Susan Bolton BSc MSc Trainer:
‘Frazzled’ would have been a perfect description of my life when I first started to practise mindfulness over 20 years ago. Meditation gave me a calm place to go to and refresh each day. But it did not seem to impact much on my time at work, teaching….….and my poor husband!
Nevertheless I was delighted when my headteacher encouraged me to train to teach mindfulness to our pupils. I was concerned about their stress levels too. I had to take the adult Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) course before I could learn how to teach it to pupils.
I was surprised and delighted to learn practices that I could use myself at school and at home. They were so practical. I was calmer in the classroom, found myself working more efficiently and I had more energy. The pupils enjoyed the lessons more and their achievement went up. This MBSR course gave me just what I needed to make the most of my skills and enthusiasm.
Pupils learnt mindfulness too. (the ‘.b’ course put together by the Mindfulness In Schools Programme,) What did they experience? ‘Miss, I was nervous going into the exam, but I did the mindfulness practice you taught and I just calmed down’. or ‘Miss, I am sleeping better’ or ‘I fight less with my sister’. They enjoyed the mindfulness training and got a lot out of it. Staff were keen to learn mindfulness. ‘It’s like WD40’ one said, ‘When we practise mindfulness the lessons just go smoothly’.
Eventually, realising how much I believed that learning this skill is important and valuable, I left teaching in order to offer mindfulness training more widely.
The MBSR course is not just for teachers – it’s for everyone and anyone. Over the years I have watched hundreds of people, from all walks of life, discover what I discovered. I've worked in schools, GP practices, hospitals, libraries, charities, workplaces, on the radio and in the National Gallery.
You really can change your life. Now I use mindfulness every day to stress less and enjoy life more. As one full day follows another, I find it all too easy to get swept along by all the jobs that need to be done, putting myself under pressure in the process. Mindfulness enables me to take a mental step back, to see things in a broader perspective, to remember the things that really matter, the things that I think are important in life, and it supports me to create a life that is richer and more meaningful than it would otherwise be.
'You truly listen, Sue. You don't pretend to, you do.'