My personal mindfulness teacher training journey and becoming a mindfulness teacher.
Kirsty shares her own personal journey into holistic healing
“It took time for me to come to terms with my need to leave the NHS, but once the decision was made, I knew the shackles were off in terms of limiting my scope to only cover nourishment of the body. I could learn to teach others how to also nourish their minds.”
By – Kirsty Dobson
As a dietitian for 23 years, I was NHS ward-trained in the traditional hierarchical medical model of managing ill health. I’ve helped people with a myriad of health challenges, teaching them to self-manage their chronic illnesses, through a range of evidence-based dietary and lifestyle approaches. I enjoy supporting patients with complex digestive complaints so the irrefutable link between brain and gut meant that I fought for longer duration appointments to gain the full picture of overall health and wellbeing, previous medical or drug history, their work and family life, and degree of social support. The stark revelation that so many sufferers of Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) also had diagnoses of Anxiety or Depression and were frequently on anti-depressants, and yet were often still symptomatic, led me to research evidence of alternative ways to support wellbeing. On hearing that mindfulness could be valuable in IBS, I experimented myself by using Headspace and discovered after just 2-3 weeks of ten minutes daily my sleep quality improved, I felt more in control at work with greater clarity of thought and in spoken word. Likewise, my clients who embraced mindfulness achieved greater gut symptom control and weathered the storm of life without triggering relapse. Mindfulness improved confidence in managing their own chronic condition. The diagnosis was no longer impacting their quality of life.
Then covid hit. The demands placed upon me in my role leading an acute team of, frankly terrified, acute dietitians through a pandemic when the explosion in intensive care bed numbers required me to return to a frontline clinical role alongside leadership responsibilities, meant I totally abandoned self-care practices and just got on with the job at hand. Unsurprisingly 18 months in I had my own mental health breakdown. I had a period of sick leave and a 6-month spell on anti-depressants during which time I re-discovered the healing power of mindfulness. Daily meditation, positive intelligence practices and cultivating compassion enabled me to properly challenge self-harming automatic thoughts and negative behaviours. It has led to a deep emotional healing, somewhat akin to a ‘spring clean’ of the considerable detritus which had accumulated during the first four decades of my life.
It took time for me to come to terms with my need to leave the NHS, but once the decision was made, I knew the shackles were off in terms of limiting my scope to only cover nourishment of the body. I could learn to teach others how to also nourish their minds. The therapy-based, secular nature of the Mindfulness Now course and the thought of a week immersed mindfully in beautiful Devon without the role of boss, wife or mother was decision made. I felt so grateful to experience the magic of Tawstock Court as the summer turned into autumn this year with Nick and Maddy expertly guiding us through the program. Through daily practices we grew and bonded together in our teaching cohort. Integrating mindfulness as a tool alongside dietary / lifestyle measures and targeted supplementation seems to me to be a much more powerful and holistic approach to long-lasting healing than I was able to previously offer patients in my old role so I cannot wait to share it with the world!
About the author –
Article written for The Breathing Space Journal Winter 2024