A Sunny Week on Holy Isle

So this last week I have been on Holy Isle off the Isle of Arran in Scotland – surely one of the best places on the planet! The birds were in full song, providing an astonishingly beautiful support for our Mindfulness practice. The Iron Age Tsoay sheep had tiny new lambs, that shake their tails as they drink their milk and there was at least one rickety legged new foal born to one of the wild Eriskay ponies that all roam free over the island. Of course the retreat was aided by endless spring sunshine making the sea and the green grass sparkle. There is lots here to be present with and appreciate, including the stunningly delicious whole vegan food, some of which is grown on the island.

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I was here with Choden, Fay and also Graeme Nixon from the University of Aberdeen and our awesome cohort of Year 1 MSc students for the year end retreat. We delivered two days of teaching skills training and for some it was their first experience of guiding a practice and leading an enquiry and it was a privilege to watch them settling in to their beginning teaching practice with a real sense of potential and possibility in their futures. And all the people whose lives they will touch!

You might want to join us. To join the MSc you need a first degree, or equivalent professional experience, plus a work or life context within which to explore the usefulness of Mindfulness. In the first year we cover the Level 1 and 2 trainings, Mindfulness and Compassion and begin the teaching skills pathway. In the second year we cover the Level 3 training in Insight, learn how to be a researcher and continue the teaching skills pathway. With an additional Mindfulness Based Living Course (MBLC) retreat, students are ready to begin teaching the MBLC eight week course to groups.

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I think the advantage of taking the academic MSc route is twofold: firstly a more in depth technical understanding of the theory that underpins Mindfulness and secondly a stronger motivation to do a daily formal practice – because an assignment including a reflection on practice experience has to be written!

By the end of year 1, I notice a happier group of people, who are less hard on themselves and more able to cope with life’s difficulties. By the end of year 2, I notice a group of insightful practitioners, most of whom are ready to begin or continue an embodied and compassion based teaching practice and who are trained in research and able to critique their professional work effectively. Oh and they are even happier!

Year 1 and 2 are based in residential weekends at Samye Ling (click here) and retreats on Holy Isle (click here).

In year 3 there is a research project to do or a theoretical dissertation to write on some aspect of practice students are passionate about, with an academic training weekend at Aberdeen University and a writing retreat on Holy Isle. You can see some of our MSc graduates at our conference, where several of them are presenting the results of their research. Other alumni from the MSc in your MA team will also be leading sessions at the conference, including myself! To find out more about the conference, please see (link).

To find out more about the MSc, please (click here). Could it be you in the sun on Holy Isle next year?

If academia is not for you, no problem, you can do all our courses (except research!) in a non- academic experiential way, please visit the website.

I wanted to give an overview of the MSc, as it is such a wonderful program (although I am biased) – all our students say so – in fact the last time the program was re-validated by the university it was commented that the students were too positive about the program and not critical enough!

Most importantly, I see year after year, people changing their lives and beginning new journeys in work and life that they had never dreamed possible.

Some good news!

Kind Wishes,

Heather Regan Addis

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