Mindfulness meditation is a practice which starts by developing an ability to focus on the breath and the sensations associated with breathing. It soon becomes noticeable that maintaining a steady awareness on the breath for any length of time is difficult to do. Often our attention will wander away from the breath and move to various thoughts, emotions or body sensations. So part of mindfulness practice is to simply cultivate patience and generosity towards this tendency of the mind.
With practice, the mind settles and develops a balanced awareness which allows us to notice the transitory nature of thoughts and emotions. We can investigate with friendly curiosity whatever is encountered during practice whether it is body sensations, thoughts or emotions with a sense of equanimity. This increases calmness through steady concentration, and insight, through reflection. We become less driven by our reactions to the contents of the various modes of mind, less caught up. By developing this ability for self-observation we improve our chances of responding to experience less impulsively and more effectively.
It s not easy to notice what is going on in the mind because it brings us into direct contact with our anxieties, our judgments, and our vulnerabilities. We come to see the often automatic nature of thinking which can take us into worrying about the future or reliving the past. But as we adopt this hospitable and compassionate present moment directed noticing we come to see what approaches are helpful and which cause problems. This does not imply passive resignation, but on the contrary the skill to act wisely and effectively when required.
Grounded more and more in mindfulness the mind is free to respond skillfully to any given situation. When we can rest calmly with our vast array of feelings and thoughts, we are able to live fully and openly, caring for ourselves, and caring for others.
Contemporary mindfulness training originated in 1979 with Jon Kabat-Zinn's Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) program and was further refined in the 1990's with Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) by Zindel Segal, Mark Williams, and John Teasdale. MBSR and MBCT have both undergone extensive research to assess effectiveness with many life issues (e.g., stress, chronic pain, anxiety, and numerous other medical issues). MBCT is recommended in England by the national health services as a front line treatment for preventing depression. Multiple randomized controlled trials have shown that MBCT is as effective as antidepressant medication in preventing relapses of major depression.
MBSR and MBCT are the foundation of the Mindfulness Training offered by our instructors. A MBCT workbook serves as the guide for the daily home practices completed throughout the 8-week Mindfulness Training.
The practice of mindfulness meditation trains you to pay attention to the present moment, noting thoughts, feelings and body sensations with an attitude of interest and kindness. This non-reactive stance toward experience creates the possibility of being in life as it is and allows for working more wisely with the challenging aspects of human experience (e.g., emotional difficulties, relational difficulties, impulses, aversion, confusion, rumination, worry...). Learning to calm the mind and work with these challenges is central to acting with wisdom and compassion in the world.
Chris Menard, PsyD, and Heidemarie Laurent, PhD direct and supervise the 8-week (20-hour) introductory Mindfulness Training (MT) program as well as the year-long Mindfulness Instructor Training (Psy-546) program for the University of Illinois Psychology Department. MBSR and MBCT are the foundation of the MT course offered by our instructors. The Mindful Way Workbook serves as the guide for participants throughout the 8-week training.
In this 20-hour training, participants meet together as a class (with an instructor) for eight weekly 2-hour classes and a 4-hour Saturday Practice Session (this is typcially held between class #6 and #8. ). The main 'work' of the program is done between classes, using MP3s with guided audio meditations that support participants developing practice outside of class. Daily practice with audios ranges from 30 - 50 minutes. In each class, you have an opportunity to discuss the obstacles that inevitably arise as well as the many different experiences that arise while being guided on how to deal with these obstacles and experiences skillfully. Each class is organized around a theme that is further explored in each chapter of the workbook.
Regardless of each person's motivations for learning mindfulness, one can only expect to see results if they put the time and effort into practice. Practice can sometimes seem boring. Sometimes we become frustrated with our minds busyness. Sometimes we feel too tired. Sometiems we think that we don't know how to practice mindfulness. Facing these and other obstacles is essential when embarking on a jouney to cultivate mindfulness.
This training approach depends entirely on your willingness to do home practice between class meetings. This home practice will typically include 30 - 40 minutes of daily formal mindfulness practice (e.g., the first two weeks of the course asks participants to lay down daily at a set time for about 35 minutes and listen to a Guided Mindfulness Body Scan Audio that leads them through the practice) and two to ten minutes of informal mindfulness practice (e.g., being attentive to the sensations of brushing teeth, washing dishes, showering, or some other routine daily activity) each day, 6 days a week, for 8 weeks. This includes some brief written exercises. We appreciate how it is often very difficult to carve out that amount of time for something new in lives that are already very busy and crowded. However, the commitment to spend time on home practice is an essential part of the class; if you do not feel able to make that commitment, it would be best not to start the classes and wait till you are able to set 8-weeks aside with some time each day for practice.
The classes and the home practice assignments can teach you how to be more fully aware and present in each moment of life. On one hand, this makes life more interesting, vivid, and fullfilling. On the other hand, this means facing what is present, even when it is unpleasant and difficult. In practice, you will find that turning to face and acknowledge difficulties is the most effective way, in the long run, to reduce unhappiness, to increase one's capacity to work skillfully with stressful situations, and to prevent depression. Seeing unpleasant feelings, thoughts, or experiences clearly, as they arise, means that you will be in much better shape to “nip them in the bud,” before they progress to more intense or persistent low moods.
Because we will be working to change well-established habits of mind, you will be putting in a lot of time and effort. The effects of this effort may become apparent only later. In many ways, it is much like gardening - we have to prepare the ground, plant the seeds, ensure that they are adequately watered and nourished, and then wait patiently for results. Building a mindfulness practice can also be equated with an exercise regimen, in that only after regular daily work-outs are the health benefits realized.
