Hi, I’m Hilary. I am an accredited Breathworks teacher of mindfulness and an antenatal teacher with over a decade’s experience of preparing families for birth and early parenting. For the last 13 years, I have also been offering my services as a birth and postnatal doula and have had the immense privilege of attending over 80 births in that time.
The creation of BALM (Birthing And Living Mindfully) has come about from a desire to offer support to anyone interested in reducing stress and increasing well-being, as a result of my own experience with stress and anxiety. As a young woman, I had an outwardly interesting and fulfilling life, yet I was deeply unhappy. I travelled and worked in all kinds of wonderful and exotic places, but my troubled mind followed me everywhere! I read every self-help book out there, but still couldn't find what I was looking for. Starting a daily yoga practice was a huge breakthrough for me, as were a variety of meditation practices. However, it wasn't until I went on an 8 week Mindfulness for Stress Reduction course that I really understood how to tap into my own inner source of well-being and calm. The mindfulness practices I learnt there provided me with the understanding that my contentment and well-being was accessible through being present to my thoughts, feelings and body sensations, even when these were unpleasant or difficult. Until then, I think I had been trying to get somewhere else, somewhere calmer, nicer, easier, more peaceful. I had been putting my life and my happiness on hold for some magical time when all my problems would dissolve and life would be easy and stress-free.
Adopting a daily mindfulness practice enabled me to live more fully in the moment, rather than waiting for circumstances to be favourable for me to enjoy life. In time I was able to hold the ups and downs of my life with more ease and balance, and perhaps most importantly, with more kindness. It wasn't a magic pill or a sudden shift, but over time I have become happier, less stressed, more resilient and kinder to myself and others. The profound positive effect that a daily mindfulness practice has had on me inspired me to train with Breathworks to become a teacher of mindfulness and share these tools with others.
One of the greatest benefits of mindfulness is that we find ourselves better able to align our actions with our deepest intentions. The BALM services that I offer reflect my growing commitment to empowering others to take charge of their own health, well-being and happiness. I've always loved facilitating groups and have been a teacher of some sort since I was 22 years old. However, I no longer feel fulfilled with simply imparting information. Sharing tools with others which explore how we tap into our own resources for living well, even amid the hustle, bustle and stress of our full and busy lives, is what excites and motivates me about my mindfulness teaching. The underpinning of all that I offer is the practice of kindness and compassion as a powerful means to helping us cope with difficulties and become more emotionally resilient.
Relevant qualifications, skills and experience
In February 2015 I completed my training and became an accredited Breathworks Teacher of Mindfulness. Since then, I have been offering mindfulness courses, one-to-ones, a drop in and full and half-day retreats
For two years, from January 2009-December 2010, I worked for South Downs Health as a Breastfeeding Peer Support Coordinator, training mums to support other mums to breastfeed. Before that I had spent 5 years as a peer supporter myself, at the Brighton Breastfeed drop In
In 2008, after three years of part-time study, I completed my HND in Antenatal education and became an NCT Antenatal Teacher. Since then, I have taught over 500 courses locally and nationwide, supporting parents in the year around childbirth. It's been an amazing experience!
In 2006 I undertook the Doula UK Paramana Doula with Dr Michel Odent. I had already begun attending births the year before and have continued to do so since. I find my mindfulness practice has very much enriched the quality of my support and presence for new mums and dads at this amazing and challenging time (see my BALM doula services page)
In 2002 I gave birth to my son, Theo. Before becoming pregnant, I had paid little attention to having babies but the experience of pregnancy, birth and early parenting changed me forever. Several years later, when I began practising mindfulness, I reflected on how much these tools would have helped me, particularly in the first year of my son's life - the first BALM seeds were planted then!
In 1992 I graduated from Manchester University with a PGCE in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages. I went on to teach English to young people and adults in many different countries, including Italy, The UK, Portugal, Nepal and Laos.
For the last 20 years I have attended many meditation days and residential retreats. I love practising mindfulness and meditation with others and these opportunities to learn and share continue to enrich and inspire my own daily practice and my mindfulness teaching