The first question I asked my journal – about 20 odd years ago – was a big one…
How can I stop feeling like [email protected] all the time?
It was a big moment for me; I realised that I wasn’t OK, I wasn’t happy and that my life was not hunky dory.
- I was tired of feeling tired all the time.
- Fed up with all but constant aches and pains.
- Alarmed by my lack of connection to my work, my husband and to my parents.
Have you ever felt the same way?
How Yoga can change your perspective
I credit Yoga for bringing all of the above to light. I had trained to be a Yoga teacher because I thought that the deep stretching movements and the philosophy of living a truthful life would help me be more comfortable with myself. Instead, it woke me up to the realisation that I wasn’t living the life I aspired to. One full of light and love.
Have you ever changed direction in your career? I did! I took the big decision, left my well-paid job and trained to be an acupuncturist. It was during these studies that I came to truly understand how our mind & body are an integrated whole. Mind & body influence each other. One of my lightbulb moments was ‘getting’ how emotions can be the cause of aches and pains. For example, worry or anger can show up as IBS or a migraine, as back pain or itchy skin. But if you can ‘calm your mind‘ you can calm your body too. This was one of my early hints that meditation might be a good idea!
After starting up my clinic I came to understand that to do my best healing work for my patients, I had to do some healing work on myself. Have you ever thought this, that you wanted to change something about yourself?
I found I couldn’t clearly see how to help my patients when my mind was full of my own anxieties.
- I needed to have clearer vision.
- To understand what was ‘behind’ the current aches and pains my patient was presenting with. To ‘see’ the causes and conditions that were the starting points for their problem.
- To develop and trust my intuition.
Developing clearer vision & mental flexibility
I started training in meditation with an extremely pragmatic Buddhist teacher. What I loved about the approach he taught was that you were advised to take none of the teachings at face value. You have to examine the teachings in the light of your own experience. If the teaching stacked up with your own practical knowledge of yourself, your family and friends, then it could be trusted and integrated into how you thought and acted.
Turn around by 180 degrees
Can you turn yourself around?
Can you change how you think and act?
I used the meditation process to turn myself around by 180 degrees.
- I moved away from living in a way that made me unhappy. One where I was selfishly-driven, self-interested and always ‘balls out’ (as my husband put it) to one where I was kinder and more compassionate to myself and as a result, to everyone else. It worked and is still working (thank goodness)!
I now enjoy my work, and my marriage is full of love (and in fact always had been though only now do I see it).
- I made better connections with my dad before he died, and
- It has given me more capacity to support mum through some difficult times.
Acupuncture, meditation and yoga have taught me loads of cool and useful stuff and I hope it can do the same for you. I am integrating all I have learnt into a ‘meditation skills’ series. You can take your first step in making use of that knowledge for yourself here.
Mindfulness through meditation, in particular, has helped me so much. It would be brilliant if everyone else in the world could get the same benefits!
Have you had many changes in career direction?
As a teenager, I wanted to be a vet like James Herriot (I loved the idea of driving around the countryside with lots of dogs hanging out the window). The only problem with this aspiration was that I needed to get grade ‘A’s in my Chemistry and Physics ‘A’ level. But since I was pretty average at the maths involved, I failed. My Plan B was to study Agriculture, which in my case included hand milking dairy sheep and processing their milk into cheese and yoghurt.
By the end of my Agriculture course, I realised that to ‘get on’ in the agriculture ‘field’ I needed to either marry a farmer or inherit a farm. Neither of these was going to happen, so I changed direction to work in the leisure industry. This included several years at Center Parcs and, at the same time, working as a self-employed Fitness Instructor teaching aerobics, step classes and gym classes. When I realised that teaching the high impact, energy draining stuff was no longer a pleasure, I taught Yoga instead.
One of the things I enjoyed when I was at Center Parcs was training my staff. When it became clear that to progress my career I would have to move to another part of the country I changed direction again. This time I followed my interests into education (the post-16 sector) teaching a range of different subjects and managing apprenticeship programmes.
Eleven years later and I was ready for a change. I continued working part-time whilst I worked for my degree in acupuncture. It was four years of hard work, but when I graduated, I set up my own clinic specialising in pain relief.
Parallel with starting my clinic I ran the British Wheel of Yoga in Suffolk for 3 years. One of the reasons I did this was that I wanted to run various training courses locally and this enabled me to do it. Not surprisingly, one of these courses was meditation!
In 2016 I started a second business, Wisdom Mind. I don’t know about you, but I am the sort of person who likes to know how to look after myself. This is the ethos with which I treat my acupuncture patients, teaching them exercises, healthy eating habits and calming practices so they can speed up their healing and hopefully prevent further problems. Teaching mindfulness through meditation was just the next logical step on the road. Oh and then I won Theo Paphitis Small Business Sunday Award for my efforts!
If you are looking for your Wisdom Mind, your ‘inner compass’ there is no better place to start than with this meditation.
As the Buddha said when asked “What have you gained from meditation?”,
“Nothing, but let me tell you what I have lost. Anger, anxiety, depression, insecurity, fear of old age and death.”
I couldn’t have put it better myself.