I grew up in rural Suffolk, with both sides of my extended family all living within a few miles of each other. Looking back, I now see that I was very fortunate in having such close connections with my Grandparents, Uncles, Aunts and Cousins.
After leaving school I worked as a landscape gardener in Suffolk for a few years. I really enjoyed being outside in the elements with plants and soil. Whilst still in Suffolk, in my late teens, I became interested in meditation and started practicing Transcendental Meditation.
In my early twenties I left Suffolk to go and study at the University of Aberdeen, where I explored meditation further by joining the Buddhist Society. It is here that I encountered mindfulness practices for the first time and also went on many Buddhist retreats, courses and workshops. Following graduation, I travelled to New Zealand where I completed a Goenka 10-day silent retreat and then took Refuge at Karma Choeling Buddhist Monastery.
I met my wife on a retreat at Dhanakosa, our daughter was born a few years later in 1999 whilst living in Edinburgh. We then relocated to West Sussex where I completed a PhD in Environment Science. After our son was born in 2004, we moved to Devon so that I could begin working at Brixham Environmental Laboratory. It was during this period that I first came across Mindfulness-based cognitive therapy (MBCT) via the book ‘Finding Peace in a Frantic World’.
Sadly, the Laboratory closed in 2014, and for some years I continued working away from home. During this time, I became clinically depressed. To help me through this period I was fortunate in having good support from my GP and a CBT Psychotherapist. Unfortunately, also during this period a stone formed in my kidney. I had multiple operations to break it up, which were eventually successful.
I now know that I have suffered from depression since my early teens and depression is something I will continue to live with going forward. I found MBCT so helpful in changing my relationship to intense thoughts, thinking patterns, unpleasant feelings and pains in the body that I decided to train as a MBCT teacher. In the village where I currently live, I now teach MBCT courses to the general public.
In addition to teaching the eight-week mindfulness course, I run monthly mindfulness for graduates of my eight-week courses, as well as offering mindfulness in my workplace at Battelle which has given me the opportunity be a Mental Health First Aider (MHFA). I am also a SiTT (Support for Integrity in Teaching and Training) Group Coordinator where I facilitate monthly meetings with other mindfulness trainees and teachers and I am a registered mindfulness teacher with BAMBA (British Association of Mindfulness-based Approaches). This requires me to be regularly supervised by a Supervisor from the Mindfulness Network and adhere to the BAMBA Good Practice Guidelines.
To keep up to date with the field of mindfulness, I regularly watch videos from past conferences e.g., Bangor CMRP conferences, listen to podcasts e.g., from the Oxford Mindfulness Centre (OMC) and attend CPD workshops, retreats and courses (e.g., The OMC 'Taking it Further' course) to continue the deepening of my own personal and teaching practice.