This is a brief account of my background in the area of education and holistic approaches. I started the Holistic Education approach in 1999 and from 2014-2017, ran a Community Interest Company in this field. Since 2015, I have worked as a Senior Educational Psychologist in an Inner London Borough – and I continue to teach yoga and mindfulness. Overall, I use my skills in meditation, mindfulness, yoga, teacher training and educational psychology to inform school-based interventions for children and young people. My specialist area is in social, emotional and mental wellbeing.
My first introduction to spirituality was in 1981, when I started practicing meditation at age 11, using information that I read about in a children’s story book: The Wonderful Story of Henry Sugar by Roald Dahl.
Four years later, in 1984, aged 14, I found another Richard Hittleman’s 28-day Yoga Plan and during the Easter holidays, used this book to developed and embed my practice. It was a deeply transformative and integrative process for me as a teenager and supported me in preparing for my Ordinary Level exams (now called GSCEs) at Vainona High School, in Harare, Zimbabwe. From her I completed my A-Levels in Physics, Chemistry and Maths. From 1987 to 1989 I completed a BSc in Physics and Computer Science at the University of Zimbabwe.
In January 1990, at aged 20, I started working at International Computers Limited (ICL) in Harare. By December 1990, I realised that I wanted a change of career and moved to South Africa for a few months.
In 1991, at 21 years old and now married, I moved to the UK. We initially lived in Manchester. The following year, during 1992, I gave birth to my daughter and moved to London as a lone parent. I am currently writing memoirs on this period of my life because it was a deeply transformative time that culminated in spiritual awakening.
In December 1992, on a I met Ten Carr, who lived in Harare, Zimbabwe. He became my main spiritual teacher for the next 12 years, until he died in tragic circumstances in 2005. I followed the inspiration that I gained from his teachings in Tai Chi/Chi Kung.
When I returned to London, in February 1993, I began a BA in Psychology through the Open University. By the time I completed this in 1997, my daughter was at primary school and I had started training in a range of holistic therapies to develop my understanding of and skills in using Chi/Ki/Prana – all of which had emerged from the training with Ten Carr.
From September 1996 to November 1998, I trained and qualified as a Shiatsu Practitioner with the Zen School of Shiatsu. I also trained in Holistic Massage (1996-1997), Aromatherapy (2001), Chi Nei Tsang and Reflexology (2000). I worked in a range of settings, including charities and private practices and with people with different concerns, including mental health, Hiv/AIDS and those with significant physical and learning difficulties, including autism, cerebral palsy and downs syndrome.
During this time, in 1997, I came across the London Buddhist Centre and learnt about Buddhism and some meditation practices in this context.
Between 1997 to 2007, I journeyed into Esoteric Taoist Yoga and Meditation practices under the guidance of Kris Deva North, at the London Healing Tao Centre, and Taoist Master Mantak Chia, during his visits to the UK.
In 1999, I joined the Zen School of Shiatsu teacher team, and taught Shiatsu for beginners, intermediate and at advanced level. This continued until 2014 when the shiatsu school closed – giving me the experience of 15 years as a Shiatsu Teacher.
Also in parallel with this, from 1998 to 2001 I completed my training as a yoga teacher with the British Wheel of Yoga. This enabled me to teach inclusively to accommodate a wide range of ages and abilities, from beginner to advanced and adapt the teaching of yoga postures, breathing practices and meditation. This was to be a core foundation for my confidence in teaching mindfulness.
From here, I decided to move into mainstream education and in 2002, I gained Qualified Teacher Status (QTS) and started working as a secondary school science (Physics) teacher, in London. This was a catalyst to developing my interest in the education and overall development of children and young people with Special Educational Needs and Disability (SEND).
Over 2005/2006, I trained as an Educational (and Child) Psychologist (EP) with the University of East London (UEL). This was the last of the one year Masters Training Courses for the training of EPs and following this came a three year doctoral training course.
