Doing What You Love with Rebecca Kronman

Today’s installment in the Doing What You Love series features Rebecca Kronman - Therapist, Writer, Trainer and Student of Mindfulness Practices

I was introduced to Rebecca by a founder of the Dumbo Startup Lab, in Brooklyn, New York. I found myself on the Startup Lab's blog and came across an article written by Rebecca on mindfulness at work.

Mindfulness at work is a theme that fits nicely with the mission of Just Rolling with It to promote mindful wellness for entrepreneurs. It's also the topic I wrote about earlier this year for Sharon Salzberg's 2015 meditation challenge. 

When Rebecca and I spoke over the phone, it became clear that we shared a common perspective on how the use of mindfulness practices can be beneficial to us as entrepreneurs in the workplace. During our conversation, it was apparent that Rebecca also made a career decision along the way to do what she loves and is currently pursuing that path.

1 – What is it you do that you love?

I love working with my clients to discover how entering the present moment can help them tap into their creative energy, by being the “watcher” of their thoughts and noticing when they’re caught in a rumination about the past or fantasy about the future. I love when I can guide a client through a breathing exercise or body scan and get to see the immediate calming effects of the exercise or scan.

When I lead a workshop, I love the energy in the room and learning more from participants. And selfishly, I love that talking about mindfulness for my job helps me continue my own growth as a student of mindfulness practices.

2 – How and when did you realize what it is you love to do?

I began practicing yoga several years ago and started learning how to tune in to my breath to help me enter the present moment. I love the feeling of peace and lightness I experience after a yoga class. After a while of practicing, I realized that when I would get anxious about something, the feeling was less intense and more fleeting.

I noticed this a lot when I was driving. Someone would cut me off and I would still call them a nasty name, but the feeling of blood rushing to my face wasn’t there as much anymore. And I was much more conscious of what I was doing. There was a moment afterwards when I would think to myself, "Why did I need to curse at them?" I didn’t really feel as angry as my expletives made me sound.

While in graduate school, I began teaching yoga and meditation at Riker’s Island to inmates. Obviously it was a difficult environment to work in; however, I felt energized and inspired by the inmates I was teaching. I think one of my deepest moments of meditation was during those classes. I’m certain that no one else was ever as excited to go to Riker’s as I was.

I started writing papers for grad school about using yoga and mindfulness practices to cope with trauma and PTSD. It was then that I realized that I could combine my social work degree, my personal love of yoga, mindfulness practices, and my skill set leading workshops to make that my career.

3 – When did you decide to make a commitment to doing what you love? What does that commitment look like, e.g. full-time job, part-time hobby, etc.

I’m a therapist and workshop leader as my part time job. My other role is as a mother to a 15­ month old boy, which of course, I love more than anything (I try to incorporate mindfulness practices into motherhood as well). I recognized that my time as a mother was incredibly important to me; doing a job that I didn’t love would take me away from being with my son, and that wouldn’t be worth it. That's why after my son was born, I made the commitment to start seeing clients in a group practice and leading mindfulness workshops as my career.

4 – How long have you been doing what you love?

I think I’ve been doing what I love in some capacity for seven years, since I left my first career in public relations and began working in social services. I’ve worked with people on public assistance, the homeless community, people in recovery and people who are connected to the criminal justice system. Its not that I loved every aspect of those jobs­­. There were certainly many frustrations and difficulties.

But I always felt passionate about my jobs and I love that I got to learn firsthand about my place in the world by interacting closely with people who did not have the same privileges as me. Most people exist in a relatively small bubble where, by and large, they interact with others who are similar to them. As a therapist, I got to have pretty intimate conversations with people who were very different from me.

5 – What was the toughest decision you had to make when making a commitment to doing what you love?

Realizing that my path as a new business owner was going to be the more difficult one. As an entrepreneur, everything you do is on you- ­­there’s no one else to blame if something isn’t going right. And there’s no accounting department...you have to do all the stuff you’re not good at yourself (for me, that's tracking expenses).

6 – Was there a time that you had doubts about doing what you love? If so, how did or do you overcome those doubts and keep doing what you love?

I have doubts every day! I think like lots of other people I struggle with the sense of being an imposter. Who am I to be teaching other people or working with them as their therapist when my life is so far from perfect? But then I try to think about how perfection is an unrealistic goal. If I can convey information that someone didn’t previously know, or help someone see their situation from a fresh perspective, then that’s valuable.

7 – What are some of the things you enjoy most about doing what you love?

Doing what I love requires continuous learning. To be good at my job requires that I be open, nonjudgmental, inquisitive, approachable and calm. These are qualities that I strive for in all areas of my life, not just my job. I love that by adding to my professional skill set, it serves me personally as well.

8 – Do you have any advice for people who are struggling with making a commitment to doing what they love, even if they know they want to make the commitment?

Its OK to start small! Lasting changes are created in small increments. Folding one element of what you love into what you’re already doing can make a big impact and help you test the waters for bigger, more dramatic changes.

Here’s Rebecca’s Bio –

Rebecca Kronman, LMSW, is a therapist, writer, trainer and student of mindfulness practices. She has has developed and trained staff at a wide variety of workplaces on issues such as trauma, understanding mental health diagnoses, substance abuse, sexual health, mindfulness, building empathy and effective listening. In addition to her training experience, she works in a group therapy practice where she uses mindfulness techniques to help her clients cope with issues such as depression, anxiety, substance abuse and life transitions. You can contact Rebecca through her website.