Zen stones stacked in water with a lotus to the side and a sunset in the background

Mindfulness-based stress reduction course for parents and caregivers, sponsored by CHN.

What is mindfulness-based stress reduction?

The Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) program was originally developed by Jon Kabat-Zinn, PhD, at the University of Massachusetts Medical Center in 1979 to help people learn to better cope and live with stress. Mindfulness has been described by Dr. Kabat-Zinn as “the awareness that arises through paying attention, on purpose, in the present moment, non-judgmentally.” Through mindfulness-based practices, participants develop increased present-moment awareness of experience as it arises, including the thought, emotional, and behavioural patterns that tend to occur in relation to stressful situations. Participants learn that, though they cannot always change the circumstances in which they find themselves, they can choose how to respond more clearly and skillfully, and less reactively, when faced with difficult situations.


Sessions will be held virtually in eight 2.5-hour classes. The classes will take place on Saturday mornings from April 1 to May 27, with an additional session on Sunday, May 21. Through this course, participants will begin to develop a daily mindfulness practice and should therefore be able to set aside approximately 30–40 minutes per day for practice.

Orientation:  Saturday, April 1, 9:30 am to 12:30 pm. The first hour will be a “welcome to all” session, followed by individual interviews, to be scheduled in 20-minute time slots between 10:30 am and 12:30 pm.

Course: Saturday mornings from April 8 to May 27, 9:30 am to noon. The session on Saturday, May 20, will be a half-day virtual retreat, followed by the regular class on Sunday, May 21, 9:30 am to noon. The last class will be on Saturday, May 27.

Cost: $450 per participant will be covered by CHN; registrants only need to cover a $30 registration fee.

Orientation will provide an overview and set the context for participation in the program. The program consists of formal meditation practices (including the body scan, gentle yoga, and sitting meditation), which are learned during the weekly sessions and practised at home. In addition, informal practices are introduced as a way to incorporate mindfulness into everyday life.

Each weekly session focuses on one particular topic, some of which include:

  • The “being mode of mind”
  • Stress and stress reactivity
  • Skillful choices and self-care
  • Mindful communication

Time is given for participants to share what they experienced during the exercises and to talk about their daily mindfulness practice outside of class. Participants do not require any previous understanding of or experience with mindfulness or meditation in order to attend.

If you would like to register for this course, please email Sam at saitken@childrensheartnetwork.org. Space is limited.

If you have questions about this course or would like to set up a Zoom call to find out more, please email the course instructor, Marni Segal, at marnisegal@gmail.com.

Here is a testimonial from a recent participant:

I was hesitant to sign up for this course at first. I really wanted to learn about mindfulness because friends and family have told me how beneficial it can be for stress reduction and other mental/physical health issues. I’m a type A personality, I have a wife, kids in school (including a heart kid), aging parents, and I own a business, so burning the candle at both ends is the norm for me. Oh—and at the time, I was going though that COVID thing. As much as I knew I needed the mindfulness course, I was concerned that it would be too “New Age”/“hippie-dippie” and doing something in a group would expose me to strangers in ways I did not know. So I signed up anyhow.

Best decision I’ve made in a while. I use the skills I learned in that course almost every day. Not for 1 hour in a dark room, but when I feel my stress rising I have tools I can use immediately to centre myself. When time permits I can do something longer, and if I was better at managing my time I’d incorporate it into my daily routine (okay, maybe every other day—I’m a busy guy). But this isn’t the best part of what I got out of the course. I made great new friends for life. We definitely shared stuff but it was more feelings than details. In some ways, not focusing on the details allows you to get to know a person quite quickly—and this is all over Zoom. Of course, we all shared a connection to a heart kid, so I know that was part of it too. When I see any of them now, it brings a smile to my face, and they get a big hug (if they want one). Special mention about the instructor Marni—she is a special person who shares her knowledge freely and without judgment. Her attitude and professionalism guided the group, kept us on track, and is the reason why my experience was such a positive one.

—Tim Wispinski, Burnaby, BC