My Story

Jon aged 62

Early Life

I was born in Hartlepool, UK in 1958, an only child. My mother ran a hairdressing salon whilst my father had a career in port management. Consequently, my childhood was spent moving around various port towns. I was first in my family to go to university and emerged with an Honours Degree in Philosophy.

In 1983, aged 25, I dropped out of a lucrative corporate career because I wished to live my life on my own terms, unencumbered by the expectations of family and society. After a spell of travelling, I discovered yoga. I then lived on a commune until 1986 during which time I supported myself working in factories and restaurants. During this time, I practiced yoga and studied the canons of eastern philosophies and western psychological techniques. I emerged from this period with the realisation that, in order to fully serve myself, I needed to serve others.

Professional Life

In 1990, I relocated to Colchester where I  qualified as a Registered Mental Health Nurse with Diploma in Nursing. Over the next ten years, I worked in acute admission wards, day hospitals and a semi-secure unit. My professional evolution moved in the direction of therapeutic groupwork and individual counselling. I devised and ran groups across five Mental Health Trusts; supportive therapy, yoga, relaxation, men’s issues, forensic issues and self-awareness.

My first encounter with psychotherapy came in 1995 when working as a senior staff nurse in the therapeutic community in Guy’s Hospital, London. It was here that I was inspired to train in psychotherapy at the Manchester Institute for Psychotherapy (MIP).

I was endorsed to practice from 1997 and ran clinics in MIP and in Hebden Bridge until 2017. In 2007, I was endorsed to supervise and train psychotherapists to UKCP registration level under mentorship.I underwent a second psychotherapy training with Mark Forman in 2015 in the US and graduated as a Certified Integral Psychotherapist.

In 2017, I qualified as an Associate Life Coach from Integral Coaching Canada and, since then, have worked in private practice.

Inner Growth

In tandem with my professional career, I pursued my inner growth. In 1990, I trained as a yoga teacher in York under the tutelage of Diane Kendall, then the Chairperson of the British Wheel of Yoga, gaining my Teaching Diploma in 1992. Since then, I have run yoga classes on a more-or-less ongoing basis with a three year sabbatical following the birth of my son in 1997. I have run classes in mental health day hospitals, a chronic back pain clinic, an elderly assessment unit, a junior school and at several psychotherapy conferences. I have, since 1992, trained with many leading yoga teachers in varying traditions. My heart and my body continue to be the most wonderful of teachers.

Between 2001 and 2007, I practiced Theravadan Buddhist meditation intensively, daily practice augmented with one ten day silent retreat per year, chiefly at Amaravati Monastery. From 2007 to 2011 I studied and practiced Tibetan Buddhist meditation under the tutelage of Martin Vermasse, senior student of Kenchen Thrangu Rinpoche in the Mahamudra Tradition of the Karma Kagyu lineage. I am endorsed to teach elementary Tibetan Buddhist meditation practices.

In 2009, I founded the Calderdale Yoga Centre in Hebden Bridge which evolved into a regional hub of yoga activity. Well-attended classes ran daily, catered for by eight teachers, including myself. Yogacampus, one of the foremost UK yoga organisations ran a modulated yoga teacher training programme there at weekends. I taught the (yoga-based) meditation module. I also ran regular trainings in meditation from the Yoga Kula studio in Leeds.

I divested the Calderdale Yoga Centre and my two psychotherapy and supervision practices in 2018 and relocated to Brighton in the same year.

I served a 4 year apprenticeship with John Hawken, a leading teacher of neotantra, shamanism and bioenergetics beginning in 2016. I am now a member of his Paths of Transformation Teaching Faculty and, together with my wife Rose, run personal transformation workshops and retreats under the name of Shivashakti Embodied Awakening. I am currently studying and practising Classical Tantra at Tantrika Institute.

On Reflection

All the training and personal work has given me strength in gentleness, insight in humility and kindness without sentimentality. I no longer walk with a limp and am 4cm taller, having straightened out a lateral scoliosis in my spine. I am free of psoriasis and asthma. People in general no longer frighten me. And, most importantly, I no longer attempt to aggressively control my life and others around me. I am blessed with a loving wife, an amazing son and loving, trusting friends. I mostly walk my talk, and forgive myself when I do not.

In 2020, the coronavirus lockdown gave me the space to reflect upon how I wished to take the learning from 10,000 hours on a yoga mat, 8,000 hours on a meditation cushion, 24,000 hours offering therapy and life coaching, 15 years of personal therapy, 23 years of parenthood and approximately 3000 digested books as well as 62 years of enjoying the challenges of learning how to be fully human. The result forms the offerings of this website and the one I share with Rose.

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