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 Meet our People: Natalie Catchpole

Meet our People: Natalie Catchpole

04 May 2020

Natalie is a Business Operations Trainer for our English Language Teaching Division. Alongside her main role, she also runs a mindfulness practice group in our Oxford office. She shares how the recent lock down has pushed her to think creatively about how she can continue to support those looking to practice mindfulness in these uncertain times.

How have you been using your lock-down time to stay connected to your colleagues?

‘I’ve been running the mindfulness practice group for a couple of years now, and for a while before the lockdown I’d been setting up ‘pop-up’ sessions either in person or via Skype. Once we all had to start working remotely, it seemed like a good idea to try and set up at least one guided meditation a week. They’re a real pleasure to do and I have had some nice feedback.I’ve also started creating a subscriber newsletter for colleagues every weekday. I include a podcast recommendation, a link to a useful stay-at-home resource, and a cartoon. It’s so nice to have a reason to draw every day, and I get a couple of replies to each email I send out which makes me feel very lucky and helps me stay connected.

I also reached out to some colleagues and friends at the beginning of the crisis and offered to send them handwritten letters. I mail about a dozen letters a week (with little extras in the envelope such as stickers, postcards and illustrations), and a lot of people have said that it’s encouraged them to send more real post, which I think is a definite win.

Why do you think meditation and mindfulness are important?

Many of us get stressed or anxious when we spend a lot of time thinking about things that happened in the past or that might happen in the future. Mindfulness, and mindfulness-type meditation, is about allowing our attention to settle on the present moment—what it’s like to exist here and now. This practice can give the mind a well-earned break.

Formal meditation—when we sit and do nothing but examine our own experience—is just one way of being mindful. We can also be mindful many times a day by paying full and proper attention to our sensory experiences as they happen, such as when we wash our hands, drink a glass of water, or take a walk. In the future, I would like to explore some of these everyday mindfulness techniques with participants if I can think of a good way to do it over Skype!

Where else have you seen positive action being taken in this virtual OUP?

I’ve seen people going out of their way to set up virtual coffee breaks and make time at the beginning of meetings for people to chat about non-work things like they would in the kitchen or the corridor. A member of my former team is about to go off on maternity leave, and we’ve been working together to create a ‘hand-made’ e-card for her. We’re all adapting to new ways of communicating and trying not to compromise on how much care we show to one another—I love that.’