What is Mindfulness?
Mindfulness is a quality of alert, open awareness. In contrast to a multitasking mind, mindfulness is a state of mind that has the ability to pay attention in a particular way, on purpose, in the present moment.
Mindfulness meditation is one of a variety of meditation practices that trains the mind through a conscious and deliberate focus on the breath, a bodily sensation, a sound or a word. Meditation steadies the mind so we can see with greater clarity how things actually are.
Benefits of meditation include increases in concentration, productivity, physical and psychological resilience and the ability to respond skillfully to stressful situations. Meditation is also effective in decreasing depression, physical pain, emotional reactivity, and the reliance on unhealthy coping behaviors.
Mindfulness at Work
Mindfulness at Work is a series of courses and programs that range from one-hour introductions to in-depth, multi-week long courses and from topic-focused sessions to managers-only programs. Available for free to benefits-eligible faculty and staff, these courses and programs are designed to bring the benefits of mindfulness to people in all corners of the university.
Mindfulness at Work Programs
Mindfulness at Work is a series of courses and programs that range from one-hour introductions to in-depth, multi-week courses to topic-focused sessions to managers-only programs. Descriptions of offerings can be found below. Please note the following:
- Eligibility: All courses and programs are open only to benefits-eligible faculty and staff, unless otherwise specified.
- Cost: All courses and programs are free of charge to benefit eligible staff and faculty members.
- Audience: Some programs are aimed at particular segments of the Harvard population (such as managers).
- Prerequisites: No experience with mindfulness is required unless otherwise specified. Some courses and program are designed to deepen participants’ knowledge and therefore require some previous practice.
- Frequency and Duration: Some programs are 60- or 90-minute one-time offerings and others are multi-week courses.
- Location: Sessions are generally held in Cambridge at 114 Mt. Auburn Street. Some will be available via WebEx.
- Registration: Registration is via the Harvard Training Portal. Links to individual course registration pages are found within the Work/Life Program Calendar.
- Cancellation Fee: None. Please help us with class size planning and waitlist management by dropping the course if you find you are unable to attend.
Top organizations recognize that leaders who cultivate mindfulness display more empathy, resilience, and effectiveness. Accordingly, such leaders build teams that deliver significantly better business results. Incorporating the qualities of self- observation, and self-adjustment, mindfulness equips present and future leaders with the skills necessary to negotiate complex challenges with focus, clarity, creativity, and perspective. Objectives of the program: Apply principles of mindfulness to increase the capacity to engage and enable others; Navigate stressful situations skillfully instead of being derailed by them; Engage mindfulness practices as a way to enhance personal well-being while simultaneously boosting professional performance; Identify personal patterns that both derail and support leadership qualities. Location: 114 Mt. Auburn St; Audience: Managers grade 56 and above; Pre-Requisite: None; Length: 6 hours. Click here for dates, times and a link to register for the course.
Mindfulness and Emotional Intelligence
Success at work and fulfillment in life may be enhanced when we naturally tap into our emotional intelligence: the ability to monitor one’s own feelings and those of others, and to allow this knowledge to guide our speech and actions. Self-awareness, the ability to recognize and work with difficult emotions, and the cultivation of empathy for others are all skills critical for high performance in life’s various arenas. The good news is that we have the capacity to train the mind to engage in ways that are more patient, alert, and productive. This session will present a brief introduction to mindfulness, demonstrate how awareness supports the development of emotional intelligence, and involve participants in mindfulness meditation exercises which support the cultivation of these important skills. Location: 114 Mt. Auburn St; Audience: All; Pre-Requisite: None; Length: 90 minutes. Click here for dates, times and a link to register for the course.
