At the end of 2014, I was made redundant from a job in local government. I had been at the same local authority for 16 years in a variety of different roles ranging from Tourism and Arts Assistant in 1998 to Head of Development and Neighbourhoods in 2014. As with most jobs in the public sector, the last 4 years were times of increasing insecurity, increasing workload and decreasing job satisfaction. Add to that staff re-structures every year and you get a toxic mix of continual uncertainty, instability and difficult working relationships.
If you had told me in 2014 that, just 2 years later, I would be enjoying life in all its variety, be qualified as a Mindfulness Teacher and be happily self-employed, I would not have believed you.
But that is what life is really all about isn’t it? Change, and going with the flow.
All my adult life I have practised yoga to some degree or other, either by myself or as part of a class. I have used yoga and relaxation meditation to help me deal with the stresses and strains of every day life. In 2012, whilst immersing myself in it to recover from burnout, I kept coming across references to mindfulness in various books and publications. I researched some more, bought books on mindfulness practice, discovered websites dedicated to it and found apps for my smartphone that guided me through a variety of practices.
Mindfulness seemed to bring together everything that was important to me;
– an appreciation of the here and now,
– compassion for oneself and others,
– an invitation to pay attention to detail in the world around us through all our senses,
– a set of mental tools on which to call in times of difficulty,
– a sense of the innate wisdom in all of us and
– a vindication from the academic and scientific world that there are measurable benefits both behaviourally and physically in the brain.
After a couple of years researching, following mindfulness apps and practicing by myself, I had the chance of attending an 8 week Living Mindfully course run by Maureen O’Callaghan of Now Unlimited.
This brought mindfulness into a whole new dimension for me. Learning alongside others through their experiences; learning and experiencing meditation techniques with others and understanding that individual experiences may not be the same; greater understanding of the impact of stress on the mind and body; discovering and experiencing the wisdom that we all have inside ourselves – all this had a profound impact on me and led to a greater understanding of mindfulness.
As my mindfulness meditation practice developed, I found that it helped me to gain a measure of peace and acceptance through one of the most difficult years of my life.
Paying It Forward
A chance encounter with Maureen in the street of my local city, awakened the possibility that I may be able to learn to teach and turn my interest in mindfulness into a career. So in October 2015, I enrolled as one of the first students on the Now Unlimited 1 year Mindfulness Teacher Training Pathway. I welcomed it with an open mind and am now about to embark on a new career, teaching others the tools to cope with modern life and help them find peace and acceptance.
I feel immensely privileged to have been given this opportunity to help others to learn mindfulness meditation techniques, as I know from firsthand experience how much mindfulness can help to bring a new perspective to the ups and downs, joys and disappointments of everyday life.
This moment is precious, let us enjoy and appreciate it.