Talk of mindfulness is everywhere. Here are some things to keep in mind when you’re considering a mindfulness-based program.

  • Mindfulness means many things to many people. It can mean a particular state of mind (“mindful”); a practice of some sort (e.g., body scan, lovingkindness); a particular type of awareness; and/or a multifaceted personal practice used as a way of coming to know the nature of one’s mind, emotions, body, and habit patterns.

  • Most people would define mindfulness meditation as a training of the attention that can result in increased concentration and focus, and less reactivity. There is so much more to it than moment-to-moment awareness of thoughts, emotions, and bodily sensations. However, if everyone increased their mindfulness according to that definition, assuming their intentions were sincere, the world would be a better place.

  • There are all kinds of claims being made about the benefits of mindfulness, and you should always look into the sources behind the claims to determine whether you feel comfortable with the sources and the claims. The messenger and the message are both important, as nothing is free of context.

  • People who teach mindfulness get to that point in a variety of ways. Some are formally trained to teach, and others teach from their experience.

  • There are group mindfulness classes, one-on-one trainings, and on-demand, self-study.

  • Mindfulness can inform and improve parenting, teaching, leading, and even meetings. Yes, there is hope for meetings! If you are interested in learning how mindfulness can clarify and deepen your experience and relationships at home or in the workplace, contact me at mary@marymartinphd.com.


The Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) course is an 8-week, evidence-based, experiential program designed to intensively and systematically train attention and cultivate greater awareness of the nature of moment-to-moment experience. It includes a daylong silent retreat between weeks 6 and 7 (on a weekend). It is traditionally taught to a group of 8-20 people, live or online. This is not usually a one-on-one program, as group learning and interaction is an important component of the experience. It is the foundation of what can be a lifelong personal practice, and a prerequisite for many multi-day, mindfulness and "insight" retreats.

MBSR was developed in 1979 by Jon Kabat-Zinn, and decades of research have demonstrated positive outcomes such as:

  • increased self-awareness

  • improved emotional regulation

  • reduction in symptoms for various physical and behavioral health conditions including anxiety, depression and chronic pain

  • positive changes in risk factors that may lead to more serious chronic ailments

MBSR is a serious commitment and its format is standardized, therefore it is not a program that teachers customize in significant ways. If someone is offering MBSR, (I hope) that means they have been trained to teach it. I am in continuous training with the Brown University Mindfulness Center, and my training includes trauma-informed mindfulness practices. If you are interested in MBSR, contact me at mary@marymartinphd.com.

© 2020 by Mary Martin, Ph.D. 

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Jupiter, FL