Making mindfulness accessible for more audiences

Tim Anfield

Guest blog by Tim Anfield who is an associate trainer with the Mindfulness in Schools Project, a Mindfulness in Action trainer and founder of Mindful Families.

“a passion to help make mindfulness accessible for more audiences…”

I started teaching adult mindfulness in 2016, with a passion to help make mindfulness accessible for more audiences. The mindfulness workshops I’d attended prior to this were really great but weren’t designed for a particular population. The plan was to use my experience from community development projects to bring this to life in deprived communities and for parents with children.  I decided to train as a .b Foundations* teacher, so I could deliver an adult mindfulness curriculum designed for an educational context.

As a heart of the community, schools were a great place to start, especially with the well-developed MiSP curricula to hand.  I’ve ended up teaching Paws b and .b Foundations all over South Wales and beyond.  Sharing mindfulness with school staff in particular really resonates with that vision to reach more people with mindfulness.

We’re shaped by the world and people around us, aren’t we? Every mindful teacher might support say 30 mindful children. Better still, mindful teachers and mindful children together will help shape the school culture, and the world and people beyond.   What if every school had this basis? How might the future be affected if every community had greater curiosity, patience and kindness at its heart?

Teachers can benefit from mindfulness too

It turns out that teachers can benefit from a little mindfulness too. Not sure if you’ve heard, but teaching can feel like a pressured profession! Definitely a good reason to take mindfulness to them, and in a format best suited to their context. .b Foundations has the double potential to reach the kids, but first and foremost to stretch the net and support an audience that might not otherwise make the space to try it.

I really love the course too, it’s a great balance of structure and space. Teachers are used to presentations, resources and theory, so you’ve got to meet them where they are.  The activities, videos and visuals within .b Foundations are a great hook.

Shared experiences of teaching offers a helpful basis for enquiry on the course.  Teachers do like to talk about how busy they are, and for good reason! The course offers a space to take a closer look at this.

It’s common to hear that teachers don’t feel that they get a minute to pause during the day, and this is an interesting starting point to begin exploring the idea of pausing and turning towards immediate experience!  Pausing through the day definitely becomes a real anchor for most participants.  There are genuine insights about moment-by-moment habits, be it in active doing mode or as a vocal self-critic. For others the biggest take home is the need to make time and space for gratitude or self-kindness.

At worst participants leave the course with improved strategies for difficult times. At best, the course is life changing. Either way, the kids benefit, and we have the possibility of positively influencing a generation.  

*.b Foundations introduces participants to mindfulness over eight weeks via group sessions of approximately 90 minutes per week, which can usually be held at a time to suit the school/setting. The course can be offered to anyone connected with a school community; teachers, teaching support staff, admin and site staff, peripatetic support, parents and governors.

Tim has a background in the voluntary sector delivering community development and wellbeing schemes since 2004. This included a 4000-kilometer solo bicycle fundraiser from Moscow to London.

He now provides innovative training in education, work places and community settings to enable more people to try mindfulness. This includes the ‘Cool Cats’ mindfulness scheme for families and the ‘Mindfulness for Leaders’ course.  He also teaches .b Foundations, .begin, Paws b, .b, Nurturing Parents, MBSR and The Present.

Tim is the founder of Mindful Families, an associate trainer with the Mindfulness in Schools Project and Mindfulness in Action.