Courses in Mindfulness

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Mindfulness is defined by Jon Kabat-Zinn as paying attention on purpose to what is happening in the present moment without judgment. Its cultivation is both an ancient practice for the development of deep experiential spiritual understanding and a contemporary mind-body technique for relaxing the body, calming the mind, and gaining psychological self-awareness and insight. Mindfulness is the first mind-body-spirit intervention to be widely adopted in mainstream health care. It is now regularly taught in its most popular form, MBSR, in medical settings such as the VA and Kaiser Permanente. It has also been developed into MBCT, DBT, ACT, and other mental health interventions that are covered in these courses, all of which are now considered evidence-based practices.

Mindfulness, when cultivated as a form of meditation, is one of a group of contemplative techniques, such as mantra meditation, the centering prayer, visualization practices, and meditative movement, like tai chi or  qigong, which have been used by a variety of different cultures for thousands of years. (In the chart to the left, the kind of mindfulness referred to here is perhaps best represented by the terms insight meditation, sitting meditation, and walking meditation.) Many meditative techniques have come to the West from Asian religious traditions, particularly in India, Tibet, China, and Japan. However similar techniques can be found in most cultures around the world including within the Western Judaeo-Christian tradition.

Until recently, the primary purpose of mindfulness practice has been viewed as religious or spiritual, although its health benefits have long been recognized or at least proclaimed by various spiritual lineages. It wasn’t until Herbert Benson’s ground-breaking research in the 1970s on meditation, which he termed the relaxation response, that any form of meditation was scientifically recognized as a practice with health benefits. Not long after Benson’s work, Jon Kabat-Zinn pioneered the secular use of mindfulness in the health care setting. Since that time there has been an explosion of research demonstrating the widely varied and effective uses of mindfulness. Today, many people use mindfulness outside of its traditional religious or cultural settings to promote both physical and psychological well-being.

Instructors for Courses in Mindfulness:

Gary Buck, PhD

Gary is a graduate of Meridian University’s Doctor of Psychology program and also holds a bachelor’s degree in Religion from Princeton University. He is a post-doc intern at the Child Therapy Institute in San Rafael and Petaluma, where he sees children, adults and families. He has participated in trainings led by Zindel Segal, PhD in Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy, by Richard Miller, PhD in Yoga Nidra/Integrative Restoration, and completed an internship with Saki Santorelli in Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction at the U. of Mass. Medical School.

 A Buddhist meditator of nearly 40 years, he currently practices in the Vajrayana tradition where his main interests are Mahamudra and Dzogchen. He is a former Buddhist monk in the Thai Theravadan tradition. Gary is a former Managing Director and Board member of the Insight Meditation Society in Massachusetts and a former Associate Director of Spirit Rock Meditation Center in Marin County. 

David Lukoff, Ph.D.

Dr. Lukoff is a Professor Emeritus of the Institute of Transpersonal Psychology and a licensed psychologist in California (PSY 8707) whose areas of expertise include treatment of schizophrenia, transpersonal psychotherapy, spiritual issues in clinical practice, and case study methodology. He incorporates many spiritually oriented approaches in his clinical work including meditation, compassion training, and guided imagery as well as leading groups on spirituality He is author of 80 articles and chapters on spiritual issues and mental health; co-author of the DSM-IV/DSM-5 category Religious or Spiritual Problem; and he maintains the Spiritual Competency Resource Center at

He has served on the faculties of Harvard, UCLA, Oxnard College, California Institute of Integral Studies, Sofia University, and Saybrook Graduate School, and been an active workshop presenter providing training for psychologists in spiritual competencies in areas such as loss and grief (UC Berkeley), death and illness (SSU, CIIS), spiritual problems and emergencies (Esalen, CSPP, CIIS, SSU,JFK) as well as in Japan, Mexico, Canada, Brazil, Russia, Romania, Portugal, France, Sweden, Scotland, Ireland, Kyrgystan, Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia, Bulgaria, and England.

