Our fall 2021 virtual MBSR course is coming soon!

If you would like to be notified when registration opens, click the NOTIFY ME button. Wait listers will receive advance notice and registration priority for our next MBSR class. 

MNPS is excited to offer another virtual Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) course this fall. Here's how it will work:

  • The course will be live-online. While participants won’t physically be together, they will be together in a virtual environment via Zoom videoconferencing.

  • The course will be led by MBSR co-teachers Bobby Russell and Dr. Martha Shepherd (view their bios below).

  • Attendees will participate in a research study conducted by course instructors associated with the Vanderbilt’s Osher Center to help researchers better understand the benefits of an MBSR course in an educator population.​

Just like our past MBSR classes, this highly participatory, practical course includes:

  • Guided instruction in mindfulness meditation practices

  • Gentle stretching and mindful yoga

  • Group discussions aimed at enhancing awareness in everyday life

  • Daily home assignments


What is mindfulness and MBSR?

Mindfulness is a way of learning to relate directly to whatever is happening in your life, a way of taking charge, a way of doing something for yourself that no one else can do for you — consciously and systematically working with your own stress and the challenges and demands of everyday life.


MBSR is an evidence-based intervention used to increase awareness of your thoughts, body and emotions. MBSR uses meditation and gentle movement to encourage present-moment awareness and deep relaxation.


What are the benefits of mindfulness?

Mindfulness practice can help you heal and cope with many conditions, including:

  • Stress

  • Anxiety

  • Depression

  • Fatigue

  • High blood pressure

  • Gastrointestinal (IBS)

  • Insomnia

  • Chronic pain

  • Headaches

  • Some autoimmune conditions


When is the class?

Registered participants will meet online via Zoom videoconferencing for nine Tuesdays and one Saturday as follows:

Orientation/first class: Thursday, September 14 (5-7:30 p.m.)

Participant one-on-one meetings with course facilitator:  TBD

Eight Thursdays: September 21 – November 16 (5-7:30 p.m.)

Saturday retreat: October 30 (9 a.m.-4:30 p.m.)

Who can attend?

All MNPS employees of all ages are eligible to register. Registrants who meet all course requirements will be accepted on a first come, first served basis until the class is full. You’re encouraged to read and understand the commitments required of the course before registering.


What are course requirements?

To qualify for this course, you must:​

  • Be an active MNPS employee

  • Wish to learn techniques to better manage stress, burnout, anxiety or depression

  • Have not completed a previous MNPS-provided MBSR course

  • Qualify for and be willing to participate in a research study, including completing pre- and post-course surveys

  • Be able to meet the significant time commitments of the course, which include attending class approximately 2.5 hours a week, completing assigned homework and attending an all-day Saturday retreat

How do I register?

Details to come once registration opens. ​

How much does it cost?

The typical cost at the Osher Center is $375; in some parts of the country, this highly popular course costs as much as $800! However, MNPS is offering the course at no cost to those who meet all registration requirements and feel they are able to meet the significant time commitment required of the course. 

Who teaches the course?

Bobby Russell, physical therapist in the MNPS Employee & Family Health Care Centers, will co-teach the course. He received his MBSR teacher qualification through the Mindfulness Center at Brown School of Public Health.

Dr. Martha Shepherd, medical director of the MNPS Employee & Family Health Care Centers, will assist with course instruction. She is a board-certified Family Medicine physician at Vanderbilt. She received her MBSR teacher qualification through the University of Massachusetts Medical School Center for Mindfulness, and is delighted to share this evidence-based practice with the MNPS community.

What else do I need to know?
  • MNPS covers the cost of this course to make it possible for those who might otherwise not be able to attend. Only register if you feel you can meet the significant time commitments of the class.

  • Your registration information, including your statement, is confidential and will not be made public or shared with anyone outside Vanderbilt staff coordinating the course.


Questions about the course? Contact

What do past participants say about the course?


​Virtual MBSR participant and English teacher, Ed Lawless says, “I fit into the ‘doesn’t play well with others’ category...[but] this is a shared experience. Witnessing others go through the enlightening and comforting. I noticed positive effects after the first class. I was able to be more open and honest. Being in my own home and space fostered a level of comfort I seriously would not be able to attain if I was in a classroom or outside setting.”

Other participants say:

  • The course far exceeded my expectations. It opened my mind at to how my body reacts to stresses.

  • I honestly thought I was pretty good at dealing with the often-intense stresses of being an educator. But now I realize I only had one or two tools I was using to cope. Now my toolbox is full.

  • Before the course, I would bury the stress without realizing it – to the detriment of my body and mind. I can now handle the stress in a healthy way.

  • I have gained an overwhelming sense of “I can get through it” - whatever “it” is.

  • If you want to bring more awareness to your life and reduce stress, then take the course.

  • This is a wonderful introduction to mindfulness. Be prepared for a significant time commitment.

  • If you are open to meditation and reducing stress in your life, take it.

  • The time commitment is certainly worth it and it will change your life.

  • You won’t believe how beneficial it will be to your personal and professional life.

Dr. Martha Shepherd

Medical Director | DO, FAAFP

Dr. Shepherd is the medical director for the MNPS Health Care Centers. She is an assistant professor of Clinical Medicine and Pediatrics at Vanderbilt University Medical Center and is board-certified in both Family Medicine and Integrative Medicine. She joined the faculty of Vanderbilt in 2008, after serving as a medical officer in the United States Navy for 12 years.


Dr. Shepherd obtained her medical degree from Kansas City University of Medicine and Biosciences in 2001. Following medical school, she completed an internship at Naval Hospital Jacksonville, residency in Family Medicine at the University of Tennessee, and a fellowship in Integrative Medicine at the University of Arizona.

Dr. Shepherd’s interests include population health, employer health, and leveraging technology to enhance the patient and provider experience. Her work stresses the importance of effective health communication and including patients in their care plan through the use of shared decision-making tools and evidence-based clinical care paths. She is qualified to teach Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) through the University of Massachusetts Medical School. In her free time, she enjoys spending time outdoors, reading and traveling. 

Bobby Russell

Physical Therapist  | DPT

Bobby Russell is a board-certified clinical specialist in orthopaedics and is extensively trained in a broad array of conditions that can present in a physical therapy clinic. Bobby earned his bachelor’s degree in exercise science, physical education and wellness from Tennessee Tech University. He attended the University of Tennessee Health Science Center, where he earned a doctor of physical therapy. He completed a two-year residency with Benchmark Rehab Institute and began fellowship training in manual physical therapy through Bellin College. He is an active member of the American Physical Therapy Association (APTA), American Academy of Manual Physical Therapists (AAOMPT) and Tennessee Physical Therapy Association (TPTA).

Physical fitness and health are paramount for Bobby. He’s always been fascinated by the resiliency of the human body and its ability to heal under the right circumstances. He believes a holistic approach to health care truly is the most effective and efficient way to lead a healthy and meaningful life. Outside of work, Bobby enjoys barbequing/grilling and following sports, most notably UT, the NFL and the NBA.