Chris McKenna

Guided Practices for Education Week Readers

Below are two guided practices for Education Week readers looking for a simple, practical introduction to mindfulness. The first is intended to help settle the body and the nervous system and become grounded in the present moment. The second explores the theme of developing kindness. Below each video, there is an mp3 audio file of the practice available for free download.

Download the audio file of Grounding in the Body.

Download the audio file of Cultivating Kindness.

To learn more about our core offerings, please visit our Mindfulness Fundamentals, Mindful Educator Essentials, and Year Long Certification pages.

Monthly Mindfulness Article Highlights

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Our Mindfulness Fundamentals Course

For an introduction to mindfulness, try our 6-week online Mindfulness Fundamentals course (recommended by 98% of graduates), which has helped people from 50 states and 60 countries reduce stress, increase empathy, and learn the science behind mindfulness.

Chris McKenna

Guest post from Danielle M., Mindful Educator

Thank you Danielle for bringing this work to life and making such a positive impact!

~ Guest post from Year-Long Certification participant Danielle M., an educator in New York ~

I truly feel that mindfulness has changed my life and I am LOVING my experience with Mindful Schools. In 2013, I took an MBSR course. After the first session I asked, “Why isn’t anyone doing this with children!?” Hahah, little did I know! Learning how to bring mindfulness into the classroom with the support of Mindful Schools has been more than what I could have hoped for. Without a doubt, it really has been one of the best learning experiences of my life!

For the past 6 years, I have served as a Literacy Coach for grades K- 5 in a NYC public school in Jackson Heights, Queens. I work with teacher teams as well as with students. I taught second grade for 9 years before that . . . and loved every single minute of it. During my undergrad work, I majored in sociology and elementary education. I went on to become a reading specialist and received National Board Certification in Literacy.

This year, in addition to coaching and teaching reading, I am teaching mindfulness to students at different grade levels. Since I am a coach, I have the opportunity to visit classrooms made up of students at all grade levels. The curriculum is so flexible that it allows me to work with kids at any age.  I also work with students with disabilities and students who are English language learners. I am able to adapt the curriculum to the needs of my students without too much difficulty. When I get stuck, I always have someone to turn to for help. The weekly teachings, videos and office hours have really helped me to reflect on what I have taught so far, and to plan for adaptations going forward. I am very, very fortunate to have so much support and to be working with an open-minded principal who trusts me and allows me to bring mindfulness to our school.

When I’m not teaching mindfulness in a school setting, I try to bring mindfulness to my community. Here’s a photo of me working with two little girls this summer (the sweetest sisters on the planet). While volunteering at a local event called, ‘The Night Out Against Crime’, I offered up a free mindfulness class for anyone interested. The girls plopped right down on the blanket and were curious to try it out. (They were awesome.)


:) And here is a photograph from a third grade classroom I have been working in. We were in the middle of a heartfulness lesson. ❤️ With our hands on our hearts as an anchor spot, we are sending kind thoughts to ourselves and to others.


Each step of the Mindful Schools program is incredible. You begin with a Mindfulness Fundamentals course online. Here is where you lay the groundwork for your personal practice. The online course is followed by Mindful Educator Essentials, which is offered both online or in-person. I took an in-person course over a weekend in NYC last year. This is where I really fell in love with the work. I was blown away by the team’s preparedness, intelligence, professionalism, passion and dedication to training educators in bringing mindfulness to children and adolescents. You are given a curriculum guide along with a workbook for the students as well as other resources. The Mindful Schools team trains you on how to teach mindfulness to children and adolescents through lectures, demo lessons and break out sessions that allow for structured practice, with support from the team.

I am currently enrolled in the Year-Long Certification program. It started off with an incredible retreat in California this summer. This week really inspired me to continue my personal practice and commit to the mission of bringing mindfulness to my students back home in Queens, New York. It included a few days of silence, community building activities, lots of lectures, mindful walking, mindful eating and much, much more. The remainder of the coursework is done online, which can be challenging at times. (I have to remember to be gentle with myself when I fall behind!) There is a lot of information to digest and a commitment to continue your personal practice. You’ll find that there is support from the team, as well as from your cohort. We check in with each other on a weekly basis through online office hours. We have specialists in the field of mindfulness visit our office hour meetings as guests speakers. There are videos posted, weekly teachings, suggested readings and reflections. The year-long program will end how it began . . . with another outstanding week-long retreat.

I am doing my best to savor each part of the process. Each time I teach a mindfulness lesson from the Mindful Schools curriculum I think to myself, yes. . . this is exactly what the students need — regardless of the classroom that I’m in or the students that I’m standing in front of. I look forward to becoming certified as I continue on with my training this year. I really do feel so fortunate to be a part of this amazing work.

