I began a mindfulness meditation practice in 2004, when I was introduced to mindfulness within the context of my work as a psychological therapist in the NHS. My training to be a mindfulness-based teacher began by being a participant on an eight week MBCT course. Through this course I began the core practices found in MBCT, namely: body scan, movement practices, sitting, walking, breathing spaces and informal mindfulness practice in everyday activities.
A few months later I embarked on my first teacher training retreat. This is where I first really met silence. I moved from thinking it would be impossible, to finding great value finding in time to stop and be. Everyday mindfulness practice became an important part of daily life, and silent teacher-led retreats at least an annual event. Many of these retreats have been at Gaia House and include the following wise and inspiring teachers: Christina Feldman, John Peacock, Chris Cullen, Catherine McGee, Jenny Wilks, Rob Burbea, Gregory Kramer, Thanissaro and Kittisaro. More recently I have been on a Mindfulness-based Compassionate Living Retreat with Erik Van Den Brink and Bridgette O’Neill.
I have a commitment to a formal practice at least once each day. The nature of this practice varies and includes: core practices from MBCT and MBSR; compassion-based practices; and vipassana-based practice.
I also find that informal practice during many aspects of my life and activity, is hugely important in bringing practice right into the centre of my life, relationships and work. I am keen that practice informs and shapes the many moments of my life and is not separate.
Movement is essential to my well-being. I enjoy formal movement practices such as yoga and qigong. I have a passion for walking in nature and feel many benefits from what feels like an essential connection with a larger perspective and simplicity.
Influences Other influences on practice and in my life
In addition to the teachings I have received on retreats, I have been fortunate to attend many of Christina Feldman’s teaching days at the University of Exeter. I am a keen reader and have read many books by western teachers such as Joseph Goldstein, Jack Kornfield and Christina Feldman.
Tara Brach’s teachings, which I access through reading and online, have been a key influence for me in finding softness and allowing in my practice. I have also explored and continue to explore different compassion-based practices.
I have felt supported around different ways of dialoguing with others about practice. The Insight Dialogue retreats with Gregory Kramer have been one way of exploring relational practice. I also have 1:1 mentoring of my personal practice (currently with Catherine McGee). In these sessions, I learn more about Buddhist teachings in relation to my own practice and experience. I find this way of inquiring with another with a strong body focus a lively and engaged way learning and deepening my practice.
As already mentioned, connection with the outside, nature and the body in movement supports me through activities such as walking, kayaking and gardening.
- Currently studying for a Doctorate in Clinical Research
- MSc in Mindfulness-based Cognitive Therapies, University of Exeter, 2012
- I underwent extensive training with some of the first and second generation of mindfulness-based teachers as part of the Medical Research Council Trial platform: Preventing depression relapse in NHS practice using MBCT