Masters In Mindfulness – Passed with a Distinction and Recommendation to publish!

We welcome you to the Urban Mindfulness Foundation Website and feel happy to share our recent joy at passing our MSc’s in Mindfulness Studies where we studied the impact of Mindfulness Based Inclusion Training (MBIT) on dismantling Racism and Social Inequality within and its impact on the way mindfulness teachers teach and its impact on organisational transformation.  

Founders Introduction

As the founders of the Urban Mindfulness Foundation, it feels great to share that our friendship has formed since the age of 11 and that we have been in partnership for over 24 years. Coming from culturally diverse and mixed heritage backgrounds, the need to embrace difference and connect through common humanity has been vital.

Importantly, this commitment to embracing difference is also expressed in how we have built our team of Facilitators, Co Facilitators and Volunteers that include a wide variety of people from many different cultures, ethnicity’s, age groups, genders, religions and social sectors.

As such we feel the Urban Mindfulness Foundation has been built on the foundations of inclusive understanding that is demonstrated by our diverse team whom embody the beauty of harmonious diversity to create deep friendships of honesty, trust and humility that allows us to cross all perceived divides.


Our Journey summary

Our joint journey of understanding is led by a deep wish to find ways to fully connect with and utilise the love within and around us all.

Something that has also led us into deep explorations of various Religions, Philosophies, Cultures and Indigenous ideas that have come together to influence the acceptance, courage, hope and deep understanding that our testimonials indicate is evident in our teaching today.

We both grew up in some of the poorest boroughs of London where the reality of relative poverty and social deprivation was starkly evidential and compounded by the weight of racism and sexism on a sometimes daily basis. Consequently, from a young age, it was clear that the quality of our environment and subsequent perceptions of it, that were often conditioned, caused the lives of some of our loved ones to be destroyed through substance abuse, crime, extreme violence and the tragedy of premature death’s. 

Needless to say, some of these painful social experiences also amounted to what some might describe as post traumatic stress that lead to fears and anxieties about the world and ones place in it.

However, despite these challenges, a steely determination to never give up was always present. Leading us to engage in academic attainment, career and business development, and starting a family that itself added another dimension to our lives.

However, it would also be honest to say that the persistent paper cuts of racism often transferred into rebellious, angry and sometimes worthless habitual patterns of the mind, that reflected our socially conditioned perspectives of who, what and how we should be, that at times made life seem unbearable.

These experiences also meant that it sometimes seemed easier to seek out distraction to numb the pain of what it is to be marginalised in an unforgiving, judgemental and over commodified society.

“The gifts of loving attention”

The gifts of loving attention that had been nurtured deep within us by those who came before, also suggested there was another way to deal with the challenges of urbanised living that eventually brought us to mindfulness.

Consequently, our journey began in 2009 when looking for something to help a loved one who was suffering from a terminal illness that was linked to memory. When googling terms such as memory, illness and health etc, mindfulness came up that seemed interesting.

As such, we feel our initial contact with mindfulness was grounded in love and compassionate action for a sick family member. That unexpectedly has perhaps become one of the last major gifts from this dearly loved one, who we are sure would have encouraged us to learn how to love under any circumstances.

As part of the process, we explored the appropriateness of mindfulness for our loved one by trying it out on ourselves first. 

Interestingly, whilst the practice in its existing form was not totally appropriate or suitable for our loved one. We were able to make adaptations and adjustments that made it possible for them to engage with it and signal to us much approval and gratitude. 

Furthermore, through our explorations of the practice for others, it also became clear that the practice was having a major impact on our own lives that was transformative.

Through loving connection and personal realisation of the impact of the practice. Our practice has became the fuel to go on to completing our Masters in Mindfulness studies, where we explored the dismantling of racism and social inequality using Mindfulness Based Inclusion Training (MBIT), alongside researching the impact of MBIT on Mindfulness Teachers and Organisational transformation.


