saying. And a lot of the work that I'm doing these days has to do with pain. And I've noticed like pain is basically our body's screaming at us, begging us to pay attention to it. But if you can kind of listen to the whispers so before you get to that screaming, you can really Yeah, you can learn some stuff about yourself.
Stuart Murray 39:05
That's beautiful. I have been learning similar lessons and growing up as a man who often hasn't been hasn't had a model to teach translating feelings. It's we don't have a culture that really men are able to feel through so much. But I've found the body is such an incredible tool to very tangibly start to dive in to the feelings and that's I mean, that's what it is an emotion feeling. Right? It's like that direct palpable sensation through the body is a truly a phenomenal way to start to dive into the deeper layers of of our psyche.
Brit Wassef 39:51
I love all of that so much and I think you're so bang on with our culture not being as good I don't know, I don't think accepting is the right word, but it just doesn't really provide men with the tools to feel, you know, for women, we, we, it's been more encouraged for us to be emotional and to cry and all of that. But it is different in our culture for men. And one of my one of my teachers, she always says that you can't think your way to feeling. Yeah. And it's one of my favorite ones of all time, because you absolutely cannot you have to feel you have to feel your way to feeling. And until you do that, it sounds like what the fuck are you talking? To feel instead of thinking ready to feel a whole lot really potent lessons in there.
Stuart Murray 40:48
So, so juicy. I love it. Okay, so you, you started doing a business plan? You started working with this new thing, just trying to get it up and going, how? How did that take off? From there? You found a space what?
Brit Wassef 41:04
Yeah, we started running. We started by renting a space. And just kind of it wasn't ideal. It wasn't like our own space. It was used by multiple people. So we're just kind of using it a couple of nights a week. And we have a lot of interests. Like in the early days, there were so many people coming to class, it was so exciting. It was so much fun. So then, while we were we're kind of building up our clientele that way, while we were preparing another space that we found pretty easily actually, we found a great space, and we had to do a whole lot of renovations to get that ready. So I think we're open for about a month with like a rental space while we were getting the other space ready. It was a while like I was working a lot. Yeah. Just laughing at it now.
Stuart Murray 41:58
Yeah, that's intense. Okay, so how long? Was that going? I mean, it sounded seemed like you had quite a lot of people in the community interested. So I imagine it started to take off.
Brit Wassef 42:11
Yeah, it was taking off. And it was our classes were full most nights. Right from the get go into the band and interest. Yeah, it was it was really, it was a bit heartbreaking, honestly, because we, we had taken out like loans to help us start this business. And we were just getting to a point. We're probably about a year in and we were just getting to the point where we were regularly able to pay ourselves. And so that was really exciting. Yeah, and I think that's, um, I was pretty excited about that progress, because it does take time for a business to get up and running. And just to be able to like, break even in our first year was like a really big win. Shoot. Yeah.
Stuart Murray 43:05
So the pandemic, and how was that? How was your experience with that as a small business trying to make your way in the world? What How did that feel like when the pandemic
Brit Wassef 43:20
while like, the first shut down, we just, we just closed, we just we didn't pivot to doing anything really online, we were just like, No, let's just take some time, because we had been working really, really hard. So it's actually really nice to have, like, I had a lot of fun in those three months, or however long it was. Because it was the first time in my entire life that I had a break from working. I had always had a job since the time I was 14, up until that point. So it was the first like chunk of time off that I'd ever gotten. At Yeah, it was awesome. I had a lot of fun. But navigating as a small business was so challenging. It was, you know, people were afraid of coming to classes, even when we reopen, and there was just so many changes all the time, you would just get a handle on something and then there would be something new that would happen, we would go to a different level or whatever it was. So that was really, really, really challenging.
Stuart Murray 44:36
Yeah, that must have been so hard as a business just, I mean, it's, as you said, it's so hard to run a business wearing 2030 different hats as it is and then on top of that, to start to adjust to daily changing updates about what level you're in what policy you need to do and I know talking to a few different business owners that they had to have these full on comprehensive COVID action plans, just to be able to keep their doors open. I mean, that must have been so hard.
Brit Wassef 45:08
It was really difficult. It was something that you I mean, none of us could have ever planned for this was not something we wrote into our business plan. Future Business owners will have this.
Stuart Murray 45:26
I'm sure they will. So did that start to change the must have started to change the flow of people moving in the amount of class sizes that you could offer?
