Frequently Asked Questions about Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction

What is MBSR?

Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction is a curriculum developed by Jon Kabat-Zinn, PhD.(JKZ) at the University of Massachusetts Medical Center in 1979 designed to relieve stress and offer a variety of mindfulness practices to improve each participant’s overall health, well being and happiness. This highly evidence-based program is now offered in most healthcare facilities in the US and in many other locations throughout the world.

Mindfulness is about paying attention on purpose to the present moment with non-judgment and is an active process in which we cultivate our awareness of that which is within and around us so that we can then make skillful decisions about how to best live our lives. The present moment is the only moment in which we have to learn, grow, change and heal and is the only moment in which we can be awake, alive and connected.

How are the classes structured?

Here is a general guideline of what takes place during our time together each week. Participants will be asked to take 30-45 minutes each day for formal and informal mindfulness practices and note taking. Please know that you are not required to speak or contribute verbally during class sessions if this is not best for you.

Week One- Eating meditation and introduction to the Body Scan
Week Two- Body Scan and Pleasant Events calendar
Week Three- Mindful Movement (gentle movement, needs no type of experience), introduction to walking meditation, begin unpleasant events calendar
Week Four- Introduction to Sitting Meditation and beginning work with reacting versus responding.
Week Five- Reactions vs Responding; noticing these aspects in daily life.
Week Six- Stress Cycle-stress triggers, habitual reactions and believed thoughts that contribute to stress.
Week Seven: Mindful and compassionate communication, heart centered practices.
Week Eight- Solidifying our sitting practice, references and tools to continue practice in your daily life.

How much time commitment will be required during the course and on going?

During the course you are asked to commit to at least 35-45 minutes each day for a Formal practice and are asked to do daily note taking as a means to further inquiry and discovery of you and your experience. We will also discuss Informal practices that are experiences we have noticed during the course of our everyday lives and throughout the week. These practices inform and further provide valuable information about the ways in which we habitually and automatically react to life, as if the reaction itself could change what happened.

What is required of me?

As Diana describes, “Mindfulness practice requires your most fierce and militant commitment to be present to your life, however it is, right now. As JKZ says, “as if your life depended on it, because it does! If you are looking for a magic bullet, take up tennis or do whatever else you think will be helpful. There is no way to change your life without your fullest and deepest commitment. Begin Now.” This is a commitment to one’s self that is the greatest gift one can give, the company of your own presence in your own precious life. It begins this moment with this breath, the one in which you choose to be awake.

Will I need to take the full 8 weeks?

Yes, the course is structured and your availability to be present for all 8 weeks is important. You are welcome to discuss reasons for a missed week with your facilitator and you can make up some missed classes by attending another local workshop, if available, once you have spoken with your teacher.

What if I think I might be late to class?

We understand the stresses of transitioning from a busy day to mindfulness class and are happy to work with you. You will most greatly benefit if you are able to arrive within the first 15-20 minutes of the class. We are committed to a prompt start time in behalf of all who work hard to get to class.

What is the Mindful All Day?

Current students and graduate students from previous classes are invited to attend a day of mindfulness practice as a part of the eight-week course. There is no additional fee for current students. The day, time and place of the All-Day is announced within the first two weeks of each course. The All-Day is most typically offered between weeks 6 and 7 of the eight-week course. It is usual to meet on a Saturday from 9:00 AM to 4:00 PM in a near-by location. Maps and instructions for the day are provided.

The day is devoted to continuous and seamless moments of mindfulness including activities that were introduced throughout the course such as mindful movement, walking and sitting meditations, mindful eating and more. This day-long gathering is done in ‘noble silence’ where we can most effectively keep our attention on ourselves and our own inner voice. It is common for everyone to have some anxiety about the day, as they believe they may not be capable of remaining silent or staying within the frame of mindful activities for a whole day. What is most commonly experienced after the All-Day is a sense that we can be mindful one moment at a time and that the kind and compassionate attention that we offer to ourselves is something that we need to do more.

What are the prices and when is payment due?

