Insight and Unconscious Bias

with Choden and Heather

Insight allows us to peek beneath the surface level of our conscious minds and get a glimpse of the murky subliminal reaches of mind where unseen mechanisms of habit and conditioning churn away at shaping our lives. Seeing our habits and conditioning face to face and bringing kindness and acceptance to them, creates the conditions for change. We will apply these insight methods to unconscious bias and explore how they might help us become free of prejudices and conditioning that we might not even be aware of. We will also look at how conditioning leads to projection and how projection shapes our experience of the world we live in. A key principle of insight is that the seeing is the doing. Once we see our life situation clearly, we break the spell of illusion and this allows us to live our lives with compassion and equanimity.

The master class will involve teaching, guided practice and sharing.

CHODEN – Mindfulness Association Director, Tutor and Honorary Teaching Fellow at the University of Aberdeen

A monk within the Karma Kagyu tradition of Tibetan Buddhism, Choden (aka Sean Mc Govern) completed a three-year, three-month retreat in 1997 and has been a practicing Buddhist since 1985. He is originally from South Africa where he trained as a lawyer and learned meditation under the guidance of Rob Nairn, an internationally renowned Buddhist teacher. He is now involved in developing secular mindfulness and compassion programmes drawing upon the wisdom and methods of the Buddhist tradition, as well as contemporary insights from psychology and neuroscience. He is an honorary fellow of the University of Aberdeen and teaches on their Postgraduate Study Programme in Mindfulness (MSc) that is the first of its kind to include compassion in its curriculum. He co-wrote a book with Paul Gilbert in 2013, entitled Mindful Compassion that explores the interface between Buddhist and Evolutionary approaches to compassion training. He is also the co-author of two other books: Mindfulness Based Living Course (2018) and From Mindfulness to Insight (2019). In 2016 he completed a one-year retreat focused on the foundation practices of Tibetan Buddhism.


I enjoy walking in the mountains around Cape Town and swimming in rivers and dams and taking in the sunshine and heat of Africa. The simplicity of being outdoors in the wildness of nature appeals to me more than anything else as well as meditating in nature too. Set within this context the pressures and stresses of modern life seem like an illusion that we need to engage with but which can fade into the background more easily…


HEATHER REGAN-ADDIS – Mindfulness Association Director, Tutor and Honorary Teaching Fellow at the University of Aberdeen

Heather began training in mindfulness meditation with Rob Nairn in 2004 and in 2009 gave up her 20 year career as a Patent Attorney to teach mindfulness. She is a British Wheel of Yoga trained yoga teacher, has a PGDip in Mindfulness Based Approaches from the University of Bangor, Wales and has a MSc in Studies in Mindfulness from the University of Aberdeen. She co-founded the Mindfulness Association in 2010 and since then has been a Director, she is a Mindfulness, Compassion and Insight teacher and leads the team that developed and delivers the Mindfulness teacher training program to teach the Mindfulness Based Living Course.

She is an Honorary Fellow of the University of Aberdeen and was involved in the development of their MSc in Studies in Mindfulness, which is a collaboration with the Mindfulness Association and also teaches on the course. She is also a Registered Teacher of the University of the West of Scotland and was involved in the development of their MSc in Teaching Mindfulness and Compassion, which is a collaboration with the Mindfulness Association and also teaches on the course. She is the co-author of two books ‘Mindfulness Based Living Course’ and ‘From Mindfulness to Insight’. Heather is a Tibetan Buddhist in the Karma Kagyu lineage and her teachers are Lama Yeshe Rinpoche and Tai Situpa Rinpoche.


Heather enjoys living in the countryside with her two elderly dogs Nutmeg and Holly and walks every day. She enjoys a whole food plant based diet, reading her daughter’s archaeology essays, sewing tapestries and listening to audio books. Her first degree was maths and physics as she was keen to understand the universe and her place within it, an endeavour she continues through her mindfulness and Buddhist meditation practice. She is a great fan of Harry Potter, The Lord of the Rings, the Marvel movies, Jane Austin and her friends in MAHQ.

