Online Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR)

This online MBSR training course is 100% free and is modeled on the MBSR program founded by Jon Kabat-Zinn at the University of Massachusetts Medical School.

Welcome!
I'm so glad you found this site! Offering anything for free 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 ads, you don't even need to identify yourself or give an email address. I receive no income from the site, not even indirectly.

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 have been teaching live, in-person MBSR classes for more than 10 years. I'm also a professional psychotherapist who has had a daily meditation practice for 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 might not ever be able to attend a live MBSR class.

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.

Is taking an online course an effective way to learn MBSR?
If you follow the suggestions and practices for each of the eight weeks of the course, the results can be 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 live course. [For some recent end-of-course reports, see Testimonials / Gallery of Learning.]

That being said, 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 varied, 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 Susan Bauer-Wu (Leaves Falling Gently).*

What is MBSR?
MBSR is a blend of meditation, body awareness and yoga: learning through practice and study how your body handles (and can resolve) stress neurologically. Through the online MBSR course, you will learn skills that can increase your ability to:

  • 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

There has been more than 30 years of research, much of it specifically studying MBSR. While MBSR is not a "cure" for serious medical conditions and should not be used as a substitute for medical treatment, this body of research indicates that mindfulness training can have a significant therapeutic effect for those experiencing stress, anxiety, high blood pressure, depression, chronic pain, migraines, heart conditions, diabetes and other ailments. In addition, participants typically report feeling more alive, more "in-tune" with themselves and others.

To get more of a sense of what the course is about...
This self-guided course begins with an Introduction 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, you can request 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. Instructions for this are given in the materials for Week 8.

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. My thanks to them for helping to make this free Online MBSR course possible. -  Dave Potter

All videos, including the guided meditations, have accurate closed captions, with the exception of some that are in the "supplementary" sections. [The captioning on this site was done with the help of Caption Access.]

Even if you don't intend to take the course, I hope you take advantage of some of the wonderful videos and articles offered freely on this site.
     - Dave Potter