The cost of the 8 week workshop for those who order a workbook is $445, which also includes a 2 CD practice set, Mindful All Day retreat, on-going support and contact with Diana, meditations and additional resources. For those wishing to access the workbook and audio practice set through the everydaymind.com web site the cost is $395 (which also includes all of the above). Payment may be made through check or credit card for the full course following the first class. There are no refunds following this first class, though participants are always allowed to take the course at a later time. Graduates or for those who have taken Diana’s class previously are offered the course at the cost of $225 which does not include an additional CD set or workbook. Checks are payable to North Coast Counseling.

At times, there are special group rates for those who participate in the program such as the San Diego Cancer Center patients or others. Please see our Instructions for Insurance Reimbursement page to know if your insurance provider will cover partial cost for the course. All insurance monies collected will be directed to the member. If monies are received by North Coast Counseling, we will immediately reimburse the participant by check.


Does the medical profession endorse MBSR? Will this help with anxiety or depression?

This program was originally developed within the healthcare setting and designed specifically to address the symptoms experienced by its participants for whom medical treatments were ineffective or partial in their ability to reduce pain, symptoms and the distress that comes with being alive in this human body. Mindfulness is a highly researched model which has been shown to reduce the debilitating effects of illness, disease and the stressors that accompany them while developing greater inner and outer resources to deal with all aspects of life.

Why do we use meditation in this course? Can I meditate while I am driving or cooking?

Mindfulness has both formal and informal practices that are introduced each week of the eight-week program. The formal practices are meditations available on CD or downloadable on this site. Each are approximately 30-35 minutes long and are designed to be practiced daily in time that you have set aside just for you. It is most helpful if these activities are done with your full attention while listening to the audio instructions of each meditation.

There are other practices done throughout the course of the day in your ordinary routine that do not require this “taking time out” of life in which to experience the bloom of the present moment. These informal practices include gathering and settling your attention on normal daily activities such as driving, doing the dishes, brushing your teeth, etc. Bringing our full attention to these simple activities begins to cultivate our awareness in a way that makes the activities more enjoyable and invites mindfulness to be developed in all aspects of our daily life. Every moment is a good time in which to wake up to your life.

What if I have no meditation experience at all? Do I have to be able to sit or lie on the floor?

All mindfulness practices can be done while lying, sitting, standing and walking. There is no one posture greater than another in which to be mindful. We do invite specific postures for certain practices, but this is simply a suggestion and is not something that is required for the practice. Each participant is most genius as it relates to what posture, position and conditions under which they can most effectively do the practices.

Is the meditation religious based?

These styles of meditation are not based in any religion but on the concepts of Mindfulness. Each religion, regardless of tradition has its own version of contemplative practices, though we do not ascribe to any spiritual or religious belief system. In addition, we are not a ‘support group’ or ‘therapy group so that divulging personal information is not required. We do discuss the experiences and effects of the mindfulness practices in one’s daily life, so that the choice to share and participate is available and can serve to be beneficial as we discover the universal effects of stress and the practices in our lives.

Do we use techniques other than meditation to deal with stress or life’s challenges?

Mindfulness is not best described as a set of techniques, but rather a way of being. It cultivates our inner resources,, wisdom and creativity so that all aspects of our lives are ultimately impacted. Mindfulness is a resource that is portable, non-denominational and always available as long as you are breathing. During the course, you will be introduced to concepts that will be further cultivated through the practices. These very foundational attitudes and qualities of being in concert with the practice contribute to our increasing capacities for healing, clarity, wisdom and compassion.

How does this differ from other MBSR courses and meditation practices in our area?

The eight-week mindfulness course is a standard curriculum then made into unique art by the specific teacher and their own commitment to mindfulness practice and living. All mindfulness teaches are required to have a base level of practice and training through UMass Center for Mindfulness. Diana has the highest training available at this time as it relates to mindfulness teacher training and has been teaching since 1995. She also has a strong commitment to continue training and practice in mindfulness in her personal and professional life to further develop her skills, resources and understanding.