Meet our new Chair
Published: 25 May 2021
In Kindly Curiosity - Daniel Stokes
Daniel Stokes has taken over from William Lana as Chair of The Sharpham Trust (read more about our incoming/outgoing Chairs here and see our board of Trustees here).
Here, Daniel answers our questions about his practice and his inspirations
How did you come to practice mindfulness?
In my early 30s when I was fully immersed in a business career, I found it very difficult to properly relax and indulged in various forms of distraction including extreme fitness regimes, night clubbing and various recreational drugs.
At that time a dear friend of mine started meditation classes and recommended a book on the subject. In meditation I had a profound experience whereby almost all the preconceptions I had about my mind and my control of my mind fell away - it was a revelation to me.
What does your daily practice look like?
I guess I have been meditating for around 30 years. I meditate first thing in the morning, after a little stretching to warm up, and then I try to punctuate my day with periods of stillness, trying not be become a prisoner of the clock as it is very easy to get infected by the rush. I try to make a constant, gentle effort to slow down and notice, to do less stuff and do it more carefully.
If I am away from home or something and miss a day or two of formal sitting, it is no big deal. I try not to be dogmatic about it. I catch myself becoming overly precious about it sometimes and then laugh at my own ridiculousness. There is no hierarchy of practice - it can just be attentively walking the dog.
Why do I bother to sit? Because amongst all my conflicting desires I feel my deepest one is to be as fully present as I can be, whatever mumbo jumbo is going through my head at the time.
Who or what is inspiring you currently?
At one point I wanted to train to be a Kindergarten teacher because I learned so much from my own children when they were 3 or 4 years old. I found their openness and originality inspiring. Generally I do not find inspiration from one primary source but from all the everyday little acts of kindness and patience I continually experience: in my local shops I can think of several people who seem endlessly friendly to every customer, brightening so many lives.
Tell us about a book/film/story/artwork that's inspired you
I find Alistair Sim the comic actor rather inspiring - he helps me to not take myself too seriously.