The Chaplaincy offers a variety of wellbeing activities, which are all supported by substantial research studies indicating that they are likely to improve mental health and wellbeing, offering us peace and contentment. Our main activity in this area is mindfulness, led by Dr Kitty Wheater, Mindfulness Chaplain, and our Edinburgh University Mindfulness Initiative (EUMI) Team members.

What is Mindfulness?

Mindfulness is a well-researched and effective means of alleviating stress, anxiety, and depression, and promoting wellbeing and flourishing.

It has been defined as:

 ‘The awareness that arises from paying attention, on purpose, in the present moment and non-judgmentally’ (Jon Kabat-Zinn)

‘…a flexible state of mind in which we are actively engaged in the present, noticing new things and sensitive to context’ (Ellen Langer)

At its simplest, mindfulness is about practising an embodied, present-moment awareness; noticing where we place our attention, and what demands it; investigating the patterns of mind and behaviour that give rise to our sense of mental health, wellbeing, and quality of life; and responding intentionally to situations and challenges arising. 

Why might this be useful? Amidst the busyness of work and life, many of us find that we are living on ‘automatic pilot’. We may spend much of our mental lives replaying the past and imagining the future, with little time spent inhabiting the present moment. As whatever is most urgent constantly pulls for our attention, we may suspect that much of what is good in life is passing us by. Meanwhile, when challenges arise, longstanding patterns of thought and behaviour may emerge, in more or less helpful ways.

Mindfulness training consists of formal and informal practices, cognitive exercises, and psycho-education. Participants often describe an increase in perspective, and the ability to step back and stay steady under pressure, as well as an enhanced capacity to appreciate the here and now. For many, mindfulness training provides insight not only into the workings of their own minds, but also those of others with whom they’re in contact at work and home.

Mindfulness at Chaplaincy:

At the Chaplaincy we have offered mindfulness training, based on Mindfulness-based Stress Reduction and Mindfulness-based Cognitive Therapy, for over nine years. 

In 2014 the Chaplaincy began a Mindfulness Initiative across the University, supported by EUSA and the Student Experience Project, to make mindfulness training more accessible to students and staff. This included an evaluative research project on the effects of the Chaplaincy’s mindfulness training for students and staff.

Today mindfulness is an integral feature of the Chaplaincy’s wellbeing provision. With growing interest in mindfulness as a means of supporting mental health, wellbeing, and flourishing in higher education, the Edinburgh University Mindfulness Initiative aims to provide high-quality mindfulness training within the University, based on best practice in the mindfulness-based approaches field and informed by the growing evidence-base for mindfulness in university settings.

We offer weekly lunchtime mindfulness drop-in sessions across the campuses, open to all University students and staff. These are suitable both for beginners and for those with previous experience of meditation. They currently run at the Vet School at Easter Bush on Tuesdays; the Chaplaincy at Bristo Square on Thursdays; and the Medical School at Little France on Fridays.

We also offer eight-week mindfulness training courses for staff, and separately for students, using the Mindfulness-based Cognitive Therapy: Finding Peace curriculum (MBCT-FP) designed for university settings. The student courses attract students from every School and discipline, while staff courses include all academic, professional, support, and domestic staff. In 2020, student and staff courses will run both at Bristo Square and King’s Buildings.

To support ongoing practice for those who attend the eight-week courses or drop-in sessions, or have some experience of mindfulness elsewhere, we offer monthly day retreats on Saturdays in the Chaplaincy at Bristo Square.

For more information, please contact us.


Dr Kitty Wheater

Mindfulness Chaplain

  • Chaplaincy

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Chaplaincy Centre
1 Bristo Square

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  • Please note that Kitty works part-time Tuesday to Friday, so there may be a short delay in answering your email