As positive psychology is interested in increasing the well-being of all people, it makes sense for positive psychology to include mindfulness interventions.
This is because mindfulness interventions, like positive psychology itself, are focused on bettering peoples’ lives no matter what their situations are.
Here is an overview of mindfulness training programs around the world, from on-site programs to online programs, from longer courses to shorter workshops, so that anyone interested in mindfulness has a place to start from.
Many of these courses (particularly the longer, 8-week courses) are based on Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR). This is a program that was first introduced by the University of Massachusetts Medical School, where many of the instructors mentioned below were first trained. The University of Massachusetts Medical School claims that MBSR can help people with:
- Work, Family, and Financial Stress
- Chronic Illness and Pain
- Eating Disturbances
- Gastro-Intestinal (GI) Distress
- Heart Disease
- High Blood Pressure
- Panic Attacks
- Post-traumatic Stress (PTSD)
- Skin Disorders
- Sleep Problems
On-site Mindfulness Training Courses
For many people, the best way to learn something is in-person with a group of people who are also trying to learn the same thing. For those purposes, here are some in-person, on-site mindfulness training courses in the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom.
Seattle Mindfulness Center
The Seattle Mindfulness Center in Seattle, Washington offers introductory mindfulness courses, mindfulness courses focused on avoiding drug relapse, as well as free group meditation for anyone who has completed the introduction to mindfulness.
Their introductory mindfulness course costs $175 for 5 weeks of meditation training, after which students can attend group meditation for free. The Seattle center also offers a Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction class which costs $375 for 8 weeks of courses including a retreat near the end. Both classes are taught by Sherry Williams, a former lawyer with extensive training in yoga and meditation.
Mindfulness Center of Atlanta
The Mindfulness Center of Atlanta offers an 8-week course in Mindfulness & Stress Reduction for $475. This includes a day retreat at the Ignatius House Retreat Center, where the courses are also offered. The Center also offers the opportunity to be part of a Georgia State University study looking at the effectiveness of smoking cessation with a mindfulness focus.
The Mindfulness Center of Atlanta was founded by Mark Dannenfelser, a licensed counselor, experienced yoga teacher, and lecturer at Emory University in Georgia.
Upstream in South Carolina
Upstream, “A Center for Mindfulness Practice & Holistic Mental Health” based in South Carolina in the United States, was founded by Jemme Stewart, a licensed professional counselor, yoga teacher and psychiatric nursing specialist, and T. Hilda White, a psychiatrist.
Upstream offers an 8-week Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction class that includes a day retreat, as well as a weekly community meditation series which focuses on applying Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction to meditation. Both classes cost $412.80.
Centre for Mindfulness Studies Toronto
The Centre for Mindfulness Studies in Toronto offers several different types of courses in mindfulness, from introductory classes to beginners (including one specifically geared towards teenagers) to mindfulness training aimed at organizations. Their faculty consists of several psychiatric professionals, clinical psychologists and psychology professors.
The half-day session for beginners costs $80 Canadian and the full-day session for beginners costs $150 Canadian. For a longer session, the Centre offers an 8-week Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction course for $485 Canadian.
Oxford Mindfulness Centre
The Oxford Mindfulness Centre in Oxford offers a Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy course for the general public. The course runs 8 weeks and costs £350. The Oxford Mindfulness Centre is contained within Oxford University’s Department of Psychiatry. This course is aimed at helping prevent serious depression and emotional distress in its participants, and the program is looking at ways to adapt the approach to other disorders. The program is also heavily focused on ensuring its graduates “stay well in the long term”
Mindfulness Certification Programs for Teachers
For people who are already very familiar with mindfulness and wish to start spreading its teachings to others, there are several mindfulness certification programs available. Here are just a few of these offerings, with some of them being offered online (with the inclusion of in-person retreat requirements).
The Oasis Institute
The Oasis Institute, part of the Center For Mindfulness at the University of Massachusetts Medical School offers mindfulness teacher certification programs, certification for teachers who wish to train teachers, as well as general continuing education for mindfulness teachers.
The teacher certification program costs about $10,000 for courses which are completed over three years, and the program can be completed on-site or abroad. The teacher-training course is completed online over the course of a year and costs about $15,000.