The Recovery

Following a committed mindfulness practice, it now feels important to share how we have come to accept the struggles of our lives as part of our existence that can be utilised for transformation.

Through mindfulness training, we have come to understand at the bodily level that it is our very struggles that awaken us to staying curious, open compassionate, kind, and humbly determined to keep seeking better ways to live in our ever changing world.  

Consequently, it is now clear that our struggles have fuelled a compassionate contact with humanity that resources an ability to face up to City and Urban life in a way that enriches it and most importantly helps others to do the same.

Something we feel is vital if we are to overcome the internal and external barriers we each face that risks limiting our collective human potential for loving connections.

Importantly, there is also now a sense of gratitude, agency and purpose that gives an enriched value and experience to life, including its twists, turns and difficulties. Difficulties that almost always offer a doorway into a path of transformation, humanisation, and freedom when lived through a lens of inclusive social mindfulness grounded in the principles of Justice, Equity, Equality, Diversity and Inclusion, that disentangles us from the many socially conditioned beliefs about ourselves and others that inhibit our most compassionate potential.


Coined simply in the phrase by a cherished teacher Thich Nhat Hanh as:-

No Mud, No Lotus


 

So the question is;

What is the mud in your life that will be the source of your own blossoming?


Facilitators Short Bios


Aesha Francis BA, MSc

She/ her/ Sister

Mindfulness Based Facilitator, Educator and Supervisor

Mindfulness Based EDI Branding and Design Consultant

Mindfulness Based EDI Consultant to the Mindfulness Association

Since 2015 I have been facilitating/ teaching Mindfulness courses, drop in sessions, retreats and workshops. I am trained to teach Mindfulness Based Living Course (MBLC) as undertaken with the Mindfulness Association as well as Supervision Training. In addition to teaching adults, I have also trained with the Mindfulness in Schools Project to teach the .b Children’s course. 

I have a postgraduate degree in Mindfulness having completed the Masters of Science, Studies in Mindfulness programme with the University of Aberdeen, where my final thesis and research focused on The Positionality of the Mindfulness Teacher, Learning to Walk the Talk of Racial Inclusion.

I am of mixed heritage, African-Caribbean and South-Asian descent each diverse in spiritual and cultural traditions that inform a huge part of my identity and positionality. Prosocial focus has been very significant to me having experienced the mindfulness world from a BPOC, cis-gendered female perspective.

I am married to my friend of a lifetime and partner Dean, who together with we have two awesome teenage daughters and share our home with our family dog. All of whom are significant to who I am, my values and what I do, as well as the fantastic adventures we take and as the late John Lewis might say, the “good trouble” we make together.

Over the past 15 years I have enjoyed exploring the intersections of art and science in my role as operations manager within the environmental field.

As a trained artist and crafter with an undergraduate degree in design. Art became a big passion in my life that I now recognise as one of my first mindful activities significant to engaging in mindful processes, although unknowingly back then.  It offered a sense of exploration, liberation through expression, acceptance of uncertainty and imperfection as well as the possibility of limitless potential and social connection.

It now seems vital that connecting with something that brings a sense of curiosity, compassion and solidarity is necessary for individual and collective stability. For me the practice of Mindfulness enables an engaged way of living in symbiosis that could be described as a radical art of love for life by embracing all of it’s diverse forms.


Dean Francis BSc, MSc

He/ Him/ Brother/ We

Mindfulness Based Facilitator, Educator and Supervisor

Environmental Consultant, BAMBA Trustee and EDI Co Lead, EDI Consultant to the Sussex Mindfulness Centre and Mindfulness Association.

I am a trained Environmental Specialist, Mindfulness-Based EDI Consultant, Facilitator, Practitioner and Mindfulness Supervisor to mindfulness teachers interested in the field of EDI and Prosocial Change.

I have also completed a Masters in Mindfulness Studies with the University of Aberdeen and the Mindfulness Association that included the creation and research of a new mindfulness-based approach, called Mindfulness Based Inclusion Training or (MBIT) focused on deconstructing racism and social inequality in a collective and non-adversarial way.

