You will have been unlikely to have met me, due to working part-time and from home, so I shall go ahead and introduce myself. My name is Shannon, I’m 23 years old and currently studying towards my MSc Advanced Psychology degree at the University of Leeds. Following a voluntary internship with the Breathworks research team back in 2017, I was lucky enough to be employed as a part-time researcher by The Breathworks Foundation Charity. This not only enabled me to continue with the fascinating work I had already begun, but also opened up a wealth of opportunities which I would have never imagined obtaining so early on in my research career. 


Working with Breathworks has injected life into what can be rather dull areas of my Psychology course, for example it may be unsurprising to you that the research methods and statistics lectures in Psychology aren’t particularly popular. When given ‘dummy data’ to work with at university, it’s pretty hard to get super excited about whether a statistical test is significant or not…. it’s meaningless and dull. However, when you’re working with real data from real people struggling with mental or physical health challenges it’s a total game-changer. Imagine running a test and finding out that the Breathworks course has resulted in people experiencing significantly lower levels of emotional distress? Or people are significantly better at being able to cope with their pain? It’s a real wonderful and heart-warming experience. 


Furthermore, working with Breathworks has pushed me to work outside my comfort zone and constantly drive to improve and develop our research goals and data collection processes. One of the best things about working for such a supportive organisation is actually having the freedom to be creative. The freedom to try new things. The freedom to make mistakes. I’ve been able to learn from and network with our academic partners, many of whom are leaders in their fields. 


Although my earlier research work with Breathworks focused on our own Manchester and London courses, more recently I have been able to work with other charities and organisations who have been running mindfulness courses for specific groups of people who may be harder to reach or who may be in desperate need for support. The Breathworks Foundation is extremely supportive of this work, given it addresses our aim of exploring how to deliver mindfulness in varying and more accessible ways depending on the target group. For example, recently I have had the opportunity to work with Tareshvari (Tish) Robinson and Kalyanavaca Fowler who have developed an adapted and simplified version of the standard Breathworks 8-Week Mindfulness for Health course for those with lower incomes, language and literacy levels, who would not normally be able to access mindfulness services. I have also been in touch with healthcare professionals such as GPs who are interested in commissioning courses in their local practices for patients who have complex health needs.


I am thoroughly enjoying my time working for The Breathworks Foundation, not only for my own personal development but also in being able to make a real difference to the lives of many who, thanks to our research, will be more likely to benefit from mindfulness in the future.

Shannon

Please consider supporting Shannon and our mission to demonstrate the benefits of mindfulness by donating here.