Brit Wassef 45:38
Yeah, we, you know, we had to reduce to almost half capacity and the business was never, the plan was never there to make that a sustainable way of offering classes. We really were, we needed to have full classes to have a return on our investment. And it was just impossible. And because we were such a new business, there was no funding that was able to support us. We had. Yeah, so it was just, it was a really difficult time to navigate.
Stuart Murray 46:18
Yeah, shows how much the government really cares about the small business. Yeah, they put out nice policy statements about it, but doesn't, it's not reflected, which is incredibly unfortunate, because small businesses make the economic world go round. And they are the backbone of our communities.
Brit Wassef 46:39
Absolutely. And, you know, the small business owners care so much about the community. And it was just heartbreaking to not have any support. And I think that even goes to this whole idea of not being honest, you know, the government puts out something that looks really good, but honestly isn't helping as many people as it should. And I can't imagine how difficult it was to make those decisions and make those policies but as a small business owner, and as someone who's had to do a lot of learning on the way, there is definitely a way that you could help more people.
Stuart Murray 47:24
Yeah, and it's challenging that way too, right? Because on the surface, people would look at that and say, hey, you know, this is this is really tough. All these lockdowns, but they're doing what they need to do in the name of public health, but you know, as a result are taking care of small businesses, right. So on the front facing people are thinking, well, these businesses are being taken care of there's mitigation plans going on, behind the scenes, that that's just not the reality of what is going on, which, again, can cause a lack of trust between small business owners and the government. It's very challenging.
Brit Wassef 48:01
Stuart Murray 48:03
Yeah. So as you went on, I guess, you started, you've made your little COVID action plans, you reduce your class sizes down. How long did that continue? Like that?
Brit Wassef 48:14
So long, never ending. It never ended. It ended with me walking away.
Stuart Murray 48:25
Tell me more.
Brit Wassef 48:28
You know, it just we got to this point where I didn't agree with the way things what was being asked of small businesses, I didn't agree that it was my place to be able to police these kinds of things. It's not it was it was a hat that I wasn't willing to wear. It was one I absolutely never signed up to wear. So there came a point where I was becoming more drained and more burnt out than I had realized. And I just I knew I needed to step away. And and that was a really difficult choice. But ultimately, it was it was the right one for me.
Stuart Murray 49:12
Yeah, that must have been incredibly conflicting, almost as if the world the walls are closing in. Because having spent so much time and energy to create this passion project and bring it to the world, and obviously you were passionate about it and feeling like you were of service, but also to then play this role of a medical interventionist to enforce medical policies that were just handed down as dictates that in internally you didn't even feel aligned with what you believed that must have been just so. So much happening internally.
Brit Wassef 49:51
Yeah, talk about feeling your feelings. A lot of that. Probably, like what And I was making the decision, it had to happen pretty quick. Because like anything these policies would come out, and then you'd have a few days before they needed to be implemented. So there was probably four or five days where I was a mess. Like, I was so emotional, I didn't know. I didn't know how I was going to do what I needed to do. I knew internally that I didn't want to enforce these things. It's they weren't policies that I felt like I could support and, and feel good internally about myself. So I really had to sit with that and figure out how I was gonna walk away from something that feels like a baby, you know, you you create, you put so much time and so much energy into creating something, and then to just walk away was was not easy.
Stuart Murray 51:00
How did you deal with that? Britt?
Brit Wassef 51:03
Um, good question, I cried a lot. Um, and I, I really, I just sat with my feelings, I just sat with them, I sat with the fact that there was gonna be this community of people that I was walking away from. And I just, I just kept sitting with it, I just kept sitting with it. And even after the fact, once the decision was already was made, that day was really great, actually, when the decision was made, you know, there was a moment of relief, because some, there had been a result. So I had a moment of relief. And then you know, the reality set in that this business was going to continue on without me. And I think I really underestimated how difficult that was going to be to watch. So that had been a journey. And again, I just sat with it, I sat with how uncomfortable it was, I sat with all of the feelings that came up, whether they were right or wrong. I just I let whatever was going to come up, come up, and I sat with them. And I sat with them, and I sat with
Stuart Murray 52:25
them. That's incredible, must have been brought. So so much up. And it's interesting. What comes up for me there at the end is something I'd like to touch on often is this difference between judgment and discernment. When you're feeling into your body and feeling the emotions that arise, it's so easy to then put labels on those things. And often those become wrapped in stories of other people or other things or other institutions, and often spin themselves into that victim state. But as you said, just to be able to feel whatever it is and not think, is this right? Or is it wrong? Or is it this? Or is it that it just is right and to sit in the entirety of that, man, that's a courageous thing to do. But no doubt, something that that helps you move in to the next phase.