We ask you to approach the classes and home practice with a spirit of patience and persistence, committing yourself to put time and effort into the practice, while accepting, with patience, that the fruits of your efforts may not show straight away.
Over the eight weeks of the program, the practices help you:
Eight Wednesdays 9 - 11am January 24, 2018 through March 28, 2018 (No class on February 21st or March 21st) and one Saturday Practice Session 8am to noon on March 17. All classes are held at the Quaker Meetinghouse (1904 E Main St. Urbana)
Eight Mondays 9 - 11am April 2, 2018 through May 25, 2018 and one Saturday Practice Session 8am to noon on May 12th. All classes are held at the Quaker Meetinghouse (1904 E Main St. Urbana)
Eight Wednesdays 9 - 11am April 4, 2018 through May 27, 2018 and one Saturday Practice Session 8am to noon on May 19th. All classes are held at the Quaker Meetinghouse (1904 E Main St. Urbana)
To Sign up and pay with a credit card, click here. You will receive an email confirmation when registration/payment is complete.If you have questions, email CMenard@illinois.edu
Note: The Saturday Practice Session is an invitation to step out of the doing-mode of mind and into the being-mode of mind for an extended period. Chairs and cushions will be available. The Practice Session is typically offered for 4 or 8 hours at the Quaker Meetinghouse on a Saturday between class #6 and #7 or between class #7 & #8. While participants are asked to engage in a functional silence for much of the time to facilitate a deepening of their practice, instructors will verbally guide the sitting, walking, and stretching mindfulness exercises. Tea and snacks are provided.
Graduates of the 8-week training are invited to attend Booster classes and Saturday Practice Sessions. Emails will be sent to the graduate email group when these classes are offered.
Email Chris with questions: email@example.com
Mindfulness-Based Childbirth and Parenting (MBCP) is a unique childbirth education program that teaches expectant parents the life skills of mindfulness for meeting the stress, pain, and fear that are often a normal part of the journey through pregnancy and childbirth. Learning mindfulness skills can benefit both parents and baby by supporting a healthy pregnancy and building the capacity to birth and parent with greater awareness, wisdom, compassion, and joy.
Go to the following web site for information on this class offered by the University of Illinois Psychology Department in partnership with Carle Hospital: http://mindfulbirthcu.com/
Chris Menard, Psy.D., is a clinical psychologist and the Associate Director of the Psychology Department's Psychological Services Center (PSC). He has been teaching Mindfulness Training classses since 2011. He has attended mindfulness instructor training in MBSR with Jon Kabat-Zinn & Saki Santorelli. He has also attended instructor training in MBCT with Zindel Segal, advanced MBSR/MBCT instructor training with Susan Woods, and Interpersonal Mindfulness instructor training with Phyllis Hicks. Dr. Menard has also attended Vipassana and Insight Dialogue trainings. Dr. Menard was a board member of the Mindfulness Teacher Foundation (MTF) from 2013 - 2017, helped develop the training curriculum for the Mindful Teacher Mindful Kids program, and currently supervises MTF instructors. He also teaches the Psychology Department's Mindfulness Instructor Training course (Psy-546) and he is working to bring Mindfulness Based Relapse Prevention (MBRP) to addiction treatment in C-U.
Heidemarie Laurent, PhD - See Psychology Department web page at: http://www.psychology.illinois.edu/people/hlaurent
Ellen Ritter, MS, is an advanced Mindfulness Instructor. She has completed the 5-day MBCT Professional Instructor Training with Zindel Segal and Susan Woods and a one year mindfulness training under the supervision of Dr. Chris Menard.She has been teaching mindfulness courses since the winter of 2014 by partnering with local organizations, university studies, and local community groups. Partnerships include volunteering for the Education Justice Project Mindfulness Discussion Group at the Danville Correctional Center, teaching Mindfulness Based Relapse Prevention at the Prairie Center, teaching mindfulness classes at the University of Illinois Disability Resources and Educational Services, teaching mindfulness classes for K-12 teachers through the Mindful Teacher Foundation (www.mindfulteacher.org), and teaching mindfulness classes for veteran caregivers through a University of Illinois grant funded study called VetCareReST. Additionally, she is a co-founder ofthe UIUC Meditation Student Organization that offers University of Illinois students, staff, and faculty access to meditation on campus (msouiuc.weebly.com).
Ryan Santens, MSW, MPH,is an advanced Mindfulness Instructor. He and Dr. Menard co-taught the Clinical Psychology Mindfulness Instructor Training Course in 2013-2014. He has completed the 5-day MBCT Instructor Training with Zindel Segal and Susan Woods, 5-day Advanced MBSR & MBCT Instructor Training with Susan Woods and Patricia Rockman, and Individual MBCT Instructor Training with Mark Lau. He has taught mindfulness courses to a variety of populations across multiple practice settings partnering with university research studies, leadership development organizations and other community based organizations. In addition to teaching mindfulness courses through the PSC, partnerships include teaching mindfulness courses to caregivers of wounded veterans as part of VetCareReST, a grant funded research study through University of Illinois, and Joyful U, a community based non-profit organization.
If interested in becoming a
Mindfulness Instructor, completion of an 8-week Mindfulness Training class and a year of personal daily practice is required. If you have completed these requirements, email Chris Menard at CMenard@illinois to receive more information. In addition, other training options are below:
UCSD Center for Mindfulness