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Professor Mark Williams – An Introduction to Mindfulness

Professor Mark Williams – An Introduction To Mindfulness

Professor Mark Williams is Emeritus Professor of Clinical Psychology at Oxford and was also the Director of the Oxford Mindfulness Centre until his retirement in 2013.

Professor Williams, along with colleagues John Teasdale (Cambridge) and Zindel Segal (Toronto), developed Mindfulness-based Cognitive Therapy for prevention of relapse and recurrence in major depression. He is also co-author of the best selling book ‘Mindfulness: Finding Peace In A Frantic World.’

In this interview Mark elegantly answers the question ‘what is mindfulness?’ He also leads 2 simple introductory practices for beginners and talks about why mindfulness is so effective for the treatment of depression relapse.

In this interview you’ll also discover…

  • The difference between mindlessness and mindfulness.
  • Why mindlessness often gets us into so much trouble.
  • The cutting edge research on mindfulness for depression (Mark is one of the world premiere researchers in this field).
  • The ‘breathing space’ mindfulness practice, which is great to use in times of stress and difficult emotions
  • How to use ‘habit releasers’ to bring more mindfulness into daily life.
  • An experience of the ‘body scan’ mindfulness practice.

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Listen to the audio version here


Show Notes

Join the The Mindfulness Summit Journey here

Come and join the community discussions at any time on our Facebook page

Check out Melli’s blog, events and retreats at MrsMindfulness.com

More about MBCT (Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy)

Check out Marks books ‘Mindfulness: Finding peace in a frantic world’

More about the Oxford Mindfulness Centre





Download Mark Williams audio interview

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Download Mark Williams audio meditation

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Download Mark Williams breathing space meditation

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Download Mark Williams video interview

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Download Mark Williams interview transcript

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1165 Responses

  1. Maria T+Calva

    Thank you for sharing all this valuable information and teaching your experiences!! It will be a great journey and start of a new way of looking around!!! Listening from Mexico.

  2. Lisa Dee

    Mark is very interesting and helpful. The woman interviewing him is very distracting. “Um”, “hm” “yeah,” and giggles.
    I wish she had been at the presentation I heard today from noted linguist Barbara Tannenbaum about body language and how women portray themselves as submissive and less important by using these kinds of utterances to fill space.

    1. Gabriele Kruger

      I agree w/you, the constant um and ahem sounds made it hard to focus on what Mark was talking about. I feel like I had to work extra hard at tuning that distraction out in order to follow and stay w/what he was saying.

    2. Barbara Underwood

      Are these traits you don’t like or haven’t liked in yourself in the past? Remember we are all human. Try and be compassionate. I thought she did a great job. But thank you for your advice. Will check Barbara out

  3. Megan Harvey

    This is a really awesome thing to have happening and to be a part of – thank you. I particularly found useful the idea of not wrenching our mind back to mindfulness/meditation, but gently leading it there. That made a lot of sense to me and will be very helpful. Kia ora from New Zealand.

  4. Janet Hudson

    Thank you so much Melli and Mark. And I am so grateful to be part of a “tribe” learning and practicing mindfulness, a tribe of 150,000!
    A friend with depression just committed suicide in July, and I wish she could have benefitted from mindfulness. I am joining you from Portland Oregon/Mt St Helens, Washington, and will conclude from Mexico City Oct. 31.

  5. Linda Alberg+Mullen

    Thank you for this!
    I appreciated the metaphor of the mind being like the gym. The mind needing something to practice on is like having equipment in the gym — softens a sometimes rigid perspective of thoughts!

  6. Craig Johnston

    Way to go, enjoyed this time and feel pretty good . Hokusai Says segment was particularly moving. Mmmmm is for moment to savour. Mindfulness, mmmhmmm! A thousand thanx, a million hugs, adieu!

  7. Nana Nantambu

    Thank you so much. I truly appreciate the perspective Prof. Mark brings. He offers a slightly different take on mindfulness and i imagine it is a cultural difference. My understanding of mindfulness has been expanded.

  8. Kim Fewings

    I enjoyed the discussion regarding mindfulness versus mindlessness. I agree that it was necessary to make the distinction between both terms.

    Thank you Mark and Melli. I will be tuning in for more.

  9. Shantelle Bates

    Greetings from Lake Macquarie, Australia. I’ve been aware of mindfulness for a little now, and have to admit that listening to Mark William explaining it as he has, as well as the techniques, has made it easier to understand and endeavour to put it into practice. I’m really looking forward to what the rest of the Mindfulness Summit has to offer and seeing the change that embracing it can do for me and those around me. Thanks so much for the opportunity

  10. Joanne Ufer

    Absolutely loved the first day and already I feel a shift. I look forward to the next month and all the wonderful lessons that will be gifted to change my own life and in time hopefully help to change the lives of others.. thank you!

  11. Caroline

    Thank-you for a great presentation! Very much enjoyed listening to Mark’s perspective and work that is being done. Grateful to have found this event and look forward to learning more.

  12. Sharon

    Just finished listening to Mark. Thank you both so much! I feel like I have really received a lot of value and it is only Day 1! So I am very excited to see what the rest of the days in October have in store.

