Mindfulness Training

Use the Mindfulness Training Notification of Classes Email Group form to sign up to receive notifications of when classes will occur.

On this page:

What is Mindfulness

Mindfulness meditation is a practice which starts by developing an ability to focus on the breath and the sensations associated with breathing. It soon becomes noticeable that maintaining a steady awareness on the breath for any length of time is difficult to do. Often our attention will wander away from the breath and move to various thoughts, emotions or body sensations. So part of mindfulness practice is to simply cultivate patience and generosity towards this tendency of the mind.

With practice, the mind settles and develops a balanced awareness which allows us to notice the transitory nature of thoughts and emotions. We can investigate with friendly curiosity whatever is encountered during practice whether it is body sensations, thoughts or emotions with a sense of equanimity. This increases calmness through steady concentration, and insight, through reflection. We become less driven by our reactions to the contents of the various modes of mind, less caught up. By developing this ability for self-observation we improve our chances of responding to experience less impulsively and more effectively.

It s not easy to notice what is going on in the mind because it brings us into direct contact with our anxieties, our judgments, and our vulnerabilities. We come to see the often automatic nature of thinking which can take us into worrying about the future or reliving the past. But as we adopt this hospitable and compassionate present moment directed noticing we come to see what approaches are helpful and which cause problems. This does not imply passive resignation, but on the contrary the skill to act wisely and effectively when required.

Grounded more and more in mindfulness the mind is free to respond skillfully to any given situation. When we can rest calmly with our vast array of feelings and thoughts, we are able to live fully and openly, caring for ourselves, and caring for others.

Contemporary mindfulness training originated in 1979 with Jon Kabat-Zinn’s Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) program and was further refined in the 1990’s with Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) by Zindel Segal, Mark Williams, and John Teasdale. MBSR and MBCT have both undergone extensive research to assess effectiveness with many life issues (e.g., stress, chronic pain, anxiety, and numerous other medical issues). MBCT is recommended in England by the national health services as a front line treatment for preventing depression. Multiple randomized controlled trials have shown that MBCT is as effective as antidepressant medication in preventing relapses of major depression.

MBSR and MBCT are the foundation of the Mindfulness Training offered by our instructors. A MBCT workbook serves as the guide for the daily home practices completed throughout the 8-week Mindfulness Training.

The practice of mindfulness meditation trains you to pay attention to the present moment, noting thoughts, feelings and body sensations with an attitude of interest and kindness. This non-reactive stance toward experience creates the possibility of being in life as it is and allows for working more wisely with the challenging aspects of human experience (e.g., emotional difficulties, relational difficulties, impulses, aversion, confusion, rumination, worry…). Learning to calm the mind and work with these challenges is central to acting with wisdom and compassion in the world.

Mindfulness Training: What You Need to Know


Chris Menard, PsyD, and Heidemarie Laurent, PhD direct and supervise the 8-week (20-hour) introductory Mindfulness Training (MT) program as well as the year-long Mindfulness Instructor Training (Psy-546) program for the University of Illinois Psychology Department. MBSR and MBCT are the foundation of the MT course offered by our instructors. The Mindful Way Workbook serves as the guide for participants throughout the 8-week training.

In this 20-hour training, participants meet together as a class (with an instructor) for eight weekly 2-hour classes and a 4-hour Saturday Practice Session (this is typcially held between class #6 and #8. ). The main ‘work’ of the program is done between classes, using MP3s with guided audio meditations that support participants developing practice outside of class. Daily practice with audios ranges from 30 – 50 minutes. In each class, you have an opportunity to discuss the obstacles that inevitably arise as well as the many different experiences that arise while being guided on how to deal with these obstacles and experiences skillfully. Each class is organized around a theme that is further explored in each chapter of the workbook.


Regardless of each person’s motivations for learning mindfulness, one can only expect to see results if they put the time and effort into practice. Practice can sometimes seem boring. Sometimes we become frustrated with our minds busyness. Sometimes we feel too tired. Sometiems we think that we don’t know how to practice mindfulness. Facing these and other obstacles is essential when embarking on a jouney to cultivate mindfulness.

This training approach depends entirely on your willingness to do home practice between class meetings. This home practice will typically include 30 – 40 minutes of daily formal mindfulness practice (e.g., the first two weeks of the course asks participants to lay down daily at a set time for about 35 minutes and listen to a Guided Mindfulness Body Scan Audio that leads them through the practice) and two to ten minutes of informal mindfulness practice (e.g., being attentive to the sensations of brushing teeth, washing dishes, showering, or some other routine daily activity) each day, 6 days a week, for 8 weeks. This includes some brief written exercises. We appreciate how it is often very difficult to carve out that amount of time for something new in lives that are already very busy and crowded. However, the commitment to spend time on home practice is an essential part of the class; if you do not feel able to make that commitment, it would be best not to start the classes and wait till you are able to set 8-weeks aside with some time each day for practice.