Over the past 15 years, I have also been the Director of an Environmental Consultancy, a recipient of an award of Global Engineering Excellence, commanded in the Thames Gateway Businessperson of the year awards
and appointed to a HSE Government advisory group management committee between 2008 and 2019. Currently, I am focusing on innovations in the design, delivery, and practice of mindfulness that is sensitive to the lived experience of marginalised communities and those impacted by identity-based harm, racism, discrimination, and systemic oppression specifically.

With a researched understanding of social and cultural conditioning and the challenges faced by both the African-Caribbean Diaspora and mindfulness teachers. I hope to facilitate the Urban Mindfulness Foundation, BAMBA and the mindfulness field more generally in maintaining and upskilling new, existing and emerging teachers, and or teacher training organisations with mindfulness based EDI education that not only promotes sustainability, collaboration, solidarity, agency and collective relational health and wellbeing, but also programmes to ensure teachers and organisations in the field of mindfulness are uniquely recognised for their commitments to EDI and social justice as well as evidence based research applications that continuously widens access.

Outside the mindfulness world, I am blessed to be in partnership with my amazing wife and life-long friend, two wonderful daughters and family pet who always remind, me as the great bell hooks says,

“To love
well is the task in all meaningful relationships, not just the romantic
bonds”


Andrea Roye

Mindfulness Facilitator and Sound Healing Practitioner

Andrea is a passionate leader within the Criminal Justice Sector, mindfulness practitioner and former professional singer. She is currently completing her MSc in Mindfulness Studies. Andrea is interested in mindfulness and servant leadership and is committed to creating a more fair, just and sustainable world.

Andrea is currently finding new ways to share her voice through singing mantra as an addition to her daily mediation practice. Singing Mantras helps Andrea to connect more easily to the present moment and inner peace. She is dedicated to creating a safe space for individual and collective healing as we engage in the very important work of promoting social change and justice.


Mauricio Senger, MSc

Mindfulness Facilitator

In the year of 2000 I decided to leave my country of Brazil to explore different countries and look for something that I thought was “missing” in my life. I initially moved to Australia and three years later to the UK. On this journey I met many wonderful people and gained a lot of life experience. However, I carried within myself a subtle sense of something missing until I went through a sequence of unexpected and unwanted changes in my life that led me to find out about mindfulness. I looked for ways to ease the emotional pain I was feeling and that is how I found out about this practice. Mindfulness enabled me to have a better relationship with those changes, an accepting one, and as a result the quality of my life improved significantly. Apart from that I began to feel relief from that subtle sense that there was something missing in my life, it felt like I had found inside myself what I was looking for since I had left home so many years ago. From that personal life improvement was born a willingness to share this practice with others so becoming a mindfulness facilitator was a natural choice.


Barbara Winfield

Yoga and Mindfulness Facilitator

My passion and my work has been in teaching. Born in Liverpool in the 1950’s, education and career opportunities were limited. This experience inspired my own teaching, fostering a belief in education and opportunity for all. We all possess possibilities waiting to be discovered. Believing in and valuing people’s ability I feel inspires confidence and results in their flowering and success.

Yoga and reflexology are the other two passions in my life. Practising yoga since my teens, I have taught yoga for over thirty years and it has been a great teacher, along with my students. I am also a practising reflexologist with over twenty-five years’ experience and fortunate to have been able to teach this subject too.

I attended my first mindfulness course in 2007 at Samye Ling. I felt mindfulness was the ‘icing on the cake’ to my yoga practice – the missing piece. Mindfulness has opened the door to a journey of self-discovery and understanding. It has brought with it opportunities and wonderful friendships and is life enhancing.

Our motto:

The Urban Mindfulness Foundation; Is a place where we embrace the city and our differences with love, kindness and compassion so we can connect through our common humanity!

Regardless of your background, we welcome you to our inclusive organisation.

Check out our venue gallery here