What is Mindfulness?

Published: October 15, 2018
Author: Kate Cowan

What a fascinating evening we had at ConsciousCafe Canterbury - and it also generated a lot of discussion both immediately afterwards and in the proceeding days.

Our panel

Our three speakers all came from very varied and interesting backgrounds. Louise Cox Chester came from a career in investment analysis and fund management but decided to leave this high flying world to set up Mindfulness at work ten years ago. Her organisation supports global corporations through designing and delivering mindfulness based training that brings focus, clarity and calm to people. Mindfulness at work has worked with over 250 organisations ranging from Cisco and Savills to Unilever and UBS. They also deliver mindful self compassion programmes in the NHS, teach in schools and run a not for profit organic retreat centre in Wingham.
Viv Moore is a Mindfulness based stress reduction (MBSR) teacher with a background in nursing and psychology, she has been a University lecturer with a PhD in Psychology. She runs 8 week MBSR courses and she has specialized particularly in helping clients with severe chronic pain. Emma Slade or Ani Pema Deki  came from the banking world and the story of her transformation from high flying banker to Buddhist nun is told in her popular book Set Free which she sells in aid of the charity she set up Opening your Heart to Bhutan. As a practicing Tibetan Buddhist she says that in Tibetan there is no word for “Mindfulness” which seems curious as the practice has come out of Buddhism!

Definition of mindfulness

It was surprising to hear that it is not easy to even define exactly what mindfulness is despite the word being in such common parlance these days.
Louise felt that mindfulness could be defined as loving connected presence either towards self or others or towards an object; it is about being present. Viv felt that the practice dealt with the fact of life being suffering and is about addressing pain in our lives. Louise felt that mindfulness helped people make better choices in their lives, it would enable them to have a pause between stimulus and response, it would help them to communicate more effectively and to give their full attention to colleagues in meetings.

Mindfulness may not be suitable for everyone

We discussed the fact that the practice may not be suitable for everyone, if someone was recently bereaved then a mindfulness meditation would make them more acutely aware of their grief, also people with mental health problems might find it painful or difficult to practice mindfulness. Everyone agreed that yoga practice can be extremely beneficial for everyone as it was mindful practice that made people aware of their bodies.

It was felt that some people got benefits similar to meditation from running or other sports or even from playing a musical instrument. We were able to experience two short meditations and in the feedback one person who had never meditated before and was surprised that in a guided short meditation they were able to clear their mind.

This is just an overview of what we talked about and I am sure that many of you found other nuggets of interest which I have failed to mention. Do let me know your thoughts on the evening.


ConsciousCafe Canterbury Leader

ConsciousCafe is a not-for-profit organisation, a friendly and welcoming community, a place to live life consciously.