Oline Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR)
This online MBSR training course is 100% free, created by a fully certified MBSR instructor, and is based on the program founded by Jon Kabat-Zinn at the University of Massachusetts Medical School.
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 of the materials used in the live course I teach, including guided meditations, articles and videos, are freely available here. – Dave Potter
Offering something for nothing does seem a little suspicious these days and I get many emails about this free online MBSR course, many of which ask one or more of the following questions:
Is this online MBSR course really, truly, 100% free?
The short answer is “yes”. There is no catch: no fees, no spam, no cookies, you don’t even need to identify yourself or give an email address. I receive no income personally from the site, not even indirectly. Contributions make the course even more accessible to people around the world, but this is not expected nor required – see About Contributions. (NOTE: Some of the videos have advertising, but the ad revenue goes directly to the creator of the videos and not to me.)
What are your credentials and why don’t you charge for the course?
I am fully certified as an MBSR instructor by the University of Massachusetts Medical School and I taught live, in-person MBSR classes in my community for 12 years. I’m also a retired professional psychotherapist who has had a daily meditation practice for over 25 years, and when I discovered MBSR, I wanted to offer it to my clients and my community. I started teaching my twice-yearly in-person classes in 2004 and, as a service to my students, began to put some parts of the class online. I soon realized that with a little work, the material could be useful to people who are not able to attend a live MBSR class, either because of financial limitations or because no classes are offered nearby.
Creating and incrementally improving this resource has been a labor of love, and I’m happy to provide these materials without asking for a fee, something that is made possible given the economies of the internet, how the course is structured, and the generosity of other teachers. It pleases me to know that anyone with an internet connection, whether they live in Moscow, Idaho or Moscow, Russia, can find and use the rich set of materials here. There is even a way for people without internet to have access to the course.
Is taking an online course an effective way to learn MBSR?
A live, in-person Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) class is still the best way to learn mindfulness, because it is more likely that you will complete the course, due to the live interaction and group support. (NOTE: To find in-person MBSR offerings in your area, try a web search such as “MBSR Minneapolis” or “MBSR London”.)
But doing an in-person course is not always possible, for financial and logistical reasons. This online course uses precisely the same course curriculum and resources that I used in my local in-person course, and if you follow the suggestions and practices for each of the eight weeks of the course, the learning can be just as deep and profound. In fact, 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. For some recent end-of-course reports, see Testimonials / Gallery of Learning. There are currently over 2,000 graduates of the Palouse Mindfulness course, from 72 countries (see Map of Palouse Mindfulness Graduates).
Is there online support? What if I have questions while taking the course?
As an option, any student may join the Online Student Community, an online group in which members can share experiences and/or ask questions about the practices that are part of the course. There is no requirement to post anything – many people simply vicariously enjoy the sense of community and learn from others by viewing other peoples’ posts. There are experienced graduates in the group who can answer specific questions and, on occasion, I may personally respond as well. It is a very lively group and most questions get answered within an hour or two.
Even with the help of a group, it is a significant accomplishment to complete a course such as this on your own, and for that reason, I’ve done my best to make the experience interesting and engaging, something made possible by the generosity of the world-renowned teachers* whose videos and writings are posted on this site, including Jon Kabat-Zinn (Wherever You Go, There You Are), Pema Chodron (When Things Fall Apart), Tara Brach (Radical Acceptance), Sylvia Boorstein (Don’t Just Do Something, Sit There), Sharon Salzberg (A Heart As Wide as the World), Robert Sapolsky (Why Zebras Don’t Get Ulcers), Marshall Rosenberg (Non-Violent Communication), and Jack Kornfield (A Path with Heart).*
To get more of a sense of what the course is about…
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, videos, readings and practices help you build a base of both knowledge and experience. MBSR “At a Glance” provides a brief outline of the MBSR course.
All of what you will need is accessible through this web site, and whether or not you actually take yourself through the course, the wealth of material here, including videos and writings by the teachers mentioned above and others, is freely available to you.
No registration required – begin whenever you’re ready
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 successfully complete the eight weeks of practice and study and send the materials indicated in Requesting a Certificate of Completion, I will send you a personal note of congratulations along with a certificate of completion. There is no cost for this. You simply submit the seven sets of practice sheets and a one page description of what you’ve learned and how you will be incorporating what you learned into your life.
If you are ready to begin, or if you’d just like to know more about mindfulness or this program, go to the Introduction.
* 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. I’m grateful to them for helping to make this free Online MBSR course possible.