Oasis Institute Teacher Training Path – in Depth

Phase 1: First Steps

Participation in Oasis Institute teacher training programs, requires the following prerequisites:

  • Completion of an eight-week MBSR course as a participant.* As a prerequisite to taking part in Oasis Institute foundational study and training programs, we ask that you attend a full eight-week MBSR course as a participant rather than as a professional trainee. This will give you an opportunity to experience MBSR classes directly, understand what it means to be an MBSR program participant, know the context within which MBSR teaching takes place, and learn from other class participants.
    You may take the MBSR program at the Center for Mindfulness in Shrewsbury, MA, or click HERE to find the nearest MBSR program. (Please note that the Center for Mindfulness does not endorse or vouch for these programs.)
    *Note: If you do not have a live 8 Week MBSR class in your area, participation in the MBSR Online course offered through Sounds True and Mindfulness Tools: a 5 day Residential Intensive Program, fulfills this prerequisite. If you are choosing this option and intend on applying for the 9 Day Practicum in MBSR, you must take Mindfulness Tools as a stand-alone course first. The embedded Mindfulness Tools portion of the 9 Day Practicum in MBSR does not count toward this prerequisite
  • Participation in at least one mindfulness meditation retreat. Teaching MBSR is a direct outcome of your experience and understanding of mindfulness meditation practice. Therefore, to begin foundational study and training, you must complete one or more 5-10 day, silent, teacher-led mindfulness meditation retreats. Click HERE for more information on the retreat requirement.

Phase 2: Next Steps: Foundational Study And Training

Oasis Institute foundational study and training consists of three principal courses – Practicum in MBSR, MBSR in Mind-Body Medicine, and Teacher Development Intensive (TDI) – supplemented by other essential study. To begin the process, you may take either the Practicum in MBSR or MBSR in Mind-Body Medicine. After completing the Practicum in MBSR, you are encouraged to begin preliminary teaching based on elements of the MBSR curriculum.  After the successful completion of the TDI you will have the minimum qualifications to begin teaching complete MBSR courses.

Full participation in Oasis Institute foundational study and training includes the following:

  • Practicum in Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction.  This training program allows you to immerse yourself in the Center for Mindfulness approach to the Stress Reduction Program, explore issues and questions arising out of the experience and principles of the MBSR program, guide formal and informal mindfulness practice, and study the MBSR curriculum and contextual background. There are two versions of the Practicum: An Eight-week Practicum, which includes participation in the eight-week MBSR course as a participant-practitioner, plus eight weekly seminar classes (the seminar class is held on the same day as the MBSR class); and a Nine-day Practicum, a five-day residential MBSR training followed by a four-day residential seminar. Click HERE for more information.
  • Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction in Mind-Body Medicine: A 7-Day Residential Training with Jon Kabat-Zinn, PhD, and Saki Santorelli, EdD, MA.  This participatory training program is an opportunity for you to practice mindfulness meditation as it is taught in the Stress Reduction Program at the UMass Medical School, and explore the practical application and integration of MBSR in health care and other settings. MBSR in Mind-Body Medicine may be taken at any time before participating in the TDI. Click HERE for more information.
  • Preliminary teaching experience. After completing the Practicum in MBSR, you are encouraged to begin teaching short classes and workshops based on elements of the MBSR curriculum. Examples of preliminary teaching experience are:
    • Two-hour interactive dialogue and practice session on mindfulness in everyday life.
    • One-hour introduction to mindfulness.
    • Afternoon workshop on working with stress.
    • Other workshops and classes grounded in mindfulness practice and MBSR principles.
  • Essential Study. After completing the Practicum in MBSR, you will have access to a number of free or low-cost study programs to help you broaden your knowledge of key themes that are essential to an understanding of how to teach MBSR. These study programs will include topics such as the science of mindfulness, the basics of stress physiology, the use of story and metaphor in teaching, the pedagogy of experience, and an understanding of group dynamics and interpersonal mindfulness. Some of these programs will be required and some optional.
  • Continued personal and professional development, which includes ongoing daily mindfulness meditation practice; yoga and other body-centered awareness practices; and relevant professional education and training. Two or more 5–10 day, silent, teacher-led mindfulness meditation retreats are required before participating in the TDI.
  • Teacher Development Intensive (TDI).  This eight-day residential intensive training program focuses on MBSR teacher formation and readiness. It will help you refine your teaching skills through highly focused and sustained inner work in the context of a rigorous teaching laboratory. This environment allows you to cultivate a practical and in-depth familiarity with, and competency in, multiple aspects of the MBSR curriculum, including presentational elements, guidance in meditation and yoga practices, inquiry and group dynamics, and preparation of supporting materials. Click HERE for more information.

