Reflections on my first year as a mindfulness teacher

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The anniversary of my becoming a fully accredited mindfulness teacher handily falls at the end of the calendar year, so what better time to reflect on the ups and downs of 2018?

Achievements and highlights

  • I have taught approximately 92 people in and around Oxford this year, through taster sessions, weekly practice groups and 8-week courses. I feel so happy to have potentially planted a little seed of mindfulness into so many people’s lives.
  • Giving back to my local community has always been important to me, so I was really pleased to offer six free Mindfulness taster sessions this year, including at Elder Stubbs Festival (fundraising for Restore), the Bodleian library (fundraising for Oxfordshire Mind), Abingdon and Witney College and Oxford International Womens’ Festival.
  • Hosting a Mindfulness for Stress 8-week course in my newly renovated meditation room at home in East Oxford was such a delight. I was so pleased that course participants commented on how comfortable, warm and welcoming the space felt. I’m really looking forward to hosting most courses here next year.
  • A week’s silent retreat at Vajrasana in Suffolk in December was a lovely way to end the year and gave me much-needed space to rest and recalibrate. It was hugely inspiring to spend time with Breathworks founders Vidyamala Burch and Sona Fricker, along with senior teachers MJ and Andrea and fellow teachers from across the UK.

Challenges

  • Balance has been a big theme for me this year. As well as starting out as a mindfulness teacher, I also took on a part-time position in a local charity and found myself caring for a loved one through a mental health crisis in the latter part of the year. There have been moments when I haven’t had as much time or energy as I would have liked to devote to growing my mindfulness teaching practice.
  • Having to wear a ‘business hat’ for the first time in my life has been a huge learning curve and one that has not always sat comfortably with me. Charging people (or not) for my services has brought up a lot of mixed emotions which I’ll continue to explore in the coming year.
  • I had also totally underestimated how much administrative work goes in behind the scenes in setting up a teaching practice. It has sometimes been frustrating spending so much time on admin and marketing, rather than the actual teaching which I love so much. My hope is that as I get more established the admin side of things becomes less time consuming.

The constant throughout the highs and lows of the year has been my personal daily mindfulness practice. It has given me solace in difficult moments, brought delight, curiosity, softness, perspective and connection. There have also been times when it has just felt mundane, even boring. I still aim to sit for a formal meditation at least once a day, but I also find myself incorporating shorter and less formal practices into my daily life, whilst drinking tea, walking, cycling, doing the washing up etc. One thing’s for sure, mindfulness continues to nourish and sustain me (I only have to skip a day or two of practice to be rudely reminded of why I need it so much!)

If you’re one of the 92 people I worked with this year, thank you for being part of my journey. I look forward to seeing you again in 2019 and wish you all a Happy New Year!

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