Hi there. I'm Maree, a Breathworks teacher from Auckland, New Zealand. I'm also on the Breathworks training team in Australia. I'm spending a few months in the UK exploring the home of both Breathworks and the Triratna Buddhist Order. So I've been doing a real mix of things - Breathworks retreats, helping out at Adhisthana (a retreat centre in Herefordshire) and going on longer Buddhist meditation retreats. I'm here in Manchester this week to meet everyone in the Breathworks office and help out where I can. It's a small team, so an extra pair of hands is always welcome.


Who says it always rains in Manchester?! I arrived in the Breathworks office to a view of blue skies and sunshine. Having just finished a 10 day silent meditation retreat, I was thankful for the relatively quiet atmosphere – just 3 or 4 of us in today and it was a little hive of productivity, everyone absorbed in their work. Although Sarusavanna roused us all for mindful movement breaks and we hit the floor for a body scan around 3pm. Walking the talk – I like it! My task was to find a way to map out the location of Breathworks teachers around the world on the computer, so the team can provide regional maps in information packs and also just display the maps on the office walls as a global snapshot of Breathworks (somewhat unusually for a Breathworks teacher, my background is in IT). Lovely to see little dots marking Breathworks teachers slowly spreading all the way from Iceland down to New Zealand...


A full crew on deck today, with every chair filled and boxes being packed with materials for upcoming training events. For me, today was all about laying out meditation diary templates, which will be support materials for Gary's upcoming book for the Mindfulness for Stress course. So pleased to see the resources for this course growing over time. Gary and I need to review them later in the week – I offered bribes of ice-cream (yes, it's still ice-cream weather), because let's be honest, how many of us feel inspired by a meeting to review document templates, useful though they may be?! I led a body scan for us all in the afternoon, our mats arranged on the floor around desks and tables – we were a bit like sardines in a can. Funny having to check if everyone could hear me from behind the filing cabinets!


Today's afternoon meditation break gave way to mindful eating of ice lollies – thank you, Elaine! I was back to playing with electronic maps today, creating a custom map for the UK to make it easier for the office to identify teachers who may be able to pick up work in different areas as it becomes available. Very much enjoying sunny Manchester and the relatively mellow atmosphere of the Breathworks office. An office of mindfulness practitioners does have a decidedly less stressed-out vibe!


I love a good, random day. The main thing I need to do before I leave is document how to use the open source image editing software I used to create some of the teacher maps, as well as how to update and create new maps. So the morning was largely devoted to documentation and the eating of second breakfast. I'd been rather admiring of James' second breakfasts all week and this morning, along with a cup of tea (they're very good in the Breathworks office about offering everyone cups of tea when they go for one themselves - a humbling habit... I've come from an "every man and woman for themselves" work environment) he delivered a croissant to my desk as well. Marvellous! In the afternoon, Jules and I co-led a Breathworks drop in session downstairs at the Manchester Buddhist Centre. We had about 8 or 9 people join us and I was feeling decidedly chilled out after a body scan and some mindful movement. It was an odd juxtaposition to return to my desk for more...documentation. Then (and you could be completely forgiven at this point for thinking all the team does is eat delicious things - but it's really not true), we had cake to celebrate Gary's birthday. Colin assured me I was there during an unusual week. I had no complaints.


My last day! Rather sad, really. I enjoyed spending time with the Breathworks team very much. I'd happily stay another week, but have some big weeks ahead and after being on the road for three months already, I need a break. I am about to head to Herefordshire for a week of downtime and am having visions of lying on a sofa and doing very little indeed. I spent some time with Colin today, catching up on where the Breathworks research is at and what's to come in future. He also gave me some helpful advice on how to use the existing research in proposals for funding bodies back in NZ.

I finished off my documentation marathon, too, and spotted Helen using the custom Google map I created for UK Breathworks teachers. Good to see the fruits of my labour being used.

Not that it felt much like labour... been a rather lovely week. And great to get a sense of the team and see all the hard work that does go on to keep Breathworks going. Like I said yesterday, it's not all cake and ice cream! But my impression is that the team works with thought and care both for each other and the people they're serving. A real delight. I shall sign off now and head out into the Manchester rain (the weather had to pack in sometime, right?).

by Maree Beverland