By successfully completing the Teacher Development Intensive you will have the minimum qualifications for beginning to teach complete MBSR courses on your own.

Phase 3: Deepening Your Experience As An MBSR Teacher

Teaching MBSR is an expression of mindfulness as a way of being in wise relationship with your experience, and is never a matter of merely operationalizing techniques. Thus, the non-instrumental dimension of the work and of the practice of mindfulness is the foundation for effective practice and teaching. Culminating in preparation for Teacher Certification Review, Phase 3 includes the following work:

  • Teach at least four complete MBSR courses (To be considered for full Teacher Certification in MBSR you must teach at least eight complete MBSR courses.)
  • Supervision in MBSR - Teach at least one complete MBSR course with supervision. In the Oasis Institute supervision program you will actively engage in dialogue with a CFM senior instructor by phone, online (Skype), or in person, to explore issues and questions that arise out of your own MBSR teaching. To prepare for Teacher Certification Review in MBSR, you must teach with supervision during at least one complete eight-week MBSR course (8-10 supervision sessions required).
  • Developing, deepening, and refining your understanding of MBSR and its methodologies through further study, mindfulness practice, teaching experience, reflection, and supervision.
  • Continued personal and professional development, which includes daily mindfulness meditation practice; yoga and other body-centered awareness practices; and relevant professional education and training. At this stage, three or more silent, teacher-led mindfulness meditation retreats are required.

Phase 3 assessment: After completing all Phase 3 requirements, your supervisor and you will participate in a reflection and assessment process. Following this assessment, you may be asked to refine your understanding through further study, practice, teaching, and/or supervision. Once you satisfactorily meet all criteria according to the practice standards developed by the Center for Mindfulness, the next step is to begin preparing your teaching materials for Teacher Certification in MBSR Review. You must also continue teaching MBSR classes and deepening your practice through retreats to move toward completing the Phase 4 requirements.

Phase 4: Teacher Certification In MBSR

Teacher Certification in MBSR is the recognition by the CFM of your in-depth understanding and skillful delivery of the MBSR curriculum. The minimum qualifications for participation in the Teacher Certification in MBSR Review are:

  • Completion of all Phase 3 requirements.
  • Experience teaching at least eight complete MBSR courses.
  • Completion of at least four mindfulness meditation retreats.
  • Ongoing daily mindfulness meditation practice; and yoga and other body-centered awareness practices.
  • Professional graduate degree or equivalent experience.

Teacher Certification Assessment: Following MBSR Teacher Certification Review, you may be asked to refine your understanding with further study, practice, teaching, and/or supervision. Once you meet all criteria for teaching competency deemed satisfactory according to practice standards for MBSR teachers as established by the Center for Mindfulness, you will be granted Teacher Certification in MBSR.

Ongoing Personal and Professional Development

In addition to participating in Oasis Institute study and training programs, dedication to the ongoing exploration of the following interconnected pathways of study and personal development is essential:

  • Mindfulness meditation – daily practice and silent retreats. Your ongoing and consistent engagement in a personal daily practice of mindfulness meditation, as well as silent, teacher-led mindfulness meditation retreats will deepen your understanding of what it means to be a fully prepared and qualified MBSR teacher.
  • Commitment to ongoing personal psychological development. Your ongoing commitment to learning as much as possible about your own personality and patterns of relating is necessary if you hope to become an effective MBSR teacher. Such knowledge requires ongoing self-inquiry and inner work.
  • Training in hatha yoga and other forms of body-centered awareness practices. Recognition of the body as a vehicle for understanding mindfulness is essential. We recommend that you train in mindful hatha yoga and in other forms of body-centered awareness practice.
  • Completion or pursuit of a professional graduate degree or of equivalent working experience.  Teaching MBSR requires an intellectual understanding of the scientific, medical, and educational roots of MBSR, and the capacity to articulate these essential aspects of the teaching. For that reason, it is important to pursue a graduate degree in a field connected to MBSR. Psychology, education, and medicine are typical fields of study, but any program that emphasizes an understanding of mind and body, and includes service as a component, may be acceptable. If you wish to receive Teacher Certification in MBSR, you must have a graduate degree, or demonstrate an equivalent understanding through working experience in a related field.