Category Archives: Theory

Mindfulness and Mental Health

On November 1st the Social Mindfulness group ran an event on mindfulness and mental health, culminating in a launch for Meg Barker’s new book Mindful Counselling and Psychotherapy.


The programme and abstracts for the day can be downloaded here:


The paper which Jamie Heckert’s talk was based upon is available here:

An Other State of Mind

The paper which Jyoti Nanda’s talk was based upon is available here:


The paper which Duncan Moss’s talk was based upon is available here:

missing the point2013july29th

These are some useful links from Steven Stanley, relating to his talk:

Mindfulness and Mental Health – London, 1st November

Rewriting The Rules

Call for presenters/facilitators/attendees
Mindfulness and Mental Health Day – 1st November 2013, London Camden
Dr. Meg Barker will be running a free event on 1st November for practitioners and academics who are interested in mindfulness and mental health, to coincide with the publication of their new book on the subject. Please get in touch with Meg if you are interested in attending or getting involved ( Confirmed speakers include Steven Stanley, Duncan Moss, Rebecca Barnes, Many Bazzano, and Jyoti Nanda.

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Psychoanalysis and Buddhism

Steven Stanley writes about three phases of cultural encounter between psychoanalysis and Buddhism. Originally published here as a response to the recent film A Dangerous Method:


We might say that psychoanalysis and Buddhism are both therapies; diagnosing and alleviating our psychological or existential suffering. But the productive, one hundred year dialogue on the margins of these traditions did not begin quite so auspiciously.

Phase 1: Orientalism

Freud and Jung famously fell out over the issue of spirituality.

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Happiness is a key issue in relation to mindfulness given that mindfulness has been taken up by the positive psychology movement as a way of improving happiness, but also the craving for happiness is something that mindfulness warns against.

There is a post about these kinds of issues, as well as how existential and mindfulness ideas around happiness may be in tune, over on the Northern Existential Group website here.

What is mindfulness 2?

Meg writes…

On my continued journey in exploring the meaning of mindfulness I’ve been re-reading several of the articles in the Contemporary Buddhism special issue on the topic from last year. As I reference these I’m adding them to a new section of the references on this website called ‘mindfulness‘.

It’s taken a while for me to get my head around it, but I’m now understanding that the popular definition (by Jon Kabat-Zinn and others) which includes the idea of attending non-judgementally to the present moment is problematic because it just represents one form of mindfulness.

It is useful to cultivate the ability to observe the here-and-now in a way that doesn’t evaluate (trying to keep ‘positive’ thoughts and feelings and avoid ‘negative’ ones, for example).

However, we can also be mindful of things that are not present. Given that mindfulness is something that we try to cultivate in everything, we would also try to engage with our memories and future plans mindfully. And there are specific mindfulness meditations which are not present-focused (for example when we bring to mind other people to cultivate loving-kindness, or when we meditate on the fact of our death).

Also, we can evaluate in a mindful way, for example when we try to determine the ethical thing to do, or when we notice unhelpful habits of mind and attempt to change these.

What is mindfulness?

Meg writes…

I’m currently writing the first chapter of my book on mindfulness. I wanted to get an idea of what words are most associated with mindfulness  at the moment. I copied the information that came up in the first three pages of google hits when I typed in ‘what is mindfulness?’ I pasted that information into wordle and it gave me the following word cloud.

Mindfulness and social engagement: Communication

This blog follows the previous one where Meg Barker reflected on tensions emerging from a weekend retreat about the possibilities of social mindfulness.

Kindness / honesty

The second tension which emerged, for me, over the weekend was perhaps less explicit than the other one, and harder to capture. It is about whether we prioritise kindness or honesty in our interactions with others (and with ourselves).

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