Rachel Smith – MNCF Committee

Rachel Smith

Born and raised in Derby, I was happy with my geographical boundaries until my first overseas trip to Italy with school, aged 15. The fresh sights, smells and tastes opened my eyes to different ways of living, and I couldn’t wait to explore another country. At 19, I left home with a backpack for six weeks to volunteer at a Kibbutz in Israel, returning home 12 months later having discovered the delights of Egypt too.

World travel became a way of life until I met my husband and we were blessed with a daughter a few years later. Once settled, I began training as a secondary school teacher, specialising in Information and Communication Technology (ICT) which, in 2005, provided an opportunity for us to move to Kenya, myself as Head of ICT in an International School. I continued to work in International education, in Riyadh, Dubai and Qatar, leaving the classroom and moving into leadership positions and then teacher training. During my time as a teacher trainer, I discovered mindfulness and was inspired to find out how it may support teachers in their role.

Health and wellness have always been a valuable part of my life and jumping in on whatever form of fitness was trending at the time provided unexpected opportunities. I began Powerlifting at age 40 and an unusual aptitude for the deadlift was noticed, so I entered a competition in 2005 and took the British Record. The next challenge was a 14-day cycle from John O’Groats to Lands End, a physically and emotionally tough route, but highly recommended!

Whilst working as a teacher trainer in Qatar and discovering mindfulness, I underwent routine surgery which came with complications and I was left unable to walk. The psychological trauma hit me hard as my out-of-work-life had always revolved around physical activity. I needed to rethink my approach to life, whereas before, exercise had been my stress reliever, I now needed to find an alternative way of finding balance and maintaining a healthy mind. In October 2019 I left Qatar and moved to the mountains in Bulgaria where I immersed myself in all things mindfulness, allowing myself time to process, understand and heal was the best decision I have made. Mindfulness has been transformative for me, as I have continued to deepen and extend my own practice and then enrolling on the Teacher Training Pathway with the Mindfulness Network and Bangor University.

I am now living in Portugal and teaching mindfulness courses online with a mission to make mindfulness training accessible to all educators in Qatar and the wider Gulf region. I am hugely grateful for this opportunity to become involved with the Mindfulness Network Community Friends Committee, and look forward to being a part of this growing community as it expands and evolves.