Group Connectivity during the Pandemic Despite the Loss of Face-to-face Contact

The interview was transcribed and adapted into an article by Audrey Coggins

The Lockdown Economy: Interviews by think tank with real entrepreneurs sharing insights, challenges and successes during the COVID19 global pandemic to inspire, motivate and encourage other entrepreneurs around the world.

In June 2020, Julia Skupchenko from Lockdown Economy interviewed Tessa van Keeken, the owner of Lift Your Spirit, a holistic transformation coaching practice that began in Ireland and now is based in the Netherlands. At the beginning of the lockdown, she had to stop her practice face-to-face. At the same time, clients were not ready to have their treatments online. Tessa tells how when the business stopped, she focused on a business partnership to prepare podcasts and new programs. In the meantime, a lot of her clients had such a hard time dealing with the uncertainty of the lockdown, that slowly they joined her online meditations which hosted for free just to help people to get through it.

Can you tell us more about Lift Your Spirit?

Tessa: I am Dutch but have lived in Ireland for 15 years. I started Lift Your Spirit in Ireland ten years ago as a holistic therapist, offering various treatments including massages, reiki healing and meditation. Over time, my business shifted to focus on healing and life/career coaching. I have still continued doing this here in Amstelveen since I relocated back about two years ago.

The first year of returning to my homeland saw me very involved with my clients in Ireland. I found myself flying to and fro often for workshops and training. It was back then that I had to learn to use online tools to connect with my clients in Ireland!

Now Lift Your Spirit operates from and within the Netherlands.

What are the benefits of transformational coaching?

Tessa: Most costumes seek me because in some way or another — either in the area of relationships, work, daily living — they feel lost, stuck or that there must be more to life. Some are overwhelmed or overly critical of themselves. So the reason people come might be different, but it always circles around the idea of needing to find themselves. Getting unstuck.

Most will have already explored self-help, affirmation or mindset-change statements and assessing personal values and beliefs, but still, find something inside is still missing. These are the people I work with, who want to go just that little bit deeper inside so that they go from doing something positive to actually being and experiencing positivity within them.

A client recently said to me, “I thought I needed to find myself. But I realised that actually, I needed to accept myself.”

How did the lockdown affect your business and how have your clients responded to the situation?

Tessa: My clients definitely responded to the pandemic situation; there was an upsurge of feelings of being overwhelmed. Human beings like to know what is happening. We like to see what’s ahead. And of course, with Coronavirus, there is so much that we do not know. So a lot did not know how to deal with that uncertainty.

In my work, because I cannot give them certainty since I myself do not have the answers, what I work on is getting them to a state where they can be okay with not knowing.

Of course, the face to face sessions had to stop due to the lockdown. I work with dementia patients using meditation and healing courses and that has sadly had to stop. Although some restrictions have been lifted, most people definitely do not feel comfortable coming together in bigger groups.

I’ve started again doing online sessions, although of course, in a face-to-face group setting, there is an element that you cannot replace via online sessions. But I’ve started to notice that with focus, the groups have been able to feel connected with each other via online sessions. My clients have also given positive feedback about their connectedness in an online group session.

Transferring your practice from personal to online is challenging and your clients were reluctant to try at first. It’s impressive that you have achieved the group dynamic also in the virtual world. Have you maintained connections with clients who haven’t signed up with an online session?

Tessa: When the lockdown was first announced, obviously there was a dip in clientele as we were all trying to process what was happening. Then slowly, some people have started coming back — not all clients.

I’ve offered many free online courses, as I think it’s a good way to show people what can be possible via online streams. I did this because I felt there was a real collective need of community and support. Most people in my field of work and passion already have a desire to support people, so for me, it was a no-brainer to start with many free sessions. The more collective energy rises to have more calm and balance, the better for everyone!

I felt a collective need for inner calm during these uncertain times, so I began to offer free workshops.

Back in March when the lockdown was announced, I also explored collaboration work with other people. For example, I started a podcast with a colleague of mine in the UK about our businesses and mindsets. I was part of some coaching sessions, which was set up by a colleague coach in Australia, on the transition from working in offices/teams to working from home.

I also used the time to do courses for myself on spiritual and transformational coaching to deepen my own practice so that I can help people better.

What is your take on how your business will do in the upcoming few months?

Tessa: By May, the business started to pick up with online sessions. The pro bono and collaborative work has really made me realise that people now, more than ever, crave most for inner strength and calm to be able to deal with the overwhelming uncertainty around at this moment, as well as craving community and connection again.

This is why, alongside my standard one-on-one programs and small group meditations, I decided to set up ‘community membership’, what I called Interconnection Circle. This is opening next week and allowing people, for a fee, to sign up for larger group events online for meditations and looking at ways to implement mindfulness practice in daily living. It’s great to be able to dial into the sessions for 15–20 mins of pure calm, but if you’re stressed outside of these sessions, that’s not really transformational.

I’m doing this as a community effort because people really feel the need to come together and because there are restrictions right now, doing these online community membership sessions is a really nice way to create that community where people can come together and support each other.

That sounds wonderful as it is true that in these times, people are seeking ways to maintain a sense of community, despite restrictions. We wish you all the very best.

For more information on Tessa’s Interconnection Circle and her online meditation workshops, please visit her website.

About the Guest

Tessa van Keeken, founder of Lift Your Spirit with Tessa van Keeken and TVK International Communication & Language Consultancy. She moved back to the Netherlands in 2018 after having lived in Ireland for 15 years. She has a background in Social Studies, International Relations & Conflict Studies and Healing & Meditation. She runs two businesses. Lift Your Spirit with Tessa van Keeken is a coaching, healing & meditation practice. TVK International Communication & Language Consultancy is a translation, proofreading and communication business.

Tessa van Keeken’s True You Inner Leadership 1–1 and group programmes support purpose-seeking leaders and changemakers to (re)connect to their inner wisdom and live & lead with presence and authenticity. Tessa guides people on an inner journey of discovery, transformation and healing, so they feel aligned, balanced and connected.

The UN-registered nonprofit social initiative that helps small businesses and self-employed professionals to overcome the challenges of the pandemic.