What inspired you to start mindful mind?
I suffered breathing problems as a child. As an adult I was fraught with negative thinking habits and behaviours despite my best attempts with meditation, nutrition and psychotherapy. I have been meditating for many years. When I discovered Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction it was like coming home, it made so much sense. It had am immediate effect on my thinking and way of looking after myself. Having trained in In MBSR I became passionate about learning more and discovered that it had many approaches. Being aware, paying attention, in the present moment, nonjudgmentally, as it is, with kindness could help everyone. It is a way of being, at any age, to help us understand ourselves and be more comfortable and accepting.
How has the concept evolved since you first began?
It has become more available in England – Mindfulness based Cognitive therapy, Mindfulness in Pregnancy, childbirth and parenting, Mindfulness in Pain and Illness, Mindfulness in Schools. The training has been recognised by the NHS, The Mental Health Foundation and by N.I.C.E. for the treatment of depression and prevention of relapse.
What would you say is the most common reason you come across that people seek to engage in mindfulness?
Feeling unhappy, overwhelmed, stress, anxious, pain, tension, sleep, and digestive problems.
Do you think it’s a concept that’s well understood in today’s society?
No. I think people think that meditation is religious and just for hippies. Meditation is just a way to focus our attention on being in the here and now. To hack our brain, and nervous system and upgrade them from Neanderthal to our digital/frantic world.
Is there a certain place where you find it easiest to practice meditation?
This is a difficult question as it varies each time. It is easiest in a group otherwise silent, sitting facing nature or outside, or practicing Yoga mindfully.
Where has been the most inspiring place you’ve visited for yoga and meditation practice?
I think it has to be Hotel Bijapur in Rajasthan
Where do you go to recharge your batteries and escape the buzz of the city?
Home, in my garden on the edge of the Ashdown Forest, East Sussex.
For those just thinking about beginning meditation practice what advice could you give?
Be patient and kind to yourself. Learning to meditate is like learning to drive a car. It seems stressful and impossible with glimpses of pure wonder and joy. This grows into peace and spreads to many gifts. Treat mindful practice like a new piece of electrical equipment, gently, get to know it’s many functions, programs, be patient, commit to being open, curious and give it a go. Or think of Mindfulness as a way of looking after yourself and you are getting to learn about yourself and fulfill your inner needs. You deserve kindness, empathy, compassion, watering, feeding, attention to develop wellbeing and comfort. What’s to loose?
In our busy lives, it’s too easy to not make time for things such as meditation. What would be your advice for keeping on track?
The tip is to make it part of your normal routine. While brushing teeth, or showering, eating, drinking, applying creams, shaving, getting ready for work, walking, sitting on bus/tube/train/plane, standing at red traffic lights, running, cycling, swimming, waiting, lying in bed. Any moment can be used to meditate between activities.
Practice mindful moments:
A pause: (3 step Meditation)
1) Reconnect: Become aware of breathing in your body, posture, feet on ground.
2) Observe none-judgmentally, without reacting: senses, body, thoughts, and feelings, like clouds floating by in a spacious blue sky.
3) Breath out, let go, come back to the present moment & environment. Begin again in this new moment of life with curiosity, open-minded in the here and now.
Are there any authors, artists or practitioners who inspire you in your work?
Lao Tsu, Zhxing Wang, Thich Nhat Hanh, Dalia Lama, Gandhi, Socrates, Erasmus, Jon Kabat- Zinn, Rick Hanson, Jan Coyzen_Bays, Dr Patrizia Collard, Pema Chodron, Christina Feldman, Sharon Salzberg, Tara Brach, Vidyalma Birch, Nancy Bardacke
Do you use music in your meditation or yoga practice?
I use music for my Mindful massage treatments and in Yoga but rarely for meditation. I listen to music a lot but choose only the noises in me and around me when I meditate.
What is your favourite way to spend the weekend?
I like to take my time at weekends and pace myself. I practice yoga, create lovely healthy meals from scratch, eat mindfully, walk in nature, catch up on sleep, listen and dance to music and catch up with friends.