For as long as I can remember I have been a seeker. As a young child I sought a sense of Mystery and the sacred through being out in nature, through Christianity, through dance and other creative pursuits. And perhaps as a way of making sense of my childhood experiences I also went on to develop a passion for psychology and understanding the human mind. This led me to work in psychiatric hospitals, complete a degree in Psychology, and later, train as an Occupational Therapist and work in the field of mental health.
It was in my early twenties that I discovered the practice of meditation. I have very fond memories of excitedly riding my bike into the Brighton Lanes, to attend the weekly meditation class at the Buddhist Centre. These were very exciting times for me. Not only was I enjoying an unfamiliar and deep sense of belonging but I was learning practices and potential ways of living that spoke to me of freedom, kindness and truth.
During the years that followed I began teaching yoga, and alongside this, mindfulness. In 2009 I started working at Exeter University teaching mindfulness-based groups to people with a history of depression and anxiety. There I also supervised students and was a therapist in a large innovative research study, comparing the effectiveness of Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy with anti-depressant medication.
It was in my first years of teaching yoga that I discovered the pioneering work of the late Vanda Scaravelli. I felt incredibly challenged by this unique approach, as it required me to let go of everything I thought I knew about yoga, be completely present, as a total beginner. But with the guidance of some amazing teachers, I felt my body begin to open and move in ways that seemed miraculous to me. As I pushed less and relaxed more, I felt a deeper intelligence coming alive. So despite the challenge of this radical way of approaching asanas, there really was no turning back! Since then I have been fortunate enough to work with many wonderful teachers including Diane Long, Sandra Sabatini, both of whom worked with Vanda for many years.
Yet perhaps the steepest and richest learning for me has been becoming a mother. It was both exhilarating and humbling to witness so many ideas and ideals that I had been holding onto crumbling down around me as I fumbled my way through those early months with a new born. Over the past seven years my heart has been stretched open in ways that I never imagined, my humanness in all it’s many colours exposed. Perhaps when I became a mother was actually when my true spiritual practice really began!
Since then my practice has been about learning to come into relationship with myself with honesty, love, and immense gentleness. What interests me now isn’t becoming a‘peaceful person’but much more how I can relax into the fullness of who I actually am, moment by moment.
The lines from Mary Oliver, “Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life…?” stared back at me from my meditation shrine for many years. These words reflect a deep inner yearning within me to appreciate Life, however hard that is at times, in all it’s beauty and all it’s messiness, in all it’s joys and sorrows - and to discover the magic is in the mess. To pause frequently, and breathe for long enough, to discover the sacred within the ordinary, and to continue to grow my capacity to love it all.