Engaged Mindfulness

with Kristine Mackenzie-Janson and Fay Adams

In our mindfulness practice, we come back time and again to our motivation for practising: for the deepest well-being of ourselves and others. And our well-being is inextricably linked with the larger world around us… The ‘state of the world’ is something that might be tempting to turn away from as being too overwhelming, too dire to really look at or connect with – but what is mindfulness if not turning towards the places that scare us? We do this internally in our practice whenever something comes up that is uncomfortable, and we can do the same with what’s uncomfortable and scary out there in the world – whether it’s social injustice, the climate emergency, animal welfare or the fast rate with which species are going extinct and ecosystems are lost. And from a place of interconnectedness and care, how might we engage in mindful action?

In this workshop we will resource ourselves with gratitude before turning towards what’s difficult in the world, and then look for a new perspective from which we can mindfully and practically go forth. Inspired by Buddhist scholar and environmental activist Joanna Macy, MA tutors Fay Adams and Kristine Mackenzie-Janson will explore engaging in the ‘outer practice’ of mindfulness.

Relating in Presence

with Fay Adams and Kristine Mackenzie-Janson

How can we be mindful in our relationships, and communicate with our practice intentions of presence, kindness and openness? Whether in intimate one-to-ones or in group settings, it’s so easy to lose our ground when we are in communication with others. In this masterclass we’ll delve into how to cultivate presence in our shared moments and we’ll look at ways to orient ourselves towards a more interconnected experience of the world. How might our relationships shift if we feel more embedded in reciprocity and less isolated in a separate ‘me’? If we move in this direction we can more easily speak and act in natural accordance with collective interest, each time we relate to another.

This master class will involve an exploration of the topic, guided practice and sharing.

KRISTINE MACKENZIE-JANSON – Mindfulness Association Tutor and Honorary Teaching Fellow at the University of Aberdeen

Kristine was introduced to Tibetan Buddhism and meditation when she came to Holy Isle on the west coast of Scotland over two decades ago, and learned much from Rob Nairn and other teachers in the four years she lived there. After she left in 2008, she became part of the first cohort of mindfulness teachers trained by the newly forming Mindfulness Association, and she’s had the great fortune to work with the MA since 2010. She also gained much experience through working as a self-employed mindfulness teacher for many years in a wide variety of settings. These days she’s happily focussing on the MA both as a teacher and behind the scenes. She teaches on the different level courses as well as the teacher training pathway and the MSc in Mindfulness programme and loves to explore how mindfulness can enhance people’s lives. Since becoming a mother she’s especially interested in using mindfulness and compassion skills to look at how we can contribute to the big challenges that are present in the world.


My life has been profoundly shaped by landing on the Holy Isle: it’s brought me my practice, my work and several of my best friends. It’s also where I met my artist husband© and where we got married nearly 10 years ago. Now, my days are full with our buoyant and kind-hearted 8 year-old son Finbar, we relish going on adventures together in the Pentland hills near Edinburgh where we live. I love cycling my mint-green Dutch bike, freestyle crocheting, singing with others and 5 Rhythms dancing, mucking about in our little garden and watching the sparrows in the tree by my window.

FAY ADAMS – Mindfulness Association Tutor and Honorary Teaching Fellow at the University of Aberdeen

Fay is a mindfulness tutor, teacher trainer and supervisor and an honorary fellow of the University of Aberdeen, teaching on the Studies in Mindfulness MSc.

She was originally drawn to mindfulness because of her debilitating chronic pain. Looking for relief, she spent six years living as a resident at the Holy Isle retreat island off the west coast of Scotland, where she was apprenticed to author and eminent meditation teacher Rob Nairn. Through many years of practice she found an understanding of and an easing of the pain. It turned out that the pain was also the catalyst for her taking a new path in life, becoming a Buddhist and mindfulness teacher, then a Mindfulness Association management team member.

She now lives in Herefordshire with her partner and son.


I spend my days caring for my two year old Sylvan, with the intention to give him a home-ground full of love and connection to nature. Life seems to be very family focussed at the moment – my partner Gareth and I dovetail our work and the four grandparents are a big part of our world. I’m currently teaching a course called the Wonder of the Everyday. Although, as Gareth says, it often feels more like a blunder than a wonder, I think this is the heart of my practice right now – to find the simple mysterious beauty of being human in this crazy world.

