Transforming Lives: Francis Herbert’s Mindful Journey

My father was in the residential school system and was an alcoholic. Growing up, I had 8 brothers and sisters. I was exposed to both physical and emotional abuse, and this impacted my siblings and I.

I’m 76 years old now, and in recovery from substance abuse. Mindfulness has helped me throughout my journey, to both heal and to help others; we all heal together. I’ve been able to give back and help others in their recovery journey for over 8 years now.

When I was hurting, I learned about mindfulness at 40 Oaks in Regent Park, from my friend Cylethia Lee. I was inspired by her because she keeps going to school and learning at the age of 88. She is very mindful of the community.

Mindfulness has truly transformed me. I was just going through life, not really noticing much before. Practicing mindfulness has opened both my heart and mind. It made me aware how similar we all are. I can relate to others now more openly. I can walk down the street and make eye contact with other people, which is something I always used to avoid. Practicing together in a group is such a profound experience.

Mindfulness works with me first because I become aware of what’s happening for me. I can open my mind and look at things from different perspectives. Mindfulness then helps me to accept and love others. It brings awareness to our connectedness and more understanding for our differences.

Mindfulness helped me to forgive and let go. Even to forgive my father. Now when I make a mistake, I recognize it’s just a part of being human and an opportunity for growth. Mindfulness opens my mind to possibilities and awakens my mind and body to the truth. It allows me to see clearly. This is what my culture teaches me too: we are spiritual beings having a human experience.

I am truly grateful for the Centre for Mindfulness Studies and the work they are doing in Regent Park and elsewhere. By making mindfulness accessible, it connects us in positive ways and helps us build community.


There are many more people we can currently help. Help us raise money so we can provide more clients with access to our Community Program. Meditate for mental health at Mindfulness Challenge 2019 this November 9.

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