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 to topic-focused sessions to managers-only programs. Available 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.

Winter/Spring 2018, Mindfulness at Work Programs:

Click on the program title, below, for more information and for a link to register for the class through the Harvard Training Portal.

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 who 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. Audience: Beginners – all, Pre-Requisite: None, Length: 60 minutes

Dates: 1/22/2018 @ 10:00 AM - Register
           4/3/2018 @10:00 AM - Register
           6/6/2018 @10:00 AM - Register
Location: 114 Mt Auburn Street, 4th floor Conference room 406

Managing Daily Stresses: A Mindful Approach to Work

Everyone experiences stressful days at work, but how we respond to stress makes a significant difference in work performance, the quality of our interactions, and how we feel both physically and mentally. In this program, participants are taught to recognize the early signs of stress as well as the sources of stress. In addition, they will learn how regular mindfulness practice can enable them to respond to stressful situations in a calm, clear, and thoughtful manner. Audience: All, Pre-Requisite: None, Length: 90 minutes

Dates: 2/5/2018 @ 10:30 AM - Register 
           4/10/2018 @ 9:00 AM -
Location: 114 Mt Auburn Street, 4th floor Conference room 406

Mindful Communication: Speaking and Listening with Awareness

The conversations we engage in daily 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. Audience: All, Pre-Requisite: None, Length: 90 minutes

Dates: 2/12/2018 @ 10:30 AM - Register
           4/25/2018 @ 10:30 AM - Register
Location: 114 Mt Auburn Street, 4th floor Conference room 406

Mindfulness and Anxiety

To feel occasional anxiety is a natural human experience, but for many anxiety can become a source of ongoing distress, capable of interfering with everyday life. Many of our efforts to avoid anxiety may involve distracting ourselves from it, or pushing it away, but this provides 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 workshop will introduce the use of mindfulness as a way to understand and respond to the experience of anxiety. Audience: All, Pre-Requisite: None, Length: 90 minutes

Dates: 2/27/2018 @ 10:30 AM - Register
           5/01/2018 @ 10:30 AM - Register
Location: 114 Mt Auburn Street, 4th floor Conference room 406

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 burnt out in the face of 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 furthermore study how this prepares us to lend support to ourselves and those around us. Audience: All, Pre-Requisite: None, Length: 90 minutes

Dates: 3/01/2018 @ 11:00 AM - Register 
           5/09/2018 @ 1:00 PM -
Location: 114 Mt Auburn Street, 4th floor Conference room 406

Exploring the Practice of Mindfulness

This multi-week course offers close study in a variety of mindfulness-based topics, including basic practices like the body scan and sitting meditation, as well as walking meditation, gentle stretching, and mindful communication. The physiology of the stress response is examined, especially in relation to the ways mindfulness practice enables individuals to become aware of and mediate their reactions to stressful situations. By the time the course ends, participants will feel prepared to practically integrate a variety of mindfulness practices into their daily lives, thanks to both in-class instruction and resources for continuing study to which they will be directed.

While individuals who have taken mindfulness classes in the past are most likely to be interested in committing to a multi-week course, this course is open to anyone who is interested, regardless of previous knowledge of mindfulness. The basic concepts of mindfulness practice are always included, as these concepts are valuable both for newcomers and also as a refresher for seasoned practitioners. All participants must be able to commit to attending all the sessions. Audience: All, Pre-Requisite: None, Length: 7 hours, 6 weeks (1st & 6th sessions, 90 minutes; 2nd-5th sessions, 60 minutes).

Dates: May 15 through June 19, 2018 - Register
           Session #1 & #6: 10:30 – 12:00 PM, Sessions #2-5 11:00 -12:00 PM

Location: 114 Mt Auburn Street, 4th floor Conference room 406

10% Happier

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 best-selling author, ABC news personality, and self-described “fidgety skeptic” Dan Harris, alongside Joseph Goldstein, one of the most renowned meditation teachers in the world. Live instruction is provided by teachers from Harvard Pilgrim’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 a course to be an attractive option. Includes unlimited access to the 10% Happier app for a four-month period. All participants must be able to commit to attending all the sessions. Audience: All, Pre-Requisite: None, Length: 3 hours, 3 weeks, Participation Maximum: 25

Dates: May 9, 16 & 30, 2018 @10:00 AM - Register
Location: 114 Mt Auburn Street, 4th floor Conference room 406


This is a unique training opportunity designed to teach techniques of mindfulness to managers (grade 56 and above) for use in their daily work. This eight-week, classroom-based program provides mobile tools, guided meditations, small group support and weekly reminders to participants as they learn to practice meditation and other techniques to enhance focus, collaboration, and effectiveness. Pre- and post- attentional assessments, app-generated metrics and personalized reports will demonstrate participants’ progress and the impact of the program as a whole.

Participants will attend weekly classroom sessions. In addition, participants should plan for 10 minutes a day of meditation practice. Participants will be assigned weekly theme-based applications of mindfulness activities to use in the workplace as real-life situations emerge naturally throughout the day. At the first and final sessions, individual attention and more will be measured using validated instruments, which will generate a confidential personalized report. All participants must be able to commit to attending all the sessions. Audience: Managers grade 56 and above, Pre-Requisite: Any one of the Mindfulness programs offered, or a current practitioner of Mindfulness, Length: 13 hours, 8 weeks (1st & 8th, 2 hours; 2nd-5th, 90 minutes) Participation Maximum: 25

Dates: February 28 through April 26, 2018 - Register 
           Session #1 & #8: 9:30 – 12:00 PM, Sessions #2-7 10:30 -12:00 PM
Location: 114 Mt Auburn Street, 4th floor Conference room 406

Mindfulness in the Harvard Community

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.

Mindfulness Resources from Harvard Health Publishing and Other University Sources: