As you may have heard, April is a month of celebration for us. With Birthday month upon us, we wanted to share a little of our story: where we started, where we are now, and how we got here.
The Open Mind Space started with Renee. There's a clear memory of being sat around the family kitchen brainstorming business names, Renee very clear on wanting to use 'om' somewhere, and finally settling upon 'the open mind space', shortening to 'om' - the Sanskrit sound said to represent both the beginning and end, and the frequency of both everything and nothing.
Initially, the idea for OMS was an online store selling spiritual tools and starter packs to support Renee's kinesiology clients and yoga students; crystals, palo santo, salt lamps, etcetera. Eventually, it ended up also being a market stall at spiritual fairs and markets (including one at Gregson Park - across the road from where the OMS studio now sits!).
The OMS story entwines so many other stories - including that of Murray and Renee. Murray still clearly remembers Renee telling him about the things she was doing when they first met, and asking him to come and help her package palo santo bundles before a market, which he wanted to see. As he says, he turned up to that market, and at that moment saw Renee standing there in all her beauty and glory, and she stole his heart. It was a moment of realisation for Murray, that this was his person.
It also entwines the story of Renee turning her focus from market stalls, instead to more kinesiology and yoga. A friend of Renee's at the time was working upstairs in the building where OMS now lives, and she let Renee know about the building tenant at the time wanting to hand over the lease. The space was huge (450sqm!), and Renee can so clearly remember asking herself, "what am I going to do with all of this?!" and so leaving it.
While Renee had been in Sydney years earlier, she'd taken part in some full moon circles in Bondi, standing shoulder-to-shoulder with some incredible energy. And there was nothing like it in Newcastle. So Renee conceived the monthly Bar Beach full moon circles. And, at first, it was just Renee and 4-5 other women (you know who you are, and to you, we are eternally grateful).
Meanwhile, Murray had completed his yoga teacher training, and we started running events together, hiring spaces in other yoga studios, and expanding the full moon meditations to 20-40 people.
Oh, and we got engaged! Murray definitely didn't understand Renee's spiritual skills (as he calls them) at the time, so had nervously arranged a ring, a time and a place only to find out that Renee's guides had already told her it would be happening that day.
By the end of 2018 / early 2019, we decided to move overseas, to work and live running retreats... but, for some reason, at the time unknown to us, it just wasn't happening for us.
On the new moon of January 2019, we were about to lead another meditation at Bar Beach, and suddenly the carpark was full. We panicked, assuming that we must have accidentally double-booked with another event at the beach... but everyone - some 400 people, sitting around us - was there for the meditation we were hosting. And it was at that moment that we realised, "we're meant to be here".
So, the next day, we started looking for a space to rent. Initially, Renee was thinking of a small space for around 20 people - an idea that Murray quickly dismissed as being too small! And that's when our current building was again presented to us by the Universe.
The studio was already set up for a yoga studio, and the previous tenant had fitted the space out beautifully, but the landlords were hesitant to take us on, as they were concerned about the viability of a yoga studio. After showing them the community we had built (400-600 people on a beach!) and our plans, though, they said 'yes' - and, big love to them, they've been our cheerleaders and angels ever since.
At first, Renee was hesitant to use the business name 'The Open Mind Space' again. She wanted to set up and create something new together. But, together, we decided to use it. As Elizabeth Gilbert says, "when a magical idea comes knocking", you either decide to take them up, or they'll go and present to the next person instead. So we took The OMS back off the bench, together!
And it seemed there really was some magic to the idea - on the day we first opened our doors, we had enough members sign up to cover all of our weekly costs.
Our community has been amazing from the get-go. Everyone has always shown up and contributed something. Like Benjie from Earthern Rhythms, who brought a tribe of drums to our beach moon sessions. Or like our community who helped us take our van around for bushfire donations. And like our community who supported us when we opened our physical studio. We are so very grateful and proud of how our community came together. And continues to do so.
Now, OMS is an entity of its own - taking care of itself. We believe that the energy being channelled in is attracting more of the same, in its own vortex of sorts. It's amazing fast-forwarding to now, where people neither of us have ever met before are studio regulars (which is discombobulating after having quite literally lived in the studio for our first year!).
So, there you have it. Nostalgic, but a celebration of what has been born and what is still growing.
The Open Mind Space obviously still exists. And, thanks to recent world events, is now an online space, too. And another gift of OMS is our retreat space, Sunquncha Temple.
Before we end, we want to share some advice from a business perspective, based on our story and what we've learnt from it: Follow your gut, follow your heart, be mindful of the money (don't sell yourself short), but don't do it purely for the money.
As Tammy Guest, Renee's mentor, told Renee: think of your offerings as a pyramid. At the bottom is your base offer - an offering that a lot of people will connect with, but that won't cost much time or money, and that feels good and builds connection (in our case, the moon meditations at Bar Beach). As the layers move up, they narrow a bit - the offers start to cost and engage fewer people, but still enhance and build on the connection from that base layer.
So, basically, if you're in small business: start by building a connection from the heart, and then build and offer from there. And keep showing up. As we say, "for 1 or 100" - it all counts, if it's what you want to do.
We are so grateful for The Open Mind Space, for each other, and for you. Thank you.