2023 Canberra Women in Business Awards finalist


Megan has been listed as a finalist in the 2023 Canberra Women in Business Gala Awards! This year CWB received a very high number of applications (over 100) so we are really pleased about this.

Many thanks to Leigh-Hoa Luu, one of our long-term members, who nominated Megan.

The Awards event will be held on Friday, 27 October.


This is the description of the award:

Synergy Group Social Impact Award
This award is for the woman who demonstrates leadership, tenacity, compassion, encouragement, pursuit of excellence and is a role model for other businesswomen in the field of non-for-profit business, public or community service or social enterprise. This award will recognise those unsung heroes who help build our social economy, working for the most vulnerable in our community making it a better place for all. This category invites applications from business women in the not-for-profit sector, public service or other business area which is focused on community outcomes.


In reflecting on this nomination, Megan says:

“I am very grateful to the Simply Mindful Team past and present without whom this would not be possible. I particularly want to acknowledge the incredible work Antonia Anderson has done over the past 2 years building our new website, and improving our communications, tech and administration. Her skills, insights and dedication to what we do has been such a gift and inspiration. Our teaching team and Gathering Place team also deserve the highest praise – they are such an amazing bunch of skilful and warm hearted human beings to work with. Thank you to our teaching team Anthony Hopkins, Jennifer Sexton, Trevor Heldt, and to our Gathering Place team Lesley Harris and Jeannette Fierro. You are all incredible! Finally to our participants and supporters and to the Brigidine sisters who have enabled us to make The Gathering Place our home – you are the reason for and the inspiration for our work of the heart.”

Below you can read Megan’s answers to the application questions.

CWB: Tell us about the business or organisation.

Megan: Simply Mindful is a business of the heart, a form of social entrepreneurship or business with a strong social impact agenda. We’ve pioneered the work of mindfulness in Canberra.

We are dedicated to providing evidence based, rigorously developed and skilfully delivered high quality programs to enable people reduce stress and anxiety, improve mental and physical health, relationships, self-awareness, self-efficacy and sense of agency.

The ripple effect on our broader community is significant. I’m passionate about our programs being as accessible, respectful of diversity and as high quality as possible whilst ensuring they are sustainable. We offer introductory and in-depth mindfulness meditation, yoga, self-compassion, positive neuroplasticity, mindful parenting, regular short and long retreats, regular meditation practice groups.

We also offer special events in response to needs, like the ‘Reimagining Menopause’ Retreat and ‘Unlocking Wellbeing in Lockdown’ and ‘Self-compassion’ online during the pandemic.

Participants come from all walks of life, from CEOs to students to those facing big life events, illnesses and transitions. People recognise the value of being present and fully awake and yet they need support to get unstuck and get out of cycles of stress.

CWB: Tell us why and how you started.

I am a mental health social worker, working in the mental health sector for 29 years. My lifelong search since early high school has been to try and understand human suffering and healing. This has taken me all kinds of places, basically asking the questions, “Why do people cause so much harm to each other and the planet and how can we heal so that this pattern of harm doesn’t keep repeating? How do some people go through extremely hard experiences and come out kinder, wiser and more humane and others don’t? What makes the difference and how can I be part of the solution?”

Mindfulness has been a very important piece of the answer for me. This business of the heart has enabled me to bring all of my experience and skill, earn a living and impact many people to live more empowered, conscious and compassionate lives.

I was really delighted to take over the reins of Simply Mindful from its founder—my mentor Sue Hays—in 2016 when she retired. I had worked alongside her for about 8 years teaching.

My lifelong search since early high school has been to try and understand human suffering and healing.

At the time I worked in community organisations (such as Companion House Assisting Survivors of Torture and Trauma for 15 years), and in research with vulnerable families and children and taught mindfulness with Simply Mindful after hours. I was a single mum and couldn’t afford to give up my day job. I dedicated most of my precious free time to teaching mindfulness as I knew it had enormous potential and I found it life changing and empowering personally. I was very keen to continue growing and deepening this work of the heart. In 2018 I took the next step and we became a Company, Mind Spring.

My motivation comes from a passion for helping people to heal, grow and learn to tap into their best selves. I found that the only way to pursue this at the time was through a business model. I entered into business to try and make a social impact. It has given me the freedom to run programs for individuals and groups which are literally life changing and it has been financially sustainable, which is an accomplishment. I think this speaks to our integrity, dedication and skill as an organisation.