The classes and the home practice assignments can teach you how to be more fully aware and present in each moment of life. On one hand, this makes life more interesting, vivid, and fullfilling. On the other hand, this means facing what is present, even when it is unpleasant and difficult. In practice, you will find that turning to face and acknowledge difficulties is the most effective way, in the long run, to reduce unhappiness, to increase one’s capacity to work skillfully with stressful situations, and to prevent depression. Seeing unpleasant feelings, thoughts, or experiences clearly, as they arise, means that you will be in much better shape to “nip them in the bud,” before they progress to more intense or persistent low moods.


Because we will be working to change well-established habits of mind, you will be putting in a lot of time and effort. The effects of this effort may become apparent only later. In many ways, it is much like gardening – we have to prepare the ground, plant the seeds, ensure that they are adequately watered and nourished, and then wait patiently for results. Building a mindfulness practice can also be equated with an exercise regimen, in that only after regular daily work-outs are the health benefits realized.

We ask you to approach the classes and home practice with a spirit of patience and persistence, committing yourself to put time and effort into the practice, while accepting, with patience, that the fruits of your efforts may not show straight away.

Over the eight weeks of the program, the practices help you:

  • To become more present in your physical body as opposed to being lost in thought, stuck in rumination about some past event, day dreaming/fantasizing about some imagened future, or actively avoiding aspects of life.
  • To become familiar with the workings of your mind.
  • To notice the times when you are at risk of getting caught in old habits of mind that re-activate downward mood spirals.
  • To explore ways of releasing yourself from those old habits and, if you choose, enter a different way of being.
  • To put you in touch with a different way of knowing yourself and the world.
  • To notice small beauties and pleasures in the world around you instead of living in your head.
  • To be kind to yourself instead of wishing things (and you) were different all the time.
  • To be kind to yourself as oppossed to being lost in striving and driving yourself to meet impossible goals.
  • To accept yourself as you are, rather than judging yourself.

Sign Up

*Be sure to read the What You Need to Know section above before enrolling in a class.

Mindfulness Training (MT) Classes are offered throughout the year to C-U community members and the U of I staff/faculty/grad student Community.

  • Day/Time options:
    • Eight Tuesdays 12:45 – 2:45pm beginning January 15th, 2019 and one 4-hour Saturday Practice Session March 2, 2019, 9 – 1 or 2 – 6.
    • Eight Wednesdays 6 – 8pm beginning January 16th, 2019 and one 4-hour Saturday Practice Session March 2, 2019, 9 – 1 or 2 – 6pm.
    • Eight Thursdays 6 – 8pm beginning January 17th, 2019 and one 4-hour Saturday Practice Session March 2, 2019, 9 – 1 or 2 – 6pm.
    • Post-Spring Break options below:
    • Eight Wednesdays 6 – 8pm beginning March 27th, 2019 and one 4-hour Saturday Practice Session May 4, 2019, 9 – 1 or 2 – 6pm.
    • Eight Thursdays 6 – 8pm beginning March 28th, 2019 and one 4-hour Saturday Practice Session May 4, 2019, 9 – 1 or 2 – 6pm.
  • Location: Quaker Meetinghouse (1904 E. Main St. Urbana)
  • Fee: $225
  • Send questions to:  CMenard@illinois.edu

**Click here to sign up and pay. Once payment is processed, you will receive a confirmation email.

If the options above don’t work for you or if the classes are full, you can sign up to receive emails for future class dates/times by clicking on this link to enter your email address. In addition, while you wait for a class, do consider purchasing Finding Peace in a Frantic World by Mark Williams to begin reading about and practicing with the mindfulness audios provided in this book.

Note: The Saturday Practice Session is an invitation to step out of the doing-mode of mind and into the being-mode of mind for an extended period.Chairs and cushions will be available. The Practice Session is typically offered for 4 or 8 hours at the Quaker Meetinghouse on a Saturday between class #6 and #7 or between class #7 & #8. While participants are asked to engage in a functional silence for much of the time to facilitate a deepening of their practice, instructors will verbally guide the sitting, walking, and stretching mindfulness exercises. Tea and snacks are provided.

Graduates of the 8-week training are invited to attend Booster classes and Saturday Practice Sessions. Emails will be sent to the graduate email group when these classes are offered.

