I discovered meditation when I was a teenager and started practising to help with exam nerves. I dipped in and out of practice for more than a decade, using meditation only when I felt stressed.
It wasn't until much later, when I was in my thirties, that I came across secular mindfulness practice and as an atheist and researcher it resonated deeply with me. With time, I experienced first-hand the profound change that daily mindfulness practice can bring.
Daily practice has changed my whole life. I am calmer and able to take life as it comes and breathe during those moments of stress.
I love sharing mindfulness practices with others. I enjoy seeing participants connect with the practices as the eight-week course unfolds. During an eight-week course it’s possible to witness profound changes in others as they begin to commit to daily practice.
Hearing how the practices are received keeps my own practice fresh and I learn so much from each group I facilitate. Participants are a source of inspiration and can articulate their feelings in so many ways so I am constantly relearning, reconnecting with and revising my understanding of a practice through teaching it to others.
Around the time I made the commitment to daily secular mindfulness practice I also became a mum, so the timing could have been better! This has meant my practice has always been woven into the fabric of my busy life. When the kids were younger I had to practice whenever and wherever I could.
Now the kids are older I can have a more structured approach. Most days I practice first thing in the morning and then do a couple of shorter practices during the day. But there are still days when this doesn't happen and on those days, I can be flexible, perhaps practising on the train, or as I walk the kids to school.
Being both committed and kind is key to sustaining a mindfulness practice. Remind yourself of your motivations when you find your practice flagging. Set reminders around the house (even a post-it note with 'breathe' on your computer screen can work).
Try making movement part of your practice if you find sitting a challenge or uncomfortable. Be playful and curious with what you do each day. Weave shorter practices into your daily life and do things a little differently to help break out of old habits. For example, notice and savour a piece of chocolate as you eat it or set a reminder on your phone to look at the sky for 5 minutes every day. These small acts can have a huge life changing impact.