Mindfulness and Me
I teach mindfulness because my life was transformed by it. I will tell you a bit about how my life was before I started, and how different it is now that I have been practicing mindfulness for several years.
For a number of years I really struggled in my life. I was nearly always anxious and depression would take me down at times. My confidence fell both professionally and personally. My relationships were affected, and I had issues with my health – especially tension and pain. I could see that I was in a rut, and I wanted out, but I couldn’t find the way.
By the time my psychiatrist suggested that I try mindfulness meditation, I had tried therapy and a long list of drugs but although there were some good patches, eventually the established patterns of difficulty came back. Life was pretty miserable, I was willing to give this meditation stuff a go.
He recommended a book, which I read, and I began with simple meditations, but with little support. It wasn’t until I joined a group mindfulness course a couple of years later that the theory and practice all started to fall into place, and I started to notice changes. I wished I had gone earlier, as the group learning environment with a skilled teacher was much more effective than the solo fumbling I had been doing.
Looking back now, I can see that mindfulness offered me a lot of different skills and how I developed life-changing strengths over time as I continued to practice it. Ultimately, these inner resources built up my ability to cope, and to respond to stressful situations in ways that helped me. Eventually I knew I had skills to manage life’s challenging times.
A key change was that I had changed my rigid and self-critical ways of thinking, and had developed a more flexible and assured way of responding to situations. This was especially noticeable in how I responded to stressful events. I was calmer, more present, more confident about what to do, and worries didn’t take hold.
Back when I was struggling, I had read about this. I understood the theory that it would be better for me to change my unhelpful thought patterns and cycles of reactions. I cut out inspiring quotes from magazines. But knowing it was not the same as being able to do it. The negative cycles kept pulling me back in again and again.
Other changes I noticed were in improved relationships, and peace around past grief and distress. Also, I became much better at planning and decision-making. My body felt more relaxed, and I started to enjoy exercising it.
As time passed, I continued to learn more from great mindfulness teachers. I went back to Uni to study psychology in order to understand what was going on for me and for others who are struggling in their lives. I learnt more about mindfulness and contributed to the emerging research in this dynamic field by publishing a paper in the academic journal Mindfulness.
Finally I chose to train to teach mindfulness. I researched the best training available, due to the hype about mindfulness resulting in a range of courses that vary enormously in quality. I am trained to teach the original, Jon Kabat-Zinn founded, scientifically-proven Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction programme which has 40 years of research backing it. Wide-ranging benefits to people’s wellbeing and health have been measured in people who have done this course. It is taught worldwide in many settings, including hundreds of medical centres.