Geneviève Hamelet: from Fashion Shows to Mindfulness

- through Francois Leclercq

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The current president of the Association for the Development of Mindfulness has never built a career plan. Guided by the vagaries of life, Geneviève Hamelet discovered Theravada and Vajrayana Buddhism, the Tibetan master Gyétrul Jigmé Rinpoché and, finally, the MBSR program (Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction).

"Would you like some tea?" “, she offers as soon as she enters her office. Cushions, books on the wall, warm and comforting colours… A bubble of zen in the heart of the hustle and bustle of the XNUMXth arrondissement in Paris, in which she offers individual sophrology and mindfulness sessions. A Mac sits on the desk. Long brown hair, original glasses, casual outfit, simple and chic, Genevieve Hamelet regrets spending too much time behind his computer. Her activities are numerous: at 69, she is president of the ADM (Association for the development of mindfulness), certified MBSR teacher and trainer, sophrologist, disciple of Gyétrul Jigme Rinpoche and interpreter in English. “What I realize today, I did not project it. Life guided me. She guided me well and sometimes led me into paradoxes,” she says in a soft but firm voice.

“Life has guided me well and has sometimes led me to experience paradoxes. »

His first job was that of a journalist. After studying press and communication, she moved to Tahiti to work for the French branch of the ORTF. Upon her return to mainland France, she became press officer at the CGPME (General Confederation of Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises), then freelancer and editor-in-chief of fashion magazines and women's magazines. She writes for Elle, Femme, Depeche Mode and foreign titles. Then, for seven years, she took a long break: she accompanied, as an assistant, her photographer husband in the production of works presenting the cultural particularities of foreign countries. Together, they travel through Indonesia, Cameroon, Italy, Australia, Malaysia, etc.

Buddhism, a preparation for death (which learns to live)

Outside of work, Geneviève Hamelet practices sophrology and meditation, which she discovered during internships. We are in the 1970s. “At that time, personal development experienced a great boom. In search of total freedom, we explored many practices,” she recalls. During those years, Geneviève Hamelet had a strong, painful experience: while palliative care did not yet exist, she accompanied a friend who died of cancer at home. Death questions her, gnaws at her and leads her to develop a spiritual dimension: “All Buddhist practices, whatever the school, are neither more nor less than a preparation for death, unfortunately taboo in the West. And preparing for death is learning to live better,” she notes.

After a first retreat in the early 1990s in a Tibetan Buddhist center in France, she met Gyetrul Jigme Rinpoche, then 28 years old. “In my head, I imagined having a wise old man as my master. I had a real spiritual encounter with this young man, from the RIPA lineage. He is modern, full of life and humor, and he teaches in English, which allowed me to establish a direct relationship with him. Since then, she has contributed to the expansion of its activities in Europe, translated it, taught meditation, trained instructors and participated in retreats at the RIPA International Center, in the Bern region of Switzerland. But he is not the only master she has been able to rub shoulders with. Akincano, Tara Brach, Jack Kornfield, Saki Santorelli, Bob Stahl, Ajahn Sucitto, Ajahn Amaro… Since 1997, Geneviève Hamelet has been interpreting masters from different traditions. “At their side, I discovered all kinds of teachings of great wealth. In Buddhism, if the currents and the schools are multiple, the essence remains the same”, she points out.

Eternal student as she defines herself, it was also during a training that she heard, for the first time, about mindfulness, in 2007. The American Jon Kabat-Zinn, the father of the MBSR, is then almost unknown in France. Intrigued, she sends an email to Matthieu Ricard, then leaves to meet Christophe André, at the Saint-Anne hospital. And, one thing led to another, in 2008 she became an MBCT instructor (cognitive therapy based on mindfulness) and MBSR in 2009. Letting herself be carried away by the enthusiasm aroused in France by these practices, she was at the origin, with a handful other practitioners, from the Association for the Development of Mindfulness (ADM). “Today, we are 210 MBCT and MBSR instructors, and training requests continue to flow,” she points out. Work, she does not miss it. At the same time, she teaches at the Tarab Institute France, founded by the Tibetan Tarab Tulku Rinpoche. “My life is well saturated… Such is the trap of exciting activities! “, she concludes

photo of author

Francois Leclercq

François Leclercq is the founder of Buddhist News, a website which aims to disseminate information and practical advice on Buddhism and spirituality. François Leclercq was born and raised in Paris. He studied Buddhism at the University of Paris-Sorbonne, where he graduated in social sciences and psychology. After graduating, he devoted himself to his passion for Buddhism and traveled the world to study and learn about different practices. He notably visited Tibet, Nepal, Thailand, Japan and China.

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