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2019 and Beyond – How can I be my best self?

Thank you to all those who braved the snow to come to ConsciousCafe Geneva last night. We broke a record – one person had to get the train home to Bern afterwards! Our discussions on “2019 and Beyond – How can I be my best self?” were all about our values. It was fascinating that people prioritised very different values, and it helped with my life lessons on judgement to realise why people might not act according to MY expectations sometimes! Why are our values so important, we asked? Because they are our life guide and compass. They show us the way. They make us who we are. They are so important than when we live or work in conflict with them we can become ill, physically and mentally. Do we all live to our values? Even when challenged? We wondered, if asked, would your family and closest friends be able to say what your main values are? After very engaging discussions we ended by examining just ONE value we would like to strengthen in ourselves and a brief closing meditation focused on feeling, being and exuding that value as we went out into the world. Conversation at ConsciousCafe Geneva takes place at small tables, which we mix up several times, so the conversations constantly change and you meet new, like-minded people. For many reasons there always seems to be a very warm atmosphere and we all leave uplifted. It’s about the people contact I think, connecting on a deeper level than usual. And it’s really very beautiful! Join us sometime.

Photo Highlights of 2018

Expectations VS Reality

ConsciousCafe London met for their first 2019 gathering to enjoy a discussion on the topic of Expectations versus Reality.

As soon as we began to explore the subject, it became obvious that expectations versus reality touches every aspect of our lives several times throughout each day.

We have expectations of others and expectations of ourselves. Sometimes we are much harder on ourselves if we fail to achieve our own expectations than we are on others who we feel have let us down.

We have expectations of how people will treat us – at home and at work – and few people are able to live up to our ideals. We have expectations of organisations, expectations of systems and expectations of technology. In our Western society we expect things to work. When systems fail us – as happens frequently – we often struggle with disappointment and frustration.

In Western society we have little tolerance for systems not working. If we lived in a more fragile society, we would not know what to expect on a daily basis. We also don’t know what our expectations of the future of the planet might or should be. Our expectations are infinite and our knowledge very limited.

Our solutions to the problem of expectations versus reality included expressing gratitude for everything we have, focusing on what we receive from others that makes us happy rather than what makes us unhappy and doing our best to live in the present moment so that we are not constantly focusing on our expectations of what will happen in the future.

The topic was very enriching and people shared generously of their feelings – both expectations, disappointments and positive outcomes.

Thank you Gita Shri Kumari for a beautiful and inspiring meditation to start the event. Thank you everyone who took part. I hope I have expressed your experience of the event but do please add comments if I missed anything out.

We look forward to seeing you again soon.

** If you haven’t been to a ConsciousCafe discussion before, come and join us. Everyone present took part in the above discussion. We explored the topic in small groups and then came together to share. Our combined exploration resulted in much personal discovery. It was a great afternoon.

A Letter from Judy

Dear Friend,

ConsciousCafe has experienced a lovely 2018, full of expansion and innovation. We started the year with thriving groups in London, Bath, Bristol, Canterbury, SW Dorset (Dorchester), New Forest, Oundle, Skipton, Plymouth and Geneva. In March Nicola Foster facilitated her first discussion for ConsciousCafe in St Albans and in September John Sackett and Joy Sackett launched their new Bournemouth group. We have had several requests from people who would also like to launch groups. Viv Garbe will launch East Herts (Stevenage) in 2019 and Hanna Krasnodevska will create our second international group in Singapore early next year too.

Another first was receiving the special Editor’s Pick Award for 2018 from Kindred Spirit.  For seven years now we have created the space for people to come together and explore a wide range of topics in an atmosphere of mutual understanding and non-judgment. During that time we have shared many deep and intimate conversations and have seen beautiful friendships being formed.  We are all proud of what we have created and so it was a lovely gift to have our work recognised by Kindred Spirit who really ‘get’ what we offer.

Every group has a varied range of activities. Some groups have monthly discussions while other groups offer keynote speakers and events.

In London we have had a range of experiences.  Isabel Losada’s talk about Sensational Sex in March was hugely popular and has also been very warmly received at our ConsciousCafe Plymouth and Canterbury groups.

Jane Bailey Bain talked about How to Create Your Future Story to packed houses in both Geneva and London. Christa Mackinnon’s talk to our group in Plymouth was sold out and she will be sharing her presentation with Q&A in London early next year. Our groups in Skipton and New Forest also offer a wide range of activities as well as discussions.

Meanwhile ConsciousCafe conversations have taken place on a huge variety of subjects. There is so much innovation and creativity among all our members and our Group Leaders have been taking full advantage of that.

In London we have explored Self-Love, Overload Anxiety, Courage (an idea which originated from our St Albans group), Creativity, and Self-Care. Mikkel Juel Iversen facilitated a truly memorable conversation about Homelessness and Dina Glouberman, known to many of you as the co-founder of Skyros, spoke about the themes of her newly published memoir. In the autumn patisserie chain Konditor and Cook offered us gorgeous space for Colin Smith who gave us an excellent workshop on Improving our Listening Skills. This turned out to be a particularly fun evening as we held a networking event beforehand followed by supper at Pizza Express afterwards. We have also enjoyed a Summer Tea and a Winter Festive Tea, having the opportunity to spend time together in a relaxed atmosphere on a Saturday afternoon with no one needing to rush to catch their train home.

When we first launched ConsciousCafe the world was not in so much turmoil as it is now.  But as we approach 2019, after a challenging and difficult year for so many people globally, it is becoming increasingly important that we make the time to talk to one another about the things that really matter to each one of us. It is often only by speaking about them that we can truly explore what our thoughts and feelings and ideas are. And it is only by listening to one another in an atmosphere of trust and mutual respect, that we can hope to be able to understand each other’s differences. ConsciousCafe offers that space and the opportunity to connect with likeminded conscious people who we might not otherwise meet.

