Graham Williams

We provided 5 places at the OMC Summer School 2016 to MBCT teachers, who could demonstrate that they would use the Summer School experience to widen access and participation in MBCT. Graham Williams was one of the bursary holders.

Graham Williams works for the NHS in Manchester and runs 8 week Mindfulness courses based on MBCT.

“The experience was exhilarating and stimulating, and it left me feeling inspired and motivated in my own Mindfulness work and practice”

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What did you get out of your attendance at the summer school?

The Summer School was a great experience for me in many ways. I loved meeting the originators of MBCT (Mark Williams, John Teasdale and Zindel Segal) and other leading lights in the Mindfulness field (e.g. Chris Cullen, Willem Kuyken, Rebecca Crane). They all impressed me as people who are deeply committed to the values and the practice of mindfulness, and this really came across in their talks. They struck me as authentic teachers and they were very inspirational. I also had the benefit of meeting and talking to people from the UK and other parts of the world who are involved in many different aspects of the work. It was great learning about their experience with mindfulness and I was particularly interested in how many people deliver to mixed populations with good outcomes.

I have an increased respect for the work itself, its roots and its power to change lives. The experience was exhilarating and stimulating, whilst I was there, and it left me feeling inspired and motivated in my own Mindfulness work and practice, when I came away. I later attended some more training – Bangor MBSR specialist training – at my own expense, to improve my knowledge and skills. I have also booked onto their Mindful Compassion training for this Summer.

(Incidentally, I also met Melanie Fennell, whose CBT self esteem model I use frequently, and this was lovely – her model is very powerful.)

[Melanie Fennell will be talking about Mindfulness and the Transformation of Despair at the 2017 Summer School.]

Did the Summer School experience help you to widen access and participation in MBCT?

I work for the NHS in Manchester. We run 8 week Mindfulness courses based on the MBCT, and since the Bangor training I mentioned above, I have also run an MBSR course.

Our catchment area covers the whole of Manchester, and has some of the most deprived areas in the country. I love introducing people to mindfulness ideas and practice, because they have had such a beneficial impact on my life, and it is a privilege to share them. I especially like it when people have never done any of it before.

Attending the Summer School improved my confidence and gave me an increased sense of how special this work is. After attending the School, I started monthly, mindfulness, follow up sessions in the evening. These are for people who have attended an 8 week course with our NHS Trust. There had already been such sessions in the day time but not in the evening. As numbers build, I hope to be able to run these fortnightly, and it would be great if they could eventually be weekly.

I also continue to give opportunities for members of staff to help run the mindfulness courses with me – people who may be pretty new to mindfulness but who have an interest and want to learn. They don’t teach but they help set up and clear up. Some have gone on to develop a personal mindfulness practice and to access training opportunities.

Talking to other professionals at the Summer School and their experience of working with mixed population groups i.e. people with a range of difficulties, I have gained an increased sense of confidence around this and have continued to take people into our groups who may be at risk of exclusion.

I think it has also helped me lead practices better when I have been invited to teach on mindfulness practice days.

So, overall, I would say that the Summer School has improved my relationship with mindfulness both from a personal and professional perspective. Specifically, it has inspired me to self-fund further training, and to start a new monthly session for NHS patients.

I will continue to look for opportunities of widening access to these valuable teachings and practices.

For information on our Summer School in 2017, click here.