Twenty Years of Mindfulness at Bangor
Thirty years ago, at Bangor University, Professor Mark Williams started investigating how to help people who were prone to depressive relapse. This journey took him to co-leading a randomised trial of Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) with Zindel Segal and John Teasdale. The strong results from this trial catalysed a growing interest in integrating mindfulness with psychological interventions and into mainstream settings such as our health service.
Twenty years ago, the Centre for Mindfulness Research and Practice (CMRP) was founded at Bangor University as a response to this interest. Over the last two decades, CMRP has pioneered the development of training methods for mindfulness-based teachers, including establishing the first masters programme in this field worldwide; the integration of mindfulness into academic contexts; the development of research on MBP teaching skills and the process of MBP implementation. CMRP has also provided leadership in how to bring Mindfulness-Based Programmes (MBPs) into the mainstream in ways that preserve their transformational potential.
On a societal level in the last two decades, there has been an upsurge of public interest and engagement in mindfulness, and a deeper recognition at a policy and societal level that the state of our minds and hearts ultimately influences everything we do. MBPs have therefore gained tremendous traction, finding their way into schools, the health service, workplaces, and other mainstream settings. Human society and planet earth are now at a flexion point on multiple levels – the climate and biodiversity crisis, inequalities, and threats to democracy are forces we are now all feeling. Never before was the development of pro-social awareness more needed.
MBP teachers worldwide are well positioned to make a potent contribution to the demands of this moment. Every participant on an MBP undertakes a personal journey. This has both personal and shared aspects. The universal processes that we all cultivate as we practice and integrate mindfulness within our lives are awareness and compassion, which profoundly influence how we relate to ourselves and others. We discover that personal ease and wellbeing are completely interconnected with the wellbeing of all living systems. The pandemic has brought this into sharp focus – we recognise that no one is safe until everyone is safe. Our team at Bangor University and the wider MBP field are actively inquiring (through both research and practice) into how MBP teachers can more skilfully harness the lens of mindfulness to contribute to the big challenges of our time.
The vehicle for MBP teaching is of course the MBP teacher. At the heart of our mission at Bangor University is a deep wish to resource and support MBP teachers to flourish, so they can offer their teaching within their communities. In May 2021 we launch our new book titled ‘Essential Resources for Mindfulness Teachers’ which represents a gathering of the resources we have developed over the last two decades to support MBP teachers on their journey. This is the fruit of 20 years of collaborative, wholehearted work by the Bangor training team. The book is structured in three parts. Parts I and II address the explicit and implicit dimensions to the curriculum forms we are anchored into: Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) and MBCT; Part III offers a compendium of resources to support MBP teachers. We anticipate that the book will become a nourishing and sustaining companion to the ongoing journey of being an MBP teacher.
We are celebrating the launch of the book and the 20-year anniversary of the launch of the mindfulness centre at Bangor University with a series of online presentations and dialogues with key leaders and authors. Do join us! See here for details.
Rebecca Crane PhD, CMRP Director
Publication date: 4 May 2021