Rob Brandsma

Mindfulness teacher training in Ukraine

In 2020, I received a request from Ukraine to develop a mindfulness trainer training program for that country. With our partners from the Ukrainian Mindfulness Association (UMA), we created a program. In early 2022, everything was ready to start.

Then came the war.

At the end of 2022, the students let us know that they would still like to start the training. Despite the war. Despite the load of their work – most of them are psychologists. They wanted to be able to use mindfulness as an additional tool for their clients and expected a lot from it.

We started in early 2023. Online, because travel is still very difficult and many students are now scattered across the country and across Europe. Over twenty students are participating. They sometimes log on from a lodging house or airport – on their way to a safer place or to take family away. They are sometimes exhausted by their daily work with people with mental distress, but also because the war sometimes seems so endless … and yet everyone is there again. 
I’m impressed with such courage. I’m inspired by the commitment to learn new things whilst under such difficult circumstances. I take confidence in their trust in the power of mindfulness. Mindfulness must be a superpower if it proves to be a support in times of such existential distress.
I’m so grateful that I can contribute the relief of the current suffering in Ukraine, even if it be in such a small way. I am also grateful that so many dear colleagues are supporting the project: Mila de Koning (co-teacher), Thorsten Barnhofer (MBCT), Joost van den Heuvel Rijnders (Buddhist inspiration), David Treleaven (trauma sensitivity). The fact that Jon Kabat-Zinn is also participating in this training means a lot to the students and, of course, also to me.
The future? In the autumn of 2023, the students will swarm out to teach their first trainings in the Ukrainian setting. We hope it will soon be possible to teach on site. In any case, we will continue to support as long as needed UMA with the development of their network of Ukrainian mindfulness teachers.

Supporting Ukraine

Voices of Children Charitable Foundation is committed to support Ukrainian children of war. The open source page Stand with Ukraine offers a wide range of ways to help the Ukrainian people, also in strategic support.

I have never lived under war, I do not know what it means to be in Ukraine right now. But I can listen and hopefully my listening and responding can mean something.

Jon Kabat-Zinn