By Janelle Davis
When Renee Hagar-Smith became a mindfulness-based wellness coach, her mission became to help people stress less and thrive more through mindful self-care, self-love, and self-compassion practices. It was a mission that Renee first learned to teach herself.
Renee’s Husband had been living with an undiagnosed and untreated mental illness for many years, causing stress in their household. “It was a very challenging time,” Renee said. To be supportive of her family and also remember who she was as a person, she recognized that she needed to make changes in her life.
“At the time, I was working in an office and I found myself leaving out of the back door because I didn’t want to speak to anyone,” she said. “I just wanted to hide away,” Renee said.
Then Renee took a yoga class, which started her mindfulness journey, a path which led her to attending more yoga workshops, and then yoga teacher training, which involved meditation.
Noticing that yoga was helping her to deal with stress a little better and was reconnecting her to her own goals and dreams, Renee started to expand on her training. She became certified in Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR), which she explains is a specific type of mindfulness practice that brings us into the moment.
“It changed my life in many ways. It helped me learn to pause in the moments of chaos and be in the present moment,” Renee shared. MBSR taught her to be more responsive instead of reactive, which Renee often helps her clients with.
Renee is also trained as a Reiki master. Reiki is an energy healing technique where a Reiki master uses gentle hand movements to guide the flow of healthy energy through the client’s body to reduce stress and promote healing. Additionally, Renee became certified in Mindful Self Compassion which is an extension of MBSR. “It helps people deal with critical thinking and looking at themselves with kindness and compassion, even in moments of judgment, anger, and stress. It is a beautiful practice,” Renee shared.
A huge turning point came for Renee when in August 2021, her husband took his life by suicide. She and her son went to counseling knowing the importance of taking care of your mental health.
“Along with counseling, I realized I needed to go back to the mindful modalities that helped me thrive before. As a result, I was able to find hope again and bring hope to my son. So about a year ago, I decided I wanted to bring all of these practices to other people and help them stress less, and thrive more,” Renee said.
Renee works with individual clients to reach a specific goal, either via Zoom or in person at her Fayetteville location. Different packages are offered depending on the client’s needs. Services start with a free consultation to learn your goals and if you are a good match. Programs are specifically tailored for each client. “Coaching is very rooted in mindful self-love, self-compassion, and self-care. I strive to help people reduce anxiety, let go of limiting beliefs, thrive in their lives and commit to their authentic selves,” she said.
Renee also offers workshops at different intervals, anything from stress reduction to healing from a loss to learning to love yourself more. Corporate wellness programs support balance in the workplace and mindfulness training. Renee recently offered training for the Central New York Society of Human Resource Managers.
Renee offered some great tips for people not in the position to hire a coach but who still want to nurture their self-love or alleviate stress.
“I think that one of the first things when you look at adding more mindfulness to your life, is to pause, slow down, and consciously come into the present moment,” she said. “Some of the best ways to do that are to become aware of your breath. Use your senses and come into your body because when we come into our body, we lose that part of our mind that is racing and has anxiety.”
Start with a simple task, she said, like brushing your teeth or making your bed, and do it with mindful intention. “Make sure you are doing these tasks with complete awareness which will center you for the day.” The more you can bring yourself into the present moment, the more aware you can be as you go through your day.
She also suggests practicing heart mudra. A mudra is a gesture that helps to cultivate a specific feeling or emotion. Heart mudra helps us to connect with our heart center, harmonize emotions, and balance upward and downward flows of energy. To practice, place your right hand over your heart with your left hand on top. If it feels supportive, close your eyes or lower your gaze. Breathe into the heart center, and you may add a mantra, such as: “May I be safe and at ease. May I be happy and at peace.”
Another tip she shared is to start each day with an intention or affirmation. Affirmations can help us to feel empowered and centered. Some affirmation examples include: “I choose how I respond to any situation,” “I create my own safety,” and “I am full of confidence, and everyone around me can feel that.” You can even add this affirmation to your phone as a calendar reminder to help you remember during the day.
“Anxiety grows, and we tend to think more about the future and are very reactive in our emotions, so taking that step to pause and be present makes a huge difference,” Renee said.
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