~ Written by Rebecca Crane PhD, Director of the Mindfulness Centre at Bangor University and Trustee for the Mindfulness Network ~
New Year is often a time to look forward and refresh intentions. I am also enjoying reflecting back on 2021 and the events we held to mark the 20th anniversary of the establishment of the Mindfulness Centre at Bangor University. Our first event in June marked the publication of Essential Resources for Mindfulness Teachers – a gathering of resources and wisdom developed by our training team as part of their work offering teacher training over the last two decades. The next event was a reflective conversation between me and the founder of our centre Prof Mark Williams, exploring the personal threads that guided his life’s work as a clinical researcher on depression and mindfulness. Each anniversary event that followed, was an offering on themes our team deeply care about: three events on key pillars of our work – supporting the growth of skilful mindfulness-based teachers (with Sophie Sansom and Gemma Griffith), mindfulness-based supervision (with Alison Evans and Pamela Duckerin), and personal practice (with Trish Bartley and Bridgette O’Neil); and two events on specialist developments – implementing teacher training in Spain and the Spanish speaking world (with Estrella Fernandez and Taravajra), and the role of mindfulness in palliative and end-of-life care (with David Shannon).
Recordings of all the anniversary events can be viewed through the Mindfulness Network Community site. The recordings are available freely, however, a donation big or small will help us to improve our support for mindfulness and compassion teachers.
The breadth of uptake from you, the community we connect to, was deeply heart-warming. Seeing so many faces from across the world (there were over 850 participants from the UK, France and Spain to China, Taiwan and South America), and hearing your reflections, comments and messages was a huge inspiration and sustenance for me.
We are all connected to the reality that we are living in transitionary and unstable times on a global level. It can feel precarious and challenging as we face into continued realities of global inequalities and health disparities, climate and biodiversity breakdown, popularism and polarisation of ways of thinking. And simultaneously, there are distinct signs of possibility, awakening and transition as communities at a grassroots level come together to provide leadership to our governments on life sustaining ways of organising ourselves, as the Black Lives Matter movement gains an inspiring level of traction across society, and as many (myself included) engage in new ways in the close inner work needed to recognise white and class conditioning. And there are of course many other beautiful responses to the current moment bubbling up across the world.
I see our work as teachers and researchers of mindfulness as part of an integrated web of necessary responses to enable this transition – what Joanna Macy calls ‘The Great Turning’ – the movement towards a life sustaining society. One necessary component of this turning is awareness. Each one of you is engaged in your own way in seeding awareness – and as a collective we are offering something significant across the globe. The gatherings last year reminded me of the potency and significance of our community. They support us to feel connected to the bigger movement we are all part of; and they provide inspiration and encouragement. These are important ingredients in sustaining ourselves through the inevitable challenges and sense of ‘up-hillness’ we face in our work.
The gatherings last year certainly served and sustained me in these ways. I look forward to connecting with you going forward – and am grateful for the encouragement and inspiration that you and your work offers to me and many others in taking the next step that we are each called to take.
Thank you for all that enabled the gatherings to happen – your participation, the speakers, the team at the Mindfulness Network, the translators and the Community Friends volunteers.
The series was offered in collaboration with the Mindfulness Network Community Friends – an initiative to engage the wider mindfulness community and reach new audiences (formerly known as Friends of Bangor). Led by a Committee of Volunteers, supported by the Mindfulness Network, we work together to run a programme of donation-based events and inspiring content. You are welcome to visit the Community Friends area of our Community site, which is open to all, for more opportunities to practice, gather and learn together.
Written by Rebecca Crane PhD, CMRP Director, January 2022