~ Danielle M., Mindfulness Educator, New York

Chris McKenna

Mindful Schools Launches Certified Instructor Directory to Support Schools Nationwide

Mindful Schools Launches Certified Instructor Directory to Support Schools Nationwide
The first online directory of Mindfulness in Education instructors

Emeryville, CA (February 18, 2015) – Mindful Schools, a leading provider of online and in-person mindfulness training for educators, announced today the launch of its Certified Instructor Directory to support mindfulness in education.screenshot-cid This directory meets the growing demand for simple, effective ways to find and connect with certified instructors teaching mindfulness to diverse youth populations.

The directory will allow schools and youth services agencies to locate trained providers in their geographic area. It will also make it easier to locate instructors who specialize in integrating mindfulness into therapeutic settings with special needs youth (e.g. youth on the autistic spectrum, with ADHD, etc.).

The directory fuels a larger movement to bring basic self-awareness, emotional regulation, and empathy training to diverse school communities.

jon-kabat-zinn__400x400-150x150Dr. Jon Kabat-Zinn, founder of Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) and Mindful Schools Advisor, stated: “My first exposure to a teacher bringing mindfulness into her classroom in a systematic and structured way was over 20 years ago in a public elementary school in Utah. That teacher, a lone pioneer, had taken an MBSR (mindfulness-based stress reduction) program at a local hospital and found it so personally beneficial that she decided to integrate elements of what she had learned into her fourth and fifth-grade curriculum. Back then, there was no larger movement among educators aimed at bringing mindfulness into the mainstream of public and private education. People hardly even knew the term mindfulness, never mind what it meant. Now there is a large and growing grassroots movement promoting mindfulness in primary and secondary education, and Mindful Schools is at the cutting edge of training educators to effectively integrate mindfulness practices and perspectives into their classrooms. This directory is a major step forward toward furthering that movement by providing a listing of teachers and other youth workers who have completed the Mindful Schools professional training curriculum and have been certified.”

Tish_Jennings-150x150“As this movement evolves, access to in-depth training becomes more and more critical. With the launch of this directory, Mindful Schools has made a significant contribution to maintaining a high level of quality and instruction,” said Dr. Patricia (Tish) Jennings, Mindfulness for Teachers author, Associate Professor at the University of Virginia’s Curry School of Education, and Mindful Schools Advisor.

A Mindful Schools Certified Instructor has undergone a minimum of 300 training hours in the Mindful Schools Year-Long Certification program and has been evaluated by Mindful Schools. Certified Instructors have made a significant commitment to the theory and practice of mindfulness in education.

Mindful Schools Certified Instructor Directory:

About Mindful Schools

Mindful Schools is one of the leading organizations in the U.S. integrating mindfulness into education and youth mental health. Mindful Schools has provided online and in-person training to thousands of educators and mental health professionals across all 50 U.S. states and 60 plus countries, impacting approximately 250,000 youth globally to date. For more information, visit

Media Contact

Billy Bicket

Chris McKenna

“Just Breathe” Original Film

This incredible video was filmed and created by one of our Mindful Schools graduates, Julie Bayer Salzman. We’d like you to watch it and then share it with everyone you know. It’s that good.

Artist’s statement:

The inspiration for “Just Breathe” first came about a little over a year ago when I overheard my then 5-year-old son talking with his friend about how emotions affect different regions of the brain, and how to calm down by taking deep breaths — all things they were beginning to learn in Kindergarten at their new school, Citizens of the World Charter School, in Mar Vista, CA. I was surprised and overjoyed to witness first-hand just how significant social-emotional learning in an elementary school curriculum was on these young minds. The following year, I decided to take a 6-week online course on mindfulness through Mindful Schools, figuring that if my son was learning about this, it only made sense that I should learn too. Within the first week, I felt the positive effects of this practice take root not only on my own being but in my relationships with others.

