Sharon e. Davison would like you to know yourself and what is keeping you from realizing your personal and professional potential. An educator, coach, meditation practitioner, and lifelong lover of learning, Sharon works with individuals and groups to help them increase awareness and make behavioural shifts toward a balanced way of living and working.
In addition to having a wealth of life experiences, including being a mother and grandmother, Sharon has a B.Ed (Adult), a diploma in Career Counselling, certificates in Workshop Facilitation and Employment Coaching, and she is a Certified Money Coach (CMC)®. Sharon has also undertaken extensive studies in mindfulness and meditation with the Factor-Inwentash Faculty of Social Work at University of Toronto, the Center for Mindfulness in Medicine, Health Care, and Society at the University of Massachusetts Medical, and with traditional teachers such as Nobel Peace Prize nominee Thich Naht Hanh.
So we were thrilled she offered some insights into her work and world.
Sharon, your work sounds fascinating in that it is broad in scope and at the same time focused on specific aspects of our lives that might hold us back. I do see a common thread throughout: self-awareness. How important is self-awareness in our lives, and how does the lack of it affect our well-being so profoundly?
Modern scientific research and ancient wisdom traditions all tell us about the value of self-awareness. Above the temple of Apollo at Delphi was the inscription “Know Thyself” and this was considered preeminent knowledge. Forbes Magazine reported a study of businesses where manager self-awareness was assessed along with an overall ability of companies to adapt and prosper under changing circumstances. The results showed the companies whose managers had less self-awareness also had a decreased ability to avert loss or to adapt to change, which impacted the well-being of the organization.
There is a saying: “We don’t know what we don’t know.” Self-awareness is the lens that looks at what goes on inside us; our thoughts, our emotions, and our bodily sensations. It helps us to see how we interact in relationships and with the world. There is another saying: “We will do better when we know better.” Imagine awareness as a lantern in a dark cave. The brighter the light, the deeper and more clearly we can see.
We live in a world that can feel frantic, confusing, and overwhelming. We often close up or turn away. Yet if we would like to bring more healing, more connection, more discovery and innovation, what we may need is to look outside of ourselves and inwardly in ways we have not done before. Awareness is the light that shines into our inner and outer landscapes and allows us to grow, be responsive, and meet the future we wish to see. I think that is very important.
You have many ways to help groups and individuals find clarity. Let’s look at retreats in particular. So many of us are struggling to reach a sense of balance in our lives. The idea of a retreat sounds wonderful. However, finding the time is an issue for many, and yet it may be that these are the people who most need to step back and reflect. In your experience, what is special about retreats in terms of deep and meaningful learning?
It’s just what you said, Tom. Some people are busy and can’t commit to a period of weeks to learn, and so it can be easier to take a chunk of time away and really bring their undivided or undistracted attention to learning, reflecting, and practicing. I use the retreat format to support people who want to devote time to learning and focusing in a particular way, with inward focus and attention. I often offer half-day or full-day retreats focused on topics such as Mindfulness, Kindfulness or Self-Care, and Compassion.
Let’s look at meditation. In my experience, when working with meditation practices, there are three aspects. The first is learning a formal practice, where you train the mind to focus and calm. Over a period of time, research has shown us, we will establish an ability to be with our own experience, whether enjoyable or challenging. This is great news when dealing with the demands of life and the stress we face. The second aspect is informal practice, where we take awareness, focus, and calm into our daily life, having established that through our formal practice. This enhances our flexibility and resiliency. The third aspect is going into retreat. This gives us a supportive opportunity to go deeper into our practice, where we can increase our capacity, awareness, and skill.
And residential retreat supports all three of these aspects, as we have formal meditation practice time — everyone working with the informal practices during meals and in between class times, etc., — and because it is over a number of days we get to experience really living deeply in this way, which will then benefit our regular practice and life outside of a retreat setting.
