When a friend persuaded me to try yoga for the first time (he was training as an instructor and needed people to teach) I went up to him at the end of the session and asked: “I don’t get it, who wins?” He looked at me like I was from another planet but having come from a background where competitive sport (sailing and tennis) was part of family and school life, it honestly took me years to realise that non-striving is okay. Even now, when mindfulness and yoga practices are part of everyday life, I need a gentle reminder of this.
Looking back, I think this moment slowly set me on a mindful path and I ended up doing an MBCT course in Brighton, for low mood. I loved the course and knew that it was what I wanted to teach – I had been a trainer for years and loved my work but had never loved the subject. Now I’d found it. I started training with Bangor and was very excited about being accepted onto the TTP (Teacher Training Pathway). I eventually gave up my steady job teaching IT to visually impaired people, to fulfil my aim of becoming a freelance mindfulness trainer.
And that’s where I feel at home somehow, sitting in different circles, learning from everyone – teachers, participants, fellow trainees – and being held by the group. This is also how it feels at The Mindfulness Network – although we all work remotely there is this strong camaraderie which perhaps stems from working for something bigger than oneself with the attitudinal foundations of mindfulness practice underpinning it.
Teaching has always been around for me: my mum (a widow from when I was three-years old) was a secondary school French teacher and worked very hard and gave us everything she could. I was born and brought up in Zimbabwe until we emigrated to England when I was six, so in the long holidays we would go back to visit family. I thought this was totally normal at the time – camping safaris or horse-riding with zebras milling around. I always felt Zimbabwe was my home and found it so hard to come back to the UK each time. This returning back to Africa is something I have continued to do, having taught in Uganda and Nigeria and plans are always on the table to go back in some capacity.
Travelling has been a significant part of my life and I nearly didn’t finish university as in one of the holidays I was offered the chance of sailing on a luxury yacht from the UK to Sweden and Denmark and down to Mallorca. You might understand why I nearly stayed on the boat but I did get my degree and then worked on boats for years, doing three trans-Atlantic crossings, working in the Caribbean and then sailing across the Pacific to Tahiti and on to New Zealand. There is nothing like being at sea for weeks, the rhythm of natural time, having dolphins and whales around the board (sea-sickness in storms wasn’t much fun though). In New Zealand, I ended up doing a TEFL course as someone said I’d make a good teacher, so I taught in Auckland before moving to Queensland, Australia for a year.
And now, back in the UK for the past twenty years I feel settled and being a mum is my most treasured role. I have an allotment at the back of the house where we grow fruit and vegetables and I enjoy baking and make bread at least twice a week. I find informal mindfulness practice so significant, digging up potatoes you’ve grown, picking flowers with a child, ….? – stepping into these moments is wonderful.
I can be contacted via email at email@example.com