I never knew what I wanted to do when I left school and I spent many hours thinking about it while growing up in Brisbane, never coming to a decision that lasted more than a couple of months. When I did finish year 12 in 2001 at the last minute I decided to sign up for a Bachelor of Psychological Science at UQ. It felt like the course chose me, without much conscious thought of my own. I ended up loving studying psychology and I was also lucky enough to be able to combine it with studies in Buddhism (pursuing an interest in Buddhism and Buddhist philosophy that began as a student in high school), meditation in eastern religions and philosophy during the first couple of years.
I have always felt that I have been extremely lucky in life and, wanting to give back to a world that I loved, I always had a strong desire to help others. Studying psychology seemed to fit well with this. I graduated in 2006 and, wanting a break from study, spent three years working in an office supporting computer systems. Throughout my undergraduate study and during these years working afterwards, I spent 6 months travelling through south-east Asia, worked on yachts in the Whitsundays for a few months and drove/camped around the coastline of Australia on another amazing trip. During these years I realised how much I loved meeting learning from people. I also found myself drawn to the pursuit of activities that pulled me into the present moment: snorkelling and scuba diving, rock climbing and skydiving.
When I moved to Tasmania in February 2010 to begin a Masters in Clinical Psychology at UTAS I didn’t know much about mindfulness. I remember it being mentioned only once in my undergraduate course. I had heard about it through friends working in psychology in Brisbane and was intrigued to find out more. As I sat on my first day at UTAS, listening to potential supervisors for the masters theses talk about their research interests, I distinctly remember being excited to hear about Dr Bruno Cayoun’s interest in mindfulness and all things “east meets west”. Over the next week I read whatever I could find on mindfulness and did what I could to convince the uni to let Bruno be my supervisor. I was very happy when I found out this had worked.
Bruno introduced me to MiCBT and, as I began to develop a thesis project looking into mindfulness, I also began my own daily meditation. Bruno’s guidance, with such wisdom and patience, through both of these endeavours has been invaluable. I slowly plodded along with the daily meditation, being one of Bruno’s worst students at times I’m sure, struggling to find a balance between my strong desire to do the mediation and my strong desire to do anything else but. The meditation has now become an integral part of my life, though, and while I still have bad weeks sometimes, I keep coming back to it. I have loved witnessing the gradual change in the way I experience each moment of each day. My practise has already taught me so much about myself – my emotions, my thoughts and my place amongst the world – and I know this is only the very beginning of a long journey of awakening. Mindfulness has also been an invaluable tool for dealing with the stresses of being back at university, which have included the research project I’ve been working on.
On top of coursework and placements, my research has required me to teach 25 mindfulness courses (some last year and some this year). My study investigates the results for those completing different types of 8-week mindfulness courses: everyday mindfulness (informal mindfulness only); mindfulness of breath only; and body scan. Running these courses has been an amazing experience and I feel blessed to have been able to offer this opportunity to so many in the community. While I have not yet analysed any data regarding the differences in participant outcomes for each type of course, I know that many benefited regardless of the course completed. Running these courses, along with my own practice of mindfulness, has convinced me of the value of these techniques. I am so grateful to have been able to learn these skills for my own life and also to have the skills to be able to teach mindfulness to my clients when I finally become a practicing psychologist. (Thanks Bruno.)
Marise Fallon, BSc.
Master Student (Clinical Psychology)
University of Tasmania