The Ripple Effect of Global Inspiration
Jon Kabat-Zinn gave an impassioned plea in the opening keynote at the First International Conference on Mindfulness in Rome in May. He implored us not to water mindfulness down to just a skill, a series of exercises from a short course, a meta cognitive approach to thoughts, or just being present. It is all of these, and so much more. Whilst recognising the growing research on the mental and physical health benefits of mindfulness training usefully bringing mindfulness into the mainstream, he pleaded with researchers and practitioners from 35 countries to remember that mindfulness is nestled in an ancient body of teachings that encompass the very core of what it means to be a human being, how suffering arises, and how we alleviate it.
Malcolm Huxter, Clinical Psychologist currently on Christmas Island, myself and several other key speakers from around the globe, who know that mindfulness is a lifelong practice, gave a sigh of relief as he echoed words we had shared with each other.
The entire conference was positioned with a mark of deep respect for the Buddhist tradition. Significantly the pre conference public lecture given by Ven. Ajahn Amaro from the Amaravati Buddhist Monastery in the UK titled Mindfulness and Its Supportive Friends elucidating ways in which the core Buddhist teachings support a wiser and more compassionate life.
I loved his book Tudong – the Long Road North, republished in the expanded book Silent Rain, which included an account of his 830-mile trek from Chithurst to Harnham Vihara.
We Australian BPIG members gave presentations at the conference and had a lot of laughs catching up with each other across the globe. Malcolm Huxter spoke on Buddhist mindfulness practices in contemporary psychology: A paradox of incompatibility and harmony. Sarah Francis spoke on A preliminary study of Mindfulness Integrated Cognitive Behaviour Therapy: Results from a series of group interventions. And I gave a presentation titled Leadership wisdom: transforming the world moment by moment
Mark Williams presented Mindfulness, suicidality and early adversity.. sharing rich insights into the effects of early adversity and what recent research is highlighting as effective, and ineffective in clinical care.
Professor Paul Grossman from Switzerland gave a courageous and applauded keynote about Mindfulness and its obstacles in science and practice in which he challenged researchers for massaging research, and practitioners and the media for claiming things that don’t exist.
Malcolm Huxter, Sarah Francis and I enjoyed a wonderful conference dinner with other keynote speakers, Paul Grossman, Ajahn Amaro, Jean Kristella , Jon Kabat Zinn and others. Some international collaborations were enriched and new ones are developing as a consequence of this conference.
Liana Taylor © June 2013