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MINDFUL EATING–CONCIOUS LIVING, ME-CL1 : A Foundational Professional Training


We are very happy to announce the Foundational Professional Training in Mindful eating – Concious living, for the first time in Switzerland. Led by the founders of ME-CL, Jan Chozen Bays and Char Wilkins.


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Mindful eating involves paying full attention to the experience of eating and drinking, both inside and outside the body. We pay attention to the colors, smells, textures, flavors, temperatures, and even the sounds (crunch!) of our food. We pay attention to the experience of the body. Where in the body do we feel hunger? Where do we feel satisfaction? What does half-full feel like, or three quarters full?

We also pay attention to the mind. While avoiding judgment or criticism, we watch when the mind gets distracted, pulling away from full attention to what we are eating or drinking. We watch the impulses that arise after we’ve taken a few sips or bites: to grab a book, to turn on the TV, to call someone on our cell phone, or to do web search on some interesting subject. We notice the impulse and return to just eating.

We notice how eating affects our mood and how our emotions like anxiety influence our eating. Gradually we regain the sense of ease and freedom with eating that we had in childhood. It is our natural birthright.

The old habits of eating and not paying attention are not easy to change. Don’t try to make drastic changes. Lasting change takes time, and is built on many small changes. We start simply.


The intersection of mindfulness, eating and our relationship to food is the focus of this professional training. Inherent within that juncture are the thoughts, emotions and physical sensations that impact how we relate to food and our body in skillful and unskillful ways. The training emphasizes experiential engagement in mindfulness meditation practices and mindful eating awareness exercises, so that the participant will be able to pass the benefit of these exercises on to clients and patients in a variety of settings. These practices and exercises are integral components of the eight-session Mindful Eating Program Manual- Teacher’s Guide, designed by Bays and Wilkins, which provides the organizing structure from this training. Every participant will receive a copy of the Teacher’s Guide.

ME-CL1 provides professionals with a curriculum from which participants will explore and teach core aspects of mindful eating. Mindfulness can deepen through the exploration of our relationship to eating and food and provide an opportunity to see more clearly the connection of body, mind and heart. By bringing awareness to and through the senses we can become more mindful of how, when, where, what and why we eat. Participants will explore the joys and sorrows held in eating and food, the disconnects and communions, and the aversions and desires- all of which can be opportunities that facilitate moving toward a healthier relationship with food, emotions and the physical body.

This training will support and enhance the attendee’s personal meditation practice which is the essential foundation for teaching mindful eating. It will provide practical ways of integrating mindfulness and mindful eating in working with patients, individually or in groups. The program draws from Mindfulness-based Stress Reduction (MBSR), Mindfulness-based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT), current research, and the instructors’ combined 40 years of experience working in public and clinical settings with a wide range of people with distressed eating patterns.

The program will be led by experienced clinicians, mindfulness teachers and retreat leaders, Jan Chozen Bays, MD and Char Wilkins, LCSW. It offers participants an opportunity to explore the implications, personally and professionally, of assimilating mindfulness practices and mindful eating skills into their professional work.  Since a personal practice is held to be the foundation from which to deliver mindfulness skills in the clinical setting, daily meditation practice, mindful movement and a half-day retreat are essential components of the program.

The ME-CL1 training includes didactic instruction, experiential meditation and eating exercises, group inquiry and dialogue, current research, and time for personal reflection. This training offer a multi-faceted approach to mindful eating and is designed to encourage participants to use the eight-session Mindful Eating framework to create an approach that is appropriate to the needs of their population.

After completing the training attendees will be equipped to facilitate the mindful eating program in their setting. Attendees will receive a link and password to all mindful meditations directly related to the curriculum and relevant handouts, all to be used with the Teacher’s Guide.

Registration will be limited for this intensive program/retreat in order to cultivate an intimate, personal and highly interactive training environment.

At the completion of this activity, participants should be able to:

  • demonstrate delivery of a range of eating awareness practices

  • facilitate the eight-session Mindful Eating program in their setting, adapting it to their clientele.

  • articulate the pivotal importance of mindful inquiry and investigation in teaching mindful eating practices

  • appreciate and understand their own unique qualifications, strengths and weaknesses in regards to facilitating mindfulness and mindful eating in their work

  • develop or deepen their own mindfulness meditation and mindful eating practices and understand the impact and importance of these personal practices in the successful delivery of the curriculum

  • articulate habituated patterns of mind, emotions and body sensations related to eating behaviors

Target Audience 
This 5-day intensive, experiential program is intended for professionals wishing to incorporate mindful eating and supportive mindfulness-related practices in their one-on-one clinical practice and/or into group work in which eating, food and body are aspects or the central focus. The program was designed for clinicians in mental health or healthcare fields and clinicians-in-training in these fields.
This program is also relevant for therapists and counselors who do not specialize in eating-related disorders. Eating and food are unique gateways to self-awareness and understanding for those who experience anxiety, depression, abuse, stress and/or illness.

Participant Guidelines 
It is our experience that successful delivery of mindfulness-based facilitation requires facilitators to have a commitment to an ongoing, daily mindfulness meditation practice. To this end we have created recommendations for acceptance to this training.

  • Advanced degree in mental health-related field (e.g., psychology, social work or counseling) or currently enrolled in graduate training toward licensure.  It is not expected or necessary to be an eating disorders specialist.

  • Or advanced degree in health care field (e.g. dietician, RN, APRN, PA, physician, psychiatrist) or currently enrolled in graduate training toward licensure. Appropriate for those working with, but not limited to, bariatric surgeries, weight management, diabetes, eating disorders.

