Course description

What is Mindfulness?

Mindfulness is the psychological process of bringing one’s attention to experiences occurring in the present moment, which can be developed through the practice of meditation and other training (Wikipedia).

Jon Kabat-Zinn the founder of the MBSR program defines mindfulness as “paying attention in a particular way: on purpose, in the present moment, and non-judgmentally.”

What is MBSR?

Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) is an approach that incorporates mindfulness to assist people struggling with life’s difficulties, demands, stresses and physical or mental illnesses. Developed by Dr. Jon Kabat-Zinn in the late 1970s in the UMass medical school in order to help patients with chronic pain, with many elements of Buddhist traditions, the purely secular program and other mindfulness-based interventions like MBCT, have now been adopted into schools, prisons, hospitals, veterans’ centers, and other environments. These programs have been implemented in many other fields, such as; healthy aging, pain management, depression relapse prevention, children with special needs, drug addiction and intervention during the perinatal period.

The MBSR course is an eight-week workshop taught by certified trainers, encompassing these three techniques: mindfulness meditation, body scanning and simple yoga postures/ mindful movement.



The course we offer here at happiness.com, is the complete eight-week MBSR course, created by Dave Potter.

About Dave Potter

Dave Potter, a fully certified MBSR instructor, is a retired professional psychotherapist who has practised daily meditation for 25 years. He received his training through the University of Massachusetts Medical School, and since then, has taught live, in-person MBSR classes in his community for many years.
He started teaching this course, twice a year, in classes as a service to his students, and began to add some of the elements online. Soon it became apparent that with little work, the material could be useful to people who might not otherwise, be able to attend a live MBSR course.

Dave has created and improved this resource as a labor of love, and is happy to provide these materials free of charge. This is greatly made possible due to course structure, the generosity of other teachers and the economies of the internet.

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Course Overview

The Introduction is designed to give you a sense of mindfulness and an idea of how this course is structured. For each of the eight weeks, there are videos, readings, and practices to help you build a base of both knowledge and experience. For more of an outline, you can click here.

Many people ask if taking an online course is an effective way to learn MBSR?
Undoubtedly, a live, in-person MBSR course is still the best way to learn mindfulness. However, that is not always possible.
This online course uses the same course curriculum and resources that Dave used in his local in-person course and get regularly updated. With the aid of these suggestions and practices learning how to use your innate resources and abilities to respond more effectively to stress, pain, and illness can be just as deep and profound.

“ The end-of-course reports I’ve received from online graduates indicate that they benefit just as much as people who complete the in-person course.” -Dave Potter

The sudents in the happiness.com MBSR forum are supported by Tine Steiss who received her certification as an MBSR teacher in 2018. Students are encouraged to share experiences, struggles and insights and ask questions.
Tine also regularly offers guided live meditations and Q&A sessions as part of the professional guidance of the course.

*NOTE: Much of the material in this course is drawn from the works of other teachers and writers in the spirit of making mindfulness more widely available. We are grateful to everyone involved helping to make this free online MBSR course possible.
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Course curriculum

  • 1

    Introduction

    • Introduction Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR)
    • Getting started
    • The MBSR Manual
  • 2

    Week 1

    • Introduction to the Body Scan
    • Week 1 - Formal Practice - Body Scan
    • Week 1 - Informal Practice - Simple Awareness and/or Mindful Eating
    • Video - The Power of Mindfulness - Shauna Shapiro
    • The Body Scan Meditation - Jon Kabat-Zinn
    • Video - Don’t try to be mindful - Daron Larson
    • 7 Myths of Meditation - Deepak Choprah
    • Video - Befriending Our Bodies - Jon Kabat-Zinn
    • Why We Find It So Hard to Meditate - Mindful Staff
    • Video - All Bodies are Beautiful - Amy Pence-Brown
    • Mouthfuls of Mindfulness - Jan Chozen Bays
    • Video - Raisin Meditation - Dave Potter
    • Supplementary materials related to this week's topic [optional materials]
  • 3

