Leo Mosselman on the importance of wellbeing for human rights defenders



September 2, 2019

Leo Mosselman on the importance of wellbeing for human rights defenders

We interviewed Leo Mosselman, who is a Qi Gong and Tai Chi teacher based in The Hague. He shared his experience of teaching human rights defenders how to enhance their wellbeing and why it is important they do so.

At Shelter City, we stand by the idea that wellbeing and self-care are essential for human rights defenders. Only by taking care of themselves, they have the energy to continue their important work.

We aim at raising awareness on the importance of self-care by sharing practices and suggestions. During their relocation to Shelter City human rights defenders have access to a wide variety of practices to support their wellbeing.

Leo’s trainings are one of them as they are part of the Shelter City security training.


Leo’s support to human rights defenders

Human rights defenders often work in dangerous situations and face stress or burnouts. Many of them neglect their own wellbeing preferring to focus on their work or do not have the opportunity to engage in self-care. According to Leo, they often consider focus and time spent on their own wellbeing as selfish. 

Leo shared that he needs to organize his training by considering the background of human rights defenders. He explained that most of them have learned to cope with existing violence and stress. Leo is also open to deliver personal training if needed.

He also argued that sometimes it is difficult for human rights defenders to absorb new ideas and techniques for their wellbeing. Once they return to their countries, their wellbeing depends on their discipline in practising what they have learned and taking some time off for their personal life and family.

Leo explained that he supports human rights defenders by teaching them techniques to reduce the impact of stress and violence on their mind and body, and re-energize. These techniques include, for instance, breathing exercises, body scan, body massage, tug-of-war, reactions on dealing with aggression, improvement of physical balance and posture. 

Leo argued that the techniques of Tai Chi, Qi Gong and bodywork that he teaches, prioritize the body, following the motto ‘out of your mind and into your body’. According to him, the body gives clear signals in case of burnout or excessive stress and it is important to listen to them.

“In bodywork, I have learned the body is a perfect instrument to tell the owner what and how the condition of the body and mind is. “

To learn more about Tai Chi and bodywork, Leo has recorded some of his sessions. Watch one below.

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