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The Mindfulness Association’s 2014 Summer Gathering: Mindfulness & Compassion Conference

Posted on 20 Mar 2014

The Mindfulness Association’s 2014 Summer Gathering: Mindfulness & Compassion Conference

The Mindfulness Association’s 2014 Summer Gathering


Mindfulness & Compassion Conference


Transforming Our World from Within

Hosted by the Mindfulness Association in association with the University of Aberdeen

At Samye Ling Tibetan Centre, Eskdalemuir, Dumfries and Galloway - 26-29 June 2014

Conference Fee: £325

(Non-refundable deposit of £50 payable on Booking, with balance due by the end of April 2014)

To book your place and pay your £50.00 non refundable deposit please click here

Accommodation can be booked separately at Samye Ling Tibetan Centre or other local accommodation providers (a list of local accommodation will be sent with booking confirmation)


Conference Theme

We are delighted to announce an international conference on the important theme of the relationship between mindfulness and compassion training.

In the words of Lama Yeshe Rinpoche, “Meditation without compassion goes nowhere. We just become more acutely aware of our neurosis. What we need to do is to plant seeds of loving kindness, compassion, joy and equanimity. True mindfulness is maintaining awareness of these qualities in everything we do, 24 hours a day.”

This goes to the heart of the debate as to whether compassion arises naturally from mindfulness practice on its own or whether we need specific practices to cultivate compassion. Although mindfulness and compassion are often described as ‘two wings of a bird’, greater clarity is needed in understanding the way in which they interact.

This is one of the first conferences to bring international leaders in the field together to discuss these important issues. The speakers will offer different perspectives of mindfulness and compassion, and different practices to use in our lives. There will also be opportunities to try out some of these practices.

We hope you will be able to attend this conference and become inspired by the vision of creating a compassionate world, and so feel energised to play your part by transforming our world from within.


“Normally when we talk about danger we think of the elements; we think of unforeseeable natural disasters or epidemics. But worse than any of these is the danger that we will become a species without compassion. Slowly without our noticing it, we could become transformed into a society completely without compassion. This world could become a place where there is no caring for one another. But this will not happen if we are willing to help one another, willing to love one another. We can prevent that danger.”

HH 17th Karmapa at Kagyu Monlam 2014


Conference Structure

This conference brings together international speakers to address these important themes, outline the latest research and offer guidance for future research and development. There will be keynote talks on Thursday evening, Friday morning, Friday evening, Saturday morning and Saturday evening. On both Friday and Saturday afternoon there will be the option to attend one of the workshops on offer. On Sunday morning there will be research presentations by the University of Aberdeen, and on Sunday afternoon the first cohort of graduates from the MSc in Mindfulness Studies will present their thesis findings. To see the full conference schedule click here

Samye Ling Tibetan Centre

The conference will take place at Samye Ling Tibetan Centre. Samye Ling was the first Tibetan Buddhist Centre to have been established in the West and was founded in 1967 by two refugee Lamas, Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche and Akong Tulku Rinpoche. Samye Ling is committed to traditional Tibetan Buddhist scholarship and meditation practice as well as hosting secular mindfulness, compassion and insight training.


Keynote Speakers & Themes

Lama Yeshe Rinpoche – Tibetan Buddhist view of Mindfulness and Compassion Practice

Lama Yeshe Rinpoche will give a talk on the importance of including compassion within meditation practice by planting seeds of compassionate qualities within our hearts and minds. According to the Tibetan Buddhist approach to training the mind, mindfulness is important in alerting us when destructive emotions arise, while the four limitless qualities of loving kindness, joy, compassion and equanimity offer antidotes to these limiting emotions. For this reason mindfulness and compassion need to be cultivated together because they work together in laying the ground for transformation of the mind.

Rob Nairn – Mindfulness & Compassion: the Ground of Insight

Rob Nairn will explore how integrated mindfulness and compassion practice lays the ground for genuine insight into how our minds work. Without first training in mindful awareness and compassionate acceptance the deeper work of mind training is inaccessible to us. He will present methods for uncovering the subliminal patterns that lock us into repetitive and destructive patterns of reactivity. Once we see these patterns clearly, we can unhook ourselves from them, and stop continually living them out. This then allows our innate wisdom to be revealed.

