Free Community Drop-in Mindfulness Sessions


Thank you for your interest in our MBSR course! Our virtual summer class is over, but we plan to offer another class starting in January. If you would like to be notified when class details are available, click the NOTIFY ME button.

MNPS is excited to offer another Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) course this summer – with several exciting twists:

  • 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 Erin Woo, Assistant Director of Mindfulness in Education at the prestigious Mindfulness Center at Brown University. Erin specializes in designing and leading mindfulness programs for educators (view her bio below).

  • Attendees will participate in pilot research study conducted by Vanderbilt’s Osher Center for Integrative Medicine to help researchers better understand the mechanisms by which mindfulness works and how best to support teachers.

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 Thursdays and one Saturday as follows:

Orientation/first class: Thursday, June 18 (5:30-8 p.m.)

Participant one-on-one meetings with course facilitator:  Thursday,  June 25 (5:30-8 p.m.)

Eight Thursdays:  July 2 - August 20 (5:30-8 p.m.)

Saturday retreat:  August 1 (9 a.m.-4 p.m.)


It's always challenging to select perfect timing for our classes and work around snow days, holidays, vacations, etc. We realize this class overlaps with the start of school, but it's a unique opportunity to learn from an instructor from the Mindfulness Center at Brown University who specializes in leading mindfulness courses for educators. We hope the evening hours will help offset any inconvenience.

Who can attend?

All MNPS employees 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 (limit: 40 participants). You’re encouraged to read and understand the commitments required of the course (detailed below) before registering.


What are course requirements?

To qualify for this course, you must:

  • Have moderate to high levels of stress

  • Have not completed a previous MNPS-provided MBSR course

  • Qualify for and be willing to participate in a research study, and complete the pre- and post-course research surveys (described below)

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

  • Have access to a PC to complete pre- and post-course surveys on 3 separate occasions (you can participate in Zoom classes on a Mac, but you must use a PC for the research surveys)*

If, after completing the two-step registration process (described below) you either don't qualify for the course or we reach our class capacity, your name will be put on a wait list and you'll have priority to register for a future class.

* Unfortunately, the research portion of the course cannot support Apple/Mac at this time. However, we will make every effort to have a PC available at either the Bransford Central Office or Employee Wellness Center for those who need one to complete the surveys (in mid-June, late August and late October). You can indicate this when you register.

How do I register?

There is a two-part registration process; you must complete both parts: 

  1. Click here to complete an online form and submit a well-thought-out statement about why you want to attend and why you think MBSR might benefit you (150-300 words). 

  2. Once you complete step 1, you'll be directed to another website to complete a pre-screening survey; once you complete both steps, a study coordinator will follow up with a phone call or email to let you know if you've been accepted and provide more information. 


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, through this special collaboration with Vanderbilt and Brown University, 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?

Erin Woo, M.Ed. and Assistant Director of Mindfulness in Education at the Mindfulness Center at Brown University, will lead the course. Erin specializes in designing and leading mindfulness programs for educators, teaches MBSR and is an MBSR Teacher Trainer. Erin is also a Guiding Teacher at Mindful Schools where she leads week-long retreats and teaches in the year-long certification program. In her work with educators, she collaborates with schools and school districts to design and offer programs that meet their specific needs. She works with teachers and schools to use mindfulness to transform the teaching experience in a way that teachers feel increased connection with their students, more clarity and vitality in their lessons, increased well-being, and a sense of presence. This embodied way of teaching spreads beyond the teaching of mindfulness into all areas of teaching. She draws upon her experience as a classroom teacher and director of White Pine Montessori School, the school she founded in 2005, as well as her experience in teaching mindfulness to students in elementary, middle and high schools throughout the region. Her own mindfulness practice has been foundational in both her work and in all aspects of her life.


How is the research study conducted?

During the course, Vanderbilt will simultaneously conduct a research study investigating how participation in an MBSR course and practicing mindfulness can impact health outcomes. Researchers will use study results to optimize mindfulness-based programs to benefit people with moderate to high levels of perceived stress.


When you register and qualify for the course, you agree to participate in the research study. This will involve an additional time commitment of approximately 40 minutes to complete online psychological surveys before and after the course. Additionally, as part of our quality improvement efforts for the research, online class sessions will be recorded. The primary focus of these videos will be on your teacher’s instruction. Nothing you say or do during these sessions will be an explicit focus for evaluation. The video will be edited to only include video/audio of your instructor to avoid archiving any of your personal information. If you complete the study, including taking all pre- and post-course surveys, you will earn a gift card of $70.


If you do not feel comfortable participating in the research study, you may opt out of this course and choose to participate in the same course at another time when no research is being conducted and no video is used. The principal investigator will attend the orientation session to answer any questions you have about the study. Or you can contact study coordinator Emily Mohr at with any questions or concerns.

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 and Brown staff coordinating the course.


Questions about the course? Email Erin Woo at

Questions about the research study? Contact Emily Mohr at or 615–875-4268.

What do past participants say about the course?
  • I feel calmer in my daily life and am able to ride the waves of chaos that comes in a typical day at school.

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

  • This course has changed my personal and professional life for the better. I regularly teach my students mindfulness exercises.

  • I am able to step back when I am overwhelmed and reassess myself.

  • 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.

  • Take The Course!

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

  • I have already been saying, “Do it! You will be glad you did.” It has given me many tools to manage life.

  • 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.

  • Do it. Stick with it. Your life will thank you.


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