Mindfulness Retreat for Experienced Practitioners - Full-day
Individuals who have established a regular meditation practice recognize that having the opportunity to practice for a sustained period of time, in a location generally removed from distractions, and with other like-minded individuals, is essential to deepening one’s practice and understanding of mindfulness. Modeled after programs offered at established retreat centers such as the Insight Meditation Society in Massachusetts, our half-day retreats offer participants sustained periods of practice in a variety of meditation styles, such as the body scan; sitting and walking meditation; gentle yoga; and compassion-based practices. During the majority of the retreat, participants will be asked to practice in silence, and not interact with one another, so as to maintain each participant’s ability to focus on their own experience. The instructor, however, will offer guidance throughout, and will also reserve ample time at the end of the program to field questions. While it is recommended that only experienced practitioners attend these retreats, we will begin with a refresher on mindfulness in general, so that everyone begins with a shared orientation. Participants do not need to wear special clothing but should dress comfortably. If participants have personal “equipment” which they like to use at home – e.g., meditation cushions or benches – they are encouraged to bring it. While no “floor yoga” guidance will be provided, participants should feel free to bring in a yoga mat for their own comfort. Location: 114 Mt. Auburn St.; Audience: Experienced practitioners; Pre-Requisite: Some mindfulness training; Length: 6 hours. Click here for dates, times and a link to register for the course.
Mindful Movement: Yoga for the Office
As every office worker knows, sitting for long periods can result in stiffness and discomfort. The gentle stretches and postures taught in this program are designed to increase flexibility at the joints – thereby improving one’s range of motion – and also aid in relaxing the hips and lower portions of the body to increase one’s ability to sit with ease. Because this practice blends movement in the body with the breath, it is an ideal extension of mindfulness practice. All of these sessions will be conducted live and via Zoom enabling participation from anywhere! No previous knowledge of yoga is necessary. This class does not require special clothing or equipment. Location: 114 Mt. Auburn St; Audience: All; Pre-Requisite: None; Length: 60 minutes. Click here for dates, times and a link to register for the course.
Bringing mindful attention to our skills as parents increases our capacity to form strong bonds with all the members of the family. This is because the practice of mindfulness cultivates the conditions of openness and receptivity in which communication and emotional connection naturally flourish. In this workshop, participants will learn about becoming more mindful people as well as more mindful parents, able to navigate the inevitable waves of joy and frustration that accompany every parent’s experience with a greater sense of ease. Classes focusing on age groups 0-10 and 11-18 will be held seperately. These sessions will be conducted live and via Zoom enabling participation from anywhere! Location: 114 Mt. Auburn St.; Audience: All; Pre-Requisite: None; Length: 90 minutes. Click here for dates, times and a link to register for the course.
Mindful Strategies for Cyber Safety
Have you ever had the sinking feeling that you may have been hacked after clicking on a suspicious link in an email? Applying mindfulness can help protect you—and Harvard—from clicking impulsively on links in phishing emails. Come learn about the state of mind that’s most easily exploited by hackers and how mindfulness can help you defend against it. Through cyber safety tips and brief meditation practices, participants will learn simple techniques to help manage the distractions and potential threats that creep into their day-to-day work – and to regulate their state of mind to remain focused, creative and resilient for the long run. Location: Longwood, Countway Library; Audience: All; Pre-Requisite: None; Length: 90 minutes. Click here for dates, times and a link to register for the course.
Introduction to Mindfulness: How the Science and Practice of Awareness Supports Well-Being and Performance
This program introduces the basic principles and practices of mindfulness, a concentrated state of awareness that helps people see and respond to situations with clarity. Individuals and groups who regularly employ the techniques of mindfulness in their work are able to monitor moment-to-moment effectiveness, respond promptly and appropriately to difficulties as they arise, and remain open to new ideas and perspectives. Participants will be introduced to meditation practices that will teach them how to be more focused, creative and resilient in all aspects of their lives. These sessions will be conducted live and via Zoom enabling participation from anywhere! Location: 114 Mt. Auburn St.; Audience: All; Pre-Requisite: None; Length: 60 minutes. Click here for dates, times and a link to register for the course.
How often do we go to the market and end up purchasing groceries we didn’t intend to purchase? Plan to eat healthfully but find that we did not? Look in our refrigerator for a snack to meet an emotional need? Avoid food altogether for any number of reasons? Completely miss the taste and nourishment of a special meal because distracting thoughts carried us away from the moment? These all-too-common experiences happen to us when we feel distanced from our bodies, our thoughts, and our emotions.