Exploring the Social Dimension of Mindfulness

with Dean and Aesha Francis, Fay Adams and Kristine Mackenzie-Janson

Here’s an opportunity to experiment with how enlarging the focus of our mindfulness practice to include the social sphere, might bring new perspective and insight to our own practice. As we open up in this way, with curiosity and kindness, we begin to see the world as a web of relationships and this is a fertile area for practice. As Krishnamurti said: “Relationship is the mirror in which we see ourselves as we are. All life is a movement in relationship. There is no living thing on earth which is not related to something or other.”

The two practices offered in this session will allow us to open up to the mirror that the wider world can be. We will inquire about how every moment we live and everything about who we experience ourselves to be, is inextricably influenced by the social or the collective. How does this understanding effect our tendency towards ‘othering’? These practices will invite us to explore whether we can witness the impulse to see reality in terms of ‘us’ versus ‘them’ and come to see difference as a bridge to connection.

AESHA FRANCIS – Mindfulness Association Associate Tutor

Aesha is based in the multicultural community of East London. She is a co-creator of the Mindfulness-Based Inclusion Training Programme (MBIT) and a co-founder of the Urban Mindfulness Foundation, established over six years ago to broaden access to mindfulness, across cultures. She has co-facilitated mindfulness courses, workshops and drop-in sessions for various organisations.

Professionally trained in the disciplines of Art, Design and Textiles, Aesha has enjoyed bridging her creative skills within different working contexts which over the past 14 years has been centred in environmental consultancy. She is currently researching An Insurgent Call for Diversifying Mindfulness and is working towards graduating from the University of Aberdeen’s Masters programme, later this year.


Outside of working dimensions, I can usually be found enjoying family life with my husband and our two daughters – either creating, debating, entertaining or being entertained and generally making good trouble. Together we love exploring on long dog walks, bike rides and camping trips. Raised in a multicultural and creative family, I find I am drawn to exploring fusions of culture that includes food, music and crafts. In quieter times I like gardening and immersing myself in painting, reading or simply sitting.

DEAN FRANCIS – Mindfulness Association Associate Tutor

Dean qualified as an Environmental Scientist with a BSc (Hons) Degree in 1999 that has underpinned his career in Environmental Consultancy since 2000. Since creating his own Environmental Consultancy business in 2007, Dean became an elected member of a Management Committee, operating as a Government Advisory Group on water management issues and strategy. A specialist in Environmental Risk Assessment and Management, Dean was commended for the Archant/London Thames Gateway, Businessperson of the Year Award in 2008. Since 2009, Dean has proceeded to study mindfulness in varying contexts, with an interest in how practice impacts the African/Caribbean diaspora. Dean is currently busy researching A Progressive Approach to Deconstructing Racism and Social Inequality using Mindfulness Based Inclusion Training, with The University of Aberdeen; and is developing the Mindfulness-Based Inclusion Training, Teacher Development Pathway that brings awareness to our social context and the power of authentic connection and collaboration through mindfulness.

I am happy to live in the uniquely diverse borough of Newham in East London and I am blessed to have an amazing friend, business partner and wife that has helped to shape who I am today. With two wonderful children who have turned out to be my biggest teachers and a rambunctious family dog friend called Yardley, we are most happy being outdoor people. I love our annual camping trips and our daily adventure walk and talks that keep us grounded and in touch with the natural world around us. I am also a keen sports person so you might find me playing Basketball, Table Tennis or Chess for some fun and relaxation or maybe learning how to play the Djembe drum which is awesome!

Empathy and Compassion

with Alan Hughes and Jacky Seery

Empathy can be defined as “our ability to understand and emotionally recognize the feelings, motivations and intentions of another human being”.  While this might sound straight-forward enough, when we begin to examine empathy in more detail, we discover that it is a complex and multi-layered capacity.  While it is generally understood to be one of the main attributes of the Compassionate Mind, without a compassionate motivation and capacity, empathy by itself can be unhelpful, or even destructive.

The Dalai Lama was said to have asked neuroscientists to rise to the challenge of identifying the positive qualities of compassion. As a result, new research evidence provides us with some clues as to how individuals’ responses to empathising with others can play a part in their own sense of wellbeing.

This session will provide an opportunity to explore in more depth how we understand empathy, and how we can cultivate this in ways that can enrich our lives.

