Faculty & Visiting Teachers

Founder Directors

Helen Byrne

Helen Byrne, H. Dip. Ed., Dip. Psych., M.A. in Mindfulness-Based Approaches from Bangor University, Member of the PSI.  Helen qualified as a post primary teacher in 1981 and worked mainly in the area of learning support.  She was a Visiting Teacher to the Traveller Community from 1998-2007 and worked with the ICTU Centre for the Unemployed in Finglas supporting various community initiatives in various capacities from 2005 to 2010.  She qualified as a Systemic and Family Therapist with the Clanwilliam Institute in 1996, at the same time as completing a Post-Graduate Diploma in Psychology.

Alongside her training at Bangor University, Helen also completed all trainings and supervision with the Center for Mindfulness at University of Massachusetts, including participation in an intensive residential MBSR teacher training with Jon Kabat-Zinn in 2009 and in an Advanced Teacher Development Residential training with Melissa Blacker and Florence Meleo-Meyer in 2010.

Helen trained as a Yoga teacher in 2003 and began combining her meditation practice with yoga teaching, offering Mindfulness Yoga classes in various yoga studios in Dublin from 2004 to 2010.  

She has been teaching MBSR in various contexts since 2008.

Josephine Lynch

Josephine Lynch, Dip. Ac., Dip. Herbal Med., M.A. Mindfulness-Based Approaches, Bangor University, has also gained the Certificate of Competence to Teach Mindfulness-Based Courses from the Centre for Mindfulness Research and Practice (Bangor University).

Most of her career was in Mind/Body medicine with such modalities as shiatsu, acupuncture and herbal medicine. Josephine was involved in Community Education through Sláinte Pobal, an organisation bringing health education to women in areas of disadvantage in Dublin in the ‘90s.  She studied counselling in Maynooth University and has had a particular interest in ecology and environmental issues for many years.  

Josephine has been teaching MBSR since 2005, making her one of the first people to teach this course in Ireland.  She has been very active in bringing the very best international trainers and teachers to Ireland to lead CPD and retreats for mindfulness teachers and trainee teachers since 2008, and she has been the driving force behind the development and setting up of the Mindfulness Teachers Association of Ireland, the professional body for teachers of Mindfulness Based Interventions in Ireland (www.mtai.ie) which came into being in 2019.  

Josephine was the first Chairperson of the MTAI, steering it through its formative first year and 9 months, as well as supporting it in finding a coherent response to COVID.  This included offering free online meditations twice daily to the public for almost a year.

Josephine and Helen

Josephine Lynch and Helen Byrne

Josephine and Helen are Senior Lecturers on the Masters programme in Mindfulness-based Interventions within the UCD School of Psychology.  They were involved in the development of the course and have been teaching on the programme since its inception in 2014.

They are trained mindfulness supervisors, having trained with the late Cindy Cooper at Bangor University and they recently completed a 2-year in-depth course in Buddhist Psychology with the Bodhi College.  They continue to study and practice with Senior Teachers at The Bodhi College and others.  They trained to teach Mindful Self-Compassion (MSC) with Christopher Germer and Kristin Neff in 2015.

Josephine and Helen have also received in-vivo training over a number of years in the use of the Mindfulness-Based Interventions: Teacher Assessment Criteria (MBI:TAC) from Dr. Rebecca Crane, here in Dublin.  The MBI:TAC is regarded as the gold standard in the assessment of mindfulness teachers and was developed at Bangor, Oxford and Exeter Universities.  This is the assessment tool we use at The Mindfulness Centre on this Diploma Course.


All the members of the faculty who are involved in teaching mindfulness are members of the Mindfulness Teachers Association of Ireland and adhere to that organisation’s Standards of Good Practice (mtai.ie/standards).

Niamh Barrett

Niamh Barrett B.A. began her training in teaching Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction in 2007 with a foundation year at the University of Bangor in North Wales, and completed her training with the Institute for Mindfulness-Based Approaches (Germany), graduating in 2010.  Prior to this for many years she worked in documentary film and TV production.  She has been teaching the MBSR programme since 2010 and is also a mindfulness-teacher trainer and supervisor.

