Dispatches: Mindfulness in Society Conference 2013

Ed Halliwell, Mindful's "Examined Life" blogger, explores key findings and discussions from the conference. 

A remarkable week for mindfulness in the UK. Five hundred delegates have been attending the fully-booked Mindfulness In Society conference, braving unseasonal snow to converge on the northern English city of Chester. Another packed gathering follows in London as Jon Kabat-Zinn, pioneer of Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR), addresses a Mindfulness in Schools conference and gives a talk for the influential Action For Happiness movement.

The demographics of this weekend’s conference were interesting. A fellow attendee told me on arrival there were ten women here for every man. Most were professionals working in the field (what’s the collective noun for mindfulness teachers? A presence? An inquiry? An invitation?) and there has been a strong sense of shared appreciation at feeling part of a growing community. Jon Kabat-Zinn once had a vision that skilled and committed meditators might make an ethical living sharing their practice for the benefit of others. Walking around the conference hotel, that vision came to life around him. Chester felt like an attentive, non-judgemental place to be the last few days.

Saturday was the start of the conference proper, and the wealth on offer—dozens of presentations on various aspects of meditation research—felt at times overwhelming. It…