  • Or a professional degree in ecology, biology or food technology science

  • Attendance at an Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR), Mindfulness-Based Cognitive (MBCT) or Mindful Eating-Conscious Living (ME-CL) program as a participant

  • A personal commitment to an ongoing daily meditation practice

  • A mindful movement practice such as Yoga, Taijiquan or Qigong

  • Added value: Attendance at formal meditation retreats or formal meditation trainings

Program Format
Based upon the foundational assumption that the only true teaching of mindfulness comes out of regular and systematic personal practice, this 5-day training is steeped in mindfulness practice.
Early morning and evening practice sessions are a crucial component of the training itself and will include a variety of mindfulness practices including sitting meditation, mindful movement, and mindful walking and body meditations.  Selected meals will be taken in silence, some being designated as mindful eating practice sessions. Several evenings will include silence from the conclusion of evening practice until breakfast the next morning, and a half-day guided retreat will be provided.

Retreat Setting, Accommodations and Self-Care
The choice of a quiet retreat setting is intentional to facilitate mindfulness practice, reduce outside distractions and create a safe and productive holding environment for the unfolding of the work and the group.

The training/retreat setting is an ideal place to integrate the ME-CL1 training and to promote connectedness among the participants. The training is intended to be a protected forum for facilitating experiential learning, group cohesion and dynamics, and deep abiding attention to self-care and compassion.

The rooms are clean and pleasant, and adequate but minimalistic, to encourage focused attention to the work itself.

Meals are prepared and presented with deep intention to be healthful and nourishing by staff that is sensitive to the intention of the setting and the needs of the participants.

Breaks will be provided to allow for participants to walk, hike, run or explore the surrounding environment as a means of supporting the sometimes challenging work itself and to facilitate self-care.

Needs Assessment
The utilization of mindful eating in a clinical context is a burgeoning area of study and practice in the mental health and healthcare fields. The number of research articles, books and popular press articles on the topic is growing exponentially and the demand for quality professional training in these practices and techniques is growing each year.
To help meet that need, this mindful eating trainings is being offered in Europe and North and South America.

 Recommended Reading

  • Mindful Eating: A Guide to Rediscovering a Healthy and Joyful Relationship with Food (revised edition 2018) by Jan Chozen Bays

  • Mindless Eating by Brian Wansink

  • The Courage to Teach: Exploring the Inner Landscape of a Teacher’s Life by Parker Palmer

  • Mindfulness and the Therapeutic Relationship Edited by Steven Hick & Thomas Bien

  • Radical Acceptance: Embracing Your Life With the Heart of a Buddha by Tara Brach

  • The Mindful Brain: Reflection and Attunement in the Cultivation of Well-Being by Daniel Siegel

 Suggested Reading

  • Full Catastrophe Living: Using the Wisdom of your Body and Mind to Face Stress, Pain and Illness by Jon Kabat-Zinn

  • The Zen of Eating by Ronna Kabatznick

  • Art of the Inner Meal by Donald Altman

  • Mindfulness in Plain English by Henepola Gunaratana

  • The Omnivore’s Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals by Michael Pollan.

  • Eating the Moment  by Pavel Somov

  • Eating Mindfully: How to End Mindless Eating & Enjoy a Balanced Relationship with Food by Susan Albers

  • Heal Thy Self: Lessons on Mindfulness in Medicine by Saki Santorelli


One came from a monastery, one came from a psychotherapy practice.  Jan Chozen Bays and Char Wilkins met in 2006 while serving on the Board of Directors for The Center for Mindful Eating. It’s been a spirited, often humorous, and valued partnership ever since.

Although they took different paths to meditation and becoming more mindful in their everyday lives, they experienced the possibilities these practices could have in helping people re-discover a healthier and more joyful relationship with food and eating.

Both Jan and Char have taught people how to take better care of themselves by using their own innate wisdom to determine when, what, where and how much to eat.  Still, they knew that if they could teach other professionals to teach mindful eating, many more people would benefit.

Together they created the Mindful Eating-Conscious Living trainings for professionals working with people with disordered eating patterns.  With Jan’s background as a Pediatrician and Zen abbot, and Char’s years as a therapist and certified MBSR teacher, their training encompasses the body, mind and heart of our relationship with food, eating and the body.

Jan’s book, Mindful Eating: Re-discovering a Joyful and Healthy Relationship with Food, which is the basis for the ME-CL training, has been translated into ten languages. The trainings are currently available in the U.S., Europe and Mexico.

Jan Chozen Bays _1118-002_Small.jpg


is a pediatrician and Zen teacher. She did her medical studies at UC San Diego, trained in Zen under two masters in the US and Japan, and since 2001 has served a co-abbot of the Great Vow Zen Monastery in Oregon.
She shared her experiences over three decades of practicing and teaching mindful eating, in the book, Mindful Eating: A Guide to Rediscovering a Healthy and Joyful Relationship with Food (Shambhala Publishing, 2008, revised 2017), which has been translated into ten languages. She also compiled 53 favorite mindfulness exercises in the book How to Train a Wild Elephant and Other Adventures in Mindfulness(Shambhala Publishing, 2011). With co-teacher Char Wilkins, Jan offers Mindful Eating-Conscious Living trainings for professionals in the US and Europe.


is a mindfulness-based psychotherapist specializing in working with women with childhood abuse, depression, anxiety and disordered eating.  She is a certified MBSR teacher  by the Center for Mindfulness, UMass Medical School, Worcester, MA. and is also trained to teach MBCT.
She provides mentorship for ME-CL and MBSR teachers-in-training. Char served on the Board of Directors for The Center for Mindful Eating (TCME)  for 7 years and currently serves on their Advisory Council.  She is a published author of several articles exploring the intersection of abuse and eating disorders and the application of mindfulness. She lives and gardens in Connecticut.