The online, drop-in mindfulness sessions from the Centre for Excellence in Mindfulness Research (CEMR) at City, University of London, help our community look after its mental health.

By Mr Shamim Quadir (Senior Communications Officer), Published (Updated )

The online, drop-in mindfulness sessions from the Centre for Excellence in Mindfulness Research (CEMR) help our university community look after its mental health.

Sessions for July 2023, will be 9-9:30 am every Tuesday, from tomorrow, Tuesday 4 July, 2023:

Sessions for August 2023 will be 13-13:30 every Thursday, from Thursday 3 August, 2023.

Everyone is welcome to join a session, be they City, University of London staff, students or friends of City. Please email: [email protected] to obtain the login details.

Dr Jutta Tobias Mortlock describes the concept of mindfulness and the online CEMR sessions

Launched in April 2019, the goal of the Centre for Excellence in Mindfulness (CEMR) is to extend the scientific evidence base on mindfulness initiatives in diverse contexts and help shape the next generation of mindfulness research, practice, and policy.

Initially hosted in-person on campus, the CEMR hosted mindfulness sessions moved online when the pandemic struck in order to continue to provide a welcoming and supportive space for City students, staff and anyone else to practice being in the present moment with non-judgemental awareness.

Dr Jutta Tobias Mortlock (left) and  Dr Trudi Edginton (right)

The mindfulness sessions are delivered by a team of qualified professionals, led by Dr Trudi Edginton and Dr Jutta Tobias Mortlock, co-directors of CEMR, and Ailbhe Lynch, Organisational Development Manager at City.

Join a session

Anyone is welcome to join. The sessions are currently delivered through Zoom. Please contact Dr Jutta Tobias Mortlock for details on how to join the session.

For more details about the Centre for Excellence in Mindfulness Research, please visit CEMR website.

How have our mindfulness community found the sessions so far?

During the summer break the CEMR team conducted interviews with regular attendees of the sessions to find out how they have been experiencing them, and to gather anonymised feedback in the interest of making improvements to the service where needed.

Overall, interview participants emphasised how helpful participating in the online mindfulness sessions have been in improving their mental health. They reported learning new and sometimes surprising ways to deal with stress, and many said they enjoyed this new and unusual online space to develop connections and open up about the highs and lows that their work lives presented to them.

Everyone wanted the sessions to continue, some even suggested they would plan their work schedule to ensure they could log on when the sessions would resume in the new academic year.

Major themes revealed by the interviews:

  1. Many participants reported feeling a lot calmer after the mindfulness sessions. They felt having an allocated time within their schedule to reflect on their thoughts and feelings proved to enhance their mental health. The mindfulness sessions helped them better understand themselves and recognise their thoughts, feelings and struggles. Many mentioned that this ‘awareness’ about their inner world was new but necessary. Participants mentioned feeling “grounded” after the sessions.
  2. The topics ‘community’ and ‘safe space’ came up in all interviews. Participants mentioned that the sessions provided space for them to be “vulnerable” and share their struggles. Hearing others talk about their problems often encouraged them to open up to the group. Many mentioned learning from others, gaining a new perspective and feeling confident in being able to solve their problems after the group sharing. The check-in activity before and after the mindfulness session provided them with the space and time to bond as a community.
  3. What does ‘mindfulness’ mean to the members of our City online mindfulness community? In short, increased self-awareness. This awareness is related to their thoughts, feelings and breath. Many of them viewed mindfulness as a technique to relax, ground themselves and calm down from their fast-paced lives.
  4. What were their thoughts on online vs face to face mindfulness sessions at City? While most participants agreed online sessions were more convenient, some preferred to have sessions in person. The pros of online sessions included the convenience of no travel and flexibility in participation. However, some felt the in-person sessions (before the start of the Pandemic) provided a chance to share with a particular individual, perhaps in more depth, rather than predominately sharing in the group as a whole during the online sessions. The team are planning to offer a mix of online and face to face sessions in the academic year of 2022/23.

Filmmaker Lydia Shellien-Walker has been a regular participant in the online group mindfulness sessions. Read about what she learned from her attendance over the pandemic.