Stephen Batchelor is a writer, translator, teacher and artist. Born in 1953, he was ordained as a Buddhist monk at the age of twenty and spent ten years training in the Tibetan Geluk and Korean Sŏn orders. Since 1986, he has taught at Gaia House meditation centre in Devon, England.
In 2015 he co-founded Bodhi College, a European educational project dedicated to the understanding and application of early Buddhism. His most recent publications are “After Buddhism, Rethinking the Dharma for a Secular Age” (2016) and “Secular Buddhism, Imagining the Dharma in an Uncertain World” (2017). He travels worldwide to lecture and lead retreats and lives in south-west France with his wife Martine.
“Secular Dharma: From Truths to Tasks”
Rather than basing itself on the classical Buddhist doctrine of the four noble truths, the approach of Secular Dharma is based on a radical re-reading of these truths as a set of interconnected tasks to be recognized, performed and mastered. This is summed up in the acronym ELSA: Embrace life, Let go of reactivity, See the stopping of reactivity, and Actualise a path. In providing a philosophical and ethical framework for the practice of mindfulness, ELSA moves us away from Buddhism as a set of religious beliefs and allows us to reconsider the dharma as the foundation for a secular culture of awakening.
Katherine Weare, PhD, is Emeritus Professor at the Universities of Exeter and Southampton in the UK. Trained as a teacher of mindfulness at the University of Exeter, she now works in their postgraduate diploma course training mindfulness teachers. She regularly teaches MBCT/MBSR courses, and follow ups, to a wide range of groups, attends regular silent insight meditation retreats to support her daily practice and has just completed the Committed Practitioner Programme with Bodhi College.
She is known internationally for her work on mental health, well-being, social and emotional learning and mindfulness in education, and has published widely in the field, reviewing the evidence base on ‘what works’, advising policy makers and governments, and developing practical strategies across most European countries.
She advises various mindfulness projects such as the UK Mindfulness in Schools Project, the Plum Village mindfulness community and the UK government on policy surrounding mindfulness and wellbeing, and has written several books on the topic. Her recent book, co-written a book with Thich Nhat Hanh ‘Happy Teachers Change The World’ (2017) is helping to cultivate a more holistic and less instrumental approach to mindfulness in educational contexts, and is currently being translated into a wide range of languages.
Katherine is a board member for Mind and Life Europe and is working with them on a new project to develop networks, support and pilot projects on contemplative education across Europe.
Judson Brewer, MD, PhD, is a psychiatrist and internationally known expert in the field of mindfulness for addiction. He is Director of Research at the Center for Mindfulness and Associate Professor in Medicine and Psychiatry at UMass Medical School (USA). He has developed and tested novel mindfulness programs for habit change, including in-person and app-based treatments. Other research interests include the underlying neural mechanisms of mindfulness meditation. In “The Craving Mind: From Cigarettes to Smartphones to Love – Why We Get Hooked and How We Can Break Bad Habits” (2017) he describes the mechanisms of habit and addiction formation, then explains how the practice of mindfulness can interrupt these habits.
“Mind the gap”. Beyond the 8 week course: a reflection and dialogue about possible follow-up formats to support MBI participants in maintaining and deepening their practice
The ‘8 week course’ in various forms has become the standard introduction to mindfulness in many places, and protocol and research base for it fairly well established. It is much less clear where participants go after that to develop mindfulness, there is something of a theory and practice ‘gap’ between this basic course and more intensive approaches, and a dearth of research into various approaches. This interactive workshop will draw out the experience of the facilitators and the group participants around bridging this gap. We will reflect together on how the strengths and limitations of the ‘8 week’ starting point and what we can hope to achieve in that time. We will together explore the experience in the room of a range of follow on opportunities, and some of the issues that arise from them. To start us off the presenters will share their experiences:
Jud will reflect on the graduate classes that have been offered at the Center for Mindfulness at UMass Medical School over the past 40 years, and 2) The development of the “MBSR-2” graduate program, and 3) the development of “flipped classroom” graduate and feeder classes for mindful eating and anxiety that combine app-based training + weekly in-person group facilitation.
Katherine will reflect on various approaches taking place in the UK in a health, educational and community based settings, including reunions, drop ins, follow up courses and secular retreats, and attempting to build mindful cultures in institutions to cultivate mindful practices, attitudes and policies.
We will then pool further experiences in the room of follow ups, and the issues they raise.
- Be clearer about the strengths and limitations of the 8 week course, the foundations it provides on which we can build, and what the ‘problems’ of follow up may presently be.
- Have heard and reflected on case studies from the two presenters of efforts to develop follow up formats – including courses, apps, reunions, drop ins, secular retreats, and the building of supportive mindful cultures.
- Have had an opportunity to learn from one another about experiences in the room around such developments, and the issues they raise.
- Have explored ‘where next’ e.g. in terms of future developments, research, networking, and cultivating mindful communities and organizations.
