Lynne Wheeler – Trustee

Lynne Wheeler – Trustee

Hi, I’m Lynne. I am a Psychiatric Nurse working in the NHS since 1998. I am a cisgender (cis) woman using the pronouns “she” and “her”, and I identify as gay or lesbian.

I wonder if I can invite you into a brief pause. A brief pause to notice, become aware of, and reflect on your immediate reactions and responses to the pieces of personal information that I have just offered. I imagine that the information about my name and occupation passed by with little reaction or response; certainly, that was my experience of writing them. I guess I am more curious about the immediate reactions and responses to the way I present my gender and sexuality.

I would like to offer a brief reflection on my experience of writing them: In some ways describing myself as a cis woman and explaining my pronouns feels a little unnecessary as to me it seems obvious. Undoubtedly this is due to my privilege as a cis woman as I have never been mis-gendered. My gender has always been assumed correctly and aligned with the sex/gender I was assigned at birth. As I write my gender and pronouns, I also notice a sense of solidarity with anyone who identifies as different to the sex/gender that they were assigned at birth. I feel stronger for joining in alliance in this seemingly small way to begin to address the injustices experienced by anyone who identifies as anything other than cis male or cis female. I feel ready and willing to discuss or challenge others on this topic and feel able to remain steady and calm in the discussion. Any discussions I take part in on this topic, do not affect my sense of self. The discussions could be described as very heartfelt but ultimately academic.

It is a quite different matter for me to state my sexuality. It is fleeting but I instantly wonder if I should say it. I wonder what other people will think of me. I worry that I will not be taken as seriously as other people, that I will be avoided for some reason. Slight physical sensations of anxiety appear in my body: tightening’s in some muscles, and fluttering’s in my stomach. Am I going to be judged as “less than”? In contrast to discussions on gender, any discussions on this topic go to the very heart of who I am. I notice and feel every word. I am confident in my sexuality and who I am so none of this stops me discussing my sexuality or overwhelms me by any means, but I feel more wary and alert in conversation. My sexuality has been assumed incorrectly by others, or dismissed, or ignored, and these difficulties experienced by me and others who identify as gay, are alongside me during conversations on the topic.

It is precisely these themes that I hope to keep the light on in my role as trustee for the Mindfulness Network. I completed my MSc in Mindfulness Based Approaches with Bangor University in September 2020 and my research topic for my thesis was my experience of being a working-class gay woman finding my way as a mindfulness practitioner and teacher. Whilst I have always felt welcomed by the mindfulness community, there are times when being part of a marginalised community with a protected characteristic is difficult; there are challenges which may go unnoticed by those who do not belong to a marginalised group. At times I am left wondering if it is safe for my whole self to be seen within mindfulness spaces. I hope to be able to share how these difficulties may present and highlight possible areas to pay attention to, so that we ensure people with protected characteristics feel they belong in mindfulness spaces. I have been humbled by the open and honest conversations that are already taking place within the network; the willingness to look at internal biases that we all have, so that we are less likely to act unconsciously from them, and I look forward to the journey ahead.

Just briefly, I have had a personal daily (almost!) practice since 2013 and completed TTR1 in 2014. I began my MSc with Bangor in 2017 and completed in 2020. I have been teaching MBCT in the NHS prior to the pandemic and hope to begin to teach MBSR to the LGBT community online soon! I live in a beautiful part of North Wales with my son Joe and two cats, Mary and Moe. I love open water swimming, and music; especially music that is live and loud!