Mindful Living with Helen Mead
We catch up with therapist and teacher Helen Mead on mindfulness, meditation and how holistic principles bring health and happiness.
You’ve studied quite a few therapeutic techniques, which one single one can you say has benefited you the most personally, and why?
Wow! What a big question… I’m not sure if there is a definitive answer but I’ll do my best!
Certainly the resolution of my own pre-cancerous condition from following the Macrobiotic diet set by Simon Brown led to my belief in healing the body through natural means. This provided the pivot on which my whole life changed and my health restored. Not just the pre-cancer but the IBS I’d had since childhood, and the Migraines which started at nine, I felt better than I had in years! My conviction in this way of life prompted me to change my career and retrain in natural medicine.
Once through the door, as it were, the answer to your question expands as my knowledge and experience increased. It was my interest in Nutrition specifically which made me enroll to study for my Professional Complementary Medicine Practitioner Diploma and it was here that I was introduced to the naturopathic point of view, the idea of vital force, regular therapy treatments and to meditation, they completely transformed my ideas on health, stress and disease. I had no idea how important and transformative all these influence would become in my life.
All the therapies I work with were introduced as part of a bigger holistic picture: Bigger than the sum of their parts, all informed by their different methods to work with the body’s vital force, or chi, ki or Prana. Bringing all this together as energetic bodywork freed up the way I work enormously and made every session more intuitive, bespoke and unique.
Recently the biggest shift I experienced was with Iridology – the study of the iris, allowing me to look at myself with different theories of constitution and diagnosis. These ‘fresh eyes’ led me to reconfigure my diet and lifestyle- with great results, improving weight, blood sugar balance and fitness.
Certainly my daily meditation practice brings everything together and affords me a level of buoyancy in my life that I never experienced before. I know and understand myself so much better; I am much more responsive rather than reactive. And find much more enjoyment in my life: “there is loveliness everywhere”.
Ultimately I can’t say that one therapy or practice has benefitted me more than another. They have all been markers, stages in a journey that has prepared me for the next. All deeply enriching my life and experience.
What tips can you give people who are new to meditation?
Firstly be kind to yourself!
Appreciate yourself for what you are doing.
Set an intention.
Don’t judge how you are doing: there is no right or wrong. Have patience with yourself: minds wander, observing that never stops!
Lastly and most importantly: just do it!
What can people expect when they come to your workshop?
Largely an opportunity to explore the practice! Mindfulness is an experiential practice so though we could talk about it at length it is only the doing or rather I should say the being that gets the results!
So we’ll have at least two practice sessions and also look at posture, being set up properly, is essential to successful practice. The first practice we’ll explore is Kayagatasati (mindfulness of body sensations) and the second is Anapanasati (mindfulness of the breath) – an intro class that can take you all the way to enlightenment! We’ll observe what happens when we practice and have plenty of time to ask questions. Leaving with an understanding of how a mindfulness practice translates to a better life off the cushion!
Do you think you can become mindful without a physical practice?
Another really interesting question! Certainly some people are more naturally mindful than others… However Mindfulness is an art and it takes practice.
It is often compared to the dedication taken to learn to play an instrument. Some may have more immediate talent or instinct than another- ultimately it is the practice that refines the art.
Why should people meditate?
Because it works! It provides a stable platform from which to make wise choices: Decisions, which enrich your life and those of others. I believe many people, like myself, come to meditation as they’ve heard it helps with a health issue. It could be stress, anxiety, pain, or addiction. Commonly now, it is depression, since MBCT(Mindfulness based cognitive therapy) became part of the NICE (The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence) guidelines. I think its great that it’s been introduced in schools – the amount of suffering that can be alleviated from having this skill early on is immeasurable. We all have suffering in our lives so to learn to not add to it makes life so much easier and more fulfilling!