Sophie Sansom – Teacher Training Programme (TTP) Lead

Stepping back from my life so far, it feels difficult to put a finger on which experiences have led me to where I am, much of it feels consequential. Having said that, it seems impossible to pull these experiences apart, so, perhaps they have all been of vital importance. As a young child in the 80s my parents, both social workers, became actively involved in Triratna Buddhist community. We lived in the East End of London and have a working-class background so ordination in a Buddhist Order was not the norm. I saw first-hand the impact that practice could have on emotional well-being and resilience in the face of life’s challenges.   

I graduated from university with an undergraduate degree in psychology. By this time, I felt certain of the psychological impact of Buddhist practice and was hungry to learn more about the nature of mind through academic research. In 2003, I embarked upon an MPhil and PhD in psychology by research, exploring the emerging secular approach to mindfulness in relation to meditation training in comparative religious contexts. I taught undergraduate psychology at the university to fund my part-time studies which ended up taking almost eight years (and most of my 20’s) to complete.  

By the time I finished my PhD it was clear that an academic understanding would only get me so far. I spent the next three years moving between travel and living in monastic settings in India, Tibet, Burma and Thailand, studying Dharma and developing my personal practice. I feel blessed to have had this opportunity. Although situations in my life and my mental states are forever changing, something fundamental was built; a refuge that I can return to, any time I close my eyes.  

On arriving back in the UK, I was committed to sharing what I had learnt with others. I completed a Teacher Training Retreat with the Centre for Mindfulness Research and Practice (CMRP) and .b training with the Mindfulness in Schools Project (MiSP), which I then took to teachers and young people in schools. Over time, I began to work for MiSP as a .b trainer and later operationally for the organisation, developing methods of ongoing support for teachers post training and ways of measuring the impact of mindfulness in schools. During this time, I was trained in MBI-TAC competency assessment by the Oxford Mindfulness Centre (OMC). I feel humbled to be part of the OMC and CMRP assessment teams.  

I moved out of London to start a family and set up home on the coast in North Cornwall. The rural simplicity and dramatic coastline (not to mention the surf) feel conducive to a more peaceful state of mind. Moving away from a thriving Buddhist centre in London bought home the importance of community as a support for personal practice, a finding that had also come from my research years before. I founded the SiTT community (Support for Integrity in Teaching and Training) as a way of connecting with other mindfulness teachers. The intention was to create a peer-led, conscious community modelled in part on the spirit of Sangha, that could become an affordable support for teachers to adhere to ongoing good practice. I am pleased that the community has continued to thrive and has proven to be a support to many teachers and trainees. 

My then youngest son waready for nursery when I saw the job as Training Lead for the Mindfulness Network (MN) / CMRP collaboration. I felt sure that this was a position from which I could guide the direction of travel in teacher trainingcontributing to integrity and the longevity of the Mindfulness fieldI relish being back in an academic setting at Bangor University (BU), teaching on the masters, contributing to academic projects and discoveries. I feel grateful to be working within a training team with such an incredible depth of experience, wisdom and compassion and for an organisation whose mission and values align so closely with my own.  I am excited about the future of our ever-evolving field.  

I can be contacted via email at