Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction, or MBSR as it is commonly known, is a type of mindfulness training that has far-reaching benefits on mind and body.
MBSR is beneficial to anyone who wants to learn how to better cope with a fast-paced, stressful, unforgiving world.
Through the objective watching of emotions, it helps us make better judgements in our actions and decisions in our lives.
The training is particularly useful for those who suffer from stress, anxiety, fear and other forms of psychological distress (1).
It has become so popular that big companies like Apple and Google offer training to their employees.
If you aren't lucky enough to have an employer to send you on a course, you might like to take advantage of the official MBSR online course, which provides all the training through convenient distance learning.
Having taken the course myself and found it incredibly helpful in my work, I thought I'd review the course for others thinking of doing the same. I hope you find it useful.
About the MBSR Course
Since its inception, more than 24,000 people have completed the Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction Program with the University of Massachusetts and learned how to use their innate resources and abilities to respond more effectively to stress, anxiety, overthinking, pain, and illness.
The course combines elements of meditation with modern medical techniques, and is a practical and easy way to cultivate clarity, insight, and understanding in our lives.
People who suffer stress from work, school, family, financial worries, medical problems, grief, or general anxiety can all benefit from the training.
The course is also recommended for those who suffer from depression, fatigue, or sleep disturbance, and those who suffer from chronic medical conditions such as high blood pressure, fibromyalgia, cancer, heart disease, asthma or other long-term medical conditions.
The MBSR online course focuses on prevention and wellness techniques, providing practical, free ways to take care of your physical and mental health, and teaching you how to create a greater feeling of resilience and emotional balance.
The Course Instructors
The MBSR online course is led by Dr Saki Santorelli and senior instructor Florence Meleo-Meyer, both from the Stress Reduction Clinic Team at University of Massachusetts.
Dr Santorelli is the current director of the Stress Reduction Clinic, as well as the executive director of the Center for Mindfulness, Health Care, and Society at UMass.
Florence Meleo-Meyer is also a member of the executive leadership team for the same Center.
Both provide instruction based on techniques garnered from three decades of research and development.
The MBSR Online Course is currently the only comprehensive online training course in MBSR of its kind.
It follows the same Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction method taught at the Center for Mindfulness in Medicine, Health Care and Society at the University of Massachusetts Medical School.
Students can expect to receive the same quality as attending an in-person course, but at a reduced price.
US customers taking part in this course will also receive 30 CE credits.
**A continuing education unit (CEU) or continuing education credit (CEC) is a measure used in continuing education programs to assist the professional to maintain his or her license in their profession.
Key Benefits of the MBSR Course
The benefits of MBSR are extensive, but the most profound are:
- Reduced physical & psychological suffering in terms of stress and tension in the mind and body.
- Improved levels of energy and a greater enthusiasm for life.
- Increased ability to deal with challenging situations in a calm, composed way.
- Increased ability to relax, even when faced with stressful circumstances.
- Improved self-esteem and confidence.
- Reduced feelings of anger and frustration.
- Better relationship management at work and in your personal life.
- Natural pain management (for those experiencing chronic/on-going pain)
Course Delivery & Learning Materials
The course schedule is spread over eight weekly classes, plus an additional one-day class.
The training includes over 16 hours of video and audio (downloadable), which comprises instruction on mindfulness meditation, stretching, yoga, and guidance on how to enhance mental clarity and heightened awareness in everyday life.
There are also four hours of audio-guided mindfulness practice.
You’ll also complete an online journal as you progress. This is checked and feedback is provided by the course instructors.
This provides a useful way to record, reflect, and document your experiences. Emptying your thoughts on paper will help you work through mental blockages and apply your learnings.
Post completion, you will check back through your progress by participating in one of the two annual live sessions provided by the course instructors. This is provided as part of their ongoing commitment to your wellness.
Course Structure & Modules
The course is fully online, although you will receive materials in PDF format, alongside more than 16 hours of downloadable video and audio for the 8 weekly classes and one-day session.
At the start of the course you will take part in an orientation session.
During this introductory session, you’ll learn how MBSR practice has been integrated with mainstream medicine and how it can positively affect the quality of our everyday lives (2).
