Summary of ConsciousCafe’s Canterbury meeting on  Sept 24th – What is Mindfulness?

What a fascinating evening we had Sept 24th 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.

Self Compassion –December 5th

As a result of some discussion we had that evening I decided to explore the topic of self compassion and have planned a session on “Caring for ourselves at stressful times.” I have a few lovely people who have volunteered to share exercises, meditations and other advice on this topic .Last Christmas I ended up trying to please everyone and got totally exhausted and ill . While caring for others and helping others can be deeply rewarding and fulfilling there comes a time when we need to look after ourselves! The beginning of December would be good to get us prepared mentally and emotionally for Christmas. So put December 5th in the diary 2.30 – 5.00 for this session in the Canterbury yoga studio in Harbledown. It will be relaxing, supportive and nurturing and we’ll finish with tea and cakes! I’ll be sending round a reminder and more details nearer the time.

Wednesday 21st November at 6.30 ConsciousCafe Canterbury is teaming up with Waterstones to welcome Isobel Losada to talk on the topic of Life, Happiness and Everything. To book tickets for this go to
An evening in which Isabel will talk about everything she has learnt in the last 20 years of exploration into human potential. This will be a mix of stand up comedy, inspirational and motivational talk, vulnerable confessional and story telling.
ConsciousCafe members can meet her to talk afterwards in a local restaurant if they let me know beforehand so I can book a table.

I will post reminders on the facebook page so do ask to join if you are not on it already. Here’s the link