The Breathworks Foundation

Making mindfulness accessible

We are a registered charity, with a mission is to make mindfulness accessible to everyone. Being an organisation that gives back has been important to us from the very beginning. Our Founder Vidyamala was living on benefits for many years before she was able to secure funding through a disability grant to start Breathworks. We know that many who benefit the most from our services are least able to afford it, so we are committed to help those in need through bursaries, scholarships, free resources and other funding initiatives.

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I was introduced to Breathworks by a fellow Buddhist who was an accredited Breathworks teacher. It was a time in my life that I wanted to change something, especially in my professional life.  I’d already been a Buddhist for a few years when I was encouraged by my friend that teaching people mindfulness might be something I could pour my heart into.

I chose to train with Breathworks because I like the methodology. When compared to the standard MBSR (mindfulness-based stress reduction) and other methodologies I preferred the Breathworks focus on kindness and that the practice of loving-kindness plays a big part in the programme. During the teacher training I realised I really value the caring, kind, positive approach Breathworks has — it is very person-centred.

I was awarded a bursary, which was very important for me at the time. When I started my teaching course I was penniless — my job at the time was not very profitable, and the discrepancy between the average wage in UK and Poland meant it would have been difficult for me to train. The bursary enabled me to start the training and become a Breathworks teacher, and now I can share mindfulness with many others in Poland.

I learned a great deal during the teacher training course, including the different styles of teaching and presenting an idea or concept. But what I appreciated the most was the attitude and values presented by the trainers: that this (the course, class or workshop) is not about me, not for me, but for the benefit of the participants. This is something which can’t be presented in a book or on a website — it’s presented by the people who carry the spirit of Breathworks.

I ran my practice course in Kraków in June 2018, having helped and supported my friend Śantaka from early 2017. It was very beneficial get to know the material and how to present and run the different courses (Mindfulness for Health and Mindfulness for Stress).

I am now fully committed to leading and propagating the Breathworks mindfulness approach in Poland, and I use the skills I learnt during the mindfulness training courses to teach in Kraków. During the practice course there were 10 people in the group. I now reach around 20-30 people every 8-10 weeks, leading eight-week courses and drop-in mindfulness classes.

I run my courses in a venue owned by a charity that helps people with cancer. We the lead courses there free of charge in exchange for using their facility. We are currently just running the stress courses, although I also lead an introduction to mindfulness and open practice class so people can come and try the practices to see how we lead the courses and respond to people.

People come for many reasons, sometimes because friends have recommended our courses and classes. We also rank highly on Google searches for mindfulness classes in Kraków. But our main way of getting the participants is via Facebook. I think that the kindness approach included in Breathworks methodology is something valuable to people and they are attracted by that.

I’m planning to run four or five courses in total in 2019, plus some mindfulness at work workshops and courses. I work with my friend Śantaka — we’ve known each other for almost 10 years, and he’s been a great support. He was also one of two people who taught me meditation in the Buddhist centre in Kraków. Recently Ania Markiewicz has also been helping me with running some classes and workshops as she too received a bursary from The Breathworks Foundation for her training. She is also a good friend, who I’ve known for six years. I’m going on a four-month Triratna Ordination retreat this year so I won’t be working for a while, but if the groups we are recruiting are fully booked, we will happily organise more courses and continue to spread the benefits of mindfulness in Poland.

Dawid Faron