Twenty years ago, I was a professor at a major university. I was living in a quiet town in France, loving my life. Then, one day, I noticed a strange swishing noise in my head. And everything radically changed.

A doctor diagnosed me with a brain tumor.

A few months later, I found myself in a hospital, having surgery. A short while later I was back again for a follow-up surgery.

I couldn't help but wonder... Would I need a third surgery? Or a fourth? And if so, when?

I spent the next few years trying to get back to my daily routine. Outwardly, it seemed my life was back on track. My job as a professor and my family life were stable and secure. I had lost some of my prior interests, such as tennis and languages, but I had found other activities that interested me.

Inwardly, though, I was suddenly dealing with unprecedented fear and anxiety.

Fear and anxiety became the backdrop of my daily life. I'd never before thought of myself as anxious or fearful, but now I had become those emotions.

The thought of doing another MRI, and the worry that my surgeon would see another tumor, were too much for me to bear.

I tried various ways to put my fears out of my mind. Medication. Distraction. Repression. These strategies worked for a time, but they didn't last.

Eventually, my anxiety slipped into full-on depression.

Then I saw a flyer for a two-day mindfulness meditation retreat.

Like many people, I had tried to meditate before, and—also like many people—had found it impossible. My mind wandered so much that I couldn't concentrate for more than ten seconds. My back ached. Sitting still was hard and boring.

But I was desperate. And since I'd found no other remedies for my condition, I thought... Why not?

I went to the retreat.

I was surprised, because I loved it! Using the mindfulness practices I learned, I began a simple daily meditation practice.

Little by little, my anxiety lessened. I became less resistant to my emotions, and my compassion for others grew as a result.

My mind settled down. I found periods of quiet stillness that I had never experienced before.

I've now become a mindfulness teacher, helping others improve their own lives through meditation and mindfulness practices and techniques.

Mindfulness has made me happier, more productive, and less anxious. I guess you might say mindfulness didn't just change my life; it literally saved it.