Mindfulness Training

The U of I Psychology Department offers Mindfulness Training (MT) Classes throughout the year. Classes are open to the general public including the U of I community. 

Classes are currently offered online via Zoom or in-person at the Quaker Meetinghouse in Urbana (1904 E. Main St. Urbana). 

The practice of mindfulness meditation trains you to pay attention to the present moment, noting thoughts, feelings and body sensations with an attitude of interest and kindness. This non-reactive stance toward experience creates the possibility of being in life as it is and allows for working more wisely with the challenging aspects of human experience (e.g., emotional difficulties, relational difficulties, impulses, aversion, confusion, rumination, worry…). Learning to calm the mind and work with these challenges is central to acting with wisdom and compassion in the world. Be sure to read through the What You Need to Know sections below the list of classes. Various 8-week classes are offered with slight variations in training based on the book that accompanies each class. Individuals are invited to repeat classes and do not need to take the classes in any particular order.

Christopher Menard, PsyD and U of I Psychology Department doctoral students teach the Mindfulness Training (MT) group classes.   In addition, Dr. Menard teaches (PSYC-340, PSYC-341, and PSYC 546), offers counseling, and individual mindfulness training, and offers Mindfulness Instructor Training for professionals, therapists, clergy, and university faculty/staff/grad students interested in bringing mindfulness into the classroom and other professional settings.

See current classes below:

Mindfulness Training: Mindful Way Workbook (8-weeks)

  • Participants should purchase The Mindful Way Workbook and read the forward and chapters 1 – 4 to prepare for class #1
  • Instructors: Marissa Sbrilli, Jiaxu Han, & Eddie Caumiant
  • Fee: $200 (a discount is available for graduate students)
  • Currently, we have two options for this 8-week class:
    • Eight Thursdays 5 – 7pm on Zoom beginning February 9, 2023 (No class on March 16) with a retreat on March 25.
    • Eight Thursdays 5 – 7pm on Zoom beginning April 13, 2023 with a retreat on June 3.
  • In addition, an optional 4-hour Saturday Retreat session is provided to allow mindfulness students to experience a series of guided mindfulness exercises without the dialogues that typically take place in the weekly classes. This experience allows for a deepening of the mindfulness experience (e.g., a deep senes of calm and peace, letting go of the doing-mode of mind). This retreat is open to current mindfulness students and past graduates of the 8-week mindfulness training programs. Date/time: March 25, 2023 and June 3. These online retreats meet online 9am – 1pm.
  • To register for class click here
  • Be sure to read the Fees/Policies section and the WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW sections below

Mindfulness Training: Focus on preventing depression (8-weeks)

  • This class is intended for individuals who wish to learn how to bring mindfulness skills to the process of preventing future episodes of clinical depression.
  • Day/Time: Not currently scheduled
  • Participants should purchase The Mindful Way Workbook and read the forward and chapters 1 – 4 to prepare for class #1
  • Fee: $200 (a discount is available for graduate students)

Mindfulness Training: Finding Peace in a Frantic World (8-weeks)

  • Participants should purchase Finding Peace in a Frantic World and read the preface and chapters 1 – 4 to prepare for class #1
  • This 1-hr weekly class is not currently scheduled
  • Fee: $100

Mindfulness Training: Why Can’t I Meditate (8-weeks)

  • Participants should purchase Why Can’t I Meditate and read the introduction and chapter 1 to prepare for class #1.
  • Not currently scheduled

Mindfulness Training: Insight Meditation (8-weeks)

  • Weekly readings will be provided
  • Day/Time: Not currently scheduled
  • Fee: $100

Individual Mindfulness Training Sessions


  • No refunds will be given after the first class.
  • If a participant needs to withdraw from the class for any reason, they are welcome to repeat the entire class series within the next two years.
  • If you have any questions, please contact Dr. Christopher Menard cmenard@illinois.edu

To receive an email alert for future classes, click here.

Note: The Saturday practice session (AKA a Retreat) is an invitation to step out of the doing-mode of mind and into the being-mode of mind for an extended period. Participants are asked to engage in a functional silence for most of this session to facilitate a deepening of their practice, while instructors verbally guide various mindfulness exercises.