This session delves into how a consistent practice of mindfulness can help participants close those gaps, and further manage the unconscious, reactive habits that can build up around food. As a result, participants will learn to become more aware of when they are truly hungry, when they are not, and when they are sated. Participants will learn to better appreciate all aspects of their relationship with food, from purchasing to consuming, and from nourishing themselves to connecting with others. Location: 114 Mt. Auburn St.; Audience: All; Pre-Requisite: None; Length: 90 minutes. Click here for dates, times and a link to register for the course.
Mindful Communication: Speaking and Listening with Awareness
Daily conversations can become automatic, pressured, and careless. With the right mindset, however, even ordinary interactions can become rich territory for effectively expressing our deepest values. This program demonstrates how conversation provides an opportunity to practice a special kind of attentiveness, transforming our encounters with colleagues into meaningful moments of genuine exchange. Location: 114 Mt. Auburn St.; Audience: All; Pre-Requisite: None; Length: 90 minutes. Click here for dates, times and a link to register for the course.
Mindfulness and Anxiety
Occasional anxiety is a natural human experience, but for many people anxiety can become a source of ongoing distress, capable of interfering with everyday life. Efforts to avoid anxiety may involve distraction or avoidance, but these efforts provide only temporary relief. Mindfulness, on the other hand, offers a pathway to meet the experience of anxiety, and in doing so, restore valued activity, rather than allowing ourselves to be dominated by fear and avoidance. This free workshop will introduce the use of mindfulness as a way to understand and respond to the experience of anxiety. Location: 114 Mt. Auburn St.; Audience: All; Pre-Requisite: None; Length: 90 minutes. Click here for dates, times and a link to register for the course.
Mindfulness and Compassion
Compassion is sometime described as the state of “suffering together”, but what does it mean to suffer productively, without becoming overwhelmed or burned out by the needs of others…and ourselves? Mindfulness practice is focused on observing internal and external experience with a heightened sense of clarity, and is an essential element in preparing the heart and intellect to navigate the demands of compassion in sincere and effective ways. In this workshop, we will explore compassion as it is regarded in the mindfulness tradition, as a “quivering of the heart in the face of suffering,” and study how this prepares us to lend support to ourselves and those around us.
Location: 114 Mt. Auburn St.; Audience: All; Pre-Requisite: None; Length: 90 minutes.Click here for dates, times and a link to register for the course.
This multi-session course will provide participants with the opportunity to learn about mindfulness and build their own personal practices using a combination of live and app-based supports.
The app is 10% Happier, a best-in-class program hosted by Dan Harris, a best-selling author, ABC news personality and self-described “fidgety skeptic,” alongside Joseph Goldstein, one of the most renowned meditation teachers in the world. Live instruction is provided by teachers from Harvard Pilgrim Health Care’s Mind the Moment mindfulness program, which has been training individuals to incorporate mindfulness into their personal and professional lives for over 10 years.
The course is built around three, one-hour, in-person sessions featuring a Mind the Moment instructor. Between these in-person sessions, participants will complete the fourteen-part 10% Happier series on their mobile devices. A mindfulness coach will also be available to participants by text or by phone, to answer additional questions that may arise between the in-person sessions.
This course will have special appeal for individuals or groups who prefer a more self-directed approach to learning, and who may require more flexibility in terms of the amount of time they are able to commit. Additionally, those who have studied mindfulness in the past but whose practices have lapsed – or who are simply looking for a new take on the material – will find this course to be an attractive option. Includes unlimited access to the 10% Happier app for a four-month period. Location: 114 Mt. Auburn St.; Audience: All; Pre-Requisite: None; Length: 3 hours, 3 weeks. All participants must be able to commit to attending all of the sessions. Click here for dates, times and a link to register for the course.
Mindfulness and Meditation Resources Available at the University
- Harvard’s Center for Wellness and Health Promotion offers classes and workshops on meditation, yoga and more.
- The Serenity Room offers drop-in meditation sessions open to members of the Harvard community
- Guided Meditation Line, 4-CALM. This Harvard telephone line (617-384-2256) provides three- and four-minute guided meditations for you to access anytime, anywhere.
- Cambridge Health Alliance Monthly Mindfulness and Compassion Lecture Series: https://www.chacmc.org/monthly-lecture-series