FAQ-MBSR Course

Frequently Asked Questions about the MBSR course Emily Herzlin, MBSR Teacher based in NYC emily.herzlin@gmail.com www.emilyherzlin.com

What is the purpose of the orientation? Orientation gives you a chance to meet the instructor and the other classmates, and to help determine if the course is right for you at this time. You will be given information about the class and get a better feel for what sort of the commitment the program requires. There will be a questionnaire to fill out. After the orientation, if you and/or the instructor determine that the class is not right for you, then you can withdraw.

What if I can’t come to the orientation? If you cannot attend the orientation, you must schedule a phone orientation with the instructor.

Is mindfulness meditation and MBSR right for everyone? Many people benefit from mindfulness and/or meditation practice, but it is not right for everyone at every point in their lives. MBSR is a specific curriculum and method of learning that has been shown to benefit many people.

What are some reasons the class might not be right for me at this time?

  • If you are currently suffering from substance abuse/addiction or eating disorder, and have been in recovery for less than 1 year 
  • If you are currently suffering from or have very recently suffered from major depression 
  • If you are currently considering or have recently seriously considered suicide 
  • If you have PTSD, recent trauma, and have not been in therapy for severe trauma 
  • If you experience significant discomfort in a group class setting that is not workable for you at this time

Why could those conditions be problematic for my participation in MBSR? In any kind of meditation practice, not just MBSR, it is possible that difficult emotions or thoughts may arise at times, and these emotions may seem stronger at the beginning of a meditation practice. If this happens, you are not doing anything wrong—it can be part of the process, and in most cases these emotions or thoughts subside. But because this can happen, it may not be the right time to take MBSR if difficult emotions or thoughts may easily trigger harmful patterns for you. (If you have questions about this, consult your doctor or psychotherapist. Feel free to reach out to the instructor with questions as well.)

So how do I know if the class is right for me at this time?

  • If you have stress in your life and would like to learn a skill that will be a life­long practice for reducing the stress you experience
  • If you are willing to become curious about your patterns of stress reactivity
  • If you are willing to attempt to build time into your schedule for a daily meditation practice of 20­ - 60 minutes a day for the duration of the course
  • If you are able to attend at least 6 of the 8 class sessions plus the all­day retreat
  • If you are willing to practice in a group learning environment
  • If you are psychologically and emotionally able to practice becoming aware of difficult thoughts, emotions, sensations, and stress. (If you have questions about this, consult your doctor or psychotherapist. Feel free to reach out to the instructor with questions as well.)

Can I miss a class? Yes. But if you know in advance that you must miss more than 2 classes, you might consider waiting to take the class at another time.

Can I just attend a couple of the sessions and pay per class? No, it is a closed course. You must commit to the whole course.

How much does the class cost? Can I get a refund? What are the dates? Check the course registration page for course dates, fees, and refund policies.

What does the course fee include? The course fee covers the orientation, the 8 classes, the all­ day retreat, and all materials (home practice assignments, worksheets, and guided meditation recordings.)

What is the training like to become an MBSR teacher? MBSR teachers go through a series of teacher training retreats through the Center for Mindfulness, and also have deep, longstanding meditation practices of their own. MBSR teachers come from a variety of backgrounds­­some have a background in medicine, some psychology, some other contemplative, meditative, or healing practices, some a combination. The orientation will give you a chance to meet the teacher and see if they are a good fit for you.

How do I become an MBSR teacher? Read the information on the CFM website.

What if I can’t do yoga because of a physical condition? The yoga is very gentle. The main focus is on stretching and awareness of the body. You do not have to do any poses that are not right for your body. There are many options for modifications including chair yoga, and even just imagining yourself doing the movements. The right way to do MBSR yoga is the way that is right for your body at this time.

What if I can't sit on the floor? Are yoga mats and props provided? Comfortable chairs are provided for everyone taking the course. You will always have a chair to sit on. Clean and thick mats are provided for everyone, you are welcome to bring your own as well. Cushions and blankets are provided for sitting on the floor if you choose to. 

How many people are in the class? Generally 10-­25 

Do you accept children in the class? No. This class is for ages 21+.

Is this the same as the program Jon Kabat­Zinn does? Yes, it is based on the program he developed for the Center for Mindfulness.

Is MBSR a form of therapy? MBSR is not therapy. It is a group learning experience, in which we focus on bringing mindfulness to stress. There are group interactions, discussion, as well as mindful communication practices in smaller groups and in groups of two or three.

Do I have to share personal information with the class? You determine for yourself what you share with your classmates. You are not required to share anything. Most of the class discussion is around the process of what happens when we are stressed, not the specifics of the situations themselves. Group discussion can help us receive support and encouragement, and to practice within a community.

What is the MBSR course like? Every class is a little different. In general, the curriculum consists of a combination of guided mindfulness practices, experiential learning exercises, group discussion, lectures, small group discussion and dyad practices. Topics covered include perception and stress, experience of pleasant and unpleasant events, stress physiology, reacting vs. responding to stress, mindful communication, self­care, and more.

Do I need to have had previous experience with mindfulness before taking MBSR? No, the course is suitable for all levels of experience with mindfulness and/or meditation practice. 

What kind of mindfulness practices are used in the program? Participants practice in class with guided meditations led by the instructor, and at home both with guided meditation recordings and self-­guided practices, which include:

  • Awareness of breath – focus on breath in the body, noticing thoughts when they arise
  • Other awareness meditations ­­ focusing on body sensations, the whole body, sounds, emotion, thought, and choiceless awareness (awareness of whatever is arising at this moment)
  • Body Scan – becoming aware of different sensations in the body
  • Walking Meditation – focusing on the sensations in the feet, on the process of walking
  • Lovingkindness – generating kindness and friendliness, and wishing wellness for yourself and others
  • Mindful communication ­­ dyad practices (in pairs) where the focus is on speaking and listening with mindfulness