Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR)


Bring a greater sense of balance and meaning to your life
and increase your capacity to deal with stress.

In recent years, research in neuroscience has made compelling discoveries about the brain’s capacity to grow and change, including evidence that meditation helps to create new pathways in the brain that increase our ability to be more positive and creative.

Simply Mindful has been offering MBSR in Canberra since 2004, and we are the only program in Canberra with teachers who are trained and certified to teach this gold standard mindfulness training program. Join one of our teachers on this experiential and transformative journey.

I’ve learnt that I can make a choice about my stress, that I’m not powerless in the face of stressful situations and I can decide how to respond. — MBSR participant

Develop strategies for applying mindfulness in daily life

An eight week evidence-based program to learn how to:

cultivate resilience

improve physical and mental health

boost overall well-being

MBSR as it is taught at Simply Mindful is the complete and authentic program which was developed in 1979 by Dr Jon Kabat-Zinn at the Stress Reduction Clinic at the University of Massachusetts Medical Centre.
There has been a wealth of research investigating the effectiveness of the MBSR program, for example, this research showing changes that occur in the brain as a result of taking an 8 week MBSR course. See report >>

What are the possible benefits?

Over 30 years of research into the MBSR program has found evidence for these outcomes:

Greater capacity to deal with stress

Increased sense of well-being and balance

Lasting decrease in both physical and psychological symptoms

Increased energy and productivity, feeling more engaged with life

Stronger immune system

Increased levels of attention and concentration

Improved self-regard

More creative problem solving and greater focus

Increased sense of connection, meaning and purpose

The Mindfulness Experiment

In 2019, ABC science show Catalyst featured a group of MBSR participants. Watch this 6 minute excerpt to see how the 8 week MBSR course changes people's lives. The full show is available through iView.

What does the MBSR course include?


20+ hours of face-to-face instruction

2 ½ hour class once a week for 8 weeks

Mindfulness meditation training

The practice of mindfulness meditation sits at the core of the program

A range of learning approaches

Brief lectures, group discussion and experiential activities

Day of Mindfulness

All day silent retreat held on the weekend

Printed and bound handbook

A beautifully presented handbook for you to follow along and take notes in

Digital downloads of guided meditations and teachings

Lifetime access to our members-only digital library

An experiential adult education course focused on working with the stress in your life wherever you find it

course outline

class 1: recognising the present moment

Overview of class exercises & outcomes goes here

class 2: Ways of Seeing

Overview of class exercises & outcomes goes here

class 3: moving into practice

Overview of class exercises & outcomes goes here

class 4: the shadow of stress

Overview of class exercises & outcomes goes here

class 5: opening to the heart

Overview of class exercises & outcomes goes here

class 6: minding your mind

Overview of class exercises & outcomes goes here

class 7: being and connecting

Overview of class exercises & outcomes goes here

class 8: what really matters

Overview of class exercises & outcomes goes here

day of mindfulness

This is held from 9am-4pm on a Sunday, usually towards the end of the course.
The retreat is included in your MBSR program at no additional cost.

The MBSR retreat is a full day of meditation practice held in silence under the guidance of the Simply Mindful teachers.

Meet your MBSR teachers

Megan Layton

Megan Layton

Director, Senior MBSR, PNT, Self-Compassion and Yoga teacher

Trevor Heldt

Trevor Heldt

MBSR teacher & Facilitator of Graduate Practice Groups

Our venue: the Gathering Place

Our programs are offered at our beautiful northside Canberra venue. We are delighted to share this beautiful place of peace, meditation, contemplation, healing, renewal and learning.

The Brigidine sisters established this as a convent in the 1950s. When the convent closed, the Gathering Place was then created as a retreat and spirituality centre with a contemplative focus in 1994 by Meryl Bollard and Sister Lorraine Gatehouse. It has been lovingly cared for as a place of contemplation, renewal and healing for over 30 years and has played a very important role in our community.

Simply Mindful was invited to take on the management and vision of the Gathering Place in 2019 and a new chapter of the Gathering Place began in mid 2020. This is now the home of Simply Mindful: Canberra Mindfulness Centre and our mindfulness programs. We are honoured to be here.

enrol now in mbsr

Choose a start date below. (We generally run 1-2 courses per term, so check back later if you don’t see a date that suits you.)


