International Conference of the Application of Mindfulness and Compassion 2023

I was honoured to be co-facilitating a workshop about Mindfulness-Based Supervision (MBS) at the International Conference of the Application of Mindfulness and Compassion (2023). Cancan Jin, of 5P Medicine  based in China, organised the conference supported by the Mindfulness Network. I co-facilitated with my supervisor colleague, Debbie Hu. Chinese speaking mindfulness-based supervisors, Jun Pang, Tina Ma, Winnie Lee and Yujing Sun supported the workshop, guiding practices and sharing stories of their experiences of supervision through panel conversations.


As a group of supervisors, we experience MBS to be of enormous value in our work. We hope to help others to be able to find good supervision to support their learning and spread the word about what MBS is.

To begin the workshop, we set the scene of what MBS is. We used the MBS framework developed by myself and colleagues, Cindy Cooper, Jody Mardula and Pamela Duckerin. The main content of the workshop was to get a feel and flavour of supervision through hearing stories and different perspectives from two panels.

Mindfulness-Based Supervision for New Teachers

Often when teachers are new to supervision they come with uncertainty. Supervisees might not know what MBS is and are unsure what to take. They can feel anxious and keen to ‘get it right’. They might have misconceptions about the role of the supervisor and think they are going to be assessed or imagine they must show how good they are.

In this first panel, Debbie, Tina and Jujing encouraged teachers to give time for the relationship with their supervisor to build. It takes time to trust your supervisor and know that they are on your side. Supervisors want to help supervisees to see their strengths and grow in their mindfulness practice and teaching. Part of the supervisor’s role is to attend to the needs of the supervisee. The supervisor intends to bring compassion, they are human themselves and encourage supervisees to bring vulnerabilities to supervision.

Practical Tips:

    • reflect and prepare for supervision
    • reflect after supervision so you carry your learning forward into your teaching
    • you can guide practice and inquiry live in supervision
    • at some point let your supervisor see some recording of you teaching
    • ensure that you arrange your supervision sessions before you begin your course

Mindfulness-based supervision is a place to reflect with an experienced other in a safe space.

Mindfulness-Based Supervision for more Experienced Teachers

In the second panel, Alison, Jun Pang and Winnie, gave a feel of what supervision is, for more experienced teachers. In many ways it is the same as for new teachers, but as the basic building blocks of teaching are understood, there is opportunity to go deeper and inquire in a more nuanced way. Supervision moves more into the attitudes supervisees bring into teaching e.g., curiosity and not knowing. Supervisees can explore more about embodiment which comes primarily from personal practice and how supervisees are responding to what life brings.

Supervision also helps supervisees to keep us up to date and abreast of new developments and concerns e.g., trauma sensitive mindfulness, safety, how to teach with equality, diversity, and inclusion in mind, and teaching a range of different programmes.

Supervision sessions might be less frequent when a teacher is more experienced, but the learning never stops. Supervisees keep deepening, coming across new situations and experiences, widen the focus of what they bring to supervision, bring more of their own practice and responses to life and tease out the links with their mindfulness work.

Chinese speaking supervisors

Many thanks to the group of Chinese speaking supervisors in the Mindfulness Network for supporting this workshop. As Supervision Lead in the Mindfulness Network I am aware that having a supervisor who speaks in a language that you have fluency in can be really beneficial. Supervisors might have more understanding of the cultural context of your work, and it is easier to share recordings of you teaching without the need for translation.