ALAN HUGHES – Mindfulness Association Tutor and Honorary Teaching Fellow at the University of Aberdeen

Alan became interested in Buddhism, and started meditating, in his late teens. In the late 1990s, he began practicing within the Tibetan Buddhist tradition, and a few years later started attending courses and retreats with Rob Nairn whenever he was in the UK. This naturally led him to become involved with the Mindfulness Association, and to complete the MSc course at Aberdeen University, where he did a final year dissertation on “Mindfulness and Ethics”.

In 2011, he gave up his job as a marine biologist to deepen his interest in Buddhism and meditation. He’s now a lead tutor with the Mindfulness Association, teaching on a wide range of practitioner and teacher-training courses, as well as the Aberdeen University masters course.  He also works three days a week helping with admin in the MA.

At the end of 2020, I moved back to live in Scotland, after a hiatus of almost 30 years.  For the last 10 years I’ve been based in London where I lived in an Intentional Community, so I’m readjusting to a different way of life.  Just now I’m enjoying the opportunity to spend more time walking and cycling in the countryside, which seems especially nurturing during Lockdown, as well as the opportunity to see more of my parents.  Within this, my mindfulness practice is a constant reference point and support in my life. 

JACKY SEERY – Mindfulness Association Tutor

Jacky has been a mindfulness teacher for 6 years and joined the Mindfulness Association Tutor Team in November 2019. Since then,  she has been a tutor on members retreats, Levels One and Two of the Mindfulness Training and the Teacher Training Courses.  She developed and delivers the new Stillness Through Movement Course. This is based on her own extensive training and dedicated practice of mindful movement, which saw Jacky qualified to teach Tai Chi, Chi Yoga, Meditation and QiGong in 2013 and has led to her delivering countless courses since.

Jacky graduated from the University of Aberdeen with a MSc in Studies in Mindfulness in 2018, having researched the impact of the 8-week Mindfulness Based Living Course, with the addition of basic compassion practices and mindful movement based on Qigong, with a group of family carers. She has delivered many courses for family carers since. She also contributed a chapter called “Turning empathic distress into compassion – a hero’s journey for family carers” for the Mindful Heroes book.

Having previously worked for 15 years as a senior manager of the creative and communications department for a large global company, she also works as the Communications Manager for the Mindfulness Association and is part of the Core Management Team.

My practice of mindfulness, meditation, Qigong, Yoga and Tai Chi is integral to my way of life and being. 

I have a passion for all things creative and have recently tried my hand at nature and landscape photography.  I love spending time outside walking on beaches and cliffs as well as just sitting and breathing in the landscape. 

A very important part of my life is my grandson. He is nothing but mindful and he has taught me how to be mindful in every moment with childlike fun, excitement and curiosity. Above all he has shown me how every moment is precious.

Mindfulness & Movement

with Jacky Seery and Heather Regan-Addis


“Movement is the unifying bond between mind and body

and sensations are the substance of that bond” – Dean Juhan


We hold a posture in every moment of our lives. To be aware of our posture is a gift, as it can hold our practice of being mindful whether we are sitting, laying down or moving in any activity. Posture then becomes more important in that it holds our practice and our intention to practice.

Since the body is a place that we know to be totally present, mindfulness can help us to learn to go deeper and listen to its hidden language.  This can be especially noticeable as we move the body and get a sense of how it feels to be connected to the ground, moving through space, forgetting what we think we know about the body and truly being in our experience whilst paying attention to the arising semantics.

This session will include an invitation to move in a very gentle way as an opportunity to explore in more depth how we understand mindful movement and the insights it can bring. In this way we can learn to cultivate any arising wisdom towards the best version of ourselves.

From Mindfulness to Buddhism

with Alan and Choden

Many mindfulness practitioners become interested in the Buddhist roots of mindfulness once they realise how much mindfulness changes their lives. Alan and Choden will touch on two key elements of Buddhist practice that can enrich the secular practice of mindfulness. These are: (1) a clear and conscious commitment to living an ethical life that is focused on benefitting others and not harming them; (2) the view of Buddha Nature – how nothing is intrinsically wrong with us; we have just got caught in a spell of lack and deficiency. When we have the solid foundation of ethics in place and once we have connected to the vision of Buddha Nature, then the secular practices of mindfulness, compassion and insight have the right container within which to blossom and flourish.

The master class will involve teaching, guided practice and sharing.