Email Chris with questions: cmenard@illinois.edu



Fees for 8-week introductory training:

  • Fee is $225 for the 8-week series of classes.
  • UIUC graduate students receive a 50% discount and only pay $112.50
  • No refunds will be given after the first class. Refunds prior to the first class will be assessed a 3% fee on cancelled registrations.
  • If a participant needs to withdraw from the class for any reason, they are welcome to repeat the entire class series within the next two years.
  • If you have any questions, please contact Chris Menard cmenard@illinois.edu.


Directors of Mindfulness Training:

Chris Menard, Psy.D., is a licensed clinical psychologist and co-directs the Psychology Department’s Mindfulness Services and Mindfulness Instructor Training with Heidemarie Laurent, PhD.  Dr. Menard has been teaching Mindfulness Training classes since 2011. He has attended mindfulness instructor training in Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) with Jon Kabat-Zinn & Saki Santorelli. He has also attended instructor training in MBCT with Zindel Segal, advanced MBSR/MBCT instructor training with Susan Woods, Mindfulness Based Relapse Prevention (MBRP) with Sarah Bowen, and Interpersonal Mindfulness instructor training with Phyllis Hicks and Florence Meleo-Meyer. Dr. Menard has also attended Vipassana and Insight Dialogue trainings. Dr. Menard was a board member of the local Mindfulness Teacher Foundation (MTF) from 2013 – 2017, helped develop the training curriculum for the Mindful Teacher Mindful Kids program, and currently supervises MTF instructors. He also teaches Mindfulness Instructor Training courses for the U of I. He has led Mindfulness Training classes since 2011 for UIUC Staff/Faculty/Graduate Students, Champaign-Urbana k – 12 school teachers, University High Laboratory High School students, and for Prairie Center/Rosecrance addiction recovery clients.

Heidemarie Laurent, PhD – See Psychology Department web page at: http://www.psychology.illinois.edu/people/hlaurent

Senior Instructors:
Ellen Ritter, MS, is an advanced Mindfulness Instructor. She has completed the 5-day MBCT Professional Instructor Training with Zindel Segal and Susan Woods and a one year mindfulness training under the supervision of Dr. Chris Menard.She has been teaching mindfulness courses since the winter of 2014 by partnering with local organizations, university studies, and local community groups. Partnerships include volunteering for the Education Justice Project Mindfulness Discussion Group at the Danville Correctional Center, teaching Mindfulness Based Relapse Prevention at the Prairie Center, teaching mindfulness classes at the University of Illinois Disability Resources and Educational Services, teaching mindfulness classes for K-12 teachers through the Mindful Teacher Foundation (www.mindfulteacher.org), and teaching mindfulness classes for veteran caregivers through a University of Illinois grant funded study called VetCareReST. Additionally, she is a co-founder ofthe UIUC Meditation Student Organization that offers University of Illinois students, staff, and faculty access to meditation on campus (msouiuc.weebly.com).

Ryan Santens, MSW, MPH,is an advanced Mindfulness Instructor. He and Dr. Menard co-taught the Clinical Psychology Mindfulness Instructor Training Course in 2013-2014. He has completed the 5-day MBCT Instructor Training with Zindel Segal and Susan Woods, 5-day Advanced MBSR & MBCT Instructor Training with Susan Woods and Patricia Rockman, and Individual MBCT Instructor Training with Mark Lau. He has taught mindfulness courses to a variety of populations across multiple practice settings partnering with university research studies, leadership development organizations and other community based organizations. In addition to teaching mindfulness courses through the PSC, partnerships include teaching mindfulness courses to caregivers of wounded veterans as part of VetCareReST, a grant funded research study through University of Illinois, and Joyful U, a community based non-profit organization.



Mindfulness AUDIO FILES IN UofIBox

Local Meditation Groups:

Prairie Sangha meets Monday nights at the Quaker Meetinghouse at 1904 E. Main St. in Urbana.

Prairie Zen Center

Center for Taiji Studies

Books and guided meditation CDs by Jon Kabat-Zinn can be found at Amazon.com

The Mindful Way through Depression 
by Williams, Teasdale, & Segal

Mindfulness: A Practical Guide to Finding Peace in a Frenetic World by Williams & Penman

The Mindful Way through Anxiety by Orsillo & Roemer

The Mindful Path to Self-Compassion by Germer & Salzburg


Mindful Magazine

UCLA Mindfulness 6-week online class

Spirit Rock

Teachers & Children
Mindfulness Teacher Foundation
PDF Article on mindfulness in schools


Monthly Mindfulness Research Newsletter

Free Mindfulness Training Options for Distress and Trauma (posted 6/18/18)

If you have struggled with depression, anxiety, or distress, and/or have had a traumatic or challenging experience in the past, you may be able to receive free mindfulness training in exchange for participating in a research study. Participating in the study will include diagnostic interviews, surveys, and cognitive testing.

