About This Course
Mindfulness means maintaining a moment-by-moment awareness of our thoughts, emotions, bodily sensations, and surrounding environment with openness and curiosity. It has a variety of research-backed impacts, including reduction in stress, and improvements in job satisfaction, emotional regulation, and focus.
The central objective of this course is to introduce you to mindfulness meditation and help you cultivate a personal mindfulness practice. Both beginners and those with significant experience find this course extremely worthwhile.
If you are interested in integrating mindfulness into your work with youth, this course fulfills the prerequisite for our mindfulness curriculum course, Mindful Educator Essentials.
In this six-week online course, you will learn the basics of mindfulness meditation through a series of videos, readings, reflections, and guided mindfulness practices. This course also covers current scientific research on mindfulness and the brain, emotion regulation, and compassion. The course is facilitated by a highly experienced Guiding Teacher who directs the learning process by answering questions, providing ongoing feedback, and synthesizing emerging themes.
Below is an overview of the course content. You may also view a Detailed Course Syllabus here.
- The basics of mindfulness meditation
- How to work with thinking that arises while practicing mindfulness
- Techniques for meeting and navigating intense emotions
- Practices that cultivate positive states of mind like gratitude, kindness, joy & compassion
- The role mindfulness plays in communication and interaction
- Support for developing a daily sitting practice
Upon completing this course:
- Educators can receive up to 3 graduate level credits Details
- Eligible Mental Health Professionals can receive 12 CEUs Details
The course is taught by Megan Cowan, Chris McKenna, and Matthew Brensilver. This team has over 50 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.
Megan Cowan is a co-founder of Mindful Schools and comes to this work with over 15 years of formal and intensive mindfulness training, a background in teaching and education, and a degree from UC Berkeley in Alternative Health. Megan is the primary author of the Mindful Schools Elementary School Curriculum, and created their first Adolescent Curriculum. She has taught more than 3500 youth via Mindful Schools’ in-class direct-service program, trained more than 2000 educators, mental health professionals, and parents in mindfulness practices and applications for youth, and lead our Mindful Educator Essentials domestically and internationally for seven years. In 2012, Megan was featured in “Room To Breathe,” the first feature-length film documentary on the effort to integrate mindfulness training into U.S. public schools.
Chris McKenna has served as Program Director at Mindful Schools and was Executive Director of the Mind Body Awareness Project, a nonprofit that pioneered the development of mindfulness-based interventions for high-risk adolescents with complex trauma. During his tenure, MBA published the first formal research on the impact of mindfulness programming on youth in the U.S. juvenile probation system. In collaboration with Colorado State University, MBA also developed mindfulness training programs that met the specific needs of diverse youth populations, including youth of the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes in Montana, and military youth in Ft. Collins, CO.
Chris has spent over a decade working with diverse communities suffering from high incidents of trauma, including five years with an organization launched out of Amnesty International that provided legal and psychosocial services to victims of torture and war crimes from over 20 countries. He has an eighteen-year history with mindfulness meditation and has taught mindfulness practices to diverse youth & adult populations. He is on the Curriculum Advisory Committee of Dalai Lama Fellows and the Advisory Councils of the Mind Body Awareness Project, Inward Bound Mindfulness Education and Honoring the Path of the Warrior – a project which teaches mindfulness to veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. He holds a degree in Religion & Asian Studies from Columbia University.
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 explanations of psychiatric comorbidity. Currently, Matthew conducts research on addiction treatment 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.
Your Guiding Teachers
All of our Guiding Teachers have over a decade of mindfulness practice and broad teaching experience. Your Guiding Teacher is available to answer questions throughout the course.
Daniel Yoel Cohen
Daniel Yoel Cohen
Daniel Yoel Cohen (Danny) has a deep and abiding passion for practices that help people live with greater intimacy, joy, emotional balance, and connection. His experiences while finishing a degree at the Wharton Business School led him to spend the better part of a decade exploring the inner life, largely through NonViolent Communication and Mindfulness. Danny has benefited from intensive retreat and training with teachers in the United States, Nepal, India, Mexico, and Israel, where he was the founding director of a center for spirituality and meditation. Today he works as a psychotherapist and teaches mindfulness and communication courses and retreats for individuals, groups, and organizations. He is a life-long learner who loves people and teaching.
Devon Cresci has been practicing mindfulness since 1997. She graduated with her Master’s in Social Work from the University of Pennsylvania in 2002. Currently she works part time for Mindful Schools as a Guiding Teacher for their Mindfulness Fundamentals online classes and full time as a Social Worker in a public high school in San Francisco. There, she teaches mindfulness to both students and staff. She is passionate about bringing these practices into SF public schools and has organized district wide trainings for employees who want to bring mindfulness into their work with students. In her summers, she teaches retreats with iBme and has assisted the Young Adult retreat at Spirit Rock Meditation Center. Devon is passionate about sharing the practice of mindfulness and hopes that it may help people find greater peace and happiness.
