Breathworks

Breathworks ‘Living Well’ mindfulness courses at Triratna Leeds Buddhist Centre

Breathworks Leeds is run by Triratna Leeds Buddhist Centre. We offer mindfulness based practices in a secular (non-faith) context to support people from all backgrounds living with pain and illness.

About Breathworks

Breathworks Leeds is a local group of mindfulness trainers based at Leeds Buddhist Centre. Here, Uddyotani talks about the Breathworks program, who it’s for, and why we include it in the Buddhist Centre activities.

The Breathworks programmes have their origins in the personal experience of Vidyamala Burch, a member of the Triratna Buddhist Community, who has used mindfulness to manage severe chronic spinal pain for thirty years. They are founded on practice-based research combined with key elements of Mindfulness-based Stress Reduction (MBSR) and Mindfulness-based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT). Breathworks Living Well courses are a practical application of mindfulness to help people manage pain, illness and stress in their lives. They are ‘secular’ courses – using practices with their root in the Buddhist tradition but making these accessible to people with different faith backgrounds.

We began running these courses in Leeds nearly 10 years ago alongside the main Buddhist Centre program for people within and outside the local Sangha, including working with the NHS in local hospitals and through the Expert patients program. Since then a number of us have qualified as Breathworks trainers and we have a growing community of people connected with the Centre through Breathworks.

For myself, my involvement with Breathworks has been an inspiration that has transformed my practice, and I think the reasons it affects me would be shared by others. The course encourages a very honest and direct exploration of suffering – which may be physical pain, the limitations of illness, experience of stress, or dealing with difficult emotions and habitual tendencies. This is stuff we all share, it’s ‘dukkha’ in Buddhist terms, but most of us try and get away from it as much as we can. It makes such a difference to turn towards it instead, and then broaden out from there, holding pain or stress along with pleasure in a ‘bigger container’, remembering our experience is shared with others – part of our common humanity. In Buddhist terms we are talking about cultivating equanimity – a touch of wisdom, recognising the flow of experience, and our connectedness.

For those of us delivering the courses I feel go through this process again and again, basic lessons in mindfulness and metta going deeper and deeper, inescapable.

I am very happy if people go on to explore Buddhism after doing a mindfulness course, but that is not thepurpose in offering Breathworks. We do it because it benefits others, because it helps our own practice, because it enriches the Buddhist Centre – we work as a team-based ‘right livelihood’ to generate income for the Centre with most tutors offering their time on a voluntary basis. And we benefit because it connects us and our Centre to other people in the city and the community around us.

Who is involved in Breathworks Leeds?

Uddyotani (Helen Doherty), Laura Harrison and Colin Mawhinney are qualified Breathworks mindfulness trainers teaching in Leeds. Andrew Leathard is  a trainer based in Sheffield who has contributed enormously to Breathworks in Leeds. Laura Smith is a trainee Breathworks trainer, so hopefully part of our team soon.

Help us get the word out!

There are many people in Leeds and surrounding areas who might be interested in our courses and who would benefit from the Breathworks program. You can help them and the Buddhist Centre by letting people know about Breathworks Leeds, passing on leaflets and posters to employers, to GPs and health care professionals. You can find more information on the national Breathworks site.

Breathworks Courses 2017

Mindfulness for Health eight week course beginning September 26th 2017

This daytime course offers a self-management mindfulness-based programme for anyone wanting to learn new strategies for living with chronic pain, stress, fatigue or ill health.

For further details of courses including cost please contact Uddyotani (Helen Doherty) at Triratna Leeds Buddhist Centre – email  leedsbreathworksproject@yahoo.co.uk

Breathworks has made a huge difference to me and has helped me to really enjoy life even with pain. I’ve just qualified as a trainer with lots of support from Uddyotani and Dayavajri. I started training as a way to help me to keep practising what I learned on my first course, but I discovered how much I enjoy teaching and sharing. I love doing courses at the Centre – something very special happens over the 8 weeks and along with the difficult stuff there’s also a lot of laughter. It’s also great that we’ve got a community of people who’ve done courses in Leeds and who meet up regularly at the centre.

Laura Harrison

Being involved with Breathworks has been a passion for me and it has transformed so many aspects of my own life and practice. What I find really inspiring about teaching the courses is that I can let go and trust the material itself to give people tools to make their own choices on their journeys with pain, illness or life in general. Coming fact to face with human suffering again and again (both my own and others) has taught me humility and about what it means to be truly human. We do laugh a lot too! I feel such a strong connection with the Breathworks Leeds team based on our shared Mindfulness journeys; it’s been a privilege to work with them.

Dayavajri