Co-hosts

Alison Taylor

alison-and-andyFor over 20 years, my husband Andy was the centre of my world – the sun around which I orbited.  I was 48 when he died suddenly and unexpectedly at home – and my world imploded.

We met in Scotland, but were to spend most of our married life overseas.  We lived for many years in Zimbabwe, Andy’s beautiful homeland. When his work took him to Afghanistan, Nigeria and Libya, I followed wherever I could and we worked our daughter’s schooling around local schools and latterly boarding.  So when Andy died, I found myself feeling not just without a reason to live, but also with no particular reason for exactly where to live.  Luckily, we had kept a base in my home town in Scotland, so it is here that I am making my efforts to build a different life.

It’s been just over three years now. I slowly found healthier ways to heal – I remind myself to meditate, to get out and walk, to contact friends. I’m enjoying cooking again, particularly for other people (cooking for one can be so hard – and I do love my food!).  I trained to be a volunteer counsellor, which I am finding not only immensely rewarding, but a therapeutic journey in itself. I have many good happy days and, still, some frankly awful ones.  I can laugh again, but often still feel terrified.  Generally I can now be more grateful than sad – grief is the price we pay for love.

Time has been a great healer, but I have found the most comfort in the company of those who have been through a similar experience – Ute and I found an immediate and empathetic bond when we met on a meditation retreat.  There is an ease – and relief – in spending time with fellow travellers on this difficult journey.  It helps to know that although I still feel loneliness, still miss Andy daily, I am not alone.

{by the way….Alison is the creator of the term “soul spa”…it took us a long time to find the right name for what we offer…..soul spa is just perfect!}

Dr Avinash BansodeDr.Avinash

M.B.B.S (India), PG Certificate in Mindfulness Based Approaches (Bangor, UK)

Avinash will co-host the Soul Spas that have a particular focus on mindfulness and include teachings and dedicated exercises. He has a background and training in General Medicine and Buddhist Psychology. Originally from India, he is based in Edinburgh, offering mindfulness courses throughout Scotland. Avinash has been practising mindfulness since 1992. Over the years he has resided and taught at various meditation retreats both in India and UK, to deepen his practice and understanding of mindfulness and Buddhist psychology.

Avinash has been engaged in training and teaching secular mindfulness through ‘Mindfullybeing’, which he founded in 2010. He is Honorary Mindfulness Chaplain at the University of Edinburgh and Visiting Mindfulness Lecturer at Queen Margaret University, teaching staff and students. In his Integrative Approach to Wellbeing he brings together eastern meditative/contemplative and western/evidence based approaches.

He is developing a new programme called ‘KAMAL TRAINING’ (Kind and Mindful Approach to Living) which draws kindness explicitly and uniquely into mindfulness. His interest and passion is to cultivate and promote a more holistic, integrative (mind-body-heart) approach towards health.

Avinash has delivered mindfulness training to thousands of people across the public, corporate and third sectors, including Scottish Mental Health, NHS Scotland, University of Edinburgh, Queen Margaret University, Skyscanner, Standard Life, RBS, Edinburgh Council , Barnardo’s, Y-People and Marie Curie Cancer Care.

I’ve rarely met a person who radiates calm and kindness as Avinash does. He hasn’t just trained in mindfulness but he LIVES mindfulness. {Ute}

Lesley Gillespie (information will follow soon)