Kevin Griffin is a longtime practitioner and leader in the mindful recovery movement. He is the author of four books, most recently, Recovering Joy: A Mindful Life After Addiction. Kevin has pioneered this influential approach to addiction treatment that incorporates mindfulness, self-inquiry and reflections. He has extensive teaching experience and offers retreats and workshops nationally.
Eric López-Maya has an extensive background practicing mindfulness and integrating it into different scenarios. He directs REDEA, a leading Institution in Mexico City that offers mindfulness-based interventions for mental health, well-being and stress reduction, both for companies and the general public. He also collaborates with the UCLA Mindful Awareness Research Center as an Assistant Teacher in its Certification Program. He is a clinical psychologist and a PhD candidate in Health Psychology and has led and collaborated in contemplative research projects in Mexico, United States and Germany. He holds a certificate in Mindfulness Facilitation from UCLA and has completed professional training in Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) through the programs offered by the University of Massachusetts Medical School. He thoroughly enjoys assisting others to learn and deepen their mindfulness practice.
Gene Lushtak began meditation practice in 1997 and completed numerous long retreats before moving to Thailand in 2004 to practice intensively. Upon returning to the United States, Gene sought to bring the mindfulness teachings into everyday life. He taught mindfulness in grade schools as part of InnerKids in Los Angeles and has been leading a sitting group in San Francisco for more than ten years. Gene also sees clients as a Somatic Experiencing Practitioner for healing trauma.
Heather is a UCLA certified mindfulness facilitator and Self Compassion teacher. She has had the opportunity to share the practice of mindfulness in California and Chicago and has accumulated over ten years of teaching experience. She began her own formal practice in 1998, completing her first teacher training 5 years later. In 2007, Heather became interested in secular mindfulness and the neuroscience of practice. Soon after, she began training at UCLA’s Mindful Awareness Research Center, eventually completing the Certification in Mindfulness Facilitation and MAPs Teacher Training. Heather teaches throughout the Los Angeles area in many capacities including training PHD interns self compassion at Tarzana Treatment Center and physicians at UCLA hospitals, helping those in recovery at women’s sober homes, and teaching actors to have more joy in their careers through mindfulness practices. Since 2000 Heather has remained committed to training that includes yearly retreats ranging from 14 to 30 days in length. She is honored to be a guiding teacher for Mindful Schools.
Sara Schedler was introduced to mindfulness as an undergraduate at Brown University and has been a dedicated practitioner for almost 20 years. She completed numerous periods of intensive silent meditation retreat, ranging from one to three months. Sara taught mindfulness at the Cambridge Insight Meditation Center for two years and has taught teen mindfulness retreats since 2003. She spent years sharing the Mindful Schools curriculum in public schools with children in grades K-6. She holds a Certificate in Mindfulness Facilitation from UCLA and continues to work at UCLA’s Mindful Awareness Research Center. Prior to dedicating herself full-time to mindfulness, Sara worked in the environmental field on issues of climate change and clean energy.
Cheryl Slean has practiced mindfulness for more than 20 years and is a graduate of UCLA’s Certificate Program in Mindfulness Facilitation. She has taught extensively since 2007, leading numerous sitting groups, class series and retreats at venues nationwide including Against the Stream, Seattle Insight, Santa Monica Hospital, Swedish Hospital, the Hammer Museum, Google, Michael’s House Drug & Alcohol Treatment Center, Refuge Recovery and Insight Community of the Desert, among others. She has collaborated with the healthcare community, participating in research and education on mindfulness and chronic pain, stress relief and substance addiction. Cheryl is also a filmmaker and theater artist and is interested in the intersection of the arts, mindfulness and sustainability.
One of the core principles of the Mindful Schools Community is the concept that a mindful classroom begins with you.
Teaching is a profession and an expression of personal values. Many of you sought careers in education as a means of expressing your appreciation of learning and your aspiration to support the healthy development of youth. When you teach mindfulness to your students, you are not merely a passive vehicle for delivering a curriculum – your own self-care and personal mindfulness practice serves as a model and a guide for your students.
If you do choose to introduce mindfulness to your students, which we hope you will, your own practice will serve as a model in their learning. The second course in our pathway to becoming a mindful educator is Mindful Educator Essentials, which will lead you through strategies and curriculum to teach mindfulness to youth.
More questions? Please visit our FAQ page.