The UoE Mindfulness programme at the Chaplaincy offers a wide range of resources, from free lunch-time drop-ins to monthly day retreats, led by Dr Kitty Wheater, Mindfulness Chaplain. The programme take place both in-person and online.
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 the Chaplaincy
The UoE Mindfulness programme offers a wide range of events and resources for students and staff.
We run twice-weekly free lunchtime mindfulness drop-in sessions, open to all University students and staff. These are suitable both for beginners and for those with previous experience of meditation. They currently run on Tuesdays (online on Zoom) and Fridays (in-person at the Chaplaincy).
Guided practices from the drop-ins are recorded, and available subsequently here.
The MindLetter is a weekly email, with a theme for reflection. It can be read by itself, and also includes a linked practice to explore in your own time. Past themes have included Zoom burnout, sleep troubles, and the pressure to be productive during lockdown.
We offer mindfulness and compassion courses for students, and separately for staff, 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.
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 during semester time.
For more information, please contact us.
UoE Mindfulness Background
At the Chaplaincy we have offered mindfulness training, based on Mindfulness-based Stress Reduction and Mindfulness-based Cognitive Therapy, for over a decade.
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 University of Edinburgh Mindfulness programme 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.