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Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction

Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) is a method of using meditation and yoga to cultivate awareness and reduce stress. It is based on the ancient practice of mindfulness, which is about waking up, being fully alive, and being present for the richness of each moment of our lives. Within this awakening, we gain access to our deepest inner resources for living, healing, and coping with stress.

Offered at Duke since 1998, our program challenges participants to practice present moment awareness, deep relaxation, and gentle movement. Through the use of these techniques, a person learns to discover and observe his or her reactions to life’s stressors and to choose how to respond. With practice, one can apply these skills to everyday situations and connect more fully with one’s self, loved ones, and the life one is living.

MBSR can help people who are coping with medical problems, job or family-related stress, and anxiety and depression. The majority of participants report lasting decreases in both physical and psychological symptoms. Pain levels improve and people learn to better cope with pain that may not go away. Most people also report an increased ability to relax, greater enthusiasm for life, improved self-esteem, and increased ability to cope more effectively with stressful situations.

Learning Objectives

  • Learn about the roles of stress and reactivity in health and healing
  • Cultivate mindful awareness through several different types of meditation practices
  • Establish a daily meditation practice
  • Recognize negative patterns of reactivity triggered by stressors, and utilize mindfulness to develop alternative responses to stress
  • Apply mindfulness to cultivate a deeper connection with your body, emotions, and relationships with others

What to Expect


The MBSR program consists of 10 sessions; nine weekly sessions, each 2.5 hours long, and one all-day intensive, the Day of Mindfulness.

  • Session 1: Orientation:  Meet your classmates, instructor, and review logistics and expectations for the course.
  • Session 2: Introduction to mindfulness, and the Awareness of Breathing & Body Scan meditation practices
  • Session 3: The stress response, bringing awareness to present-moment experience, and introduction to walking meditation practice.
  • Session 4: Connecting to pleasant moments, mindful movement (gentle yoga), and introduction to the council process (mindful speaking and listening).
  • Session 5: Expanding your field of awareness to “choiceless”, open awareness.
  • Session 6: Introduction to Loving Kindness Meditation.
  • Session 7: Mindfulness and awareness in your communication.
  • Session 8: Review of mindfulness practices through lens of experience
  • Session 9: Acknowledging progress, the ongoing process, and how to sustain a mindfulness practice going forward.
  • The Day of Mindfulness (typically occurring between Sessions 7 and 9) is an all-day silent retreat allowing experience of a longer-form and deeper meditation practice. This session is an opportunity to put into practice all the skills you have learned so far in a supportive community environment, together with the other students from concurrent MBSR courses, and alumni from previous MBSR courses.


The learning in your weekly class sessions is supported by a workbook and audio tracks with guided meditations (on CD).  These materials are included in the course fee.


Attendance is important.  By registering for this course you are committing yourself to attend each of the nine (9) weekly sessions, the Day of Mindfulness session, and to practice at home 45-60 minutes every day for the duration of the course.

To facilitate the strong group learning environment that enriches each class experience, we do not permit participants to “make-up” missed sessions with a concurrent or later course.  If you know in advance that you will miss a session, let your instructor know.  If you have to miss a session unexpectedly, see your instructor about what you missed.

Certificate of Completion

Participants who attend at least eight of the ten sessions (nine weekly sessions and the Day of Mindfulness) and provide us with feedback about their experience at the end of the course will receive a downloadable electronic certificate of completion as acknowledgment of their dedication to their health.

Attendance in this course and receipt of the certificate of completion does not mean that a participant is certified to teach mindfulness to others or to teach MBSR but may fulfill pre-requisites in a teacher certification track.

Best Fit for Success

We strive to provide a positive learning environment so that all participants have the opportunity to achieve the best possible results from the course

It is wonderful that you are making a commitment of time for self-care. You will be learning meditation and relaxation methods, as well as gentle stretching (yoga). It is assumed that by registering for this course you understand that if for any reason you are unable to, or think it unwise to, engage in the techniques and exercises of this course, you are under no obligation to do so.

The Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) course is a psycho-educational group learning activity, focusing on personal development.  It can be an influential practice and have a positive effect on many conditions contributing to stress, but it is not group therapy and is not a substitute for treatment by a health professional for serious conditions such as addiction or substance abuse, anger, depression, PTSD, or suicidal thinking.

If you are planning to enroll in an MBSR class, you should know in advance that things may feel like they become more stressful before they become less stressful and this is a common experience for some participants in MBSR.  This is not because mindfulness causes stress but things may seem more stressful as you become more mindful–especially in the early weeks of the course– because your awareness has grown and you are beginning to sense more deeply, and understand more clearly, how much stress you are actually facing, and how intense it really is. Read more about possible risks associated with MBSR.

Becoming wiser, more factual, and more authentic about the degree and causes of stress in your life is a very good thing, because it can help you begin to make constructive and sustainable changes that can lead to more joy and better health. Please be assured many participants with major sources of stress in their life have found success with the MBSR program.  The program is designed to benefit people living with exactly these kinds of stresses!

If you have any questions about whether MBSR is right for you at this time, before registering please feel free to contact us at:

Upcoming dates and deadlines


Click here to meet the MBSR Instructors.

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