As a filmmaker, I am always interested in finding a subject worthy of filming, and I felt strongly that Mindfulness was a necessary concept to communicate visually. Thankfully my husband, who happens to be my filmmaking partner, agreed. We made “Just Breathe” with our son, his classmates and their family members one Saturday afternoon. The film is entirely unscripted – what the kids say is based purely on their own neuro-scientific understanding of difficult emotions, and how they cope through breathing and meditation. They, in turn, are teaching us all …

– “Just Breathe” by Julie Bayer Salzman & Josh Salzman (Wavecrest Films)

Chris McKenna

Holiday Mindfulness

Below is a short excerpt from this week’s Mindfulness Fundamentals with Guiding Teacher Kevin Griffin, longtime practitioner and addiction-recovery specialist:

One of my favorite movie lines is from Airplane, where Lloyd Bridges says, “Looks like I picked the wrong week to stop sniffing glue.” It’s one in a long line of gags about how difficult it is to change our habits. This week as the pressures of the holidays build, you might find yourself saying, “Looks like l picked the wrong week to practice mindfulness.” What with shopping, cooking, family responsibilities, and socializing, it may seem unmanageable to keep up with your practice. In fact, though, this might be the perfect time to practice. Now is the time when you can really benefit from being present. Can you enjoy the fun part and relax a little around the busy part? Can you breathe and calm yourself when the food is taking too long to cook? Can you let go of control when the kids are going wild, the doorbell is ringing, and you realize you forgot to pick up an extra quart of milk?

Whenever our routine gets shaken up with holidays, our regular healthy behaviors can get disrupted. Sure, you might not have time to sit with your breath as much as you have been; maybe you’ll fall a little behind in the material. But you can always pay attention. I find it really helpful to bring mindfulness to these unusual types of circumstances. I get to notice different feelings, thoughts, and sensations. And I get to see how memories of past holidays affect the present moment in terms of expectations, traditions, and habitual reactions.

I hope you’ll find this to be a rich week for practice. And for those celebrating, Happy Holidays!

~ Kevin Griffin


Chris McKenna

Apply to our Year-Long Certification

We’ve officially launched the application to our 2015-16 Year-Long Certification!

We invite you to join us in this inspired work and bring mindfulness into your community.

A heartfelt thanks to our 2013-14 graduating class who created a scholarship fund to ensure ongoing support of this compassionate community of educators.

Sunset photo credit: 2014 retreat grounds by Patricio Madrigal Cauduro, Year-Long Graduate


Chris McKenna

October Curriculum Training in New York!


Mindful Schools Curriculum Training
October 17 – 19, 2014
New York, New York

“The New York training was beyond words! It has renewed my hope in education.”
~ NY-CT Course Graduate

Learn mindfulness, teach youth. Sign up online or in-person!

Vinny Ferraro, Chris McKenna, and Megan Cowan will be in NYC this October for our last in-person Curriculum Training (CT) this year, and we’d love to see you and your colleagues there!

Learn the basics of mindfulness in education, the neuroscience behind it, and how to implement our research-backed K-12 curriculum with youth.

Our in-person classes fill up on a first-come, first-serve basis and typically have a waiting list.

Register early to reserve your spot!

University Settlement
184 Eldridge Street
Speyer Hall

The instructors for this training are Vinny Ferraro, Chris McKenna, and Megan Cowan. They have over 40 years of combined mindfulness practice and over 30 years of teaching mindfulness and/or emotional intelligence to children and adolescents, as well as experience training many thousands of adults. Their work is featured in documentary films Healthy Habits of Mind and Room to Breathe.

We offer CEUs, scholarships, and group discounts for all courses. Educators can receive up to 3 CEU credits for this course. Click here for more information.

We award diversity and need-based scholarships on a rolling basis. Register early to secure financial assistance.

Mindfulness Fundamentals is the prerequisite to our Curriculum Training Course. Learn more about Mindfulness Fundamentals here or exceptions to this prerequisite here.

Sign up: CT-NY October 2014

Additional questions about our courses? Checkout our training FAQ or email

We look forward to seeing you there!

– The Mindful Schools Team

Chris McKenna

Mindful Schools has a new team member!!

Brensilver-CBAM-Photo-226x300We are thrilled to announce that Matthew Brensilver is now the Course Manager for our online Mindfulness Fundamentals and Mindful Educator Essentials courses. If you’ve taken a course with Matthew as the teacher, this will come as no surprise. His ability to guide and lead mindfulness practice through our online community has been incredible. We’re so lucky to have him on our team.

In one student’s heartfelt words:

I honestly can’t say enough positive things about you, Matthew … You’ve set an impossibly high bar for any other online course I take!! – Mindfulness Fundamentals course graduate

Along with Matthew’s history of exceptional teaching at Mindful Schools over the last year, Matthew Brensilver, PhD, holds a master’s degree in clinical social work and has done psychotherapy with adolescents, adults, and groups. He received a PhD from USC, where his research investigated depression among at-risk youth. Currently, Matthew collaborates on addiction research at the UCLA Center for Behavioral and Addiction Medicine. He also teaches at UCLA’s Mindful Awareness Research Center on the intersection of mindfulness and psychotherapy.