    I deal with long term depression, PTSD and chronic pain and I would love some clarification. I get told to distract myself from the pain, from destructive thoughts. It almost seems contradictory information from what I have been hearing from my psychiatrist who always tells me that I am too focused on the pain. I couldn’t do the body scan because of the focus on an already painful body. How do I go about the body scan then? I was previousoy advised in a mindfulness class to skip the body scan altogether.

    Really looking forward to hearing from you

    From Adelaide Australia

  13. Daniel Hurtado

    What do you believe is a good mindset to be able to get the best out of mindfulness? I understand the part of enthusiasm. But what do you believe is a good practice to break the motion of everyday “bad habits”?
    Thank you for sharing this beautiful experience with all of us!

  14. Shadia Constantine

    Great start! Wonderful interview with Dr. Williams. I got interested in mindfulness after a personal experience with depression and now even more after my 7-year-old was child diagnosed with “attention deficit disorder”. Dr. Williams mentioned about asking our children to “pay attention” without teaching them “how to pay attention”. I wonder what are his thoughts about ADD and mindfulness and how I can teach my child to “pay attention”

  15. Jacqueline Callaghan

    Whoohoo! So nice to be here in south Florida,USA, and with you all around the world. Really enjoyed hearing a researcher speak so effectively about his work, the science, their results. Personally, I’m very green in this pursuit to learn mindfulness, it’s all baby steps for me but I have already benefited.

  16. Gabriele Briggs

    I enjoyed the discussion with Dr. Mark Williams and look forward to learning more about mindfulness practice. During the short practice I found myself nodding off, which seems to defeat the practice of being mindful. What does one do about this?

  17. Janine Loving-Molloy

    A fantastic start – thank you both so much – I am engaged, just a day late! Would love to know about training to teach – any online courses? I am from New Zealand and travelling to Oxford is a step too far. Thank you again for an insightful introduction & really appreciated the opportunities to practice.

  18. Dustin Glaseman

    Joining from Canada, with many thanks to those who have worked towards making this amazing summit possible. I have only just begun mindfulness training, in order to help transform my life after a recent diagnosis of adult attention deficit disorder. As one may imagine, sticking to any task, let alone mindfulness, can be extremely difficult with a.d.d. in tow. This summit is more of a blessing than you can imagine. Thank you!

  19. Elizabeth Villarreal

    This is so timely in regards to some of the recent personal challenges I have been facing. The interview was wonderful and provided some great insights and practical exercises that are in no way overwhelming as I feared they would be. The universe never ceases to amaze at how it provides what I need at the proper time. Thank you. I am looking forward to this month with great anticipation.

  20. Sarah

    Great start to the month! I’m looking forward to taking this time out for myself as well as learning as much as I can about being mindful in every aspect of my life. Thanks

  21. Lindsay Holmes

    What a wonderful beginning to this Mindfulness journey. I really enjoyed the guided introductory practices. Thank you for validating the wandering mind as part of the process! It was the first time I felt that I was successful in meditation.

    I have a follow up question to this introduction: is it normal/typical to fall asleep during meditation?

    Thank you so much for this beautiful experience.

  22. Archana Goyal

    Hi! Mark, some great links and ideas in the comments. Not easy to scroll through so many. Hope your team will collate these in a Notes page or similar fir each day. Ideas for sharing. Thanks.

  23. Gillian Moon

    Kia Ora Aotearoa/New Zealand! What a wonderful first session – thank you so much. There were definitely some things said which I needed to hear today. Thanks for this opportunity and I look forward to the next 30 days! Blessings…..

  24. Shell Parsons

    Wonderful start to the summit. I loved the body scan mindfulness practice and the 3 minute breathing space technique. The discussion about habit release was also very insightful. I could listen to Mark talk for hours…his voice is so calming. Great interview Melli and thank you for creative this wonderful event.x

  25. Tash Mason

    Absolutely loving this so far. I do have one question – I’ve been practicing mindfulness for about 6 weeks now & I regularly cry even if there’s nothing actually wrong. Does anyone know why my body does this?

  26. Ilse DeKoeyer-Laros

    This is awesome! Thank you so much for organizing this. I am definitely one of those people who is very enthusiastic about mindfulness practice (every since I started my Zen practice in 1993), but who does not really practice enough. And it’s true; it doesn’t work if you only talk about it :).

    I agree with others that even just listening to your voices and watching you was calming. A beautiful moment for me was when Professor Williams did the 3-step meditation. I was just tuning into my body, when i heard a tick-tick-tick sound. He said to just tune in to the ‘weather patterns ‘ in your body and I realized at that moment that the sound I was hearing was rain (in a place where it doesn’t rain very much). Very beautiful moment!

  27. anton1fin@hotmail.com

    Good Morning everyone from Dorset in England. Thank you for this opportunity to join in with you all Melli and thank you Mark, for a very grounded and informative introduction to Mindfulness. I have studied Mindfulness over a number of years through various schools and spiritual guides and found your intro very inclusive. I found the conversational way you introduced this summit Melli a teaching in itself. When our mind wanders from the subject of mindfulness in this case the point being discussed by Mark, to the “aha..yes ..yes” affirmations it is a wake-up call that MY mind has wandered. I found your natural style of conversation very welcoming so thank you both. with love and compassion may your work benefit all beings.

    1. Marcia Winstead

      Thoroughly enjoyed Mark’s talk; balanced and spoken from a solid evidence base. Extremely grateful to everyone involved in the summit. Absolutely wonderful, thank you !!

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