Contemporary mindfulness training originated in 1979 with Jon Kabat-Zinn’s Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) program and was further developed in the 1990s by psychologists (Zindel Segal, Mark Williams, and John Teasdale) with Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT).  MBSR and MBCT have both undergone extensive research demonstrating increases in well-being, reductions in rumination, reductions in stress, reductions in anxiety and depression and improvements with medical conditions. MBCT is recommended in England by the national health services as a front line treatment for preventing depression. Multiple randomized controlled trials have shown that MBCT is as effective as antidepressant medication in preventing relapses of major depression.

Mindfulness Training: What You Need to Know

MBSR and MBCT are the foundation of the Mindfulness Training (MT) offered by U of I instructors. MT classes consist of weekly in-person or online Zoom classes and participants are expected to practice with MP3 audios between the classes to build their mindfulness muscles. In addition, students are encouraged to read between the classes to support conceptual understanding. In each class, participants learn to cultivate calm and they learn how to work with resistance and common obstacles to practice.


Regardless of each person’s motivations for learning mindfulness, one can only expect to see results if they put the time and effort into practice. Practice can sometimes seem boring. Sometimes we become frustrated with the busyness of our minds. Sometimes we feel too tired. Sometimes we think that we don’t know how to practice mindfulness. Facing these and other obstacles is essential when embarking on a journey to cultivate mindfulness.

We appreciate how it is often very difficult to carve out time for something new in lives that are already very busy and crowded. However, the commitment to spend time on home practice is an essential part of the class; if you do not feel able to make that commitment, it would be best not to start the classes and wait until you are able to set aside time for practice.


The classes and the home practice assignments can teach you how to be more fully aware and present in each moment of life. On one hand, this makes life more interesting, vivid and fulfilling. On the other hand, this means facing what is present, even when it is unpleasant and difficult. In practice, you will find that turning to face and acknowledge difficulties is the most effective way, in the long run, to reduce unhappiness, to increase one’s capacity to work skillfully with stressful situations and to prevent depression. Seeing unpleasant feelings, thoughts, or experiences clearly, as they arise, means that you will be in much better shape to “nip them in the bud,” before they progress to more intense or persistent low moods.


Because we will be working to change well-established habits of mind, you will be putting in a lot of time and effort. The effects of this effort may become apparent only later. In many ways, it is much like gardening – we have to prepare the ground, plant the seeds, ensure that they are adequately watered and nourished, and then wait patiently for results. Building a mindfulness practice can also be equated with an exercise regimen, in that only after regular daily work-outs are the health benefits realized.

We ask you to approach the classes and home practice with a spirit of patience and persistence, committing yourself to put time and effort into the practice, while accepting, with patience, that the fruits of your efforts may not show straight away.

Over the weeks of the MT program, the practices help you:

  • To become more present in your physical body as opposed to being lost in thought, stuck in rumination about some past event, daydreaming/fantasizing about some imagined future, or actively avoiding aspects of life.
  • To become familiar with the workings of your mind.
  • To notice the times when you are at risk of getting caught in old habits of mind that re-activate downward mood spirals.
  • To explore ways of releasing yourself from those old habits and, if you choose, enter a different way of being.
  • To put you in touch with a different way of knowing yourself and the world.
  • To notice small beauties and pleasures in the world around you instead of living in your head.
  • To be kind to yourself instead of wishing things (and you) were different all the time.
  • To be kind to yourself as opposed to being lost in striving and driving yourself to meet impossible goals.
  • To accept yourself as you are, rather than judging yourself.

While Mindfulness Training is not counseling or psychotherapy, old or latent psychological wounds, emotions, beliefs, and mental health issues can sometimes arise while practicing mindfulness. If help is needed with these issues, contact Dr. Christopher Menard or another mental health professional for support.

Mindfulness Training is not a substitute for medication or other treatments for physical/mental health concerns. While MT is not intended as a treatment for current clinical depression, anxiety, and other acute health concerns, research has shown that mindfulness training can prevent recurrent depression, builds resilience, and helps individuals cope with the psychological challenges of work, relationships, stress, and illness.

Mindfulness Training develops skills in metacognitive awareness (i.e., the capacity to see a bigger picture and to reduce identification with thoughts and emotions), self-compassion, learning to step out of the doing mode of mind and into the being mode of mind, as well as learning to develop a type of attention that is infused with an attitude of curiosity and kindness.