When did you first start practicing mindfulness and why were you motivated to do so?
I started practicing several years ago after attending a workshop on social intelligence. The research presented on the effectiveness of mindfulness as a tool for well-being was so staggering that I felt like it just wasn’t an option not to take this on.
Did you take a class? If so, what sort of a class did you take?
I went to a retreat offered by Steve Flowers and Bob Stahl—Mindfulness for Health Professionals. It was life changing. I loved the retreat so much that I promised myself I would go back once a year. It’s ended up being 2-3 times a year ever since.
How has mindfulness made a difference in your life?
Mindfulness has made a more profound difference in my life than any other thing I’ve ever learned, practiced, etc. First, it helped me to just feel more of a sense of calm – not all the time, of course, but just to start understanding that I have that within me just by being present. Over time, it has allowed me to cultivate a sense of forgiveness, patience, and kindness with myself and with others. There’s no way to describe the impact that has had on how I relate in the world – it feels like it has changed everything for the better. I now understand that nothing really needs to change within me – we have everything we already need. More recently, I have been learning about the depth and space available with love. I am beginning to sense that mindfulness will be at the heart of so many amazing discoveries throughout the rest of my life. It’s led me to find a sense of joy that I didn’t think was possible.
What do you do for your livelihood (e.g., homemaker, teacher, firefighter) and does your practice of mindfulness affect that?
I’m a wife, mother, and a therapist. In all these roles, mindfulness helps me to be more focused on serving the needs of others instead of my habitual worrying about myself. I volunteered in my daughter’s kindergarten class this year and taught mindfulness skills to all the kids. In my work as a therapist, mindfulness allows me to stay with people in their pain at depths that I just wasn’t capable of before. I remember hearing that true compassion is being able to listen without trying to fix the problem – that has redefined how I work and how I feel when I work. I feel like it’s so much easier for me to connect with people in their pain, and that is what is so often needed.
Is there anything else you would want people to know about mindfulness and you?
I am starting to feel that my life’s work will involve passing on the benefits of mindfulness – not in any didactic way, per se, but more through sending lovingkindness while walking down the street, or sharing a mindful moment with people wherever or whenever I can. It’s like discovering a very deep well after being overwhelmed by thirst.