Potential participants must be age 18 and older, and be new to meditation practice.

Participants can earn up to $95 for completing all study components, and many will receive free mindfulness training during study involvement (a $225 value).

For more information, please email sati-psc@illinois.edu


Mindfulness Instructor Training

  • Learn to guide the core mindfulness practices found in secular mindfulness training with a focus on the Finding Peace in a Frantic World (by Mark Williams) curriculum.
  • Learn the essentials of asking questions to investigate meditation experiences.
  • Develop and refine your own practice of embodied mindfulness.
  • Enhance your capacity for applying mindfulness in your personal and professional life.
  • Understand the historical context of contemporary mindfulness approaches.
  • Contribute to bringing mindfulness-skills into emerging 21st century culture.
  • Integrate mindfulness exercises into professional endeavors such as yoga classes, psychotherapy, ministry, and university work.

Target audience

Individuals interested in teaching mindfulness such as healthcare professionals, therapists, yoga instructors, clergy, executive/corporate coaches, educators, and university faculty/staff/grad students interested in bringing mindfulness into the classroom.

Entry Requirements

Applicants should have:

  • Completed an 8-week U of I Mindfulness Training Class or equivalent
  • A minimum of 1-year of regular mindfulness meditation practice

Exceptions concerning these requirements are at the discretion of Christopher Menard.


  • Email the following to Cmenard@illinois.edu
    • Vitae/resume
    • A brief essay of no more than 500 words addressing the following question: How has meditation impacted your life and why do you want to take the course? Also include when you completed the 8-week U of I Mindfulness Training Class and your experience of this class and any other relevant mindfulness classes/trainings.


  • Day/Time: Scheduled based on participant availability
    • Classes in 2018 will begin in early August and run through November
    • 15 classes meet for two hours each
  • Cost: $1000
  • Location: Quaker Meetinghouse (1904 E. Main St. Urbana)
  • Instructor: Christopher Menard, PsyD
  • CEU’s will be available


  • Participants will complete weekly readings.
  • Participants will prepare for each week’s class by practicing leading a meditation at home and then leading the meditation in class to receive feedback.
  • Participants will be open to feedback.
  • Participants will be expected to complete two self-reflection papers that explore your experience & understanding of mindfulness practices, the practice of teaching mindfulness, and class readings.
  • Participants are strongly encouraged to attend a weekend or longer mindfulness retreat to deepen their personal practice. For example, Bhante Sujatha will lead a retreat Friday, October 19, 7:00 p.m – Sunday, October 21, 3:30 p.m. in Wheaton, IL at the Theosophical Society. The cost for this retreat is not included in the course fee.

Note: For those actively involved in teaching mindfulness during or after this course, an optional supervision group is also available.

Note: This course is not the two semester U of I Psy-546 doctoral student mindfulness practicum class.

Email questions to Chris at: Cmenard@illinois.edu







In addition, other training options are below:

UCSD Center for Mindfulness
MBCT Training 

Mindfulness and Addiction Relapse Prevention

While our current Mindfulness and Addiction Relapse Prevention classes occur at Rosecrance Addiction Outpatient and Inpatient settings, we may offer classes at the PSC in the future.  If you are interested, email Dr. Menard at CMenard@illinois.edu and he will add you to a wait-list.

Mindfulness and Depression Prevention

When we have sufficient interest from individuals that have suffered from multiple episodes of depression, we do offer Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy groups to support individuals in preventing future relapse of major depressive episodes. If you are an individual with a history of depression and you are interested in developing a mindfulness practice to prevent future episodes, email Dr. Menard at CMenard@illinois.edu to be added to a wait-list.

Mindfulness for Childbirth and Parenting

Mindfulness-Based Childbirth and Parenting (MBCP) is a unique childbirth education program that teaches expectant parents the life skills of mindfulness for meeting the stress, pain, and fear that are often a normal part of the journey through pregnancy and childbirth. Learning mindfulness skills can benefit both parents and baby by supporting a healthy pregnancy and building the capacity to birth and parent with greater awareness, wisdom, compassion, and joy.

Go to the following web site for information on this class offered by the University of Illinois Psychology Department Mindfulness Instructors in partnership with Carle Hospital midwives: http://mindfulbirthcu.com/

Questions: hlaurent@illinois.edu