Niamh has been a committed meditation practitioner for fifteen years and regularly attends silent retreats and further training, and receives supervision while teaching.  Most recently she has been exploring the intersection of mindfulness and social engagement through her own practice, retreats and teaching. In June 2019 she guided the first retreat day of her long-form mindfulness and social engagement project, Showing Up. In 2019/2020 the Showing Up programme of retreat days engaged directly and through practice with the current housing crisis.  In 2021 the themes have been around living in a pandemic and an exploration of racial justice.  Through the project she also offers mindfulness training to charities, activist groups and NGOs.  www.showingup.ie

Dominic Cogan

Dominic Cogan, M.A.; Dominic received a B.A. in English and Philosophy from U.C.C. and a  Master’s in Education from the University of London.  He also has a Certificate in Counselling Skills and Practice.  He trained in teaching MBIs from the CFMRP at Bangor University and the IMA, Germany.  He trained with the Mindfulness in Schools Project to teach the .b programme to teenagers and the .b Foundations programme to teachers and those working with young people.  He works as a teacher trainer on the MiSP .b teacher training courses.

Dominic has been involved in education as a teacher and teacher trainer in Ireland and abroad for many years.  More recently Dominic completed QQI Level 6 Diploma trainings in Inter-Spiritual Mindfulness Facilitation as well as Soul Empowerment and Life Coaching.  He also completed professional training in Positive Neuroplasticity with the leader in the field, Dr Rick Hanson.

Erica Balfour

Erica Balfour, BSc (Environmental Science), Grad Dip Psychotherapy, Dip Counselling Skills, Dip in Mindfulness Based Interventions, Dip in Mindful Communication.  Erica is currently studying for a  Masters in Psychotherapy.

A committed practitioner and mindfulness teacher at The Mindfulness Centre, Erica stepped into an administration role with the Centre over the last number of years.  She has recently taken over the coordination of the professional training programmes and joined the teaching team.

Erica’s personal practice of mindfulness spans a period of 15 years and began as a way to cope with the anxiety of parenting a very young family & navigating the grief of losing her mother to breast cancer.  She discovered that over time, through a daily mindfulness practice, she began to find ways to befriend her anxiety.  She believes that mindfulness has taught her to encourage and support herself with compassion when life feels overwhelming.  Most importantly she began to see more clearly the richness in others, in nature and in herself.

Fiona O’Donnell

Fiona O’Donnell M.A. M.Sc. B.Soc. Sc.,: Fiona O’Donnell has completed a 3 year Master’s degree in Mindfulness Based Approaches at Bangor University, Wales.  She has also completed Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) Teacher Training Levels 1 & 2 at Bangor University and is a trained teacher in Mindful Self Compassion (MSC) with The Centre for Mindful Self Compassion, California.  Fiona has attended training in Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) at the Oxford Mindfulness Centre, Oxford University and is registered as an MBCT Therapist on the International Access MBCT register.

She completed ‘.b’ training with the Mindfulness in Schools Project (MISP), Positive Neuroplasticity Professional Training with Dr Rick Hanson, and Google’s ‘Search Inside Yourself’ Mindfulness, Emotional Intelligence and Leadership Training with SIYLI.

Fiona has completed Level 1 training in Sensorimotor Psychotherapy with the Sensorimotor Institute, Colorado, USA.  Fiona lectures on University College Dublin’s M.Sc. in Mindfulness-Based Interventions.  Fiona’s previous work experience includes several years in Children’s Services in Dublin’s North West Inner City, prior to working for Atlantic Philanthropies, which developed strategies and funding for Children & Youth, Education and Mental Health throughout Ireland.

Sarah Silverton

Sarah Silverton, M.Ed.: Sarah’s professional training was as an Occupational Therapist, working in mental health and Social Services settings for over twenty years. She also trained as a Counsellor, receiving her MEd in 1999.  Sarah was introduced to mindfulness in 1996 by Mark Williams.  She subsequently trained to teach others with Mark Williams at Bangor and with senior teachers at the Center for Mindfulness, Massachusetts, USA – Jon Kabat-Zinn’s centre.

As a member of the Centre for Mindfulness Research and Practice teaching/training team at Bangor University from the foundation of the centre in 2001 until 2017 she was involved in teaching and training in MBSR and MBCT through the Masters’ and CPD programmes.  She is a supervisor and Teacher Training Pathway mentor with the Mindfulness Network, UK.

