Teacher Feature: Rebecca Eldridge, Senior Certified MBSR Instructor and Teacher-TrainerDate Posted: Thursday, March 07, 2019
“The MBSR curriculum, whether learned in the classroom or online, is a way to befriend ourselves and cultivate patience – to not fear or shy away from all of who we are. If we can do that, maybe we can show up in this often confusing, painful world for others just as they are.” ~Rebecca Eldridge, on MBSR and accessibility
A natural educator, Rebecca Eldridge has been teaching in one way or another her entire career. After graduating with a B.A. in Education from Christopher Newport University, she taught 1st through 4th graders at some of the most underperforming schools in Virginia. She also worked as a Research Specialist, exploring how a strong student-teacher relationship can affect readiness for kindergarten in preschool-aged children. Rebecca later returned to school to earn her M.A. in English at The College of William and Mary and M.F.A. in Creative Writing, and began teaching at a number of colleges, focusing on at-risk programs during the summer and Title 1 programs for low-income students.
Along her journey, Rebecca read Cutting Through Spiritual Materialism by Chögyam Trungpa. “The concepts resonated with me, so I began traveling to retreats because there wasn’t a strong meditation community where I lived.” This led her to the Center for Mindfulness (CFM) at UMASS Medical School, where she completed the Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) teacher education track. With this grounding, Rebecca opened Hampton Roads Hypnosis & Meditation – an MBSR-based business that focused on hypnosis, yoga and mindfulness. “At first I had a physical space,” she says. “But my business model quickly shifted, and I began going into area businesses and health systems to work with staff onsite.”
In the early to mid-2000s, Rebecca took a brief hiatus from formal teaching and worked in the tech industry developing user documentation, online help systems, and computer-based training programs. It was all these experiences that eventually brought her to where she is today. “I realized I understood technology and MBSR enough to bring the MBSR program to everyone – no matter where in the world they were.”
That’s when Rebecca came back to the CFM, relocating in 2016 to Massachusetts to help bring their MBSR course online and grow the reach of introductory and graduate programs. Today, as a full-time MBSR instructor and teacher-trainer at the CFM, she also leads a weekly Online Global Meditation Community gathering for people trained or interested in mindfulness. “People think online programs take the intimacy away,” explains Rebecca. “I’ve found exactly the opposite is true.” The proof? There are currently over 1,000 subscribers to the Online Global Community, many who log on every week to meditate together and support each other to live authentic and engaging lives. “I’m always intrigued by the eye-to-eye intimacy we have with one another even though we are in different cities, countries and time zones,” she says. “It’s sweet and endearing to be invited into someone’s personal environment, to be there when a child comes in to say goodnight or a cat walks in front of the screen. It’s an incredible connection.”
The Online Global Community is open to MBSR and Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) graduates, as well as anyone interested in learning more about mindfulness. Each session lasts 40 minutes and includes a brief teaching on mindfulness in everyday life followed by a meditation practice and the opportunity for sharing. Participants come from every corner of the world. “I see MBSR and MBCT graduates now able to ‘return home’—both to the CFM and to themselves as they practice with a teacher through the Online Global Community. One of our guests took the course in person 25 years ago and now logs on from her current home in Morocco. Another recently sent a sweet message about being ‘land-locked’ and ‘meditation-locked’ out on the prairie in South Dakota, and how meaningful it has been to ‘continue to learn, practice with peers, and find comfort’—all online.”
Rebecca says that for her, teaching and students are everything, and in her life, compassion rules. “I’ve always been interested in showing up in the hard places,” she says. That’s one of the reasons she also became involved in the American Belarussian Relief Organization and hosted a child from Belarus for several summers—some of these children still suffering effects from the Chernobyl disaster of 1986. She also worked for several years as a Hospice Volunteer, providing care for those who want to die with dignity in their own homes. “My experience working with hospice patients has been far and away my biggest teacher of mindfulness,” says Rebecca. “We have a finite time on this earth. I don’t want to miss any of it, even the stuff that’s tough and disappointing.”
Both in the classroom and online, Rebecca has a vision to lead others on that same journey—to find what matters most in their own lives and show up for all of it.
MBSR Online Live
Live outside of driving distance of the Center?
Want to learn from a skilled mindfulness teacher and engage with participants from all over the globe?
Experience this groundbreaking course in an online format. Delivered entirely through live video conferencing, this course brings the classroom to you.
MBCT Online Live
Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) combines the practice and clinical application of mindfulness meditation with the tools of cognitive therapy to break the cycle of recurrent depression. Like the online MBSR program, the course is conducted through live video conferencing with a UMASS Center for Mindfulness MBCT teacher and other participants.
Global Online Meditation Community
Worldwide Mindfulness ONLINE LIVE: You're invited! This program was launched to support MBSR and MBCT graduates, as well as those interested in mindfulness meditation. Participants can:
- Practice mindfulness with a UMASS Center for Mindfulness teacher
- Listen to a brief talk on mindfulness topics relevant to everyday life
- Connect and share with others who want to live with more presence & ease
- Participate from anywhere in the world