Then, after 2 years working as a qualified EP, in 2008, I began a Doctorate in Educational and Child Psychology at UEL. I completed this in December 2012 with a research project on Children’s Experiences of Learning Mindfulness. At the time this was an area in which research was emerging and there was evidence of its effectiveness in enhancing cognitive skills, including attention, mental health and well-being. In February 2013, I received the letter of award.
I also used my experience in teaching, meditation, yoga and educational psychology to develop and implement the Mindfulness-Based Attention Training (MBAT) intervention for pupils with SEN and researched children’s experiences of learning mindfulness to develop their attention.
During the doctoral training, I shifted my meditation practices to explore the emerging field of mindfulness. In 2009, I attended my first Mindfulness-based Stress Reduction (MBSR) course and I also trained with Jo Manuel at the Special Yoga Centre, London, to teach yoga and mindfulness meditation to children and young people with developmental difficulties.
During 2011, I trained to deliver the “.b” programme for secondary school pupils, a course by the Mindfulness in Schools Project (MiSP). I presented my research at the Centre for Mindfulness Research and Practice (CMRP) “Mindfulness Now” Conference.
During 2012, as I completed the doctorate, I began running more workshops, including an “Introduction to mindfulness” workshop for specialist teachers and two workshops on “Mindfulness for parents” at Parent Partnership Conference.
In 2013, I completed the Mindfulness Teacher Training Level 1 Training Course, with Cindy Cooper (Centre of Mindfulness Research and Practice, Bangor), enabling me to teach the standardised MBSR course. That year, I gave my another conference presentation. It was on using children’s drawings at “Engaging with Methodology” Conference, University of Sussex, Brighton. I did a poster presentation at the Mindfulness in Society Conference, Chester.
I ran my first workshop for educational psychologists and professionals working in schools in Herefordshire – since then I have run others for Hackney, Lewisham, Southwark and Kent.
During 2014, I trained to run Peace in a Frantic World for workplaces. Also trained in the “Paws .b” course for primary pupils and the “.b Foundations” for school staff (both developed by the MiSP). I ran this program in my workplace for staff. I gave a presentation at the “Implementation Science” conference, Cambridge on the MBAT intervention and another on the findings of the research at the “Mindfulness, Education and Transformation” conference in Australia.
During 2015, I specialised in teaching Mindfulness-based Cognitive Therapy and completed Teacher Training Level 2, with CMRP. I also completed advanced teacher training specialising in teaching mindfulness to children and young people with ADHD and/or Autism – through delivering the MyMind programme developed by Susan Bogels (at University of Amsterdam (UVA) minds You research centre).
Later that year, I ran workshops on using mindfulness for pupils with special educational needs at the “No Need to Exclude” SENCO Conference. I also published a children’s book on using mindfulness to help with sleep.
In 2016, I gave a poster presentation on my doctoral research at the Mindfulness in Schools Conference (MiSP). It was held on 22 January 2016 and key note speakers included Professors Mark Williams and Katherine Weare.
In 2017, I had a significant bereavement and this paused the teaching of mindfulness and I shifted my focus to working in Buddhist Centres – the London Buddhist Centre and the North London Buddhist Centre. I began teaching yoga at these centres and focused on developing mindfulness in schools in my work as an educational psychologist.
From 2018, as awareness of mindfulness has developed and grown, I have been teaching mindfulness to school staff more frequently, including at workshops and a conferences specifically for schools and in my work with children with special educational needs. I trained in Trauma-sensitive Yoga and started using this approach in my work with a profound effect on the children that I was working with.
In 2019, there was a conference on using trauma informed/ aware approaches in schools and started researching how mindfulness, trauma and emotional-regulation can be used to support each other.
In 2020 I gave a presentation on this to the EP Team and developed ways to implement more trauma informed approaches in schools in response to children and young people who have experienced adverse childhood experiences.
Now in 2021, a year or more into the COVID pandemic and the restrictions, I have been running mindfulness courses and workshops online to support staff wellbeing.
For more information, email Holistic Education.