You’ll then begin the eight weekly classes and complete one all-day session.
You’ll receive an overview that gives you an opportunity to establish the learning context for the rest of your experience.
You’ll learn about the theory and evidence of mind-body medicine, mindfulness, and how to apply it to your daily life.
Week 2 :
Here you’ll examine your own perceptions and assumptions of the world. You’ll learn how to use the body-scan practice, which cultivates a greater degree of awareness and perception of stressful situations.
You’ll begin practicing several important mindfulness disciplines, including hatha yoga, sitting meditation, and walking meditation.
By discovering that there is both pleasure and power in being present, you’ll be able to directly understand how your experiences create different reactions, such as pleasure and discomfort.
In week 4 you will further develop these ideas and focus on developing your ability to concentrate and systematically expand your field of awareness.
You’ll learn about the physiological and psychological bases of stress and then learn positive strategies for how to respond to distress.
After developing a good base and familiarity in mindfulness techniques, the focus now shifts to target points.
These may include specific areas where you may be stuck in life, or where you notice unhealthy patterns and habits that prevent you being happy and successful.
You'll then learn how to apply mindfulness to produce proactive responses to these things.
You’ll also learn how to apply mindfulness at the most critical moments in your life, such as when you experience stress, anxiety, emotional distress, or pain.
In week 6 you’ll learn about resilience, or ‘stress hardiness’, and the ability to return to equilibrium after distressing situations.
Between weeks 6 and 7 there is a day-long, guided retreat that focuses on putting all the techniques you’ve been learning about into practice.
The session lasts for six hours, and the aim of this intensive session is to enable you to effectively use MBSR skills in varying situations in your life post your training.
After the day-long retreat, the focus shifts to how to making mindfulness a lifetime commitment.
You’ll learn how to maintain the discipline of daily mindfulness mediation.
As circumstances change over the course of your life, you’ll need to know how to apply mindfulness to new situations and better cope with change.
In this final session, you will conduct a compete review of all that you’ve learned. You'll also learn about further available resources so that you can continue to pursue mindfulness once the course has finished.
This final class really encourages you to use the techniques you’ve learned going forward.
Course Pricing & Value
The course is currently offered at a discounted price of $197, down from $297.
As of 2020, you have the option to pay for the course in three installments of $69, making it more accessible for lower income earners.
This special offer is available to all clients who book and pay through the store. Use the link above to make sure you get this discounted offer.
The MBSR course is 100% guaranteed. So if you start it and think for whatever reason it isn't for you, you can refund the course with no questions asked.
That being said, I am sure you're going to find this as life-changing as I did and really valuable in your personal progression going forward.
Current Course Bonus Gifts
Currently the course comes with three free bonuses to add value to the package. These are as follows:
- ‘On Kindness’ audio program: Presented by Florence Meleo-Meyer, lead instructor of the MSBR online course.
- Mindfulness Meditation: Jon Kabat Zinn's groundbreaking audio-learning program with over 10 hours of teachings and practices.
- A Day of Mindfulness: Further instruction to help you go deeper and explore the practices you'll learn on the course.
My Thoughts, in Summary
The course is the only one of its kind delivered by qualified teachers from the University of Massachusetts Medical School & Center of Mindfulness.
This really shows in terms of the depth and professionalism of the course structure and materials provided.
I would go as far as to say that this is better than the majority of in-person courses and retreats I've attended.
I say this because such retreats are usually a two-day affair and lack the depth required to cover all the areas of this MBSR course. They are also far more expensive.
In terms of value, this MBSR course is fantastic, especially considering the credentials of the teachers.
The course is comprehensive and really equips you with the tools and knowledge to move forward and apply mindfulness in your life.
What I would say though is that you need to make a commitment to follow the program in its entirety.
The course requires you to do this on your own time; there's no one there to motivate you, so you must be self-motivated; you will get out as much as you put it.
That being said, there's no pressure, so take it at your own pace and enjoy it.
While this is a learning experience, it's also a liberating, fun, and profound exploration of your mind and body that will begin to unlock further potential and happiness in your life.