In 2008 Sue did a two year training to beome a mindfulness instructor with the Samye Ling Foundation in Scotland.  This course was the foundation training that later grew into the MSc in Mindfulness offered by Aberdeen University.  

What is Mindfulness?

The definition of mindfulness that was offered to me by one of my teachers on the secular training at the Samye Ling international centre of Buddhist training was:

"Mindfulness is being aware of what is happening, as it is happening, without preference"  Rob Nairn

Here are some other definitions:

"It has a climate and ethos of heart.................not a destination but a journey " Ajahn Succito

"In a sense we've been familiar with this alternative capacity of ours all along, its just that the doing mode of mind has eclipsed it. This capacity does not work by critical thinking but through awareness itself.  We call it the being mode of mind."  Mark Williams in "The Mindful Way through Depresssion".


My own experience of mindfulness began when I embarked on my psychotherapeutic training at the Karuna Institute in 1991 - probably the first mindfulness based trainings in the UK.  Following my BSc in Occupational Psychology in 1984 it was quite a shock, and a relief, to discover that my scientific training was (albeit a wonderful begining) only a small part of what I was about to discover about myself and others.  It took a while for me to trust that paying attention to what was happening, in the moment, as it was happening - in my mind and in my body, provided me with more information than I had realised was possible.  One of the hardest parts of being present with mindful attention is included in Rob Nairn's definition, when he says....'without preference'.

Mindfulness practice brings about a state of mind that is akin to watching a muddied glass of water settle.  If we just leave it alone, mind has a natural inclination to settle.  Unfortunately, it is often our preferences that prevent this settling.  Sometimes our preferences are quite 'mundane', for instance we might taste something and react to it either positively or negatively and not realise that this inclination for preference stops us from seeing, tasting and experiencing things as they really are. 

Sometimes our preferences can make life more difficult for us than we intend, for exapmle, it is probably fair to say that we all want to be happy and yet, because of our humanity we cannot escape pain - either physical or emotional.  Our experience of pain, and our preference to escape it, can lead us to act in ways that are not mindful and often in ways that are not compassionate to ourselves or others.  When we become agitated because our preference is for things to be other than they are, our minds become agitiated too. Just like the mud stirred up in the glass of water our minds starts to become cloudy.  We stop seeing and experiencing things as they are and, in reacting to our pain, we can also cause more pain.


Mindfulness doesn't stop pain but it changes our relationship to it


And science seems to agree.....................follow the link to find out what science thinks about it


Jon Kabat Zinn, an American physician, started the original Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction Programme (MBSR) when he took on patients in a pain clinic - patients that his fellow clinicians felt that they could help no more.  He had been a practising Buddhist meditator for many years and felt that his own experiences of mindfulness might help these 'severe' cases. 

That was many years ago and his work has spread across the world but actually, this 'new' phenomena called mindfulness is an ancient practice - the one practiced by the Buddha circa 3,000 BC!

If you would like to know more about how mindfulness practice can help you to live a life of well being, please contact Sue for more information on one-to-one consultations and group events.


Sue Roberts

Mindfulness Teacher