Cathie Stanley teaches both the Breathworks Mindfulness courses and established Norwich Mindfulness in 2012
I started meditating in 2007 when I met a young Dutch woman who meditated every day. We were sharing a room on a farm in Spain where we were working and so I saw her sit down to meditate every evening as I went to sleep and every morning she was already meditating when I woke up. There was something about her that I really admired; it’s hard to pin it down but a sort of grounded stability despite having no permanent home and suffering from swollen and painful knees. After she moved on I started to meditate, doing what she said she did, just sitting and paying attention to my breath.
I started to notice quite a few changes. One of the main things was that I didn’t feel pushed for time any more. I felt like I had a lot more patience and I wasn’t always rushing. I could just be with whatever I was doing or whatever was happening. It felt as if I was more “in my life”. With this sense of more space I found the room for enjoying life which I had been missing since experiencing two major episodes of depression.
When I came back to the UK I continued meditating and it made such a big difference to my life I’ve just kept doing it. When I realised I wasn’t going to be able to continue working full-time as a gardener due to back pain I knew that the only other thing in my life that I enjoyed as much and would want to devote my time to was meditation and so I started looking for training in teaching it. I found Breathworks and when I took a local 8-week course I realised it put together many of the things I had found most useful. I knew that I could teach it to other people with confidence in its ideas and practices.
It is important to me that Mindfulness courses are grounded in evidence-based research but also that they can be taught outside of a clinical environment. Mindfulness is a basic life skill to me now and it’s important to me to be teaching it as such and not as just a remedy for when things have gone wrong. The fact that most Mindfulness practice is partially derived from meditation practices used for hundreds of years in various contemplative and religious traditions adds, for me, to its authenticity. I find it fascinating that many of the most recent discoveries in neuroscience (eg neuroplasticity and the impact of self-compassion on the brain) provide a science-based explanation for why so many of these traditional teachings have been valued and perpetuated over centuries of human existence.
However, it’s also important to me that the courses I teach are secular (non-religious) as although it is a skill to be used through all your life, people usually come to it in times of difficulty and this isn't always the best time to be presented with religious ideas, so I think there is huge value in offering it in a secular setting. It also fits very well with a wide range of religious/spiritual belief so offering it in a non-religious context makes it accessible to people who already have a particular beliefs.
Mindfulness allows you to do whatever you as an individual want do with your life. It doesn’t direct you in how you should live your life; it frees you to make your own choices, based on your own realistic and kindly understanding of your particular circumstances.
I was accredited to teach the Breathworks Mindfulness courses in August 2011.
In 2012 I ran three 8-week courses and attended a 6-day intensive meditation retreat led by Breathworks founders Vidyamala Burch and Sona Fricker. I also attended the Mindfulness at Work conference in Cambridge and have provided introductory courses for Norwich Mind.
In 2013 I ran five 8-week courses including one for Circle Housing and began training to be an Associate Trainer which included shadowing the teaching on two week-long residential training retreats.
In 2014 I ran four 8-week courses and began supervising trainees during their practice courses. I attended two two-day CPD events, one on supervision and one on the Enquiry Process in Mindfulness Teaching led by Eluned Gold the Head of Continuing Professional Development at the Centre for Mindfulness Research and Practice at Bangor University and a 7 day Mindfulness meditation retreat at Gaia House led by Ruth King and Catherine McGee.
In 2015 I was on maternity leave intensively using everything that I have learned from my years of Mindfulness practice. In particular I am grateful for the skills that my Mindfulness practice had taught me that played a large part in enabling me to give birth to my son without the need for pain relief and survive a year of not sleeping for more than two hours at a time!
In 2016 I ran a Mindfulness for Stress course and a Mindfulness for Health course and attended a two-day CPD event on Enquiry provided by Breathworks. I also continued to provide supervision for trainee teachers. I developed my personal practice with local teachers and retreats.
In 2017 I continued to provide local courses to the general public as well as supervision and mentoring for trainee teachers. I started providing ongoing supervision for accredited teachers this year in my role as a Breathworks trainer having completed a 3-day CPD training with Breathworks. I was accepted onto the UK Listing of Mindfulness Teachers on the UK Network's website*.
In 2018 I continued to provide both the Mindfulness for Stress and Mindfulness for Health courses for the general public. I continued work in my various roles as a trainer and supervisor working for Breathworks CIC and running an on-going programme of drop-in classes and retreat afternoons for those who have completed the courses over the last few years. My CPD has included attending a 2-day meeting for Breathworks Associates and various on-line training events provided by Breathworks CIC as well as continuing and deepening my personal Mindfulness and teaching practice through work with my own supervisor, my own daily practice and attending meditation retreats.
This year I am continuing to run local courses and retreat afternoons and work as a trainer and mindfulness supervisor. My CPD this year has included online training in trauma sensitive mindfulness and exploration of the Mindful Self-Compassion work of Kristin Neff and Chris Germer.
I am accredited by Breathworks CIC to teach both their mindfulness-based programmes. You can find my details as an accredited teacher and trainer on the Breathworks CIC website here.
*I comply with the Good Practice Guidelines for Teaching Mindfulness-Based Courses set out by the UK Network for Mindfulness-Based Teacher Training Organisations which includes fulfiling a requirement for regular supervision and I am listed on their website here.
I am insured with Holistic Insurance Services.
In my role as a Mindfulness Teacher and also in every part of my life I aspire to hold in my heart the practice of being receptive and accepting in my connections with myself and others and of responding from kindness to whatever flows in my awareness.