Brit Wassef 53:26
It did. And I'm so grateful that I had the tools and the skills to do that. Because I do not think that sitting with those feelings should be taken lightly. It's not an easy process. And because I had some experience with this, I had some bandwidth with the ability to sit with feelings, that I was able to do that and move through it fairly smoothly. For the most part, and in the in the original, the first lockdown I had used that time to I noticed that my self care practices needed to be increased. I had already had a pretty decent routine, but I just noticed that I'm quite sensitive to the energy of the world. And clearly the energy of the world has been chaotic. So I knew I needed to kind of turn up the dial of my self care practices. And I really got into meditating and I got a really solid foundation with that. And I'm so grateful for that looking back now because those tools the the ability to sit in silence with myself was so crucial when I was going through the process of stepping away from my business.
Stuart Murray 54:59
What did that pivot look like for you. What was that next step after you kind of move through all that ocean of emotion loves? Me too. And so what did that look like as you kind of move out of that and took your next step?
Brit Wassef 55:16
Yeah, it's actually kind of a funny story. What happened next? And that day that I was feeling really good because the decision had been made. I wasn't in such like a state. I was like, blissed out, I was blissed out. And I was I had an appointment at the place that I'm working now. The place that is actually like, yeah, my next step, just so funny, I had an appointment, and this appointment had been booked, months in advance, like four months in advance, and it just happened to fall on the same day that this decision was happening. And I happened to be going there right after the meeting with my business partner at the time. Okay, so this is all very strange. And I'm just like, walking down the street, like literally, like on cloud nine do to get to my appointment, it's great, whatever. And then I'm talking with the business owner, they're about she she just brings up all I'm looking for I'm looking to hire someone, but I haven't found the right person yet. And at this moment in time, I had zero plans of how I was going to pay my bills. I was walking away from a business with absolutely zero plans. I didn't know how I was gonna put food on I literally didn't know anything. So I just kind of was like, huh, this is true. And I mentioned I kind of filled her in on some of the story. And I was like, I'm looking for work. And so I started literally the next day, which is absolutely insane. Wow. Yeah.
Stuart Murray 56:55
Amazing. Okay, that isn't that amazing. I really do think life rewards the brave. Yeah,
Brit Wassef 57:02
I think when you are really in tune it out. For me, it always comes back to the body into your feelings. But when you're in tune with who you are, and you're in your integrity, and you're making decisions for you alone, magic shit happens like stuff that can't be explained. And I've seen this in small ways. But this this time was like, just just so wild, it was so powerful, it was really powerful for me, to remember to trust myself, and that when you let things flow, things happen quite organically.
Stuart Murray 57:45
I couldn't agree more. It's very challenging, though, even if we can vocalize that, I guess, with more and more experiences, is what you're referring to might solidify that, that knowing inside of ourselves, but that is constantly being bombarded and challenged by a culture that teaches us that we anytime we want to affect change, we need to exert a force. So we need to be just pushing or making something happen, literally physically have to do something to make this happen. But yet time and time again. Stories like that just reveal this other nature to existence that our mainstream culture doesn't seem to teach us.
Brit Wassef 58:30
Yeah, oh, man. Imagine learning that from like a young age or I think we might already know it at a young age, and then it kind of gets wiped away from us. So you have this like re remembering of it. And to get there is a whole journey in itself. Talk about learning to trust yourself. Like that is so key for these things to come up. And you're right. It's like everywhere we look, people want us to have evidence or concrete scientific proof in something. And I believe in all of that I love science, so much like my degree that I finished was a science degree. I love it. I love Movement Science. But there's also some stuff that we don't understand yet. That is very powerful.
Stuart Murray 59:17
Totally. And, you know, science is a process. It's a process of understanding. It is not a finality that we arrive at and we can never put the in front of science, right. So it's always has to be, it's more important to dive into the questioning and the experience than it ever is to arrive at something.
Brit Wassef 59:40
Yes, yeah. And I love that so much. And that's so much about what I do with my movement work when I'm working with one on one clients is it's this curiosity. It's this exploration of not needing to do something the right way, but finding out what feels best for you through exploration through curiosity for not looking for the one answer, or the five ways to get out of back pain, like, no, let's get curious.