The UCSD Center for Mindfulness
The UCSD Center for Mindfulness in San Diego, California offers a training program for people who wish to become certified Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction teachers. The program requires prospective participants to undergo a long process. This process begins with teacher qualification, which includes a 6-day intensive training session, choosing a mentor and teaching two 8-week MBSR courses under this membership. Prospective teachers then undergo teacher certification, which includes another intensive training session as well as the teaching of several more MBSR courses.
The entire program costs about $10,000 and the length is determined by how long it takes a prospective teacher to meet the requirements, such as number of MBSR classes taught.
The Engaged Mindfulness Institute
The Engaged Mindfulness Institute offers mindfulness teacher training that can be completed online over a course of two years. Tuition is about $6,000, along with the cost of securing housing for two weeklong retreats. The Engaged Mindfulness Institute’s staff is made up of professor Fleet Maull, author Kate Crisp and professor Ben Van Arnam, who have experience in mindfulness and Buddhism in particular. This program requires a background in mindful meditation practice, previous attendance at a mindfulness retreat, as well as a consistent internet connection.
The Mindfulness Training Institute
The Mindfulness Training Institute offers programs in both the United States (currently in San Francisco, California) and the United Kingdom (Devon). Both programs consist of yearlong training courses costing £3,250 for the UK program and $5,925 for the US program. The programs are led by Martin Aylward and Mark Coleman, who both have extensive experience teaching mindfulness meditation. Both programs require previous experience with mindful meditation, as well as previous attendance of both mindfulness courses and mindfulness meditation retreats.
The Awareness Training Institute
The Awareness Training Institute at the University of California at Berkeley in the United States offers a Mindfulness Meditation Teacher Certification Program. It is taught by Jack Kornfield, a trained Buddhist monk who has a PhD in Clinical Psychology and Tara Brach, who also has a PhD in Clinical Psychology and an extensive history in meditation.
The program also includes a mentorship component led by Pat Coffey, who has been practicing meditation and mindfulness for 40 years and teaching for 20, including teaching mindfulness to prison inmates. The program consists of two years, including three five-day retreats, and costs from $5,700-$7,500 depending on the fee level chosen.
Online Mindfulness Classes and Courses
While learning in-person is probably the best way to learn mindfulness (as some of these following instructors claim), it is not always a financial or practical possibility for prospective students to do so. For these reasons, here are a few courses that can be completed entirely online, including two that are completely free.
Since these online courses are mostly completed on your own pace, it is important that anyone who wishes to take an online mindfulness course is aware that it is up to them to put in the time and commitment to get the most out of the teachings.
Mindful Schools offers a 6-week online program that costs $125 and includes lifetime access to the course materials. The program is self-paced but includes 2-3 hours of instruction per week. The faculty is made up of several different teachers who all have:
“over a decade of mindfulness practice and broad teaching experience”.
The syllabus includes the focus areas of Mindfulness of Breath, Mindfulness of Body, Mindfulness of Emotions, Development of the Heart, Interpersonal Mindfulness and Everyday Mindfulness. Completing the program earns 3 continuing education units for educators and 12 CEUs for eligible mental health professionals.
Palouse Mindfulness offers an online course that is completely free, can be started whenever and completed in 8 weeks. The instructor is Dave Potter, a certified MBSR instructor. One does not even need to register for this course or give their email address, and they can complete the course completely on their own time. Potter believes that an in-person course is the best way to learn mindfulness, but believes that people who cannot complete in-person courses should still have the chance to learn mindfulness. This might help explain why he is offering this material for no money at all. The course claims that the material within will help participants:
“cope with stress, pain, and the challenges of everyday life, deal with disturbing events with grace and composure, be fully present and alive in this moment”.
This short PDF explains MBSR and why Palouse Mindfulness thinks it can be helpful.
Be Mindful Online
Be Mindful Online is an online mindfulness course that can be followed at your own pace on your computer or even on your phone. The course can be completed in four weeks (or longer if you cannot get it done that quickly) and costs $30. The course includes ten sessions with videos and interactive exercises, twelve assignments, five guided meditation downloads, online tools and some resources emailed to you after completing the course. The program is taught by Ed Halliwell and Tessa Watt, who are both experienced mindfulness teachers and authors.
mbsrtraining.com offers an 8-week MBSR online course for $198 (which is the “winter special” price, usually the course is $299), taught by G. Ross Clark. Clark was trained at the University of Massachusetts Medical School to teach Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction. The course is self-paces and includes nine 2 ½ hour lessons, made up of “audio, video & text topics”. Clark also offers his phone number and email to course participants so they do not have to complete the course completely on their own.
