The London MAPP Seminar Group

What is the London MAPP Seminar Group - A place to pick brains of former students. For former students to refresh and stretch their Positive Psychology muscles. Among the kind of people that kept them engaged, challenged, and interested while they studied.

How did the The London MAPP Seminars start?

Out of sheer necessity! Back in our first term of MAPP, in 2009, an utterly overwhelmed bunch of newbies realised that we desperately needed a place and a way to meet to talk about the course; where we were with it, what was going on, and what we needed to do. With the concentrated weekends of lectures giving us so much to think about, it also seemed important to have a place to talk about what we were learning.

So, in the beginning, it was just a group of London based students trying to understand and help each other through the course.

 

What are they now? 

After the first 18 months of useful meetings, and a ‘final’ post-dissertation-delivery lunch, the Seminars were notionally suspended.

This was until it became clear that for a number of people, in danger of losing touch with the work they had been so involved in while engaged with the energy of their college group, there was a gap to be filled. So in the winter of 2011, the Seminars began again with slightly different focus.

The idea, these days, is still to provide a forum for discussion on things PP, and, now, to open it up to all MAPP students within reach (even if occasional) of London. The benefit of this is that it gives current, future, and ‘thinking about it’ students access to graduates to talk about the course, their work, the deliveries, what to expect, and a place to bat ideas around, ask for advice, and even seek mentoring relationships. What current students bring to the former students is a refreshing update on what is happening now and what the latest developments, thinking and changes are.

The group meets every six (or so) weeks, on a Monday evening, and the evening has two components – the first being the 90 minute meeting, where there are generally discussions based on prepared papers or subjects, with a short talk or two from contributors, and opening up to the group for their thinking and input.

The idea is to take a Socratic questioning approach, so rather than engage in the debating tradition of polarising opinion across the table, it is more a truth-seeking exploration around the table. We also share information about related up-coming events, complementary courses (such as Mindfulness trainings), societies (like Action for Happiness), and recommendations on resources and reading. Things that have been covered over the year have been: positive relationships; research biases; cultural differences and interventions; resilience; Mindfulness Meditation; Appreciative Inquiry, to mention a few. After the 90 minute meeting, we take it down the pub where side conversations can be picked up and people with shared interests can talk in more depth on what matters to them.

In our last meeting, we had a theme of Wine Tasting and the potential of Savouring, Variety & Mindfulness in counteracting addiction. We took this out of doors, and were blessed with a beautiful evening, picnicking on the grass of the lovely leafy ‘secret garden’ of St Mary Aldermanbury.

We had a session on wine tasting and savouring techniques from David Motion of The Winery, and a ‘blind tasting’ round, and found this opened up how we experienced the wine, raising discussion on the psychology of our perceptions and senses and how environment (even lighting conditions) influence us.

Some really lively conversations were sparked by Jackie Watson highlighting three thought-provoking and controversial pieces from Barbara Frederickson on Positivity and bodily pleasures narrowing mindsets, from Bryant and Veroff on the cognitive elements of savouring and positive emotion, and the impact on blood flow to the anterior cingulate of mindfulness meditation and the potential for that in managing addictive behaviour.

The feedback that the chance to “drink and eat in lovely company was valued by everyone” and that people “really liked the mixture between thinking and physically using all the senses in tasting the wine”. This suggested that for future meetings we can work on combining the social and physical – as well as the environment – with the conceptual.

Who can join and how can you join?

Actually, anybody who is interested is welcome to join. This means, graduates of the course, people who have discontinued or suspended their studies, those who are on the course now, and those who might be considering applying. Friends can come too – if they have an interest in Positive Psychology and are looking for a place to explore that.

If you think this might be a useful group for you, just drop a note to vera_hegarty@hotmail.com and get yourself on the mailing list. The next meeting is September 17th, 6.15 for 6.30pm, meeting at 5 Aldermanbury Square, London EC2.

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