I came across mindfulness in my first job in mental health as an assistant psychologist. I remember being completely fascinated and in awe of the approach, and soon after started my own haphazard practice! Fast forward 15 years and its hard to put into words the impact mindfulness has had on my life. Following mindfulness back to its Eastern roots has undoubtedly set me on a whole new path in my life. Having mindfulness in my life keeps me grounded at times of high stress, enhances my relationships with my family and friends and overall has had a marked impact on how I regulate my emotions. Learning to turn towards myself with kindness and compassion has been transformational.
I feel so privileged to be able to teach mindfulness and support others on their mindfulness journey which has the potential to be life transforming. There’s often moments through teaching a course where participants have a ‘lightbulb’ moment and you see them fully connect with an aspect of teaching or a practice. This is a such an inspirational moment for me where you know that someone has gained some new insight. In my work with parents there have been moments like this where you realise that a new, more meaningful, way of relating to their child has begun and it can be highly moving.
As a busy working mum I have to be disciplined with my practice and put in boundaries to ensure practice happens. There are days when I achieve this well and my days are bookended by formal practice…and there are other days where I embrace informal practice around hectic family life! Informal practices in this way can be the most challenging, and the most rewarding, for example when I bring mindful awareness to playing with my son, or grounding myself and supporting him to weather the too familiar storms of the younger years.
Self-critical thoughts and judgement can really derail our starting practice. So many of us expect to achieve things straight away and to “succeed” at practice, but there is a need for us to be gentle with ourselves while we begin developing our mindfulness ‘muscle’. Getting into a routine of regular practice - whether we feel like it or not – can really help in forming new ‘mindfulness’ habits, as can finding a ‘buddy’ who is also starting practice to help us keep on track.