I find retreat to be of great benefit and because of that I am offering my first residential retreat in the Okanagan Valley in March of 2018.
Let’s talk money. This is where breadth and specificity really manifest together, in my view. Often overlooked in the wellness field, money touches everything we do, and vice versa, one way or another. I love this topic, particularly as it relates to our behavioural patterns and the decisions we are making which may not be healthy. Can you offer us a pearl or two of wisdom on money and how we get in our own way with respect to it?
In the times we live, money is an important part of life, and yet it is a topic that we still feel taboos in talking about. It represents energy and life. It is what we trade our time for, so it reflects the “value” of what we believe, and the coming and going of it is how we spend our lives. Society often measures success by how much we have, and self-esteem is impacted by whether what we have, or who we are, is “enough.”
Behaviours around money can be driven by unconscious emotions and patterns that are not just about having a budget or a good financial planner. We can have those things and still struggle and not relate well to money. We need to understand what money is to us, and the emotions we have in relation to it, to allow ourselves to be free of unconscious forces and messages. We need to be friendly and respectful in our relationship with money. Our brains are wired to notice what is wrong, is missing, puts us at risk, or is negative. Yet if this is what we are always focusing on, we lose the connection to the positive, our appreciation and gratitude for what we do have, and how that can allow us to grow and flow in life.
So if I had two suggestions of where to start, I would say turn your attention and gratitude to what you have, which will help retrain your mind, and you can then notice the sensations of basking in that good feeling. Then, with a solid feeling of ease and appreciation, you can more easily use logic to determine and approach what it is you would like to do to reach your goals. I have found working with the foundational process in Money Coaching helped me to lean in and understand more about the emotions and patterns that were personal to me and were impinging on the lifestyle I desired. This is now part of the work I do with people for increasing awareness and making behavioural shifts, and my clients have told me over and over again how transformative it is for them.
I love that you’re a lifelong learner. The value of learning should need no explanation, of course, but I am curious as to your pursuit of it. Is this an innate tendency, or can you also point to events in your life that really drove home the crucial importance of continual learning?
I have always loved learning. For me it is an adventure, an exploration, and it facilitates personal growth. I would say that desire to know deeply is part of who I am; however, I have deliberately turned to learning both for professional and personal reasons throughout my life. I have eclectic interests, have had many careers, and I have always wanted a foundation of learning under me to support my interest or experience within a field.
My work history includes administration, sales, counselling, interviewing, cooking, and education, to name a few. I originally started out wanting to pursue a degree in philosophy, but my father quickly pointed out that it may not pay the bills. ☺ I knew from a very young age I wanted to be a teacher of some sort, so that influenced my initial university choices. And through my life, when facing change or a need for a different direction, I have started out by taking a course or entering a program of learning. Also, getting my brain stimulated when in the midst of a depression was a crucial step to moving forward. Learning has always served me well and its benefits inspire me to bring such opportunities to others.
I’ll finish with a fun question, as we often do with our profiles. This one is staring us in the face, delightfully and engagingly so. What inspired you to come up with Sh.e. as a branding identity (apart from the obvious derivation from your name)?
Tom, this is a great and fun question! Yes, Sh.e comes from my name: Sharon Elizabeth. I’ve always enjoyed understanding the meanings of names. Sharon means “princess” or “holder of lineage,” and Elizabeth means “house or place of God.”
Names can give meaning, inspire, and capture the essence of something. I liked the idea of being a holder or place where heaven and Earth come together in the service of others. ☺ I wanted to authentically take who I am into the work I do. That is one reason.
Another is from the name of a character in the novel She: A History of Adventure — “She who must be obeyed.” Starting out on my own as self-employed was an adventure for sure.
Lastly, I once heard someone asking a client on mine, “What does she do?” And the response was, “She facilitates, she coaches, she counsels, and she trains.” I thought that said it all.
B.Ed (Adult)Certified Money Coach (CMC) ®Learn | Connect | Transform
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