Paying it Forward - The Life-Changing Effects of Having Access to Mindfulness My relationship with Breathworks courses began in 2014. I blacked out when I was driving following a very stressful few years. I took this experience as a warning sign and engaged in a lot of self-help. I was introduced to meditation by a good friend and was searching for classes to engage with when I came across Mindfulness for Living Well being run locally. I hadn't heard of Mindfulness at the time, so this was completely new to me. I began attending the 8-week course for which the teacher allowed a payment scheme. My personal circumstances were financially very difficult, my teacher recognised this and approached me individually to tell me not to worry about paying the rest as he would put it down as a bursary place. He encouraged me not to worry about it and keep attending. The 8-week programme was - quite simply - life changing for me, as it is for many others. Gareth (my teacher) was at the time working hard to bring Mindfulness to Schools in Wales and as he knew my background was education and wellbeing, he encouraged me to train to teach Mindfulness to children and to bring it to my school which I did for several years and my passion for teaching Mindfulness was born. I then gained a diagnosis of Fibromyalgia and the Breathworks programme was significant in me being able to manage my condition. I was initially prescribed huge amount of medication which, after working with my condition using the Breathworks approach, I was able to stop taking and manage my condition well without it. In 2016 I was made redundant in schools and met with Gareth who asked me "Why don't you train to be a Breathworks trainer?" I applied to The Breathworks Foundation for a bursary and was thrilled to gain a funded place. A few weeks later I gained a post with a Social Prescribing project based in GP surgeries in Cardiff. I discussed Breathworks with my manager and was lucky to gain sponsorship from them to complete my Breathworks training. I became accredited in January 2019 and am working very hard to bring Mindfulness and Breathworks not only to staff within my organisation but also to the GP clusters where we are based, which are largely made up of people who would not otherwise be able to afford to attend programmes. We are based in the most economically disadvantaged communities throughout Cardiff. In February, I delivered Mindfulness for Stress to a group of bereaved people who by the end of the 8-weeks were able to "see light at the end of the tunnel" and choose to respond to their grief in a way which gave them meaning to their lives. At the end of the group, several people have gone on to become volunteers to other bereaved people. I am currently half way through two Mindfulness for Stress courses with carers in their communities and after only three weeks they are seeing positive changes in their lives. I have recently set up a Fibromyalgia Support group in one of the GP Clusters and am in discussion about bringing Mindfulness for Health to the GP’s patients with this condition and to those with Chronic Pain. So watch this space! Lots of exciting opportunities to bring Mindfulness to patients in South Wales. I feel very fortunate to be in a position where I am able to fly the Breathworks flag as part of my day to day job, making a difference to the lives of people in communities where otherwise they would not be able to afford to access Mindfulness courses. This is all thanks to the kindness and generosity of Gareth Clode by giving me a funded place at his course and furthermore to The Breathworks Foundation for funding my initial training. Gareth is now approaching a well-deserved retirement and I am honoured to be taking over his courses in Bridgend - where my journey began in 2014. I will never forget the kindness and generosity he showed me then and will keep that in mind and look for opportunities to "pay that forward" which will give me even more opportunities to bring Mindfulness to communities. Laura Evans Donate Here to enable others like Laura to train.