Future Learn also offers a completely free online mindfulness course, although it is not self-paced as it is completed over a period of 6 weeks. The course involves 3 hours of education a week and is taught by Craig Hassed, a general practitioner, speaker, author and mindfulness expert, and Dr. Richard Chambers, a clinical psychology and mindfulness expert. The course can be taken by anyone (there are no prerequisities) and explores the science behind mindfulness as well as mindfulness exercises one can apply to their own life.
Mindfulness Training at UCLA and Harvard
While many universities offer mindfulness training components, the University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA) and Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts in the United States offer several different mindfulness training options. This makes these prestigious universities excellent options for anyone who wishes to study mindfulness who happens to live within the area. For people who do not live near these universities, the center at UCLA also offers online versions of their mindfulness classes.
The Mindfulness Awareness Research Center
The Mindfulness Awareness Research Center at the University of California at Los Angeles in the United States offers several different mindfulness training options, both in-person and online. Most of these classes are Mindfulness Awareness Practice (MAPs) classes. The introductory, in-person MAPs class takes six weeks and meets weekly for two hours. The class includes an overview of mindfulness, mindfulness as it relates to the body and pain, as well as mindfulness and emotions. There is also a heavy component focusing on meditation so that students can apply their mindfulness practices to daily life.
After taking the introductory class, there are several other classes participants can take, such as a class focused on improving meditation, a class focusing on self-compassion and a class focusing on finding happiness. All in-person classes (including the introductory and advanced classes) cost $185 and run for six weeks. For an extra $50, participants can earn continuing education units.
The center also offers online classes that go on for six weeks but can be completed at your own pace. The introductory MAPs class online is called MAPs 1 for Daily Living and serves as an introduction to mindfulness. This course can also be completed in Spanish. After taking the introductory class, there is a MAPs II class focusing on positive emotions and a MAPs II class focusing on “next steps”, aimed at helping people continue practicing mindfulness in their daily lives.
The online classes each cost $165, though there is no option to earn continuing education units from the online classes. The center also offers free drop-in meditation classes weekly.
Harvard University also offers mindfulness training through their Center for Wellness. Like many mindfulness training programs, they offer an 8-week MBSR course offered during both the fall and spring semesters of the school year that costs $450 for non-community members. There is also a half-hour introduction to MBSR offered, though it is currently full and only accepting waitlist registrations. The MBSR course is taught by Suzanne Westbrook, MD, a Harvard University Health Services clinician.
Aside from MBSR, they offer a quarterly meditation series called Calming the Mind, Opening the Heart. However, information about this series is scant. Like UCLA, Harvard also offers daily drop-in meditation sessions for free, with one running in the morning and the other running during lunchtime. These sessions are taught by Jeanne Mahon, a graduate of the Harvard Graduate School of Education as well as a registered yoga instructor.
Mindfulness Courses in London UK
Although the United Kingdom has been briefly discussed above, there are several different mindfulness training options in London alone. These courses are all offered in-person in London, though it is of note that the instructor at Mindfulness London also offers an online course mentioned above, bemindfulonline.com.
London Mindful offers several different types of mindfulness courses. Their main offering, however, seems to be focused on 8-week MBSR courses. They cost £325 and include a one-day retreat. The weekly course consists of 2-hour sessions which combines:
“experiential mindfulness practices with the latest tools and techniques of neuroscience, psychology and the study of well-being”.
Each course has a different instructor, from Jiva, who holds a Masters in Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapies to Christian Kerr, who has over a decade of experience teaching yoga and meditation, as well as mindfulness training from several places including the Oxford Mindfulness Centre.
Mindfulness London offers an 8-week MBSR course taught by Ed Halliwell, who also helps teach courses as the aforementioned bemindfulonline.com. This course consists of weekly 2-hour sessions and a 6-hour day retreat. It begins with an hour and a half-long orientation session, and costs £325 to sign up. The course also assigns weekly homework which is meant to take about 45 minutes a day, so that participants can extend their learning beyond class time. This weekly homework includes CDs and other course materials (the cost of which are included in tuition) which makes the program a multimedia experience.
