Marcella A., Marcella J., and Miryam (above), are English teachers working at The National University of Santiago del Estero in Argentina. They recently visited Breathworks’ offices in Manchester to take a weeks crash course in Mindfulness and Meditation. They were taught by MJ Stephens (above) and Andrea Cygler, who acted as Breathworks teachers by day, and Manchester tour guides by night. We dropped in hald way through to ask them a few questions about how they were getting on.
- What made you pick Breathworks to train with?
Marcella A.: I went on a Vipassana retreat in my country, and somebody gave me a guide to Mindfulness institutions. I learnt about Breathworks and there was something that told us: this is it; this is the right place.
- What has been your experience of the course so far?
Marcella A.: Beyond our expectations, even though we try not to have expectations!
Miryam: From the very beginning, we have been very happy
Marcella J.: Everybody we’ve met from Breathworks has been really kind.
Miryam: it’s a very warm atmosphere, a very friendly atmosphere.
Marcella J.: We go through the whole day without looking at the time or wondering when we’ll get to go home!
- So what have you covered so far in the course?
Marcella A.: We have been from the very first basic definition of mindfulness, through basic principles, and to the principles in Breathworks; how to relate mindfulness with emotions and our thoughts; we’ve covered a lot of practices: body scan, mindfulness of breathing, mindful movement… today for example we learned how to connect to pleasant sensations and pleasant things in daily life. Yesterday we covered how to deal with difficult things and difficult situations too. And that’s a lot in two and a half days!
- What have you found most personally relevant or helpful about the course?
Marcella A.: That it’s very important first of all to learn mindfulness to apply to our daily lives. We can realise that in fact through practice we can change the way we are living. Because we know that we live in a state of being in a hurry, we’re stressed every day, but it’s possible to have choice of changing that. It’s possible to take measures and make decisions about it, and we’ve been given a lot of tools to be able to carry that out.
Tomorrow Andrea is going to give us some tools to apply mindfulness to education, that’s one of our main goals, but we were talking about how of course we first have to learn to apply mindfulness to ourselves.
- How are you hoping to apply the training when you get back to Argentina?
Marcella A.: We are planning to share this experience with our colleagues, then we hope to arrange a course for other people or other teachers, even those who may not be involved with the university but who are interested in this philosophy of life. And to practice, obviously!
Miryam: Yes, to apply it in our everyday lives, I think that’s the most important part. And of course to try to apply it to our students. We were talking about this; we realise that our students don’t want to think; it’s very difficult to make them feel curiosity for things, and to convey the importance of investigation. So we think that it’s a way of making them become aware of the possibilities of having choices in their lives; that their decisions are their own.
Marcella A.: And it can be just very simple practices. Our classes last two hours and sometimes we expect the students to be sat still doing their exercises, or reading or copying or listening, and we don’t give the opportunity of moving or breathing, because we don’t give the opportunity to ourselves.
Miryam: It would be very natural to see a student stretch and say “oh, don’t do that!” perhaps at the very beginning of our careers we would have told a student off for that.
Marcella A.: We are doing something which is very formal and sometimes to pause and say “would you like to stretch, or do some breathing even just for a few moments before we go on?”
- It’s great to hear that you’re getting so much out of the course! Is there anything else you’d like to add?
Marcella A.: It’s a very nice place; a beautiful building!
Marcella J.: Yes, we’re very comfortable
Marcella A.: We are feeling at home.
Miryam: It has been a pleasure.
MJ and Andrea expressed what excellent students they made and how much they enjoyed their time teaching and exploring Manchester with them.
If you are interested in finding out more or trying a Breathworks course yourself, in person or online, you can look at your options on our Courses Page.