My Journey to Kindfulness
In 2007 I was assaulted. I suffered physical injuries, which took the best part of a year to recover from, but the psychological effects from the trauma shook me to my core and unbeknown to me at the time, they would be the gateway to starting a new path in my life. With hindsight, I believe in many ways, it was the best thing that ever happened to me. (It still feels bizarre to say that out loud!)
I was diagnosed with post traumatic stress disorder. My confidence vanished, I no longer wanted to socialise and I clung to the closest people around me with smothering desperation. With the help and unrelenting patience of a few of my beloved nearest and dearest, understanding and supportive work colleagues and an amazing therapist, I started to recover myself and my new journey began....
I always remember the first conversation with my therapist, he asked me, “So what do you want to get out of these sessions?” I replied, “I just want to get back to how I was before” to which he responded, “well I don’t think I can help you. I specialise in evolution and growth.” You can understand why we are still friends!
Prior to this I'd never really heard of mindfulness, never meditated and although I thought I had been happy, I realise now that my life had been based on reacting to what life gave me, rather than being proactive and seeking out what I wanted. I wasn't living a particularly conscious life.
Having experienced the transformative effects of mindfulness in my recovery, I developed a passion for wellbeing with mindfulness at the core.
From Post Traumatic Stress to Post Traumatic Growth
2007-2008 was a tough year, both personally and professionally. At the time I was in a high pressured sales management role and a lot of things were changing in my personal life too. My best friend/soul mate started dating her now husband, my beloved dog died and my confidence in my physical and psychological self was incredibly shaky. I was a difficult person to deal with on all levels, but thankfully no one gave up on me. However, it wasn’t all bad. I still managed to laugh every time my bestie and me woke up in a morning after a few drinks wondering where I’d put my temporary teeth! And they were a great way to ward off unwanted advances!
By March 2008 I started to see a few chinks of light shining through. To celebrate the end of my physical recovery (and a permanent set of teeth!), my best friend and I went off to Canada (to visit my mum and have a snowy adventure) and then on to New York for sunshine and fun. It was very cathartic and gave me a taste for adventure.
This process of recovery and the work with my therapist led me to start questioning the direction of my life. I felt I needed a break from the rat race, some timeout to discover myself and the world, so I took a 5 month sabbatical and set off on a 5 month solo trip. At the beginning of 2009 I asked for a 5 month sabbatical from work. I decided I wanted to travel, but not before I got my black belt in kick boxing! Something I’d been working towards before the assault and was now determined to see through. In June 2009 I set off on a 5 month solo trip to Asia, Australia, New Zealand, Fiji and South America. I’d never travelled alone before and I threw myself right in at the deep end! It was an enlightening experience and another experience which has helped shape the person I am today.
Following my return my life has been one of constant change. I moved to London, I studied and completed a degree in Psychology and Philosophy while working, I left my corporate career of 15 years and re-trained to be an English teacher. ...and I’ve travelled.....A LOT! It was during my time as an English teacher that I started teaching meditation classes - I subsequently completed my Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction teacher training and qualified as a yoga teacher. I don’t think I would ever have been courageous enough to make these changes had I not been introduced to mindfulness and positive psychology.
Yes, I still have my dark days and I still suffer from ongoing anxiety, overwhelm and perfectionism from time to time, but thanks to all the defining moments that have gone before and the techniques I’ve learned along the way, I feel better able to deal with what life throws at me. Life is good! I’m blessed with the wonderful friends and family who’ve been there for me throughout my journey. I love my job and I’m constantly learning and growing. I’ve always been inquisitive by nature, but it was this recovery and self-discovery process that ignited my passion and interest in the power of our minds; psychology, mindfulness, gratitude, compassion and self-care.
I’m a straight talking, no-nonsense Northern girl, so naturally I was sceptical about some of the mindfulness, meditation and positivity practices I’ve tried and read about, but I’ve found a way to make these practices work for me. That’s why I’ve called my business The Kindfulness Effect; because Mindfulness isn’t a one-size fits all solution. I believe the combination of mindful practice, conscious kindness and gratitude and training your mind as well as your body, can lead to a happier, healthier and more conscious and fulfilling life.
As my former therapist and now friend said to me recently, I’ve gone from post traumatic stress to post traumatic growth! Mindfulness has helped me live a more conscious, happy and fulfilled life and enabled me to deal much more effectively with the challenges that life throws at us. My mission is to inspire, inform and educate, by creating a ripple effect of Kindfulness - starting with you!