Love Life Live Now
Love Life Live Now offers an introductory class called The Miracle of Mindfulness, which consists of 6 weekly 1 ½ hour sessions to be taken on either Tuesday or Wednesday evenings. Either option costs £98. The course outline is as follows, from
Week 1 to Week 6:
- How To Cultivate Mindfulness,
- The Way of the Body,
- Sweet Surrender and Going Deeper Within The Greater Mind,
- Emotional Alchemy,
- Beyond the Self, and
- The Energy of Mindfulness.
There are a few teachers in the program, but the founder and main teacher is Adrian, who was:
“the first person in the UK to teach Mindfulness as a treatment for addiction”.
Mindfree offers a unique 8-week experience in that the course combines Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction and Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy, as opposed to most mindfulness training which focuses on Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction. Participants can either take it in the morning or the afternoon, with the morning session costing £275 for the morning sessions (concessions rate: £200) and £295 for the evening sessions (concessions rate: £215).
Like many 8-week mindful sessions, the program consists of weekly two-hour sessions as well as a day retreat. The course is billed as a course for both beginners and those with some experience in mindfulness and meditation.
The London Centre for Mindfulness
The London Centre for Mindfulness offers an 8-week MBSR course which begins with an introductory session. They also have a morning and evening session, which costs £200 (£100 concessionary rate) and £250 (£150 concessionary rate), respectively. The course consists of “a series of mediations” which “range from 3 to 40 minutes”. Anyone interested in the course can take a half day practice session which £15 and serves as an introduction to the mindfulness courses, although course graduates can also attend. Finally, course graduates can attend a monthly drop-in meditation session to “reconnect with the practice”.
Mindfulness Workshops, Classes and Degrees
If you’re not ready yet to commit to an 8-week (or longer) course, there are several shorter mindfulness classes and workshops available out there. For example, London Mindful, Mindfulness London and the UCLA Mindfulness Awareness Research Center (all of which have been previously discussed here) all offer shorter workshops alongside their longer courses. Here are some other options for short-term mindfulness workshops.
Mindfulness Workshops holds one-day intensive mindfulness workshops in Copenhagen, Denmark. These workshops are led by Esan Hansen, a mindfulness teacher and speaker. They focus on “basic guided mindfulness exercises” and the goal of the workshop is for participants to be able to practice mindfulness on their own after one day. This makes the workshop a great option for beginners. Registration for this one-day workshop costs 850 DKK.
The Center for Mindful Self-Compassion
The Center for Mindful Self-Compassion in North Carolina in the United States offers a two-day workshops teaching the core skills of mindful self-compassion. The workshop can either be taken in person for $350 or livestreamed online for $150. For an extra $30, nurses, psychologists and social workers can earn continuing education units for completing the workshop. The workshop focuses on self-compassion and how to practice it in daily life, as well as teaching self-compassion to others.
The Mindfulness Practice Center of Fairfax
The Mindfulness Practice Center of Fairfax in Virginia in the Unites States offers mindfulness workshops on Saturdays. You can either take all-day workshops (8:45 AM – 4:00 PM) for $80 or half-day programs (8:45 AM – 1:30 PM) for $60. People who sign up for the all-day workshop can leave after lunch as one would for the half-day. Both workshops focus on guided meditation including walking meditation, but the all-day workshop focuses more on discussing mindfulness, so it is a better option for people who are looking to learn rather than people who are simply looking for a meditation workshop. The workshops are led by Anh-Huong and Thu Nguyen, who have been practicing Zen mindfulness for over 30 years and first led a mindfulness retreat in the United States nearly 30 years ago, in 1988.
Mindful Practices with Leanda
A mindfulness center in Dublin, Ireland called Mindful Practices with Leanda offers a half-day workshop (from 10:00 AM – 1:00 PM) for 30 euros. The workshop is led by Leanda Carroll, a licensed psychologist who has been studying mindfulness for over a decade. This workshop focuses on reducing stress in your daily life and improving personal awareness, but also claims to help attendees start their own mindfulness practice.