We thank you for joining the conversation during 2018 and hope to see you in 2019. Please feel free to invite your friends to ConsciousCafe. So many people tell us that their lives have been deeply enriched by having the opportunity to join this community.

Every ConsciousCafe leader gives their time generously and freely.  Huge thanks go out from all of us to Britt, Jo, Peter, Anne, Charlie, Cora, Helena, Gina, Nicola, Debbie, Grace, Alan, John, Joy, Viv, Hanna and all of you who are supporting them. All our leaders come from their hearts.

We offer a huge thank you to everyone who has helped us financially this year and especially our generous supporters. I work 2 – 3 days a week for ConsciousCafe and everything we do is funded by all of you who support our vision and our events.  We always try to keep the price as low as we can so that everyone can take part.

As always, we are very grateful to Joyce Deen for her care in admin and book-keeping and to Kate Cowan who is responsible and thoughtful about all our marketing. We welcome Tess Burton who has just joined us to develop our social media profile.

If ConsciousCafe has nurtured your soul this year and if you would like to help us launch more groups next year so that more people can benefit from what we offer, please become a ConsciousCafe supporter for 2019 (£50 or £40 (concessions)). 

You can find out more here.

Or if you simply feel moved to honour what we do in aiming to raise consciousness in the world through conversation and connection, please donate on our ‘From the Heart’ button on our website supporters page. Every small amount you are able to give us helps us to continue the work we are here to do which is to raise consciousness through conversation and connection so that, by developing mutual understanding, we help to make the world a better place to live in for each one of us.

We wish you all a very restful holiday and hope that 2019 will be a happy, healthy and abundant year for all of you and your loved ones.

With love,

Judy and the ConsciousCafe team 

Grateful Reflections on a Year of ConsciousCafe Geneva

As ConsciousCafe Geneva ended 2018 with a Festive Finale last night I take a moment to reflect on the past year. We have had cafes on diverse themes such as Love; Wisdom; Time; Identity, Nationality and Nationalism; and yesterday Gratitude. We have been guided by inspirational speakers : Bonnie Fatio and “The Gifts I Give to the World”; Diana Ritchie on “Conscious Living through Sophrology”; Jane Bailey Bain on “Creating Your Own Life Story”; and Chris Burton on “Pivotal Moments that Shape Us”.  We also had the great pleasure of having our Founder, Judy Piatkus, join us for a very special evening with “Two Inspirational Women”. On each occasion our ConsciousCafes have lived up to their purpose, bringing people together to connect through conscious conversation and the profound interaction between strangers has been heart-warming and uplifting.  It reveals the beautiful best of humanity.  Each cafe has helped me to expand my ideas about the world and learn from the wisdom of others.  I now count our regulars as good friends.  All of these things I appreciate.

So how appropriate that we closed the year talking about gratitude before we partied a little.  I shared some of the research that suggests that gratitude can affect us emotionally by lowering depression, stress and other toxic feelings, and by increasing self-esteem and fostering mental strength. It seems that being thankful can also have a positive impact on us physically with studies showing links to improved sleep, lower blood pressure, better immunity and healthier hearts. So our first conversation revolved around our reaction to this research and sharing whether and how we experience gratitude in our own lives.   One woman’s words helped me to realise that when I say thanks for a glorious day/sky/event/friend it anchors me more fully in the present moment.   

Debbie King, Bonnie Fatio & Judy Piatkus

We then looked at ways to experience more gratitude, in particular we tried out an exercise called “Three Good Things” where you write down three good experiences you had that day, even quite ‘simple’ ones, and how they made you feel.  As I watched people share their notes I saw their faces illuminate as they remembered, relived and felt again the magic moments they had experienced that day.  Things as simple as waking to snow, remembering a special hug, lunch with friends, the uplifting feelings that came from an exercise class.   We realised that by taking this moment to reflect back on the day we appreciated events more fully.  Incidents in time that would otherwise have passed by and perhaps not been long remembered.  Some people write these daily memories on a slip of paper, pop them in a jar then give themselves the New Year gift of reading them at the end of the year.  Forgotten moments are reawakened.   Some years ago my husband gave me a ’gratitude rock’ which I still have, clasp when I pass it, and give brief silent thanks for my blessings.  I shared this idea by giving everyone their own rock to keep, and we had our closing meditation holding them.  Everyone chose their stone carefully – it’s important they feel just right in the palm of your hand!! 

Studies state that cultivating gratitude does not necessarily reduce seeing the negative features of life – “people have no trouble seeing the bad stuff” – but it encourages us to acknowledge the good things and thereby open ourselves to the potential boost that saying thanks can give to our mind and body health. 

What were you grateful for today? 

References :

9 Powerful Ways Gratitude can Change your Life :  Amy Morin

Can Gratitude be Good for your Heart? Paul J Mills & Laura Redwine


Debbie KingOur discussion group in Geneva is led by Debbie King, former Chief Probation Officer and Counsellor.

Click on our ConsciousCafe Geneva Meet Up page or Facebook page to message Debbie directly or for further information.

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I love Conscious Cafe- It was created by Judy Piatkus with passion, intelligence and love. Whenever I need a place to restore my spirits and hang out with like minded others, Conscious Cafe is my first port of call. There is a powerful sense of community and openness.Long may it run .

Malcolm Stern, Psychotherapist, Co- founder and Co-Director of “ Alternatives “

“ConsciousCafe has always been my favourite activity.”

Mirela Sula,
Editor in Chief of Global Woman magazine
www.globalwoman.co

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