    Week 2

    • Week 2 - Attention and The Brain - Introduction to Sitting Meditation
    • Week 2 - Formal Practice - Sitting Meditation, Body Scan
    • Week 2 - Informal Practice - Pleasant Events Calendar
    • Video - The Monkey Business Illusion - Daniel Simons
    • Sitting Meditation - Jon Kabat-Zinn
    • Video - Mindful Meditation and the Brain - Shauna Shapiro
    • Joshua Bell plays a $3,000,000 violin (and almost nobody notices)
    • Video - Measuring Mindfulness - Judson Brewer
    • How the Brain Rewires Itself - Sharon Begley
    • Video - Life is right now - Jon Kabat-Zinn on Mindfulness
    • How Meditation Affects the Gray Matter of the Brain - David R. Hamilton, Ph.D.
    • Video - All it takes is 10 Mindful Minutes - Andy Puddicombe
    • Supplementary materials related to this week's topic
  • 4

    Week 3

    • Week 3 - Dealing with Thoughts - Introduction to Yoga
    • Week 3 - Formal Practice - Mindful Yoga, Sitting Meditation
    • Week 3 - Informal Practice - Unpleasant Events
    • Video - Non-Striving (one of the "9 Attitudes of Mindfulness") - Jon Kabat-Zinn
    • Mindful Yoga - Jon Kabat-Zinn
    • Video - Attention, Intention, Attitude - Shauna Shapiro
    • Meditation - It's Not What You Think - Jon Kabat-Zinn
    • Video - Your Thoughts are Bubbles - Jon Kabat-Zinn
    • I Hadn't Thought of That - Wes Nisker
    • Video - Dealing with Thoughts (in life and in meditation) - Tara Brach
    • Your Mind: Friend or Foe? - Jack Kornfield
    • Video - The Samurai and the Fly - Hanjin Song
    • The Reality Below Thoughts - Jack Kornfield
    • Supplementary materials related to this week's topic
  • 5

    Week 4

    • Week 4 - Stress: Responding vs. Reacting
    • Week 4 - Formal Practice - Mindful Yoga 2, Sitting Meditation
    • Week 4 - Informal Practice - STOP/ Breathing Space
    • What is Stress?
    • The Anatomy of Fear
    • Understanding the Stress Response - Harvard Health Publications
    • Video - Stress - Portrait of a Killer - National Geographic Special with Robert Sapolsky
    • Harnessing the Upsides of Stress - Harvard Health Publications
    • Video - How To Make Stress Your Friend - Kelly McGonigal
    • STOP: One-Minute Breathing Space
    • Video - STOP: A Short Mindfulness Practice - Susan Bauer-Wu
    • The Magic Quarter Second - Tara Brach
    • Supplementary materials related to this week's topic
  • 6

    Week 5

    • Dealing with Difficult Emotions or Physical Pain
    • Week 5 - Formal Practice - "Turning Toward" Meditation
    • Week 5 - Informal Practice - "Turning Toward" Meditation
    • Video - Turning Toward Difficulty & The Fist Exercise- Vidyamala Burch
    • Responding to Emotional or Physical Pain - Dave Potter
    • Video - One Moment at a Time - Vidyamala Burch
    • Video - The gift and power of emotional courage - Susan David
    • "Turning Toward" Difficult Emotions - Guideline for Informal Practice
    • "Turning Toward" Physical Pain
    • Video - Mindfulness and Painful Emotions - Steven Hayes
    • The Five-Step Model - Vidyamala Burch
    • Video - Pain x Resistance = Suffering - Tara Brach
    • Radical Acceptance - Tara Brach
    • Video - The Three Components of Self-Compassion - Kristin Neff
    • Supplementary materials related to this week's topic
    • Supplementary materials by Vidyamala Burch
  • 7

