My introduction to mindfulness came about in late 2000. As a 47 year-old woman starting a new job in a new city with my family in tow, life had suddenly become very stressful and the coping mechanisms that had worked in the past were simply not working anymore. As the anxiety and its faithful companions, including middle of the night and early morning awakenings accompanied by the sweats and fear of the future increased, I knew that I needed help. I found hope in Jon Kabat-Zinn’s book Wherever You Go There You Are. It was a start but it was not enough so I did a self-directed 8-week Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) program using Kabat-Zinn’s book Full Catastrophe Living with his meditation recordings. And although I found significant relief, I wasn’t able to sustain my mindfulness practice.
Two subsequent events led to my renewed commitment to practicing mindfulness. After the death of my mother in 2009, I began meditating again. But it wasn’t until 2010 when I had a bicycle accident that I intensified my mindfulness practice using with both mindful yoga and guided sitting meditation. The accident resulted in a mild traumatic brain injury with substantial memory problems and other cognitive difficulties. My memory deficits resulted in a medical leave from work and from previous experience I knew that mindfulness practices improve attention, which is critical for memory.
Following my recovery, I thought about how much MBSR was benefitting me in times of great stress as well as in times of ease and how wonderful it would be to offer MBSR to my community. So in 2012, I began the formal training process with the Center for Mindfulness at the University of Massachusetts’s Medical School. It was during this training that I became aware how important the teacher-led group process is in MBSR. I know that for me it was critical for laying down a more solid foundation, which in turn increased my likelihood of sustaining and growing my mindfulness practice.
I have been facilitating MBSR courses since August 2013 and received certification as an MBSR teacher from the University of Massachusetts Medical School’s Center for Mindfulness in October 2016. Seeing people work through whatever difficulties life has presented by developing their own inner resources is one of the greatest joys in my life.
In October 2017, I began my training as a facilitator for the Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) for Depression and Anxiety with The Centre for Mindfulness Studies in Toronto. At that time, I was approved to facilitate the program and facilitated the first 8-week MBCT program in Kelowna in October 2018!