Questions? Send us a message.

What is mindfulness?

Mindfulness is about being fully present and aware to all of life. Presence is an innate human capacity, however this capacity is underdeveloped in most people.

Mindfulness training is a bit like ‘mental exercise’. As we practice over time,  we build what’s known as the ‘mindful muscle’ – our ability to be fully present and alive to our lives more of the time.

What does the MBSR course involve?
  • 2 ½ hour class once a week for 8 weeks plus one full day session (held on the weekend)
  • Mindfulness meditation training, access to the online library of guided meditation recordings, and course workbook
  • Learning about the effects of stress on our bodies and minds
  • Exploring patterns of thinking, feeling and behaving and their relationship to stress
  • Developing strategies for applying mindfulness in daily life
  • Learning through brief lectures, group discussion and experiential activities
Who is MBSR for?

This is suitable for absolute beginners as well as those who’ve previously done some mindfulness training.

How can MBSR help me?

"This is the most important thing I have ever done for myself"—this quite literally is the feedback we hear from participants again and again.

If you want to learn how to work skilfully with your own mind, body and emotions and really enjoy being you and feel truly at home in your own skin, then mindfulness training is for you. It is a proven method for improving health, mental health, self-awareness and skilfulness.

Is there science to back this up? Isn’t meditation a spiritual thing?

MBSR teaches the art and science of presence.

It’s an art because everyone’s internal world is completely unique, nuanced and it’s also a creative changing space. No one else can tell you exactly how to meditate or do it for you.

It’s a science because research in neuroscience, medicine and psychology have helped us to understand how this ancient practice actually works, how it not only changes the structure of the brain, but also improves health and mental health, and even slows down the process of ageing. (see our resources for some references)

Mindfulness and MBSR is open to anyone. You don’t have to believe anything in particular to benefit from it. It’s compatible with a wide range of spiritual and religious beliefs. Anything that is important or meaningful for you in your life can be enhanced by mindfulness practice.

I have a really busy mind. I can’t sit still, how am I going to meditate?

Almost everyone in our MBSR courses complains of a busy mind!

The mind’s job is to think. In mindfulness meditation we are not trying to stop thinking, we are learning to relate differently to it.

Throughout the course you will have the opportunity to explore strategies, techniques and practical approaches for relating to your mind.

You will learn to meet your thoughts, mental and emotional habits, fears and stuck places with kindness and curiosity.

Why should I do MBSR when I can go to a local meditation centre for free?

Many people come to MBSR because they specifically want a mindfulness training that is secular and has no particular spiritual orientation or beliefs attached to the process.

As well, most “free” meditation centres rely on people’s generosity to support and sustain their work and the teachings. In order for these centres to survive, they need to be considered as supported by the people who use them.

MBSR is the world’s gold standard evidence based mindfulness training, It has been a major source of the evidence base over the last 40 years as it began in a university hospital setting, the university of Massachusetts medical school and was designed by a scientist, Dr Jon Kabat-Zinn.

Someone down the road is offering a mindfulness course cheaper. What’s the difference?

Check it out! We encourage you to be curious about the differences. It is likely that with a shorter course (ie 4 weeks of 1 hour each week) that you will get ‘mindfulness lite’, a superficial and no doubt helpful course, but not something that sticks, or substantially changes anything in your life.

For over 40 years, Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) has been the gold standard of teaching mindfulness in a secular setting for the relief of physical and psychological suffering. It is taught by people who have committed themselves to training, doing retreats and having a personal practice themselves, over many years.

Training takes place over a long period, is in depth and high standard. MBSR started at the University of Massachusetts Medical School over 26,000 people have participated in the research. This is a major source of the evidence base and current interest in mindfulness.

However, many people are now offering “mindfulness” courses “based on MBSR” or “based on the work of Jon Kabat-Zinn” with very little personal experience and immersion in mindfulness practice themselves, and little or no training in MBSR.

These courses are often shorter, perhaps 6 sessions of 1.5 hours (ie 9 hours long) or 6 sessions x 2 hours (12 hours long) for around $400. This works out as more expensive than the MBSR program which is 27 hours long, including a silent retreat day, plus email and phone contact with the teacher if you need it during the 8 weeks.