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an interview with carole (Director and Operational Manager of mss)

How did you become interested in mindfulness?

It started when I realised that there was not enough emphasis in my life on really living in the moment. I was always “on the go”. So I started reading around and researching Buddhism and the simplicity and tolerance of this discipline really resonated with me.

When running a clinic in the NHS one particular patient struck me as being so at peace with himself and in harmony with the world around him. You could feel it the moment he walked into the room. I later found out that he had lived for a time as a Buddhist Monk. This one interaction inspired me to seek ways of achieving a greater sense of equanimity in my own life.

You have worked in the NHS and with survivors of Domestic Abuse. What mindfulness techniques have you found particularly useful in dealing with stressful situations in the workplace?

In demanding roles it is very easy to get caught up in the lives of those we are supporting and the constant demands of the job. But a person who is burnt out is no use to anyone. You can’t pour from an empty jug.

I have found that it can really help to take time out during the working day; focusing on what I can achieve in the present moment and taking brief moments to meditate.

Coffee or green tea?

I love green tea and enjoy fennel and nettle tea too. But recently, I’ve found myself increasingly turning to coffee. I’m not sure why. Maybe it’s something to do with working at home during lockdown.

What is your greatest challenge/do you miss most during lockdown?

I really miss the freedom of movement. After having spent so many years immersed in a demanding career I had promised myself that 2020 would be a year in which I travelled more. I am really looking forward to taking a road trip to the far north of Scotland once this becomes possible. I also miss seeing more of my family.

What was the last thing that made you angry? How did you react?

I don’t really get angry although I’ve always been quite opinionated. I find it helps to talk things out so as not to get to the point where anger becomes an issue. Over the years I have without doubt become more tolerant.

Leisurely afternoon reading or long walk in the countryside?

During lockdown walks have been a wonderful way of interacting with others and with nature. But reading probably wins for me. I love the magic of absorbing myself in a book.

Do you meditate regularly?

Yes, I try to meditate daily. There are times when I find it very easy to do so and other times when it is harder.

What do you enjoy most about working for the MSS?

It matters a lot to me to be working in a sector that I feel so passionately about. Also really important is the lovely, supportive working environment at the MSS. It’s a great place to work.

Do you think materialism brings true happiness?

During my time at the NHS, I saw so many patients who were really struggling to cope with the stresses of modern life. I learnt from them that it doesn’t matter what you have if you are not in the right place mentally. I believe that every person has the right to be happy. It takes real courage to stop drifting along in our lives and make the changes that we need to achieve real inner peace.

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