Prof. Paul Gilbert - Overview of Evolutionary Model of Mindful Compassion

This model reveals that the way the brain has evolved has left us with some serious difficulties in regulating our emotions and motives – which are not our fault. Cultivating mindful compassion provides an important antidote to these difficulties. Our ability to pay attention, reflectively and on purpose, is specifically human and no other animal has this capacity. Motives for caring, however, are much older and can be found in many other animals to greater or lesser degree. Mindful compassion is therefore a coming together of special (human) attentional capacities with a deep caring-motivational focus. This combination organises the mind in very specific ways to create a compassionate self-identity with a capacity for openness to suffering and a willingness to alleviate and prevent it both in oneself and others. This key note address will offer participants an overview of the evolutionary model and a range of practices to awaken one’s potential for embodying a compassionate self- identity.

Rebecca Crane - From Research to Practice: The Pragmatics of Implementing Mindfulness-Based Interventions

The evidence based for mindfulness- and compassion-based approaches in a range of contexts and populations is strong and growing. This has led to a corresponding interest in implementing these approaches in community, health, education and business settings. The process of implementation requires careful attention in order to ensure that participants are able to access well governed and competently taught programmes.

Successful implementation requires that teacher training organisations and teachers working on the ground give careful attention and address some fundamental questions around a range of processes. These include teacher training, governance on good practice, teaching competence and the pragmatics of organising and delivering the approach in particular settings.

The talk aims to review the status of developments within the field in these areas; to consider the tensions and challenges that they present and to highlight remaining uncertainties and areas for development.

Kristin Neff - Self-Compassion and Psychological Wellbeing

This talk will present theory and research on self-compassion, which a burgeoning empirical literature shows to be strongly associated with psychological wellbeing. It will distinguish self-compassion from self-esteem, and discuss research indicating that self-compassion is a more effective motivational tool than self-criticism. Data from a randomized controlled trial will also be presented on the Mindful Self-Compassion program, an eight-week course developed in conjunction with Chris Germer that is designed to teach self-compassion skills. Finally, a model will be presented that examines the overlap and distinctions between self-compassion and mindfulness.

Chris Germer - Teaching Self-Compassion: What We’ve Learned So Far

This talk will focus on how to teach self-compassion in groups, such as embodying compassion, mindful inquiry, exploring resistance to self-compassion, and stages of progress.

Friday and Saturday Workshops

Keynote Workshop 1 – Paul Gilbert & Choden - Awakening Compassionate Self -

In this workshop we will integrate mindfulness within the practice of compassion, and offer a step by step approach to cultivating the compassionate self. We will focus on clarifying motivation, soothing breathing and grounding. This creates a sense of stable base. Next we cultivate a gentle voice tone and friendly facial expression, and learn to accept and allow what arises. This creates a warm and receptive inner environment. Within this context we learn to embody the compassionate self, and to occupy the centre of our ‘personal mandala’. We are then in a position to relate compassionately to the parts of ourselves that struggle, and to broaden out compassion to other people in our lives.

Keynote Workshop 2 – Rebecca Crane - Building integrity:the Mindfulness-Based Interventions: Teaching Assessment Criteria (MBI:TAC)- This workshop aims to offer a practical introduction to the use of the MBI:TAC in supporting the development of trainees, in supervision and in assessing competence. The workshop will include presentations on the background and context for the development of the tool, on its structure and on how to use it. Participants will view an audio visual clip of mindfulness-based teaching followed by an opportunity to use the MBI:TAC and to explore the process in small and large group contexts. The primary focus will be a personal and collective exploration of integrity in mindfulness-based teaching and the use of the MBI:TAC as a ‘lens’ through which to engage in this exploration.

Workshop 3 – Vin Harris & Norton Bertram-Smith – Mindfulness and Compassion at Work - The effectiveness of Mindfulness and Compassion practices for dealing with personal difficulties is now widely acknowledged. This workshop considers the emerging challenge: bringing the insights and benefits of our inner practice into the workplace. Results orientated planning may seem to be at odds with being fully present and the competitive nature of a business environment may seem to be incompatible with an attitude of kindness to oneself and others. After a brief presentation of current research, participants will have the opportunity to explore the potential of a mindful and compassionate attitude for enhancing our effectiveness as we engage with the world of work.

Workshop 4 – Annick Nevejan & Kristine Janson – Compassionate Imagery

This workshop will explore the use of compassionate imagery as a way of tapping into our own inner resources for compassion and wisdom in our daily lives. It will include a short introduction on the role of imagery in mindful compassion practices from an evolutionary, neurological and Buddhist approach. Experientially exploring compassionate imagery practices and mindfully sharing emerging insights.


