How Mindfulness came to the UK - part 5 - the first Mindfulness Conferences

Meanwhile at Bangor University Mark Williams was establishing the Institute for Medical and Social Care Research and the Centre for Mindfulness Research and Practice. He then became the first Professor of Clinical Psychology at Oxford University.

In 2006 he convened the first 3-day International Conference of Mindfulness Teachers at Merton College, Oxford and invited me - and when we met he gave me a big bear hug. I was the only non-academic, non-medical participant. We were 33 participants from Britain, Canada, America, Australia, and Europe.

I met the most beautiful people including Ferris Urbanowski again, from the mindfulness centre in Massachusetts and teachers from Bangor but I was terrified I did not have an academic background or their language. While chatting with Ferris, I revealed my background as a maverick and the problems this created for me. She laughed conspiratorially saying she too was a maverick! I love that remarkable woman.

In the final Oxford participant group-session I asked when we were going to have an Oxford Mindfulness Centre or department? Melanie considered this and answered that the first foundation would be to design a Master’s degree in mindfulness studies, and she did.

The second conference was held in 2007. I joined the team as a co-ordinator to set up the Oxford Mindfulness Centre [OMC] with Mark Williams. My special remit was as the project leader for introducing mindfulness to schools.

Mark Williams worked tirelessly to establish the centre, seeking funding, premises and all that establishing a new department within the department of psychiatry required. In 2008 he founded The Oxford Mindfulness Centre. The centre was contained within the Prince of Wales International Centre building on the Warneford Hospital site - it was the Sane building on the Warneford Hospital site with its disproportionately high porch. We really felt like we were making good progress!

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