We sat down with Dora Kamau, check out Dora's Instagram here, Mindfulness Meditation Teacher at Headspace, to talk all things meditation, stress management & sleep. Dora first started practicing meditation after struggling with anxiety and said finding the practice “was truly a revelation”. She believes meditating calms the mind and enables us to be better suited to deal with whatever life throws at us. Through her years of teaching, she has found that many people often think that they are alone with their mind and problems, which is far from the truth. Read on to find out more about meditation…

What’s a typical day like for you working for Headspace?
My days begin at 5AM. As much as we teach, it’s so important to practice. So I like to wake up early and meditate, exercise, stretch and take time for myself. On the days I am recording, I’ll usually head into the studio at 9AM and myself and the audio engineer will record for a few hours. When I’m not recording, I’m usually scripting for on and off-platform content, preparing for live events, attending meetings or brainstorming for upcoming projects.

When did you first start practising meditation and mindfulness?
I was first introduced to meditation in 2010 by my best friend and it didn’t really stick back then. I was doing it on and off, usually when I had a situational crisis. In 2016 while in the midst of change and transformation, I was reintroduced to meditation and mindfulness by another friend of mine and that’s when I decided to make it a daily commitment.

Can meditation and mindfulness help you manage stress?
Definitely! Personally, meditation and mindfulness has helped me to stop living my life on autopilot. I found that this is where a lot of my own stress came from, by doing so much and not ever checking in with how I’m feeling. When you meditate, you’re training the mind to be in the present moment and with that, you start to realize how often your mind is always elsewhere, wanting more or chasing after certain thoughts and feelings. Echkart Tolle says "stress arises when we’re here, but wanting to be there” and when we’re living on auto-pilot, being here in the moment can seem like such a faraway place. By returning to the present, we start to slow down and allow the mind and body to rest and be at ease, which helps us to manage stress. 


What are your three top tips for managing stress during the day?
- Taking mini-mindful breaks throughout the day to pause. I’ve been using Eve’s new course on the Headspace app called ‘5 mindful minutes’, it’s been a wonderful way to take some time for myself and prioritise me-time.
- Going for a walk or moving the body in a mindful way that feels good for you. Since working from home, I’ve noticed how much tension my body has been carrying, especially being less active. That physical tension is also a direct reflection of the tension and stress that is in the mind.
- Taking deep breaths. It can be so easy to underestimate the power of a deep breath, but by connecting to our inhale and exhale, we create a sense of spaciousness in the mind and body that helps to handle stress in a more skillful way.

How does aromatherapy help with meditation?
Scents activate the limbic system of the brain which helps to recall pleasant memories and provide a sense of relaxation to the mind and body. In my own personal practice, I love using lavender, rose and frankincense incense before I sit to practice. There’s something so soothing about the sweet and subtle presence they provide when meditating.


What’s one piece of advice you would give to someone wanting to start practising meditation?
Be patient with yourself! We may come with a lot of expectations when we start to meditate like we’ll be good at it right away, but remember, the mind is busy by nature. So by meditating and training the mind to be still and focused, we’re doing something that’s actually quite hard. It’s so important to be patient with yourself, with your practice and with the process.
How do you switch off and relax at the end of a busy day?
I’m a person who loves routine and structure so I have a night time routine that supports me in switching off and relaxing at the end of a busy day. Most nights, I’ll turn my phone off, do a few gentle stretches, some deep breathing and read a book. Depending on the day I’ve had, I’ll also journal. I’ve been trying to get better at meditating at night, but it’s still a work in progress!


To discover mindful ways to prepare for a more restful night’s sleep, sign up for a free trial or a Headspace membership here.