    Week 6

    • Week 6 - Mindfulness and Communication - Mountain & Lake Meditations
    • Formal Practice - Week 6 - Body Scan, Sitting, Yoga (+ Mountain or Lake Med.)
    • Informal Practice - Week 6 - Communication Calendar
    • Video - The Art of Being Heard - Susan Piver
    • The Sacred Art of Listening - Tara Brach
    • Video - The Sacred Art of Listening - Tara Brach
    • The Most Frequently Asked Question - Sylvia Boorstein
    • Video - Awakening Through Conflict - Tara Brach
    • The Answer to Anger - Pema Chodron
    • Video - Blame - Brené Brown
    • Conflict Management Styles - summary of communication styles
    • Video - Brené Brown on Empathy
    • The Heart of Nonviolent Communication (NVC) - Marshall Rosenberg
    • Supplementary materials related to this week's topic
  • 8

    Week 7

    • Week 7 - Mindfulness and Compassion - Lovingkindness Meditation
    • Formal Practise - Week 7 - Sitting Meditation, Body Scan, Yoga
    • Informal Practise - Week 7 - free choice
    • Video - The Evolutionary Roots of Compassion - Dacher Keltner
    • Survival of the Kindest - Paul Ekman
    • Video - Cultivating Altruism - Matthieu Ricard
    • Does Mindfulness Make You More Compassionate? - Shauna Shapiro
    • Video - How Mindfulness Cultivates Compassion - Shauna Shapiro
    • Self-Compassion - Emma Seppala
    • Video - Overcoming Objections to Self-Compassion - Kristin Neff
    • The Five Myths of Self-Compassion - Kristin Neff
    • Supplementary materials related to this week's topic
  • 9

    Week 8

    • Week 8 - Conclusion - Developing a Practice of Your Own
    • Video - Gratitude - Louie Schwartzberg | TEDxSF
    • Deepening a Personal Meditation Practice - Jon Kabat-Zinn
    • Video - 365 grateful project - Hailey Bartholomew | TEDxQUT
    • Suggestions for Daily Practice - Jon Kabat-Zinn
    • Video - How My Son Ruined My Life - Selma & James Baraz
    • In the Service of Life - Rachel Naomi Remen
    • Video - Listening as an Act of Love - Jon Kabat-Zinn (Greater Good Science Center)
    • The Rabbi's Gift - M. Scott Peck
    • Video - Grand Central Station - Sharon Salzberg
    • Video - The Rabbi's Gift - M. Scott Peck
    • Supplementary materials related to this week's topic
    • Contributions

FAQ

  • Is it okay to take longer than eight weeks to complete the course?

    There is no time limit. Being able to pace the course in a way that works best for you is one of the advantages of doing this kind of online course. Though it is crucial to develop a regular formal practice for the course to have an effect.

  • Will I be certified to teach MBSR once I’ve completed the MBSR course?

    You will receive a certificate of completion after successfully finishing the course. This does not certify you to teach MBSR. For that a specialized training is required.

  • I already have a yoga practice/class. Can that substitute for the MBSR yoga?

    It could well be that the yoga you are already doing would be a perfect substitute for the MBSR yoga. Like the MBSR yoga, it may be slow, mindful, and explicitly bring in breath awareness and body sensation, but there are literally dozens of very different kinds of yoga, and it’s hard to know whether what you already practice would be a good substitute. Many experienced yoga practitioners, and even some who were themselves yoga instructors when they began the course, discover that having done a few weeks of MBSR yoga, their experience of doing or teaching yoga has shifted in subtle, but important ways.

  • I can’t fall asleep and/or I wake up during the night with racing thoughts.

    This happens to a lot of people, it’s completely normal. There are a few different things you can try, it’s just about finding what’s best for you. Sometimes just letting the thoughts play out in your mind, and calmly letting it be present, while focusing on breathing, can be a great way to still be present, yet attentive to what your inner self is feeling. It may happen that you will doze off here and there, which is also normal. Whatever happens, try not to fight the process. You can experiment to see what works best for you, but think of the whole process as an opportunity for meditation. The most important part of this process is to maintain an attitude of gentleness and being kind to yourself. Bringing kindness and acceptance to the experience which is something you’ll learn during the course might help with this in the long run.