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)

Randima Fernando

Welcoming a New Year

All of us at Mindful Schools hope that your 2015 is off to a spectacular start!

As the year begins, interest in secular mindfulness has grown to an all-time high – with coverage in Time Magazine, 60 Minutes, countless contemporary books, and new research released almost every day, mindfulness has truly made it into the mainstream.

The notion that mindfulness is getting so much exposure is wonderful for all of us, whether we are practicing it personally or applying it in fields like education, health care, therapy, and so many others. If we pay close attention to the fidelity with which mindfulness is taught and represented, it has the potential to profoundly transform the way people of all ages and backgrounds relate to themselves, to others, and to the challenges and opportunities of being human.

For Mindful Schools, the essence of the Mindfulness in Education movement is transformation from the inside out. This organic, bottom-up approach is quite different from the typical education movement where an intervention is designed and implemented from the top down via policy, testing, or fiscal pressures. Educators have seen such interventions come and go numerous times, and they need an approach that genuinely puts their needs first. Our philosophy is to meet educators where they are – to start by aiding them with their own stress, well-being, and job satisfaction, and then offering the option to learn how to use mindfulness in their work with youth if they are moved to do so.

Our goal is to create a widespread, well-trained, and peer-supported network of mindful educators who are passionate about mindfulness because of their personal experience with it. We believe that these “early adopters” who lead the movement will inspire people around them to learn more – and we are thrilled that this is exactly what we have been seeing in our course enrollments. What began as individual registrations years ago has now grown to larger groups and entire schools driven by genuine interest in mindfulness rather than mandated policy – all as a result of the passion and dedication of our amazing community of graduates.

We are deeply grateful to all of you who have walked this path with us, whether you’ve taken our courses, supported us financially, advised us, volunteered, introduced funders, or assisted in any other way. All your actions, large or small, make a difference: conversing with your colleagues over lunch, commenting and sharing on social media, participating in course forums, or trying new mindfulness ideas with youth.

We thank you for all the innumerable ways that you’ve made it possible for thousands of educators and countless youth around the world to share the precious gift of mindfulness.

Our entire team wishes you the very best in happiness, health, and success in all that is truly important to you in 2015 and beyond. We have some very special announcements coming in the next few months, and we eagerly look forward to continuing this journey together with you.


Sincerely yours,

our-organization-randima-fernandoRandima (Randy) Fernando
Executive Director
Mindful Schools

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

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

Chris McKenna, ‘Taking Tension Out of Attention’

‘Thanks to computers, smartphones, television, and other technology, our senses are extremely busy. The more our bodies strain to pay attention, the more our minds space-out. Chris McKenna suggests ways to help us go from tense and strained to relaxed and focused.’

Read about (and practice!) three powerful, attention-honing tools from Chris McKenna, one of our Program Directors, in this month’s Mindful Magazine.

Mindful Magazine: ‘Taking Tension Out of Attention’ (June 2014)


Chris McKenna

Senior Trainer Vinny Ferraro Speaking on Love

Image courtesy of Terrizzi, Year-Long Certification
Image courtesy of Terrizzi, Year-Long Certification

Senior Trainer Vinny Ferraro gave a beautiful talk Tuesday night as a guest speaker for James Baraz’s lecture series, Awakening Joy.

James, a leading teacher in the field, defines mindfulness as ‘simply being aware of what is happening right now without wishing it were different; enjoying the pleasant without holding on when it changes (which it will); being with the unpleasant without fearing it will always be this way (which it won’t).”

He writes about Mindful Schools in his best seller, Awakening Joy:

Vinny spoke specifically about ‘What gets in the way of love?’ He moved a crowd of several hundred adults and caregivers with another 1,000 or so tuning in online.

He spoke of wisdom from many of the greats – Twain, Hesse, Merton – but woven together in some of his own words:

I want to welcome all of you. This practice is a radical invitation to the whole of us.

On ‘not withholding love from myself, till I act right.’ This kind of emotional extortion has never made people act right, it’s just not an effective strategy. No one has ever hated themselves into becoming a better person. This inclination we have which sounds like “if only” takes us out of the present moment, which is the only place freedom is actually possible.

Don’t postpone arriving. It’s hard because we were conditioned to always think some other moment is going to contain what this one doesn’t. ‘All you need is already within you, only you must approach your self with reverence and love. Self-condemnation and self-distrust are grievous errors. Your constant flight from pain and search for pleasure is a sign of love you bear for your self, all I plead with you is this: make love of your self perfect. Deny yourself nothing — glue your self infinity and eternity and discover that you do not need them; you are beyond.’ (Nisargadatta Maharaj)

We make love of ourselves perfect, not ourselves perfect; this is an important distinction. I don’t know about you, but when I look back on my life, the moments I needed love the most, were the times when I felt the most unlovable. So what if you cared for yourself, like you take care of the ones you love? Like that, just loving them, even when/if they’re grouchy, sensitive, uptight, tired. Because it’s easy to love somebody when they’re being lovable, that ain’t love, that’s common sense.

When we love what’s hard to love, that’s what makes you a great lover. ‘Loving yourself…does not mean being self-absorbed or narcissistic, or disregarding others. Rather it means welcoming yourself as the most honored guest in your own heart, a guest worthy of respect, a lovable companion.’ (Margo Anand)

Vinny will be teaching in person at our upcoming Mindful Schools retreat in Petaluma (May 2-4) and ongoing through our online courses and trainings.

We’ll meet you there.

More about Vinny:
Vinny Ferraro is a long-time mindfulness practitioner and instructor and a nationally recognized leader in designing and implementing interventions for at-risk adolescents. The child of an incarcerated father, Vinny spent the majority of his teenage life hustling and living on the streets. In 1987, after recovering from drug addiction, he began leading youth groups in drug rehabilitation centers, juvenile halls, schools and halfway houses … [Read more]

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