We recently asked Matthew a few questions to formally initiate him onto the team.

How did you come to mindfulness in your own life?

MB: I had a high school friend who practiced mindfulness and I remember thinking, “she knows something I don’t know!” Honestly, it kind of freaked me out, but it made me curious. That was my first encounter. Years later I was living in LA and two roommates were practitioners. One evening after a long day at work, I barreled into the apartment in an unconscious and mindless way, only to find a group of people quietly doing mindfulness practice. I did a little practice and quickly discovered that my attention was all over the place. My mind was like a circus gone wrong! But I just couldn’t look away. I thought to myself: This needs my urgent attention. Have I been living with this? Is this what goes on in consciousness? From there, it felt natural to continue with the practice and my commitment grew steadily.

How have students found the Mindfulness Fundamentals [MF] online course?

MB: There’s a range of how people engage with the MF course. Some people find that it’s really helpful for managing the stress of modern life. A surprising number of people quickly sense the radical potentials of mindfulness practice. People realize both how intense it is to be human and how much we tend to underestimate the capacities of our own hearts. What’s most gratifying is that in just 6 weeks, people develop a sense of settling into the present moment and this opens the possibility of new ways of meeting the experience of our lives.

What are you looking forward to in your role?

MB: There are a lot of people that have not had easy access to clear mindfulness instructions. Although I don’t believe the practice is a panacea, there are a substantial number of people for whom the practice can be transformational – so, the broader dissemination of mindfulness is very promising to me. It is beautiful to witness the dawning of insight that unfolds in each MF class – people understand that it’s possible to be more free than they’ve imagined. It is very touching to witness this. I’ve seen that a lot over the years of teaching, but it’s only become more poignant over time. Part of the promise of Mindful Schools is that it’s an organization being run by people who know the depths of practice and are committed to articulating this in a way that’s consistent with the emerging scientific understanding of flourishing. I’m very happy to be part of the team.

Chris McKenna

How to get started.

20140321_182034_crop21-225x300‘I have to tell you HOW MUCH I am getting out of Mindfulness Fundamentals. I am ashamed that I thought I didn’t need it! It doesn’t matter how long one has practiced meditation. This course is so valuable and offers so much knowledge and practices for dealing with so many things. Your staff was very, very wise to insist that everyone take this course before doing the Year-Long Certification. I have learned so much and I’m still in week 4 of 6. Thank your staff for insisting that I take it!’
– Ellen T., School Counselor, Maryland

Educators like Ellen often come to us wondering how to get started with Mindful Schools.

We currently offer three courses that build the foundation for integrating mindfulness into education. The first course is Mindfulness Fundamentals, the second is our Mindful Educator Essentials, and the third is our Year-Long Certification. The first class in this series, Mindfulness Fundamentals [MF] is a basic course in mindfulness. The other two courses build on that foundation by teaching you how to integrate mindfulness practice with youth.

In the six-week online Mindfulness Fundamentals course, you will learn the basics of mindfulness meditation including work around breath, body, movement, emotions, gratitude, and compassion. We recommend Mindfulness Fundamentals as a starting point for, well, everyone really. If you are interested in integrating mindfulness with youth, it is a prerequisite to our other courses. If you are simply interested in integrating mindfulness into your own practice or life, it is the perfect place to start. In fact, over 97% of our 2014 online MF course graduates and over 98% of our most recent graduating class would recommend this course to a friend! Thanks to you, we keep getting better.

Adults with no mindfulness practice and those with decades of practice both find the MF course extremely valuable and worthwhile. The course introduces a language and vernacular that is used throughout our other courses. We also fundamentally believe that in order to teach mindfulness to youth, you must first practice it yourself in the same way that you must learn and practice math or english in order to teach it to others. Ready to go?

Check out these helpful resources:
Meet our instructors
Frequently asked questions
Course Sign up

What 2014 graduates are saying about this course:

‘This is a very solid foundations course to help establish a Mindfulness practice. I would recommend it to other teachers at my school.’

‘I found the way the course was run was excellent. I enjoyed how the content progresses naturally week to week. The interaction with other people from all over the world was for me very exciting. The resources and printouts are excellent and easy to read. The course has been the start of a new adventure for me as I now have the thirst for more mindfulness study.’

‘I have learned a lot from other participants’ responses and some of the recommendations they’ve made. Hearing other people talk so honestly about what’s going on with them has been a big part of what made this course so special. I would not have thought it could happen in such a short time (or at all), but it did, and not in some cheesy “let’s say what the teacher wants us to say and show everyone how much we know” way. It was super honest. Very special and somewhat unique, I think.’