People (2)“Have you been on your holidays?”
“Yes, thanks”
“Do anything nice?”
“Yes, actually I did. I had a week at a Buddhist retreat doing a qigong and meditation course”

There’s nothing faster as a conversation stopper with your hairdresser than those 3 words.

  • Buddhist
  • Qigong
  • Meditation

Well, maybe there is: divorce, cancer and death.

Help (2)


Without going into my personal motivation to visit the Holy Isle in Scotland, the mindfulness skills I developed have helped me cope with life more successfully & smoothly. Not only my personal life but my work and my approach to it. I left Scotland thinking that I wished I had developed these skills years ago. I am sure I would have been more relaxed at work and therefore more successful at coping with corporate life challenges as well as wiser when managing & leading my teams.

Let’s backtrack a bit and consider how I got to this point from a work perspective. I love helping others and a Medical Information career is a perfect way to combine altruism with biomedical science. However job promotion increased my exposure to company politics.

It seems like a game sometimes

I know I am not alone in feeling that it can seem like a game you have to play. The behaviours we encourage in our teams of collaboration, sharing, openness and honesty can sometimes seem to be absent in senior leadership teams in pharma. I am sure there is a way in which we can be successful at work yet be congruent with our own values. However that is not an easy path.

As a manager you have to do tough things.

  • Give negative feedback on performance
  • Tell people they no longer have a job
  • Lead change that you may not necessarily agree with (or believe to be the best way ahead)
  • Run disciplinary interviews ….

I could go on but you know the kind of things. Anyone can be a good manager when business is going well but a true leader comes to the fore when times are tough. As data-rational people, how do we handle negative emotions that come with the territory? Ignore them? Distract ourselves with retail therapy, spa treatments, aerobic exercise, alcohol or other addictions?

If you are a Type A person, driven to succeed, these behaviours may have short term gains but don’t necessarily help our underlying issues. So is there a different way of “being” in our companies that matches our values and behaviours with positive impact on our teams or people around us? Would mindfulness work for us?

So what is mindfulness?

The combination of meditation, relaxation and a movement component (in my case qigong but it could be yoga, T’ai Chi or something similar) has been revolutionary for me. I can deal with extreme stress more successfully, I am much happier and positive and I feel like I have rediscovered joy from my sense of equanimity. Qigong is great form of exercise for almost anyone, no matter what age or state of physical fitness (but check with your doctor first, etc etc!).

People (2)


Qigong on Holy isle, Scotland

Which got me thinking:

  • Would this benefit people I know who have challenging lives, especially in their work sphere? Yes.
  • Would they be interested? Judging by the reaction from people I have talked to about my experiences, Yes.
  • Would I put together a programme with an excellent, experienced teacher? Yes!!!!!

My friend and personal mentor, Sue Weston, is just the woman for the job! Following a full, successful international career as a professional dancer, choreographer, movement teacher and now T’ai Chi, Qigong and Mindfulness teacher, she is completing a MSc in Mindfulness at Aberdeen University.

If you want to know more about my journey, read on

Want to find out more?

So if you think this could be just what you need to help you cope with an intense
working life, be more positive and balanced, then why not try it out?

Sue also runs a week retreat on Holy Isle, Scotland in July – come along as I’ll be there!

Mill House Farm.