Stuart Murray 1:00:14
I love it. Curiosity is at its essence, I think the core of education if we can protect that in the child and nurture that. So you know, as at whatever age you rediscover that sacred flame, it can really propel us forward. And I think a large reason why we're sitting here talking is actually because I discovered your new pivot when you started this new yoga journey. And honestly, I have a yoga crush on this new pivot that you've been doing. I think it's, it's phenomenal. I started doing that when you that last lockdown came in, and you offered some of your courses for free. Just because you knew people needed to be able to move and drop back into bodies as life around us was ground down yet to another halt. It was amaze, you want to talk a little bit more about this latest journey that you've been up to?
Brit Wassef 1:01:06
Yeah, so I'll keep going on kind of letting this job and this job is it's a great job that pays the bills, and I wouldn't be able to continue on with the movement work in I don't think maybe I would, I don't know. But anyways, without kind of that piece, you know, going through the pandemic, it really took a toll on my finances trying to keep a business afloat, was very, very, very challenging financially. And I got to the point where I was like, I can't do this grind anymore. Like I'm exhausted, I just want something stable. So landing that job provided something that was very stable and very Intune. And in align with my lifestyle, where where in, there's a lot of flexibility with when I work. So that allowed me the space, the time and the energy to focus. My movement work somewhere new. And yeah, so setting up kind of an online platform has been something I've always wanted to do. And I've just never, no never done it before.
Stuart Murray 1:02:23
That's awesome. A lot, a lot of learning there as well. Yeah. You something you had mentioned earlier about this more recent work you're doing in the movement world is helping people navigate pain. Could you speak a little bit more to that? I'm very curious.
Brit Wassef 1:02:40
Yeah, so I'm currently studying to be a yoga therapist, which the title itself really means nothing. But what what I'm good at is helping people move away from pain, and into just feeling good in their body. And this is something so in my yoga days, in my early days of teaching, because I was teaching so much, and I was seeing a lot of the same people, I got really curious as to what the result was for them. And I started to notice that it was they were using yoga like a band aid, they would feel really good when they would come to class, but they would leave and they would still be in pain or their their flexibility hadn't really improved. There was something I just knew intuitively there was something missing. And because I'm a curious nature, I was like, I'm gonna figure out what this is. What is missing? So I'm I met a woman from Calgary who was teaching online way like way before teaching online was the thing, which is really cool. So that really allowed me to work with her. And she teaches people how to get out of pain. And I had been dealing with chronic pain for most of my life. Like there were a lot of nights where I would cry myself to sleep because I was in so much pain and like I ever had a whenever I had a boyfriend like I would be like hi massage me Hi. So much pain all the time. Anyway, so I started studying with her and I went to one of her workshops in Toronto, and the next like after day two or three. I woke up and I didn't have pain. And it was the most bizarre feeling I woke up and I was like, what is missing? Like, why do I just started crying? Because it was the most freeing thing I had felt like I felt like a new person. I felt like I had so much more room. I don't know it was just it was very exciting. So that got me really obsessed with her. Rick, and I continue to study with her, like still studying with her. So it's been six or seven years now that I've been kind of working with her. Yeah, and I guess, the whole process of opening a business of leaving a business have all of that really gave me the trust in myself, to start to do what I'm doing now, which is working one on one with people and helping them move away from chronic pain. I had wanted to do this work for a long time, and I had tried here and there to kind of start offering it, but it never really felt right. And now I'm kind of realizing that the nature of the work that I do, really requires me to be very present with myself and and my feelings. And what I was talking about earlier, where I've gotten really good and practice that sitting with my feelings is extremely important when I'm working with someone else, because they're bringing all of their stuff to the table. And I have to be able to be with their stuff. And with my stuff, when you're working one on one with clients, like creating that environment is really important. I'm not trying to put my stuff on them. They're not leaking their stuff onto me. So now I'm realizing that all of the things that I needed to learn, were kind of why I had never offered this. So now I'm feeling like I'm actually able to offer this in a way that's very sustainable.
Stuart Murray 1:06:42
How do you hold space for? I'm very interested, as you started to mention that showing up with dealing with somebody else's pain, and also acknowledging that yours is there to how do you hold space for the totality of that,
Brit Wassef 1:06:57
I love it. I love this conversation so much. Because I don't hold space, I do not hold space, I am with my stuff, I'm present with my stuff. And I recognize when something that someone else does, might have me feel a certain way. But I'm aware of it. So it's this whole, like I just am present and I'm aware. And if something kind of, for lack of better word triggers me, I am aware of that. So I don't need to hold space, the space is held because I'm present with myself and present with the person.