She is co-author of Paws b curriculum (Mindfulness in Schools Project).  She developed ‘The Present’ with Dusana Dorjee and Tabitha Sawyer, a programme to support teachers to share mindfulness practice with children aged 3-11. www.thepresentcourses.org

She has published ‘The Mindfulness Breakthrough’, Watkins, 2012 (reprinted as ‘The Mindfulness Key’, 2016) and is co-author of ‘Mindfulness and The Transformation of Despair’, ‘ MBCT with People at Risk of Suicide’ in paperback (2017), Williams, Fennell, Barnhofer, Crane and Silverton, Guilford, 2015.

Emma Philbin Bowman

Emma Philbin Bowman, BA, Diploma in Humanistic & Integrative Psychotherapy.  Emma completed a 4-year Professional Training at the Institute of Creative Counselling and Psychotherapy and is a fully accredited member of the Irish Association of Humanistic and Integrative Psychotherapy (IAHIP).  She is also a committed mindfulness meditation practitioner.   Emma has been offering her workshop on the person of the mindfulness teacher to students on the Mindfulness Centre’s teacher training since 2015.

Alvina Cassidy

Alvina Cassidy is a Counsellor & Psychotherapist and an accredited member of the Irish Association of Counsellors and Psychotherapists. She trained with the Institute of Mindfulness Based Approaches (IMA) and is a student supervisor and member of their teaching faculty.  ​She has been introducing Deep Listening to student teachers at The Mindfulness Centre since 2015.  She regularly co-presents on meditation and compassion retreats and Deep Listening training at Dzogchen Beara Meditation Centre, West Cork.  In 2009 she organised a conference on Death and Dying in Killarney at which Jon Kabat-Zinn was one of the key-note speakers.

​Alvina was introduced to mindfulness and compassion meditation in 1993 in the Tibetan Buddhist tradition and has attended numerous teaching retreats with Tibetan and western teachers.  She completed many meditation retreats in Ireland, Germany, France and the US, including a one year enclosed retreat.

Dr. Elma Hedderman

Dr. Elma Hedderman, M.B.,  B.A.O.  B. Ch.,  B.A. M.Cl.Psych.  A consultant child and adolescent psychiatrist, Dr Hedderman has worked within the HSE with responsibility for Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) in Kildare and Dublin. She also has extensive experience working within the NHS in Belfast, Bristol and Sussex.  She has trained in Psychopharmacology, Family Therapy, Cognitive Behaviour Therapy, Dialectical Behaviour Therapy and Mindfulness teaching (with The Mindfulness Centre).  Dr. Hedderman is currently involved in research on the role of Self-Compassion in adolescents suffering with depression.

Dr. Sarah-Jane Cullinan

Dr. Sarah-Jane Cullinan joined Trinity College Dublin’s School of Business in 2014 as an Assistant Professor in Human Resource Management and Organisational Behaviour.  She also holds a BA in Sociology and Psychology from University College Cork and a MBS in Human Resource Management from Dublin City University. Her research interests lie primarily in the area of employee health and well-being at work.  Sarah-Jane received her Diploma in Teaching Mindfulness-Based Interventions from The Mindfulness Centre. She is passionate about sharing mindfulness practice with both students in her modules and employees and managers in the organisations where she conducts research.

Niamh Digan

Niamh Digan M.Ed, B.Sc. Couns. & Psych., B.A, Dip. Couns., Dip. in Ed. Leadership, H.Dip in Ed., worked with the Department of Education teacher support services for ten years where she had responsibility for the design and facilitation of child protection training to school managers as well as teacher training in the area of relationships, sexuality and health education. Prior to this she worked in post primary schools in Dublin as a teacher and guidance counsellor.

Niamh trained in person-centred and psychodynamic therapy as well as Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction and Cognitive Therapy. She is a registered member of the Teaching Council and an accredited member of the IACP. Niamh teaches mindfulness-based stress reduction courses and uses mindfulness-based interventions in her work with young people and adults in schools and colleges around Ireland.

