When did you first start practicing mindfulness and why were you motivated to do so?
I have always had an interest in meditation and dabbled with it over the years, but without real commitment, understanding or discipline. Then in the summer of 2010 I developed a daily practice of meditation/ relaxation and started reading about mindfulness. For the first time in my life, I felt comfortable in my own skin and felt my relationships (especially with my son) change and my stress levels decrease.
Sadly, shortly after, this my mother became ill and died. I then had a 6 month period off work with severe depression (having suffered, I realized in hindsight, with mild to moderate depression for the last 8 years). I knew mindfulness meditation would be my way out, but for a few months I didn't have the energy, motivation or concentration to do anything about it. Then I read The Mindful Way through Depression by Jon Kabat-Zinn et al which turned me around. I began a daily practice of 10 minutes of sitting meditation, as well as mindful moments through the day and I felt myself start to ease out of the valley very slowly.
Did you take a class? If so, what sort of class did you take?
I plan to start an 8-week mindfulness course in Edinburgh run by Be Mindful.
How has mindfulness made a difference in your life?
Completely revolutionized it. I feel like I am learning to live again... No—actually learning to live!! My wife and work colleagues have commented on the change in me. I am much calmer, deal with stress much better, and am seeing amazing changes in my closest relationships. I have lost a lot of weight as I practice mindful eating and no longer comfort eat. I feel like a completely different person—the man I have always wanted to be!
What do you do for your livelihood (ex: homemaker, teacher, firefighter) and does your practice of mindfulness affect that?
I am a high school teacher. I am seeing a greater ability to shrug off stress and a change in how I relate to the kids I teach. I am no longer happy to shout at them but am dealing with my anger and talking to kids in a more calm and rational way, honouring their personhood and seeing their issues etc, not just seeing a naughty kid!
Is there anything else you would want people to know about mindfulness and you?
It has saved my life, my mental health and my marriage. It is THE foundation of my life. And it is not just for depressives, stressed people, etc—it is for everyone!