Available Courses in Courses in Mindfulness:

  • The Origins of Meditation Research: Herbert Benson

    David Lukoff, Ph.D. | Gary Buck, PhD | Herbert Benson, MD's pioneering research on the relaxation response helped established the efficacy of meditation for healthcare. His first research subjects were practitioners of TM meditation which involves the repetition of a word or phrase (called mantra meditation). His work expanded to include other meditation techniques that also induce the relaxation response. Research and theory on the Relaxation Response is introduced in this online course. CE hours: 1.00 | fee: $10.00

  • Meditation as a Complementary and Alternative Medicine

    David Lukoff, Ph.D. | Gary Buck, PhD | Meditation as a practice undertaken for its health or mental health benefits is considered to fall under the category of complementary or alternative medicine (CAM). Funding to study CAM interventions including meditation have increased dramatically as has use of meditation by the US population. This course focuses on the research support for meditation as a form of CAM and its changing patterns of usage. CE hours: 1.00 | fee: $10.00

  • Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR)

    David Lukoff, Ph.D. | For over 30 years, Jon Kabat-Zinn has pioneered the integration of mindfulness meditation in mainstream medicine and healthcare. Though adapted from Buddhist practices, the contemporary practice of mindfulness used in the Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) program is not spiritually based and is therefore open to everyone no matter their religious commitments or life circumstances. This course describes the theory and research behind MBSR. CE hours: 1.00 | fee: $10.00

  • Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT)

    Gary Buck, PhD | David Lukoff, Ph.D. | Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) is a system of therapy that combines Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) with mindfulness meditation. DBT was originally created by Dr. Marsha Linehan to treat clients diagnosed with borderline personality disorder (BPD) and was the first therapy to demonstrate evidenced-based effectiveness with this clientele. The research and theory behind DBT are reviewed in this online course. CE hours: 1.00 | fee: $10.00

  • Acceptance and Commitment Therapy

    David Lukoff, Ph.D. | Gary Buck, PhD | Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) is an empirically validated psychological intervention that uses acceptance and mindfulness strategies mixed in different ways with commitment and cognitive-behavioral psychotherapy. ACT was originally created by Dr. Steven C. Hayes. The research and theory behind ACT are reviewed in this online course. CE hours: 1.00 | fee: $10.00

  • Neurological Research on Meditation

    David Lukoff, Ph.D. | Gary Buck, PhD | This courses provides an overview of the recent neurological research on meditation, its relationship to spirituality as well as reviewing neurochemical, neuroelectrical, and neuroimaging research. CE hours: 1.00 | fee: $10.00

  • Meditation Related Psychological Problems, Misuses, and Contraindications

    David Lukoff, Ph.D. | Gary Buck, PhD | While meditation practice is generally safe and has beneficial results, it can catalyze challenging psychological problems. It can also be misused by meditators in ways that undercut the goals of psychotherapy. In addition, there are psychological conditions where meditation practice is contraindicated or should only be used with caution. This course explores these considerations in using meditation in clinical practice. CE hours: 1.00 | fee: $10.00

  • Integrative Restoration - iRest Yoga Nidra

    Gary Buck, PhD | David Lukoff, Ph.D. | Integrative Restoration - iRest, also known as Yoga Nidra, is a multifaceted intervention developed by psychologist Richard Miller by adapting the ancient traditional Yoga Tantric practice of Yoga Nidra, a meditation rather than Hatha Yoga practice that integrates Eastern and Western aspects of psychology and psychotherapy. This adapted form, in its secular application, is called iRest. Since 2005, iRest has been used in a wide variety of clinical applications. CE hours: 1.00 | fee: $10.00

  • Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT)

    Gary Buck, PhD | David Lukoff, Ph.D. | Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) was developed by three specialists in treating depression wanted to address the low success rate of treatments. Patients who had suffered one episode of major depression relapsed at a rate of 50% in the first year, with the rate increasing to 70-80% relapse within a year after a third episode. They adapted Kabat-Zinn’s MBSR protocol, originally developed for those suffering from stress-related illness and chronic pain, to fit the needs of those diagnosed with depression, choosing to include strategies from Cognitive Therapy (CT). MBCT is taught as a group intervention that takes the form of a participatory psychoeducation course. The research reviewed in this course shows that for those who have suffered a bout of major depression, attending an MBCT training reduces relapses by 50%. CE hours: 1.00 | fee: $10.00