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 nonjudgmentally.”

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, is the complete eight-week MBSR course, created by Dave Potter. Please note that is not directly connected to or in collaboration with Dave Potter, however, he has given us full permission to use any and all content/links directly involved with his MBSR course, on our platform.

About Dave Potter

Dave Potter, a fully certified MBSR instructor, is a retired professional psychotherapist who has practiced 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 past 14 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. There is also a way for people without internet can access the course.

A message from Dave Potter:

“I’m so glad you found this website! Here you will find a complete eight-week MBSR course, designed for people who are not able to take a live MBSR course for financial or logistical reasons. All the materials used in this course, including guided meditations, articles and videos, are available here.” -Dave Potter
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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.

All of the materials needed for this course are readily available to you through this website.
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. It is more likely that you will complete the course due to the interaction and group support, however, that is not always possible.

This online course uses precisely the same course curriculum and resources that Dave used in his local in-person course. With the aid of these suggestions and practices for each of the eight weeks, the learning 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

At the Center for Mindfulness at the UMass Medical School since its inception, more than 24,000 people have completed the Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) Program and learned how to use their innate resources and abilities to respond more effectively to stress, pain, and illness.

During the course period, there is group in the forum for any students who may wish to join. Members can share experiences and/or ask questions about the practices that are part of the course. There are experienced graduates in the group who can answer specific questions and guided meditations and Q&As will be offered on a regular basis.

Dave has done his best to make this experience as interesting and engaging as possible. Having the group support is great, but also bare in mind that it is a significant accomplishment to complete this course on your own! This course is completely self-guided (There is no registration and only you will be monitoring your progress, using the provided practice sheets).

If you are ready to begin, or if you’d just like to know more about mindfulness and this program, you can click here.

*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 here at Happiness, as well as Dave Potter, are grateful to everyone involved for helping to make this free Online MBSR course possible. We would also like to thank Dave Potter again, for giving us this opportunity to share his knowledge and love for MBSR here on
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Course curriculum

  • 1


    • Introduction
    • Getting Started
    • The MBSR Manual
  • 2

    Week 1

    • Formal Practice - Week 1 - the Bodyscan
    • Informal Practice - Week 1 - Simple Awareness
    • Week 1 - Simple Awareness/ What is mindfulness?
    • Daniel Goleman PhD, Altered Traits: The Science of Mindfulness
    • Reading - Why We Find It So Hard to Meditate - Mindful Staff
    • Video - Don't Try to be Mindful - Daron Larson [12 min]
    • Reading - The Body Scan Meditation - Jon Kabat-Zinn
    • Video - Befriending Our Bodies - Jon Kabat-Zinn [4 min]
    • Reading - 7 Myths of Meditation - Deepak Choprah
    • Video - Raisin Meditation - Dave Potter [12 min]
    • Supplementary materials related to this week's topic [optional materials]
    • Video - The Power of Mindfulness - Shauna Shapiro [13 min]
  • 3

    Week 2

    • Formal Practice - Week 2 - Sitting Meditation, Body Scan
    • Informal Practice - Week 2 - Pleasant Events
    • Week 2 - Attention and The Brain
    • Video - The Monkey Business Illusion - Daniel Simons [2 min]
    • Sitting meditation - Jon Kabat-Zinn [excerpted from Full Catastrophe Living]
    • Video - Mindful Meditation and the Brain & Shauna Shapiro [6 min]
    • Reading - How the Brain Rewires Itself - Sharon Begley
    • Video - Measuring Mindfulness - Judson Brewer [7 min]
    • Reading - Joshua Bell plays a $3,000,000 violin (and almost nobody notices)
    • Video - Life is Right Now - Jon Kabat-Zinn [7 min]
    • Reading - How Meditation Affects the Gray Matter of the Brain - David R. Hamilton, Ph.D.
    • Video - Coming to Our Senses - Jon Kabat-Zinn [16 min total]
    • Video - All it takes is 10 Mindful Minutes - Andy Puddicombe [10 min]
    • Supplementary materials related to this week's topic [optional materials]
  • 4

    Week 3

    • Formal Practice - Week 3 - Mindful Yoga, Sitting Meditation
    • Informal Practice - Week 3 - Unpleasant Events
    • Week 3 - Dealing with Thoughts
    • Mindful Yoga  - Jon Kabat-Zinn
    • Video - Non-Striving - Jon Kabat-Zinn (3 min)
    • Meditation - It's Not What You Think  - Jon Kabat-Zinn
    • Video - Attention, Intention, Attitude - Shauna Shapiro (16 min)
    • I Hadn't Thought of That - Wes Nisker
    • Video - Dealing with Thoughts (in life and in meditation)- Tara Brach (20 min)
    • Your Mind: Friend or Foe? - Jack Kornfield
    • Video - Surrender to the Monkeys - Tara Brach (4 min)
    • The Reality Below Thoughts - Jack Kornfield
    • Supplementary materials related to this week's topic [optional materials]
  • 5

