My interest in Buddhism and mindfulness started around 5 years ago which led me to attending a 10-day Vipassana meditation course in Hereford, England. At the time I didn’t know much about meditation and I had no idea what I was getting myself into. For 10 days we practiced ‘Noble Silence’ and followed a very strict timetable. Put mildly, I was an uninhibited teenager at this time and it was very difficult for me to sit still and be alone with my thoughts. We were not supposed to speak, read, write or do any physical exercise, which meant there was no ‘escape’ from my mind. This experience quite literally changed my life. Ever since I have practiced meditation and mindfulness regularly and it has helped me through some difficult times. The most important message I took home from the course was ‘this will also change’. Its true meaning can only be learned through regular meditation as it teaches us how everything arises and fades. It reminds me that sorrow and anger will not remain forever and to appreciate the good times, as they will not last either.
While I was studying for a BSc in Psychology, my personal interest led me to research mindfulness at a cognitive level and I wrote my thesis on ‘The effects of motivation and mindfulness on sustained and selective attention’. I firmly believe that if mindfulness was introduced into schools, workplaces, health care and other public services, the world would become a much more loving and peaceful place. My beliefs were confirmed when I stumbled across the Mindfulness Foundation a few months ago. I was excited to discover that the movement to bring mindfulness into schools is already well on its way! I was very keen to be part of this campaign and wrote to Yoga (the CEO) immediately.
From my own experience and from the knowledge I have gained over the past few years, I know that children would benefit from practising mindfulness and meditation. Since I started volunteering, I have learnt so much more about mindfulness, mental health and its place in education as well as politics and economics. I have written an article about a meeting I attended at the House of Commons on ‘Gross National Happiness in Practice’. Not in my wildest dreams would I have pictured myself meditating alongside Lords and MPs at Parliament. It was a great experience (to read the full article follow this link) and I hope there will be more such opportunities in the future.