I was at Samye Ling at the weekend teaching on the Masters degree programme we deliver in partnership with the University of Aberdeen. It started in 2010 and our seventh cohort of students began in September last year. They did a module on Mindfulness last year and this weekend they were starting on their second module on Compassion. We introduced the main theories of Compassion that we draw on in this module: evolutionary psychology and Mahayana Buddhism. Then we introduced the students to the core practices, that are all presented in a secular (non-religious) way. The practices included Soften, Soothe & Allow, which was developed by Kristin Neff & Chris Germer and compassionate imagery, which was developed by Paul Gilbert. All these practices are integrated into the MA’s core Mindfulness practice of Settling, Grounding, Resting and Support (SGRS).
In the Compassion course we work on developing the inner resources of kindness, joy, strength & wisdom that enable us to turn towards our difficulties and respond to them skilfully. We start in this way with self-compassion before extending our compassion out to others. The rationale is to develop the skills and understanding to benefit ourselves so that we can use these skills and understanding to benefit those around us. Facing our own difficulties can be difficult, but is always transformative, leading to a growth in our ability to cope with life’s ups and downs and to increasing contentment and empowerment. We see this with every group we work with on the Masters program. So well worth it!
The students in year two were also at the weekend and so in some sessions both year groups came together to practice and to share how they are planning to use mindfulness in their different professions, which is a key element of the Masters program. We have students from all sorts of backgrounds from acting to health care, business to criminal justice, parenting to IT and education to sport. They are all practicing, studying and applying theory and practice from mindfulness, compassion and insight in their work. In this way we can benefit many different areas of work.
The second year students finished a module on Insight last year and are now embarking on Professional Enquiry, which involves them doing a small research project about some element of mindfulness, compassion or insight in their professional context. So they spent the weekend with academics from the University exploring different ways of research and researching mindfully. This is in preparation for the third year of the Masters in which they write a theoretical dissertation or a work based research project. At the weekend they also continued with their insight practice of resting the mind in the midst of experience and working with the emotion of pride.
It was a very joyful weekend, with a lot of gratitude and appreciation expressed in the final sharing.
We will see the first year again next month at Samye Ling for their second weekend on Compassion and then at the year end retreat on Holy Isle in May, where they will begin teaching skills training and complete the compassion course.
For the second years it was their last weekend together at Samye Ling and so quite poignant, although we will meet them again on their retreat, on Holy Isle in June, where they will do more teaching skills training and complete the insight course.
The third year students will also be on Holy Isle in June for a writing retreat, that will support them in writing their final thesis.
The Masters provides a teacher training pathway, which requires those who choose this pathway to take part in an additional 6 day teaching skills retreat. At the end of the pathway they will have completed training to deliver the MA’s 8 week MBLC (Mindfulness Based Living Course) course in accordance with the UK Good Practice Guidelines. Then all that is required to join the UK Listing of Mindfulness teachers is to deliver two MBLC courses under supervision.
They can then do a 6 day retreat to learn to teach the MA’s 8 week CBLC (Compassion Based Living Course).
We are recruiting our next cohort now. All you need to join us is a first degree, or equivalent professional experience and a context within which to explore mindfulness. For more information please click here.
Also, check out Graeme Nixon Course Coordinator from the University of Aberdeen speak on the MSc:
It would be great if you could join us in our mission to bring the benefits of mindfulness, compassion and insight to many different work and social aspects of our world.
To visit our website: please click here