Dancing into a new chapter
Since retiring from competitive dancing, Camilla Sacre-Dallerup has gone on to become an international bestselling author, life coach, and mindful living expert. We spoke with Camilla to discuss her passion for mindfulness, and how she's inspiring her clients around the world to live their best life.
We would love to hear about your 2008 Strictly Come Dancing win. Can you tell us how that felt?
That was a magical night on so many levels. I knew inside that it would be the last time I would be dancing on Strictly, and that I was about to completely reinvent my life. There were a lot of emotions, and to finish on such a high felt like I was just handed the biggest gift. I know the audience that had been with us from the beginning were a part of handing us that trophy. It was a team effort between the audience, Tom and I.
It was interesting that I met somebody like Tom who believed in ‘mind over matter’. He believed in conditioning the mind to whatever it was that we were working on. The day I met him, he had talked about what it would feel like to win the trophy. He showed me where (in his apartment) he had created a space for the trophy. I came home that day and said to my husband “I’ve met the guy who potentially could be the winner, now it’s really on me.”
When did you start dancing?
I was two and a half. As a child I had a crazy drive. I wanted to perform and connect with people. I literally learnt to walk and dance almost at the same time. At six years old I did my first competition, begging my dance teachers to let me do it because you’re supposed to be eight. Then it became my life.
What are some other dance career highlights you have?
Strictly Come Dancing had such a profound effect on my life in every area. But my dream was always to write books. So after finishing the first one I thought, ‘oh my gosh, I’ve actually done this’. I feel that way every time I receive one of my completed books. Those are special moments.
My first book was called Strictly Inspirational, but it’s now being retitled to Strictly Inspirational Actions For Achieving Your Dreams. It’s going to be re-released this autumn with a new chapter, and it’s launching as a paperback edition on 10th November. It talks through my early years, and it’s about having a dream and believing in it. My third book, It’s Not You, It’s Me, is about how to heal your relationship with yourself and others.
Another highlight was becoming a head judge on Dancing With The Stars in New Zealand. I was a New Zealand champion back in the day, way before Strictly. I fell in love with New Zealand as soon as I arrived – everything from the food to the views and the people. So it was very special to come back so many years later and still be part of a show that was a big part of my life, but in a new way.
How did you know it was time for you to stop dancing?
I started to get this feeling of being lost and stuck and just of general discomfort. It was like my body was speaking to me. I talk about this a lot when I teach meditation as well – about the chakras, the energy fields in the body. I kept thinking ‘who am I actually?’ Without the spotlights, the media and my job, who is Camilla?
That was interesting. I talk about it in my second book ‘Reinvent Me’. That became a really big journey to find out ‘who am I’ without being identified as ‘Camilla the dancer’. That uncomfortable feeling of being lost is what really guided me. When we feel that way, it’s a nudge that something is happening and you should listen to those feelings.
What attracted you to meditation and coaching?
I actually started this long before I called myself a life coach. When I look back over my life, I realised that when I was sixteen I was already writing motivational letters. My friend still has these motivational letters that I used to send her. If she was feeling sad about a boyfriend or was having a tough time with family, I would cut out uplifting motivational quotes and stick them on paper and write little messages for her.
I had friends who were struggling with depression, and at that time it wasn’t often talked about. One of my friends would say “Thank you for always listening, I feel really safe with you and I love that I can share”. People didn’t talk about anxiety and depression in the way we do now. I realised through my teaching in dancing that I was more interested in helping people have a positive or supporting mindset that could help them on competition day. It didn’t matter how much training we had done. If the mind wasn’t going to play ball with the body, it could fall apart. As part of my dance training on Strictly, I would help celebrities feel comfortable and use all sorts of visualisations to help them.
What advice do you have on how we can look after ourselves through times of uncertainty?
Talking about it really helps. I find that when I’m talking to my clients, we sometimes end up laughing about it as well. Sometimes I sit in meditation. I’ll cry it out and sometimes I’ll laugh and joke about it. But the most important thing when we’re going through those times is to stay in the present moment.
Come back to the moment and say ‘What can I do today?’ Is it meditation, a hot bath, a walk?’ Sometimes getting out to the woods and water and just connecting to nature can make you feel or forget for a moment. Worrying about ‘how long is this going to go on for’ and ‘are we still going to be here in a month’ is going to cause anxiety.
I think 85% of the things we worry about never happen. Let’s not do that because at the end of the day we don’t know what’s going to happen tomorrow.
Can you tell us a little about your latest book ‘It’s not you, it’s me’ ?
First of all, it has a seven-day self-care plan at the end of the book. So if you’re needing some self-love, it’s in there. There are also meditations to go alongside with it for free online.
There is a Ram Dass quote in there that says “We’re all just walking each other home”. I love that quote because it’s really about coming home to ourselves and how when we really know and appreciate our own relationship with ourselves, we start to act differently in relationships. The things that would have been triggering us in different relationships don’t trigger us in the same way anymore because we know our own worth. So it’s very much about healing the relationship with ourselves and when we heal that, all other relationships become easier to navigate. I’m really excited about sharing those tools with everybody.
What does a day in the life of a hypnotherapist, life coach and meditation facilitator look like?
I don’t have two days that are the same to be honest and I quite like that. The other day I was working with a company and we were goal setting as a group and using visualizations. I can be on a call with somebody who’s struggling with anxiety or maybe doing hypnosis for a traumatic experience. Sometimes I may get an emergency call that somebody is struggling with an addiction and are needing to get help immediately to bring them back on track. We use hypnosis for that too.
The subconscious mind runs our lives 95% of the time, so if we are not aware of the patterns that are running in our subconscious, you can imagine that sometimes we act in an undesired manner in our adult lives. I work with a lot of actors and producers here in LA too. Sometimes it could be about learning lines and letting it absorb into the mind quickly or feeling confident on set when you are suddenly working with big stars. I just love supporting people and helping with tools.
Do you have any personal self-care practices that you can share with us?
It’s vital that we don’t invite any other energy in except our own when we first wake up. If you’re reaching for the phone first thing, you might as well open the door and invite in all the strangers. That’s what you do to your mind. You are taking on other people’s energy, and can feel reactive straight away.
You’ve got to put yourself in the driver seat. Instead, you might say ten things you are grateful for. Whatever it is, just take that time. Then I always get myself in the shower and I continue with positive affirmations whilst I’m showering. I might sometimes think ‘I’m so groggy’, but then that’s not helpful, so instead I think ‘I’m really energised, I feel good about myself, I’m happy’. Even if you are faking those comments, they are direct orders to your subconscious mind. You are telling your subconscious mind how you want to be feeling. That is important.
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