Scott Neeson from the Cambodian Children’s Fund shares his insight on mindfulness.
I used to believe that the more I did, the less stressed I would be because I was achieving but it becomes a cycle you can’t get out of.’
From the president of 20th Century Fox International in Los Angeles to the founder of the Cambodian Children’s Fund. The B Project sat down with Scott Neeson who spent 26 years in the film industry managing revenues in excess of $1.5 billion and overseeing the release and marketing of several blockbuster Hollywood films, including Braveheart, Titanic, Star Wars and X-Men. In 2004, Scott left the film industry to set up the Cambodian Children’s Fund (CCF) after a life changing visit to the Southeast Asian country. Paying for all of the start-up costs out of his own pocket, Scott started CCF to help just a handful of children. CCF now educates around 1,900 children living in one of the most impoverished parts of Cambodia and supports families with community-based projects. We were thrilled to have the opportunity to sit down with Scott and find out how he takes a little time out from it all.
How do you take time out for yourself?
It has only really been in very recent times (since Covid) that I have been taking time out and finding the balance with yoga three times a week and meditation every morning. When I arrived in Cambodia and was setting up the charity, it was really hard to find the time to ‘take time out’. I spent most of my time on a wretched garbage dump in Cambodia trying to help the 600 children that I found there. There was no rest at all but I felt alive in the chaos. Having come from a corporate background, this ‘work’ in Cambodia didn’t feel like work at all because of the drive and desire I had to get the children out of that environment.
Do you regularly schedule time for yourself?
Yes. I find myself at a point in my life when I can schedule time for yoga/ cycling/meditation. Without it, I find myself defaulting back to lack a of motivation/self esteem/guilt and lethargy. My yoga, meditation and exercise pulls me back up. Over my years in Cambodia, I have seen the worst of humanity and after a yoga and meditation session, I find I have a far brighter outlook on life. Yoga really helps me release.
Do you find it hard to take time out for yourself? Why?
Pre-covid times I did because there was just so much to do. When we were forced into a quasi lock down, I found myself lying around all day feeling quite sluggish and on the default setting of ‘decomposing my life’. This resulted in me being void of energy and feeling blue. I knew I needed to do something about it and embraced the chance and opportunity to change. I know now how important this ‘time out’ is for me. When I’m stressed, my yoga and meditation practice is the way that I cope. I used to believe that the more I did, the less stressed I would be because I was achieving but it becomes a cycle you can’t get out of. Yoga and fitness brings me back to balance.
Are you good at doing nothing?
No. I can’t do it. Honestly…I can’t do it. Meditation is probably the closest I can get to ‘nothing’. If I did have the time to really step away from life for a while, I would spend it in the countryside of Scotland (where I am from) writing a book. I love the ‘concept’ of doing nothing. Ironically, I’m just not sure I could ‘do it’.
What do you wish you had more time for?
Well I’m not too sure. I really feel like I have created a life that I love and was destined to do. I feel so fulfilled – I’ve raised the children that were on that rubbish pile and seen them accomplish so much. I feel like I have created a life that I want more of. If I needed to step away from the Cambodian Children’s Fund for a little relief, I would go on holiday in Scotland. Being in Cambodia for so long makes me yearn for a cold climate, a cleaner environment and…a glass of great scotch.