A large proportion of our participants hear about our programs via word of mouth. Their friends, colleagues, family members tell them how helpful this is. Many times participants have said to me, “My colleague/boss/friend said this is the single most important thing she ever did in her career.”

CWB: What challenges have you faced in introducing your social impact or public service? How did you overcome them (what lessons did you learn)?

Megan: We’re a small team and we’ve faced capacity constraints and the need to have a broad range of skills. An interesting challenge has been balancing the need for income and the need for meaning: the business imperative versus the heart imperative. We have navigated this by offering discounted spots, focusing on key free events each year, working with integrity and also by me continuing to do individual work.

My motivation comes from a passion for helping people to heal, grow and learn to tap into their best selves.

This year we launched a new website and focused on new marketing and communication strategies. This is a big positive step. We’ve changed the way we communicate. We will diversify our social media presence next year.

Another challenge is increased competition. Simply Mindful previously focused solely on the 8 week Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) program. We’re well known for it. People come to us because of our reputation and because we have built trust. In the last 3 years we’ve introduced new programs which have been very popular and have met the need for some people to try something shorter and others to deepen their understanding, growth and healing. We’re also part of a national network of teachers and collaborate regularly with others in this space.

CWB: How do you foster diversity and wellbeing in your workplace, and across the community you work within (employees, customers/clients, partners, suppliers, others)?

Megan: Mind Spring (trading as Simply Mindful) is a business with a social impact agenda. I’ve actively created a supportive community of mindfulness practitioners both within the Simply Mindful team and with our participants. This has been a high priority since forming the company in 2018.

We run ongoing programs like weekly meditation groups, retreats and community events in order to not just teach mindfulness, but offer connection, community, support and opportunities for growth and healing.

We have a beautiful venue: The Gathering Place. Our participants really enjoy coming here, it’s peaceful and supportive.

The Gathering Place garden, 2023

Our team practice what we preach, we meditate regularly and join together when we can to support each other. I ensure the team have opportunities to debrief regularly. Their interests and growth as teachers/people is supported and given a space to flourish.

We offer discounted places and free events to help those who cannot afford our programs. For example free sessions for the Health Care Consumers Association for Mental Health Week. We’ve also provided many free sessions for schools and NGOs.

CWB: In the last year, what have you achieved? How is your initiative benefiting and impacting the community, your business/organisation and your team?

Megan: We’ve launched a new website and new marketing strategy in the last year – this has been a huge project. We have expanded our programs and offered a range of new events and courses including our first in house 7 day retreat in July, a Reimagining Menopause retreat, community gardening days and a range of more accessible products like introductory sessions and short courses. We are increasing the online resources and range of supports we make available to our participants.

We regularly get very heart-warming feedback from participants. An example of feedback quoted from our most recent Term 3 2023 MBSR course is:

It’s been the best adult learning experience I’ve ever had and I’ve participated in, or led, many. Clear, warm, wise…I hope many more people have the opportunity to do this course.

Participants regularly give feedback that this improves their wellbeing, their relationships and their work. It gives them a greater sense of agency, the ability to make clearer decisions and navigate difficulties such as challenging illness, grief, diagnoses, ageing and loss, major life transitions with greater ease, peace and skill.

CWB: Describe the potential for future growth of your initiative and the innovation opportunities. Tell us why you entered the Awards and what winning this award would mean to you.

Megan: I entered because Leigh-Hoa Luu contacted me and said we should enter! Winning would be an honour, very rewarding, open up new opportunities, improve networks and help more people find out about us. More people could participate in programs and resources which could literally change their lives, improve health and mental health in very meaningful ways.

I’ve worked hard for a long time (along with the team) to bring this passion for individual and social change to fruition. I love doing what I do and would love for more people to find out about it and benefit from it. It’d be a great opportunity to meet other local business women, improve connections, collaboration and be inspired by female innovators.

I believe in contributing to the greater good and I believe what we’re doing offers an incredible service to the Canberra community. Coming from a background in community organisations the transition into business has been challenging. It is harder to promote the social impact of a business, even when I can unreservedly say it’s significant, because of the understandable distrust of the profit motive. Word of mouth, reputation and public recognition are the best forms of promotion.

Megan facilitating a mindful movement session at the National Gallery of Australia. Photo credit: Photox

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