Edith Bowman talks about mindfulness

The fresh-faced, effervescent broadcaster talks to Danielle Woodward about the role music plays in her life, what makes her tick and her mindfulness app, Quility


Edith Bowman talks about mindfulness

I come from a very close family. My parents owned a hotel when I was growing up and I remember them working so hard. They instilled a healthy work ethic in me and my brother from an early age – if you work hard, you earn rewards.

I have guilt about how much I work; I need a balance. My sons [Rudy, eight, and Spike, three] are my priority but, if I didn’t work, I wouldn’t be half as good a mum. I can express myself at work, which allows me to do fun things at home.

My mindfulness app for mums helps rewire thoughts. It’s helped me create quality time with the kids – not being with them and distracted by my phone but fully present. Quility provides tools to help you connect with your brain before you react. Rather than shouting at your children, you think: ‘I’ll do this instead.’ It also helps me wind down, so I use my brain when I need to, rather than being switched on constantly.

I’ve always been surrounded by music. My dad played the guitar and listened to everything from Billie Holiday and Frank Sinatra to the Rolling Stones. As a child, I spent weekends with my grandad, and he always sang to me. We were all with him when he died 12 years ago; we played Al Jolson songs to him and it was a great comfort.

I try to be myself when I’m working. I remember a listener telling me how she had gone back to her room at uni after knowing she had done badly in an exam. She listened to my show and said it felt as if she had a friend with her. That was the biggest compliment I’ve ever had. I hope people feel like I’m having a conversation with them, not talking at them. There is sexism in the music industry – but I’ve co-hosted many times and it’s all been level-pegging; I’ve never been a sidekick. The conversation shouldn’t be about men and women, it should be about someone’s quality.

Social media has opened up conversations – but they are faceless. When Lily Allen asked me on Twitter what Lady Gaga’s performance was like, I replied that it was quite self-absorbed. The reaction was as if I’d threatened her life! I thought, ‘Come on guys, there are more serious things to get irate about. It’s just my opinion.’

I loathe people who are rude to service staff because they believe they are above them. I worked in my parents’ hotel and I’ve been on the receiving end of rudeness. It may well be someone’s career choice, so how dare you judge them?

I still get nervous when I interview famous people. You never know if they’re going to be interested in talking to you. Sometimes you have to accept that they were in a bad mood or your questions were rubbish. I’d love to interview Madonna, but I’d probably be physically sick.

I was anxious before speaking to Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr and director, Ron Howard, about The Beatles: Eight Days A Week. Then, Paul told them a story about when I was pregnant that lightened the mood. As I have a heart condition, I had an early scan and bumped into Stella McCartney at the doctor’s. I was interviewing Paul soon after, and he said: ‘I think I know something no one else knows.’ I had to ask him to keep quiet! I’ve told Rudy that ‘Uncle Paul’ knew he was coming before anyone else.

I strive for honesty. You get told what people think you want to hear to keep you sweet, but it makes me lose respect for them. I’d rather hear constructive feedback. It’s important to be honest with the kids, too; I need them to know what I’m feeling. If something is bothering me, I try and get it out there; it helps towards a healthy environment.

The Quility app is free on App Store and Google Play; quility.me. Listen to Edith Bowman on Virgin Radio from 6am to 10am and subscribe to her podcast, ‘Soundtracking’, at edithbowman.com

Photograph: Pål Hansen for Psychologies