    Week 4

    • Formal Practice - Week 4 - Mindful Yoga 2, Sitting Meditation
    • Informal Practice - Week 4 - STOP/ Breathing Space
    • Week 4 - Stress: Responding vs. Reacting
    • Video - Stress - Portrait of a Killer - National Geographic Special with Robert Sapolsky [27 min]
    • What Is Stress?
    • Video - How To Make Stress Your Friend - Kelly McGonigal [14 min]
    • The Anatomy of Fear - Discovery Magazine graphic
    • Video - STOP: A Short Mindfulness Practice - Susan Bauer-Wu [4 min]
    • STOP:  One-Minute Breathing Space
    • Understanding the Stress Response - Harvard Health Publications
    • The Magic Quarter Second - Tara Brach
    • Supplementary materials related to this week's topic [optional materials]
  • 6

    Week 5 - 1

    • Formal Practice - Week 5 - Soften, Soothe, allow
    • Informal Practice - Week 5 - Soften, Soothe, Allow
    • Week 5-1 - Dealing with Difficult Emotions/Sensations
    • Thinking with the Heart: The origin of Soften, Soothe, Allow - Chris Germer
    • Video - Turning Toward Difficulty - Vidyamala Burch
    • The Soften, Soothe, Allow process - description of the Soften, Soothe, Allow process
    • Video - The Three Components of Self-Compassion - Kristin Neff [6 min]
    • Buddhism's Pain Relief - Rick Heller
    • Video - Awakening Self-Compassion - Tara Brach [23 min]
    • The Strange Case of Chronic Back Pain - Ron Siegel
    • Supplementary materials related to this week's topic [optional materials]
  • 7

    Week 5 - 2

    • Formal Practice - Week 5.2 - Soften, Soothe, Allow
    • Informal Practice - Week 5.2 - 5-Step PAIN Process
    • Week 5-2 - Special Instructions for Physical Pain
    • The Five-Step Model - Vidyamala Burch
    • Video - Mindfulness-Based Pain Management - Vidyamala Burch
    • The Five-Step PAIN Process
    • Video - Mindfulness-Based Pain Management - Vidyamala Burch
    • Buddhism's Pain Relief - Rick Heller
    • Video - The Three Components of Self-Compassion
    • The Strange Case of Chronic Back Pain - Ron Siegel
    • Supplementary materials related to this week's topic   [optional materials]
  • 8

    Week 6

    • Formal Practise - Week 6 - Sitting Meditation, Body Scan, Yoga
    • Informal Practice - Week 6 - Communication Calendar
    • Week 6 - Mindfulness and Communication
    • The Sacred Art of Listening - Tara Brach
    • Video - The Art of Being Heard - Susan Piver [16 min]
    • The Most Frequently Asked Question - Sylvia Boorstein
    • Video - The Sacred Art of Listening - Tara Brach [19 min]
    • The Answer to Anger - Pema Chodron
    • Video - Awakening Through Conflict - Tara Brach [9 min]
    • Conflict Management Styles - summary of communication styles
    • The Heart of Nonviolent Communication (NVC) - Marshall Rosenberg
    • Supplementary materials related to this week's topic [optional materials]
  • 9

    Week 7

    • Formal Practise - Week 7 - Sitting Meditation, Body Scan, Yoga
    • Informal Practise - Week 7 - free choice
    • Week 7 - Mindfulness and Compassion
    • Survival of the Kindest - Paul Ekman
    • Video - The Evolutionary Roots of Compassion - Dacher Keltner [4 min]
    • Does Mindfulness Make You More Compassionate? - Shauna Shapiro
    • Video - Cultivating Altruism - Matthieu Ricard [18 min]
    • Video - How Mindfulness Cultivates Compassion - Shauna Shapiro [13 min]
    • Self-Compassion - Emma Seppala
    • Video - Overcoming Objections to Self-Compassion - Kristin Neff [12 min]
    • The Five Myths of Self-Compassion - Kristin Neff
    • Supplementary materials related to this week's topic [optional materials]
  • 10

    Week 8

    • Week 8 - Conclusion
    • Video - Mindfulness is Not A Crystal Ball - Susan Kaiser Greenland [2 min]
    • Deepening a Personal Meditation Practice - Jon Kabat-Zinn
    • Video - Happiness - Tara Brach [20 min]
    • Suggestions for Daily Practice - Jon Kabat-Zinn
    • Video - How My Son Ruined My Life - Selma & James Baraz [7 min]
    • In the Service of Life - Rachel Naomi Remen
    • Video - Compassion and Mindfulness - Jon Kabat-Zinn [5 min]
    • The Rabbi's Gift - M. Scott Peck
    • Video - The Rabbi´s Gift - M. Scott Peck [6 min]
    • Supplementary materials related to this week's topic [optional materials]


  • 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.

  • I have no internet (or a slow connection for the videos). Is there an offline version?

    There is a stand-alone version of the Palouse Mindfulness course which can be loaded directly onto your computer from a USB thumb drive.This version does not need to access the internet and includes the guided meditations, documents, and videos. All the videos in the "Videos" section for each week are included, except for some of the videos in the "Graduate Readings".

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

    This does not certify you to teach MBSR. This doesn't mean that you can't use what you've learned in your work and/or teaching, it just means you cannot call yourself a "certified MBSR instructor" on the basis of this one 8-week online course alone. That being said, there are many talented people who effectively incorporate mindfulness into their teaching or work who are not certified in a formal way from one of the training centers.

  • 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.