We 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.