Mindfulness Conference & Retreat – Sept 2014

The value of Mindfulness-Based Interventions has been demonstrated extensively over the last 25 years in a variety of contexts. In September 2014, for the first time, we had the opportunity to gather, explore and examine how these approaches might be best utilized, adapted and researched in the South African context.

CPD Points
16 Clinical CPD Points were approved for the Conference.


The chosen venue for the Conference/Workshops was STIAS, the Stellenbosch Institute for Advanced Studies, which is situated very near to the Jan Marais Nature Reserve in Stellenbosch. This multi-functional venue is bathed in natural light and offers spectacular views over Stellenbosch Mountain, the vineyard and the terraces.


(Both Pre-Conference Workshops were held on the 4th Sept 2014)

(a) Tuning Your Instrument: The Buddha, the Brain, and Bach.

Clifford Saron, Associate Research Scientist at University of California, Davis and San Francisco Symphony cellist Barbara Bogatin collaborated to offer this experiential workshop exploring the practice of awareness in meditation, music and brain science.

(b) Mindful Communication in Practice: Leaning Into A More Engaged and Resilient Health Professional Experience.

Michael Krasner MD, from the University of Rochester and Trish Luck MBChB, collaborated to offer this experiential workshop exploring health professional resilience. Health Care Professionals are at risk for burnout given their unique placement at the intersections of human health, well-being and suffering.


(5th-6th Sept 2014)

This was the first South African Conference on Mindfulness-Based Approaches entitled: Mindfulness Matters: Science and Application in an Emerging Society organised by the Institute for Mindfulness South Africa (IMISA) in conjunction with Stellenbosch University’s Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences.

During the conference, several international experts presented topics including contemplative neuroscience, the effects of mindfulness and compassion on the brain and the clinical application of mindfulness in cancer, HIV/AIDS, bipolar disorder and health professional burnout. Additionally, local speakers offered insight into applications, adaptations and research of mindfulness-based approaches currently employed in the educational and corporate sectors in South Africa.


Our two major sponsors were Chillisoft, a boutique software development house headquartered in KZN, and Wing’s Herbal Synergy, suppliers of the Finest Natural Herbal and Nutraceutical Medicines.


Goudini Spa is situated in the heart of the Boland Mountains. The luxury Slanghoek Villas are the latest addition to the Goudini Spa with a four star rating and breathtaking views of the Slanghoek Valley.


(Goudini Spa, 7th-12th Sept 2014)

Facilitators: Trish Bartley (International), Simon Whitesman, Linda Kantor, Matthew Watkin (Local)

This retreat offered a special and significant opportunity to deepen mindfulness-based practice in a grounded, secure and inspiring way. The context of the retreat supported this – through the beauty of the environment, the dedicated space of the venue and the framework and teaching of the retreat itself.

The 5 days together was framed around four themes or practice ‘movements’, which are foundational to mindfulness-based approaches. These are Intention; Coming Back; Turning Towards; and Kindness. Each on its own, and together, offered new insights into the practice, the qualities and the potential of MBAs – whether mostly for our own personal benefit, or when included in our work with others. In the service of our practice learning, we at times explored some of the core MBCT processes that offer special understanding into the habits of mind.

This 6-day retreat was led by one of the leading teachers of Mindfulness-Based Interventions in the United Kingdom, Trish Bartley from the Centre for Mindfulness Practice and Research at Bangor University of North Wales. She was well supported by experienced local teachers Simon Whitesman, Linda Kantor and Mathew Watkin. While previous experience with mindfulness was recommended as the experience would offer an in-depth and intensive exploration of mindfulness practices and its applications, it was not a pre-requisite and the retreat was open to all.

CPD Points

30 Clinical CPD Points were approved for the Retreat.


IMISA Facebook Page Link


How Mindfulness Can Change Your Life – Jon Kabat-Zinn…



(International Speakers) Trish Bartley, Gaëlle Desbordes, Alfred W Kaszniak, Michael Krasner, Cliff Saron, (Local South African Speaker) Simon Whitesman

Trish Bartley NEW+TEXT

Gaëlle Desbordes NEW+TEXT

Alfred W. Kaszniak NEW+TEXT

Michael Krasner NEW+TEXT

Cliff Saron NEW+TEXT