More information to be announced soon
Willem Kuyken, PhD, Professor of Clinical Psychology at the University of Oxford (UK) where he is director of the Oxford Mindfulness Centre. From 1999 to 2014 he worked at the University of Exeter, where he held a number of roles including leading the clinical research group and conducting two randomized controlled trials of MBCT for depression. His ongoing research focuses on depression and evidence based approaches to depression, in particular how MBCT can prevent depression and enhance human potential across the lifespan.
“Mindfulness: the confluence of ancient wisdom and modern psychological science”
“Most people believe the mind to be a mirror, more or less accurately reflecting the world outside of them, not realizing on the contrary, that the mind itself is the principal element of creation.”
– Rabindrath Tagore –
Your decision to come to this session, the ideas I will explore, much of what causes suffering in the world, the steps we can take to end suffering – they all originate in the human mind and heart. In this moment the human mind and heart holds the potential for understanding, transformation and liberation. We can create and recreate our lives. We can shape the world around us. This is the extraordinary power we have.
This session will explore the confluence of Buddhist psychology and psychological science. We will explore the ways they come together to provide a map of the mind and route maps for mindfulness teachers and students to follow in mindfulness-based programmes. There will be a presentation, practice and time for discussion.
Heleen Slagter, PhD, is a cognitive neuroscientist and Associate Professor in the Department of Psychology of the University of Amsterdam (NL), and Principal investigator of the Cognition and Plasticity Laboratory. Her current research interests include (the neural basis of) core cognitive capacities such as attention, and methods that may enhance these capacities, including mindfulness mediation.
“Contemplative Neuroscience: Findings, Challenges, and Future Directions”
Neuroscience research within the last few decades has shown that the brain is much more plastic, or able to change in structure and function, than was once thought possible. This has spurred interest in meditation as a method to improve brain and mental functioning. In my talk, I will explore recent neuroscientific research on how different types of meditation may influence how we pay attention and perceive the world around us. In doing so, I will also consider how meditation effects may be understood within the scientific framework of predictive processing. This framework has rapidly gained scientific traction in recent years and shows notable parallels to Buddhist theories in that it proposes that the brain continuously constructs its own reality and that everyday experience is conditioned by top-down expectations derived from past experiences. I will also briefly consider challenges that the field of Contemplative Neuroscience in particular faces, and end by delineating important avenues of further inquiry.
Zindel Segal, PhD, is Distinguished Professor of Psychology in Mood Disorders at the University of Toronto (CA) and a Senior Scientist in the Campbell Family Mental Health Research Institute at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health. He is one of the founders of MBCT and a substantial part of his research focuses on mindfulness-based intervention programs in psychiatry and mental health. His groundbreaking book “Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy for Depression, A New Approach to Preventing Relapse” (2002) has been updated in a second edition (2012) and continues to be the blueprint for MBCT worldwide.
“A Benevolent Frankenstein Enters the Therapeutic Mainstream”
Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy is a Frankenstein of sorts – constructed from seemingly disparate elements – such as training in mindfulness meditation and the cognitive theory of affective disorder. And yet, it has amassed a broad appeal and proven effectiveness. Perhaps its hybrid nature provides an advantage in the prevention field, where the aim is less on reducing symptoms than in fostering wellness. This is, however speculative, since the question of how exactly this multi-modal treatment achieves its benefits remains largely unanswered. It is still fair to ask, for example, about the relative contribution of cognitive therapy principles versus mindfulness practice to the gains patients report. Clarifying mechanisms of action is of more than academic interest, as it will likely inform the approach taken to training the next generation of MBCT practitioners. In addition, a focus on mechanisms can only enhance efforts to address the largest obstacle faced by patients interested in this form of care, namely limited access. I will address the questions of mechanisms of action and the contribution of mindfulness practice to prevention outcomes by drawing on analyses of neural, self-report and practice data from a recently completed 2 year longitudinal trial of MBCT and CBT in remitted depressed individuals. Implications for the clinical practice of MBCT from these data will also be featured.
Alison Evans was trained as an occupational therapist and later specialized as an MBCT therapist and trainer. From 2008 to 2017 she has worked at the mood disorders centre at the university of Exeter as a lead therapist in clinical trials of MBCT for depression. She is also co-director of the Mindfulness Network CIC. Alison has a particular interest in Mindfulness-Based Supervision (MBS). She worked closely with Cindy Cooper and Jody Mardula in developing understandings about the nature of MBS and articulating a framework and model for its delivery. Recently, she joined the CMRP team to develop and deliver training in MBS.
“What makes mindfulness-based supervision mindful?
Mindfulness-based supervision (MBS) is an important part of training and ongoing professional development for teachers of mindfulness-based interventions (MBI). There are ways that it draws upon longstanding models of supervision in other settings, and ways that it is distinctive. The articulation of what it is and how to supervise is at an early stage.
In this workshop frameworks and understandings will be offered, alongside case study examples and opportunities for interactive dialogue. The workshop will be aimed at those who teach MBIs or supervise MBI teachers.
Key learning objectives are:
- To develop a deeper understanding of what MBS is
- To understand the place of MBS within training and ongoing development as a MBI teacher
- To understand the mindful aspects of MBS, with a particular focus on the inquiry process
- To explore one’s own experience of MBS and future intentions