North London's Cultural Guide

Ich Bin: Derek ‘Bex’ Freeman, mindfulness teacher

It's a new school term, so why not consider the way you think about your life? We meet a man who can help

Derek Bex Freeman:
Derek Bex Freeman: ‘What do I love? The sense of being fully present in my life and what it teaches me and connects me to.’ Photo: DF

Derek ‘Bex ‘ Freeman grew up in Cardiff and has lived in South End Green for 25 years. Most of his work has been connected to health and wellbeing, and eight years ago he read in the New York Times about the scientific research that was emerging around the benefits of mindfulness. After trying a course, he kept on practising “and then I realised that what I really wanted to do was to help other people find the same benefits I was finding myself”, he says. He completed a postgraduate teaching diploma in Mindfulness Based Approaches, and is now studying towards a master’s degree.

What is your earliest memory?

When were you happiest?
This moment is the only one in which I can be happy.

So what exactly is mindfulness?
It’s a mind-body based approach that helps people change the way they think and feel about their experiences, especially stressful experiences. It’s about paying attention to the present moment, using techniques like meditation, breathing and simple basic movement. We become more aware of our thoughts and feelings so that instead of being overwhelmed by them, we’re better able to manage them. It can help increase attention and concentration and improve relationships.


What is the most important lesson life has taught you?
Our sense of being separate is an illusion. We are intrinsically connected to each other and part of the vast ongoing process of nature. Learning to accept fully with an honest open awareness our internal and external reality and bringing compassion to it are the necessary first step to seeing clearly, making wiser choices and living fully.

What is your favourite sound or smell?
The sounds and smells around me now are the ones I most want to be with and to sense.

What simple thing would improve your quality of life?
To practice meditation more regularly!

The courses take place in
‘The sounds and smells around me now are the ones I most want to be with and to sense’. Photo: Stephen Emms

What is your guilty pleasure?
I enjoy my pleasures…I don’t feel guilty about them.

Where do you hang out?
Right here, right now. As often as I can.

What’s been your best experience? Worst?
Best: to love and be loved. Worst: to feel disconnected from this wild, precious life we all share.

Tell us a secret.
You deserve your love and compassion no more or less than anyone else.

What is your favourite dish and why?
My Mum’s Bara Brith from my birthplace in Wales.

What are you working on right now?
My next set of courses in October in King’s Cross and Hampstead; and my next workplace training event at a national charity.

Describe yourself as an animal.
I like the idea that we retain an element within us of every stage of evolution we have passed through – from a single-celled organism to the social apes we are now.

Who or what do you love?
The sense of being fully present in my life and what it teaches me and connects me to.

What did you do today?
I read, wrote and thought, listened to music, meditated – and did the housework.

The next 8-week courses start on October 13th in Hampstead and Oct 15th on the Caledonian Road N7. For more info, or for one-to-one tuition and workplace training, email or head here

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