My Mindful Journey

My mindful journey probably began with my beloved grandma. It is her pictures that illustrate my website (gallery). She painted them all in her retirement, doing her Fine Art degree in her 80s, and painting well into her 90s. She inspires me to remember, “it is never too late to learn.”

I first discovered mindfulness ‘proper’ forty years ago as a shaky student wondering what to make of the world. This led me one week to a Buddhist meditation class, then a cool-sounding, but rather freaky, alternative. I took it up and practised it daily. Becoming curious about my inner world, I gradually noticed that my thoughts and feelings were more like flows than facts. fact tells me what something is. It defines it, perhaps rigidly, as in: ‘I’m a failure,’ or ‘I’m unloveable’. Thinking in terms of facts, I’m more likely to believe my thoughts, and to think they are true. This makes me feel bad. But when I see how my thoughts and feelings flow in and out, constantly changing, I discover how natural change is. And since change happens, like it or not, I’m free to choose the direction: I can influence who and what I become. So I began to discover the effect I have on myself; to see that my experience of the world depends on the way that I relate to the world. This changes everything. Exploring my own responses, I find more creative ways to interact with life’s challenges. This helps me discover the confidence and freedom to be who I am, with the motivation and energy to change, where needed.

And so my meditation journey began. Nowadays, mindfulness is a fully secular approach for those who wish to approach it from a secular, scientific standpoint. But for me, in the 1980s, it was taught by Buddhists. So my mindful path includes a Buddhist path. I integrated Buddhism into my own cultural roots by taking up the academic study of Buddhist meditation, with Masters and Doctorate degrees at Oxford university (my book on the topic of Vajrayogini was published 2002: here), and through teaching it in secular contexts. My recent teaching experience is as Mindfulness Practitioner at Cambridge University, where I taught a large-scale research trial conducted by the University’s Psychiatry Department (published in The Lancet, Dec 2017). This grew into a full program of mindfulness classes across the University, and for alumni.

I have also always loved teaching. Perhaps that came from my grandma, too, as she was a gifted teacher. She was even interested by my interest in meditation, although it was strange and outlandish to her generation. Now, I have different mindful approaches to draw on, and to offer in different ways. I am also a qualified therapist of mindful approaches which encompass relationships and trauma. It is a privilege to share so deeply with students and clients, exploring the complex, rich, and fascinating world within.


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