In this wide ranging conversation Scott Johnson talks to Dr Mark Williams, professor of Clinical Psychology at the University of Oxford and director of the Oxford Mindfulness Centre, about mindfulness meditation and its ability to treat and prevent depression. Mark was raised in a devout Christian household, and at a young age believed his calling was with the ministry. His path changed while studying clinical psychology at university, where he was drawn to the field of treating adult mental health.
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Mark Williams – How We Created Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy
In this conversation, Mark explains how cognitive therapy and mindfulness can be used to reduce the risk of relapse in people who have experienced depression. Mindfulness, unlike antidepressants and cognitive therapy, is uniquely effective as a preventative measure against poor mental health. By engaging in mindfulness even when we are not depressed, we can lower the risk of it affecting us in the first place. Among many rich incredible stories Mark shares how he developed MBCT after working with Jon Kabat Zinn, the founder of modern day mindfulness practices.
- How he developed MBCT with his colleagues and working directly with Jon Kabat Zinn
- How he experienced the transformational power of mindfulness meditation only after having abandoned it.
- How mindfulness and his Christian faith work in tandem, with surprising similarities between Buddhist awareness meditation and the Gospel of St John.
- How, within the Christian contemplative tradition, God can be understood as the ‘loving heart’ at the centre of the universe.
- How effective the combination of cognitive therapy and mindfulness is at reducing the risk of relapse.
- The limitations and contraindications of mindfulness.
- How liberation is to be found in the present moment, and that each moment is a possible moment of freedom.
About Mark Williams
Mark Williams is Emeritus Professor of Clinical Psychology at the University of Oxford, having held posts at the Medical Research Council’s Cognition and Brain Sciences Unit at Cambridge and the University of Wales, Bangor. He co-developed Mindfulness-based Cognitive Therapy and founded the University of Oxford’s Mindfulness Centre that works to prevent depression and enhance human potential through the therapeutic use of mindfulness across the lifespan. His books include The Mindful Way through Depression: Freeing Yourself from Chronic Unhappiness (with John Teasdale, Zindel Segal and Jon Kabat-Zinn) and Mindfulness: A Practical Guide to Finding Peace in a Frantic World (with Danny Penman). His most recent work focuses on how to sustain and deepen mindfulness through a programme that explores feeling tone (vedanā) ‘frame by frame’, as explained in Deeper Mindfulness (2023).
You can find more about Mark here:
“This conversation with Dr Mark Williams gives a beautiful insight into one of the foremost leaders in the field of mindfulness over the past 40 years. Mark shares not only about his involvement in the growth of mindfulness based interventions but also about his own journey with mindfulness. It is one of my favourite conversations yet….“
Scott Johnson – September 2023
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