Mindfulness Skills4Life

Dr Sandra McCutcheon - biography

Hi folks, here’s a little about me and how I came to be a mindfulness practitioner, teacher and coach from being, firstly, a ‘broken-brain’ scientist.


Sandra McCutcheon, PhD

I first experienced mindfulness as a client, attending an 8 week group MBCT (mindfulness-based cognitive therapy course) in 2012, facilitated by the inspiring Dr. John Ferguson. At that time in my life, my career was growing rapidly, I was a research scientist trying to understand more about a particular group of diseases that caused damage to the body and the brain. I was responsible for managing a small research team, a significant budget and managing what was, at the time, a reasonably high-profile research program in partnership with several government agencies. Hours were long, pressure of work felt high but not as high as my own internal standards and expectations of self.

On the face of it I was functioning well, brilliantly even, and was well-liked within my organisation. However, internally, cracks were starting to show.

The first mindfulness class I attended was liberating; instantly, it became clear that I had a choice. I didn’t have to believe thoughts simply because they materialised from ‘my’ mind, I learned skills to be released from the trap of compulsive-thinking, analysing, limiting beliefs and associated feelings of low mood & challenging emotions .

We can chose to RESPOND to challenges with skill...

...as opposed to REACTING with unpredictable consequences

Over the 8 week course, I developed a huge understanding that everything we experience is processed by the mind and body and results in specific patterns of thinking, expression of feelings and physical sensations in the body. Collectively these impact on our action and behaviours; it’s just that most of the time we are not aware that any of this is going on until it penetrates our emotional state in some way.

So, in life I’ve learned it’s not WHAT IS happening that causes us internal pain, it is HOW WE relate to that, that is critical – and many of us don’t even realise we have a choice and that we can ‘re-set’ ourselves and develop a new set of skilful ways to deal with real hardship and personal difficulties in life.

Our strapline came about through my own direct experience of mindfulness training: AWARENESS leads to CHOICE leads to enhanced WELL-BEING.

I felt certain that many others could benefit from this type of knowledge and experiential training. Late in 2012 I formed the intention to be in a position to do just that. I wanted to be able to bring mindfulness to others. I knew my life was going to take a very different path but I didn’t know how or when – remember, I was very fortunate to have a successful and pretty secure career, a young child and hoping to be blessed with another. It was a big step making the decision to give that up and sit with many questions about how things would and could work out.

My first, long lesson in being patient had just begun; a lesson in being patient and developing a quality of trust (in major-league uncertainty) that I never had before.

It is a privilege and incredibly humbling working with many others, seeing and getting to know their experiences of life as well as their personal transformation. I am very lucky and very grateful! My vision is to bring mindfulness awareness training to as many as possible as especially to our kids.

This feels important to me because the big life that our little ones are growing up in is fast paced and they seem exposed to so much, much earlier than I did as a child. There are potential threats of a mental, emotional and psychological nature that simply didn’t exist in my own childhood and the decline in children’s mental and emotional health and well-being that results is widely known and reported.

Thanks for taking the time to read this and gain a little insight about me,

Well wishes, Sands x

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