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Interview with lydia-MSS volunteer

What attracted you to mindfulness and what benefits would you say has it brought to your life?

I came to mindfulness through Buddhism. Although it is a secular interpretation, for me it has been a spiritual exploration.

I love the way mindfulness offers such a practical way of coming to terms with the nature of life, working on yourself whilst connecting to the world around us.

As someone who is very active and has a mind like a spinning top, I have found mindfulness wonderfully grounding.

You have worked as a film-maker on a number of documentaries. We’d love to know more.

I studied visual anthropology at University and this led to my interest in film-making. For my Masters, I did a documentary on peace and mediation in Luton, following the journey of a peace-maker working to bring communities together.

In the summer of 2019 I was funded to travel to China to make a documentary about people running small businesses in the area around The Great Wall. It examined the rhythms of everyday life of a restaurant owner, a shopkeeper and a man who worked on a bee farm.

I have also made a film about a Luton artist who has an acquired brain injury, exploring how his injury made him a more prolific artist and informed his artwork.

As a freelancer I have made a number of films in and around Luton.

How do you enjoy spending your free time?

I love to read. Over the last few months I also got into the habit of regular yoga practice and I have started exploring breathwork.

When I can, I enjoy art and also listening to speakers on YouTube- there are some real gems out there.

I also love listening to music.

You are involved in a number of community projects in Luton. Can you tell us a little about these initiatives?

I co-founded a collective called “Alternative Fictions”. Our vision is to make the ideas of anthropology more accessible. We run a number of workshops and events although during Covid these have moved online.

In the past I worked on a number of different community projects, including one where I followed various artists, exploring the diversity of art practices in Luton, one where I worked with a local producer and activist on issues relating to race and community reconciliation and one where I helped a local group of performers put on a theatrical interpretation of Muslim literature.

What benefits do you feel art therapy can offer to persons affected by trauma, anxiety and other personal difficulties?

I am not trained in art therapy but for me that is an aspirational journey. I see art as a form of communication and it can really help those who find it hard to express themselves in words.

For me, art is a wonderfully mindful activity. It is therapeutic to work with your hands and with the artist’s materials. It really centres me and brings me joy.

Do you have any pets?

Yes! My family has a lurcher called Grahame. We got him from the Blue Cross. He is very affectionate; a real character. I love him very much.

What tips might you have for getting through lockdown?

I would hesitate to give advice, but for me, what works is making sure that I get time outside. I also think routine is very important. It’s about connecting with something that gives you joy, something that you intuitively feel like doing rather than what you think you ought to be doing.

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