Dr. Alistair Wilson

Dr Alistair Wilson: is a consultant psychiatrist and fellow of the Royal College of Psychiatry in Scotland. He has worked as a Consultant Community Psychiatrist within the National Health Service for almost thirty years.  During this time, he completed his training in Cognitive Therapy at Oxford University and graduated with a MSc in Mindfulness Based Approaches with the University of Bangor in 2011. He has also trained in Trauma-Focused CBT, Sensory-Motor Psychotherapy and Eye Movement De-Sensitisation Rationale in order to deliver care for those experiencing symptoms of trauma. Since retiring from the NHS in 2014 he has been employed by Combat Stress, a charity providing support to UK veterans experiencing Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).

Alistair has a long history of delivering MBCT within mental health services in and around Glasgow. He has delivered mindfulness sessions to medical staff and workshops on Mindful Approaches to Trauma in London, Dublin and UMass. He is currently engaged in a series of research projects evaluating the feasibility of Mindfulness Based Approaches in a variety of settings including Oncology, Addiction and Trauma, and has recently trained to deliver the MBCT for Life course through the Oxford Mindfulness Centre.

Dr. Terry Hyland

Dr. Terry Hyland, Fellow of the Higher Education Academy (UK) & Professor Emeritus of the Education & Psychology Academic Group, University of Bolton, UK. Terry is a highly published author on the themes of mindfulness, education and philosophy and his current interest is in the area of the commodification of mindfulness.

Trish Haugh

Trish Haugh: is a yoga teacher & psychotherapist with 35 years of working with movement and somatic attunement.  Trish’s work includes training in The Feldenkrais Method, Developmental Movement and linking our physiology and psychology from a Winnicottian Attachment perspective.

Visiting Teachers

Akincano Marc Weber

Akincano Marc Weber was born in Berne (Switzerland) and is a Buddhist teacher and contemplative psychotherapist. He learned to sit still in the early eighties as a Zen practitioner and later became a monk in Ajahn Chah’s tradition where he studied and practiced for 20 years in the Forest monasteries of Thailand and Europe.

He studies Pali and early Buddhist scriptures, holds a degree in Mindfulness-Based Psychotherapy and runs Atammaya Cologne, a small Buddhist centre in the Rhineland. He teaches Buddhist Psychology and meditation internationally in Dharma contexts and applied mindfulness in secular and healthcare settings and runs a therapeutic practice in Cologne. He is one of the founders of the Bodhi College.  Akincano came to Ireland to lead our Summer retreat with John Peacock.  We are delighted to welcome him back.

From time to time, teachers other than those listed above may be invited to contribute.

External Examiner

Dr John Peacock

Dr John Peacock has been an academic and a Buddhist practitioner for forty years. Trained in India in the Tibetan Gelugpa tradition, he subsequently spent time in Sri Lanka studying Theravada.  He lectured in Buddhist Studies at the University of Bristol, he was Associate Director of the Oxford Mindfulness Centre and teacher on the Master of Studies programme in MBCT (Mindfulness-based Cognitive Therapy) at Oxford University until recently.  John has been teaching meditation internationally for more than twenty five years and is a Gaia House guiding teacher.  He is a co-founder of The Bodhi College, which is dedicated to the study and practice of the early teachings of the Buddha.  John has been coming to Ireland to lead retreats since 2015.

Supporting Team

Course Co-ordinator: Erica Balfour

Erica Balfour is a committed practitioner and mindfulness teacher at The Mindfulness Centre. Erica stepped into an administration role with the Centre over the last number of years and has proved an invaluable support to us in all areas of our work.  She has recently joined the teaching team and taken over the coordination of the professional training programmes.  (see bio above.)

Shirley Copeland

Shirley Copeland has been cooking with whole foods and growing wisdom in the kitchen for over 30 years. She’s known to many who have been on retreats in Ireland and in Plum Village Monastery, France.  In the 80’s she trained in Switzerland as a wholefoods chef, and in London as a medicinal cook.

More recently Shirley also has qualified as a Health and Wellness coach and a Mindfulness-Based Eating Awareness Trainer (MB EAT).  As well as cooking and offering mindfulness in the kitchen on most of our residential trainings and retreats, she teaches mindfulness in the kitchen on the UCD M.Sc in MBIs.

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