This is the first dedicated space for secular mindfulness courses in London. At their beautiful new centre for mindfulness in Central London, they’ve brought together a team of London’s best teachers to create a true hub for learning and practicing mindfulness.
Leadership Styled was lucky enough to be invited in to the delightful space that has been created to have a chat with Alexa and Autumn about their journey.
LS: How did it all begin?
Alexa: While studying psychology, I discovered that there was a growing secular mindfulness movement with a very evidence-based approach, which appealed to me as a natural skeptic. It was immediately clear to me that I wanted to: a) practice mindfulness for the rest of my life and b) share it with other people. At the time, I wished for my own practice that there had been a dedicated space to learn more, practice and meet other fellow meditators. So in late 2012, I decided I wanted to set that up. At about the same time, Autumn, an old friend from university reconnected with me wanting to learn more about mindfulness. So while I taught her mindfulness, she started helping me with the business plan for the project. That was two years ago.
LS: And then where did it go from there?
We were both living in different countries so we worked via Skype for the most part. We spent a lot of time planning, researching, building a board of advisors, developing our identity. It was a lot fun. At some point though we said to each other: "Ok. It’s time to stop talking about it and get real.”
LS: How did you get it off the ground?
It really started to come together once we engaged our identity designers and started reaching out to teachers. It was really important to have the right teachers on our team. And we definitely have that now – our team is an amazing. We have 8 regular teachers delivering 8-week courses and other visiting teachers. All of them share our passion for spreading mindfulness and are really doing a great job of making it accessible and relevant for the participants, who take our courses. We are so grateful to be able to work with such amazing people.
LS: How did you find the space that you work from?
TMP: The space search was a challenge. It was so hard to find a space that suited our image and had the required planning permission. We were incredibly lucky to find this place in the end. To be offering mindfulness in a Georgian townhouse overlooking a garden square in Central London is a just amazing and we don’t take it for granted that so many factors conspired together to make it work. The timing was just right.
LS: Did you think it would happen like this?
Autumn: In fact we did plan it to happen quite like this, but we never really expected things to go according to plan.
Alexa: We kind of underestimated how powerful it would be to actually be sharing this gift with people. To be connecting with our clients and hearing how they’ve benefitted is the greatest reward.
LS: It really would be rude not to pass that on..
Alexa: It would be scandalous (cue this to be the word for the rest of our chat)
LS: What’s next?
Alexa: Well, we want to take our time to refine the programmes we are currently running, while we slowly start to roll-out new ones. At the moment we are focused on running 8-week mindfulness-based stress reduction courses (MBSR/MBCT) and Mindful Eating Courses (MBEAT). We also have things like: mindful photography, mindful wine-tasting, the neuroscience of mindfulness, mindful self-compassion, mindful movie nights... on the calendar. And we plan to add to that list. Mindfulness can be applied to so many different aspects of life and once people have learned the basic skills they usually want to learn more and we hope to be the place where they can continue to develop their practice.
LS: Who would have though Mindfulness and alcohol would go together!?
TMP: Mindful wine tasting is actually less about drinking and more about engaging all of our senses to really savour the experience. And why not cultivate a healthy relationship with our consumption... It’s such a big part of our culture.
LS: Have there been any further developments?
TMP: Well, we have been approached by a publisher about writing a book, something creative mixed with mindfulness. (We can sense that not too much can be said about this yet, but seeing how excited Alexa and Autumn are about it..watch this space)
LS: Who inspires you?
Autumn: Well Alexa is a big inspiration to me. She is such a great mindfulness teacher and I’m really inspired by her passion for it and creativity around sharing it.
Alexa: Yeah, we definitely inspire each other. Also my dad is an entrepreneur who built a very successful business. He once said to me; “You learn a thousand times more if you have to change a light bulb yourself.”
LS: What is your favourite book?
TMP: Radical Acceptance by Tara Brach.
LS: If someone wanted to learn Mindfulness for the first time what would you say to do?
TMP: I would genuinely recommend an 8 week course. All the evidence shows that it works. You have a group, a teacher and you commit to it for a time span where you can start to see real changes.
LS: And look where we are, sitting in a little gem of a space with brilliant people who are about to sign a book contract.
Alexa and Autumn are now doing something that they really really love doing and you can tell just by having a chat with them that they are genuinely happy with the way things are going. With a book contract in the forseeable future, things are looking very bright indeed.
Keep in touch monthly (or even more frequently with us*).
* We promise not to virtually stalk you, it will be (at max) weekly round ups and elements that it would be rude not to tell you about...