Mindfulness Works Australia
Mindfulness Works Australia offers one-day workshops for mindfulness beginners in Redcliffe, Peregian Beach, Bardon and Sydney. Each session costs $125 and includes a one-year subscription to the group’s mindfulness app, WildFlowers. The sessions are led by teachers, authors and counsellors, depending on which location one chooses to take the workshop in. These workshops focus on teaching mindfulness to people so that they can have less stress in their lives and sleep better, as well as be more accepting of themselves.
Exclusive Mindfulness Retreats
Finally, there are several different mindfulness retreats being offered all around the world. These retreats are a prerequisite for many teaching certification programs, though they can also be attended by people who are simply looking to deepen their own mindfulness practice. These retreats are not for beginners, and are meant for people who already practice mindfulness and are looking to take the next step in their own lives.
Shambhala Mountain Center
Shambhala Mountain Center in Colorado in the United States offers a 9-day long silent mindfulness retreat for $775. The retreat is led by Janet Solyntjes, who completed MBSR training at the University of Massachusetts Medical School and has been practicing mind-body disciplines for 40 years, and David Spound, who has been practicing meditation for 40 years and teaching it for 10 years, and has also completed MBSR training at the University of Massachusetts Medical School.
The retreat’s daily schedule focuses on meditation sessions, though there are also teaching sessions focusing on the core ideals of MBSR. The retreat is billed as “suitable for mindfulness teachers or aspiring teachers”, and it fulfills a prerequisite for the aforementioned Oasis Institute’s teacher certification program.
Mindful Way is leading a 6-day silent mindfulness retreat in Florida in the United States. It costs $1,550 for someone who wishes to have their own room, and $1,250 for someone who is willing to share a room with another attendee. The retreat is led by “certified MBSR and Dharma Teachers” Beth Mulligan and Jon Aaron.
Like the above retreat, this one also meets the Oasis Institute’s prerequisite for mindfulness teacher certification. The retreat focuses on “Mindful Movement” which involves walking meditation, as well as daily talks and interview with the teachers. This retreat also puts a focus on the Buddhist foundations of MBSR.
Motus Mundi in Italy hosts a 5-day silent retreat in Rome which also fulfills the Oasis Institute’s requirements for teacher certification. The retreat is called The Way of Silence and of Listening to the Heart. The retreat focuses on the teachings of MBSR, but particularly focuses on “noble silence”, which the program calls:
“a profound condition which will allow us to get in touch with one of the most important human resources that is ‘listening’”.
The teachers in this retreat are Elana Rosenbaum, who is an adjunct faculty at the University of Massachusetts Medical School where she works alongside Jon Kabat-Zinn, the founder of MBSR, and Franco Cucchio, a certified MBSR teacher with experience in Buddhism as well.
Ser Integral, a mindfulness center in Portugal, hosts a mindfulness meditation retreat called Art of Silence. It is a 6-day retreat which meets the Oasis Institute’s prerequisite for teacher certification. The center stresses that the retreat is secular and non-religious, and that instructions are presented in English. The usage of phones and computers is not allowed during the retreat:
“in order to support the context of silence that we will cultivate throughout the retreat”.
The focus areas of the retreat include theoretical teachings, mindfulness meditation practices and mindful yoga. The retreat is led by Paul Burrows, who has extensive experience with retreats focusing on Buddhist traditions. All meals at this retreat are vegetarian. The cost is 295 euros for the retreat and an additional 200 euros for meals and accommodation.
The Gaia House
The Gaia House, a center focusing on “insight meditation in the Buddhist tradition” offers several different retreats of varying lengths. One such retreat is called Cultivating Clarity and Compassion and runs for 5 days. It costs £220 for the standard rate, though there is a supported rate of £187 for lower-income attendees, as well as a £264 rate for people who wish to help subsidize those on the supported rate. The retreat is led by Alan Lewis, an ex-Theravadin Buddhist monk. This retreat focuses on sitting and walking meditation, and believes that attendees will come out of it with greater compassion, both for themselves and others.
A Take Home Message
Practicing mindfulness can help all sorts of people no matter what is going on in their lives. Learning mindfulness is very accessible, whether you have a center in your hometown or just an internet connection, whether you have enough money for a retreat or do not have any money at all, or even if you want to learn how to teach mindfulness to others. No matter what your situation is, there is a mindfulness training option tailored to your needs.
Author: Joaquín Selva