By Jan Richards, 2021 

Peter Davies wants to help Bloomhill clients to live their lives fully, with joy and according to their values.  

“I want to show people how to relieve stress and anxiety so they are empowered to live the way they want to live, to act the way want to act, and to act for what they want to stand for,” Peter said. 

“When you are going through cancer treatment you can feel you are stuck in a narrow small world with little control. You may become anxious and concerned, life shrinks, you don’t feel capable of acting with anything that’s important. Mindfulness practise relieves stress and nourishes. It allows you to expand your life, to open up. To ask yourself, ‘Am I doing what I want to do?’” 

The retired doctor who has worked with many cancer patients has practiced mindfulness for 30-40 years. Over the past five years he ran 20, six-week mindfulness courses at a Wellington hospital. Having recently returned to Australia, he has offered his services as a volunteer to Bloomhill clients. 

Peter suggests acceptance is hugely important in cancer.   

“You have to accept fully and act in a meaningful way no matter how long you have. People living with cancer can have trouble with negative feelings – watch your thoughts come and go, but don’t let them tell you what to do. If we have negative thinking we can’t live life to our values. A mindful approach lets you know you are not your thoughts.” 

He talks about seeing yourself in the present moment, rather than as your history and background and about being open resilient and caring. “What’s important is what gives us joy, we need to get into the space that makes everything flow.  

“I encourage participants to develop a meditation practice, but to consider mindfulness during everyday activities as just as important and just as valid as formal meditation. Using them both together will provide the most benefit.” 

He teaches simple techniques that can be used anywhere, anytime. “When you stop at traffic lights, take three deep breaths. It doesn’t take a lot to bring yourself back to the moment.” 

Peter uses the metaphor of dropping anchor. “When you are in a storm in a boat you head for safe harbour and throw over the anchor. When you are out of control you need to throw the anchor over and find a safe place within.”  

A typical session will incorporate reflection on the past week, a short ten-min meditation, more discussion, perhaps a body scan or loving kindness meditation.  

The basis of Peter’s practice is Buddhism and a profound experience at Thich Nhat Hanh’s Plum Village in France where he spent three weeks. “There was little actual meditation but we were encouraged to live mindfully in everything we did, whether eating or walking…” and it is this mindful, moment-to-moment, interconnected living with joy that Peter is keen to teach. 

Join Peter’s Mindfulness sessions on Wednesday at 2pm in the group room.  There is no cost and you don’t even need to book, just turn up.