Saturday Workshops

Keynote Workshop 5 – Chris Germer & Kristin Neff - Self-Compassion Skills for Managing Difficult Emotions and Transforming Challenging Relationships

This workshop will introduce the core practices from the Mindful Self-Compassion program for handling difficult emotions and relationships. Participants will learn the soften-soothe-allow practice to manage difficult emotions, and discovering unmet needs to transform challenging relationships.

Keynote Workshop 6 – Rob Nairn & Heather Regan-Addis – Uncovering Attitude

This workshop will look at methods from the Mindfulness Association’s Insight training for uncovering unseen attitude to our experience. The workshop will introduce the HIFAWIF (How I Feel About What I am Feeling) practice.

Workshop 7 – Charlie Morley & Fay Adams – Mindfulness of Dream and Sleep - By using the best of both Tibetan Buddhist and Western lucid dreaming techniques Mindfulness of Dream and Sleep offers a uniquely holistic approach to lucid dreaming with the aims of psychological growth, friendship with our psyches and nocturnal compassion training. The session will include experiential mindfulness and compassion practices which are relevant to developing the potential of our sleeping and dreaming hours. There will also be inquiry into personal experience as a way to discover how we can be an expert on our own mind.

Workshop 8 - John Darwin and Vin Harris – Mindfulness and Ageing The session will begin with a presentation putting the argument that mindfulness and compassion based approaches are very relevant to senior citizens, both in addressing some of the problems faced as one grows older, and in enhancing the quality of life. Given the rapidly growing number of senior citizens in society, it will be argued that this should be an issue to be addressed by many organisations, including the NHS and health care. Evidence will be drawn from experience in running Mindfulness Based Life Enhancement courses over the past three years in Sheffield. Following the presentation the session will open up for discussion.

Our panel of keynote speakers will share their opinions in a discussion on the conference theme of the relationship between Mindfulness and Compassion training.

Sunday Celebration of University of Aberdeen’s MSc in Mindfulness Studies

The conference is an opportunity for us to celebrate the graduation of our first cohort of students from the University of Aberdeen MSc in Mindfulness Studies. The distinctive feature of this MSc programme is that it combines personal training in Mindfulness, Compassion and Insight with serious academic study and research. Our graduates will be presenting and showcasing their research and reflecting on their experiences of the training.

David McMurtry, Graeme Nixon & Jane Kellock – An Overview of the Research undertaken as part of the University of Aberdeen’s MSc in Studies in Mindfulness

MSc Thesis Presentations

Students who have successfully completed the University of Aberdeen’s MSc in Mindfulness Studies will present the results of their research:

Jan Grigg - To what Extent can a 'MindKind' Mindfulness Training Intervention contribute to Pupil Health and Wellbeing in the context of the Curriculum for Excellence in two Scottish Secondary Schools?

Norton Bertram-Smith – An Assessment into how Mindfulness Learning Contributes to Developing Authentic Leadership

John Darwin – Mindfulness Based Life Enhancement: An Action Research Study

Angela McCusker - Mindfulness for Leaders: An Exploration of the Impact of a Mindfulness for Leaders Programme on Leaders

Ian Rigg - The Effects of the 8-Week Mindfulness Based Living Course (MBLC) When Delivered to a Mixed Group of Health Care Staff: A Prospective Pilot Study.

John Arnold – Mindful Learning in Sport

More student presentations will be added as more students graduate in Spring 2014.

Graduation Celebration

The conference will culminate in a celebration event led by Lama Yeshe Rinpoche, the Abbot of Samye Ling Tibetan centre and a great supporter of the MSc programme since its inception.

Sunday Night Graduation Party

There will be a party on Sunday night at Eskdalemuir Village Hall, with a quiz, raffle (in aid of ROKPA) and a Ceilidh band with refreshments included. There are 80 tickets available (£10 per ticket) and please contact for your ticket.

Mindfulness Association

The Mindfulness Association ( was set up at the request of Rob Nairn to deliver secular trainings in Mindfulness and Compassion. It provides the experiential training for the Mindfulness, Compassion and Insight modules of the University of Aberdeen’s MSc in Mindfulness Studies.

University of Aberdeen MSc in Mindfulness Programme

This MSc programme is based in the School of Education of the University of Aberdeen and aims to provide mid-career professionals with an experiential training in Mindfulness and Compassion, and to facilitate the evidenced based application of Mindfulness and Compassion in their professional settings ( The MSc has trainees from the following professions: education, social work, mental health, physical health, business and sport. The Programme is focussed upon a social science model of research into Mindfulness and Compassion and their application in professional contexts and personal life.