Stuart Murray 1:07:38
Yeah, presence is a beautiful container. Also, with the yoga therapy, I think that's such an important direction. With each passing day becomes more so because I look outside, and I can't help but think all these big, seemingly colossal global issues, we're faced with our reflections of that internal war, the internal dialogue, this internal trauma, that we have so much trauma and baggage that we're carrying around. And I think the work you're doing and stepping into the trauma informed yoga practice is phenomenal.
Brit Wassef 1:08:24
Thank you, it's really important work. It really, truly is. And it's important for myself, and it's important for the world right now, in that you know, there is a lot of chaos, there's a lot of pain, there's a lot of suffering in our world, and we have to be able to look at it, if we're going to change it, you know, we can't change things that we're not aware of. And by being able to be with our own stuff, our own traumas, to be able to look at our own stuff, allows us to be able to look at the rest of the world. Because if you're not grounded in in your own stuff, it can feel very overwhelming to look at what's going on in the rest of the world. It's overwhelming to your nervous system, if you're if your nervous system is, is already in this state of fight or flight, adding anything else externally is going to cause you into this crazy state. So it's really important to be able to first be with your own stuff so that you can then see what else is going on. And I think that's how we're going to start to change the world. We know it needs to change. We can't keep doing what we're doing. And you know many of us are starting to see that and feel that and now we're starting to figure out how we can embody that and create something a little bit better.
Stuart Murray 1:09:59
I love it. I think our traumas in patterns of pain will own us and own how we act. If we don't shine that light of awareness on it, even if it's more painful at first, it's that pain has to come to the surface in order for us to transmute it or transform it.
Brit Wassef 1:10:19
Absolutely. There's no other way. But just to go through it and be with it. No other way.
Stuart Murray 1:10:26
Hell yeah. What kind of tips would you give or words? If somebody is sitting at home listening to this thinking, I think yoga is something that would be good, or I think maybe I should sit down and talk with Brett, about moving forward? What kind of tips would you give to somebody who's, you know, has that flame of curiosity inside that maybe even just little embers? But you know, we've got these layers of societal things? Well, I don't move in that way are wrapped in all these other stories that might prevent us from actually walking through the door taking that initiative to get there. What kind of advice or tips would you offer somebody like that?
Brit Wassef 1:11:07
Just if you're feeling curious at all, you don't have to do it alone. You don't have to noodle over anything alone, reach out, find some support. I'm always happy to chat with people. I'm not I'm not a salesy person. It's not it's not why I do this work. I'm not I really struggle with that I'm working on it. But I really just think that everyone should have the opportunity to learn and feel good in their own body. So if you've got this little like, fire, just just let's chat. I'm really here to help support the people that do want to see what's possible. I love
Stuart Murray 1:11:45
it. So I have one last question for you. But before we get there, where could people find you? How would they be able to reach out?
Brit Wassef 1:11:53
Yeah, they can reach out on Instagram. My handle is at Brit WhatsApp. They can also send me an email. It's Brett firstname.lastname@example.org.
Stuart Murray 1:12:04
Awesome. And I'll make sure to include those in the show notes. Thank you, for anybody who's interested. And so the last question, what is your big vision to help me move humanity forward?
Brit Wassef 1:12:18
My role, I think, is a little bit of a bridge, I'm very good at helping people who know that there's, they're capable of more know that this world is capable of more, I'm very good at helping them find the their own tools and skills with with inside of them, to help them go from kind of the way we are living now, to the way that we want to be living. Yeah. So I think just through helping people one get out of pain, because when you get out of pain, you open up a lot of possibilities for yourself. Pain really depletes your energy and your ability to do all of the things that you want to do. So helping people to get out of that allows them to see what's possible and so much is possible.
Stuart Murray 1:13:19
Couldn't agree more. I feel honored chatting with you. You are a wealth of knowledge and information, but even more so somebody who's in the trenches doing it, and I'm feeling inspired, listening to you.
Brit Wassef 1:13:35
Thank you so much. It's so important to be having these conversations. So thank you for, for providing that container.
Stuart Murray 1:13:43
Thank you so much. I hope you enjoyed this episode with the wonderful Brit wasp. Once again, a big thank you to our sponsor, Karen Phytoplankton. You can subscribe to this podcast on iTunes, Spotify or wherever you listen to your podcasts. And you can also find me on Facebook and YouTube at the connected movement. Thanks again and see you next Monday.