I grew up in a somewhat unconventional home. My parents - a lapsed Catholic and a non-practicing Jew - owned a spiritual bookshop selling incense, crystals and psychic readings. As a teenager, I wasn’t too interested in any of this and in fact found it all quite embarrassing. The one area that did spark my curiosity were the books on Eastern philosophy, and I was sometimes drawn to these shelves when no-one was looking.
In my mid-twenties, suffering from anxiety and depression, I found mindfulness - this time on the shelves of the local Waterstones. A book by a Vietnamese monk* started me off with some simple mindfulness-of-breathing exercises. I noticed an immediate change. Finally, it felt like, I was giving myself the time of day, I was being present with myself. As I continued to practice, my anxiety eased and I began to feel more positive. I went on to attend meditation retreats and a Buddhist study group, and mindfulness became an integral part of my life.
Here’s how mindfulness connects to some of my key values:
Creativity - encouraging a lucid mind and clear expression
Community - a basis for authentic communication and awareness of others
Transcendence - connecting to something beyond everyday worries
Health - structure, balance and wellbeing
Service - as a teacher, passing on a valuable tool to others
Growth - for myself and inspiring change in others
*The book was Peace Is Every Step by Thich Nhat Hanh