How Mindfulness came to the West - part 3 - Deconstruction

At this time I read a copy of “Full Catastrophe Living” by JKZ given to me by a friend and colleague when I was in a period of severe depression. It changed my life. It was a slow painful process as I tried to practice the programme set out in the book. I went through the programme five times and eventually overcame my depression. It was a Eureka moment. Over many years of periods of debilitating severe depression I had tried everything. Every type of medication and therapy. Nothing really worked but eventually mindfulness did. I was a convert.

Through my colleague Ann I was introduced to Professor John Teasdale of Cambridge University and attended some of his classes on the practice of Mindfulness. I brought together a group of oxford psychologists and fellow psychotherapists to peer teach ourselves the JKZ 8-week mindfulness programme with the original teaching curriculum that John Teasdale gave me.

Each week we took it in turns to teach and be participants. We then debriefed and diagnosed the session. We ran another 8-week learning programme. Three American teachers from the Centre for Mindfulness Teaching in Massachusetts were invited by Bangor University to Trigonos, a conference center in Snowdonia, Wales, to give a weeks’ training in mindfulness.

Professors John Teasdale [Cambridge] Mark Williams [Bangor], Zindel Segal [Toronto] myself and two of my original peer group attended. We repeated this the following year. Meanwhile I sought JKZ’s original meditation teachers and found them at Gaia House, in Devon. They had expanded from their original vicarage retreat centre to a former convent in Ogbourne St. George near Newton Abbot. Gaia House was founded by Christina Feldman and Christopher Titmus.

I had found the finest western teachers of meditation and Buddhism including Martine and Stephen Batchelor, John Peacock and others. I was very privileged to have such eminent teachers. They also taught with others at the Insight Meditation Society in Barre, Massachusetts, where JKZ studied. I attended many weekend and week- long retreats at Gaia House and two periods of 1-month long personal retreats to prepare me for publicly teaching the mindfulness programme. This was my goal. I had found a way of teaching therapeutic secular meditation for well-being and mental health. This was the birth of Mindfulness in the U.K., and we were very excited!

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