Mindfulness programmes

The Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) programme was started in 1979 at the University of Massachusetts Medical Center and is now being run world-wide. The course spans 8 weeks and involves group sessions once a week, as well as instructions for practice at home. The course is an excellent way to get grounded in meditation practice and start to experience its benefits. Research using brain imaging has shown that, in as little as the eight weeks of practice that the course offers, structural and functional changes can be observed in the brain (for the evidence base, please see Mindfulness learning resources):

Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR)

  • Institute for Mindfulness South Africa (IMISA): The institute maintains a list of mindfulness programs offered in South Africa.
  • mbsr.co.za, Oranjezicht and Zonnebloem, Cape Town: Dr Simon Whitesman, general practitioner and medical psychotherapist, and Linda Kantor, counselling psychologist, hypnotherapist and yoga teacher. Simon and Linda are both certified MBSR instructors.
  • MBSR South, Michael Oaks Waldorf School, Kenilworth: Dr Danielle Klemp and Mandy Johnson. Both Mandy and Danielle have completed their certification in Mindfulness Based Interventions at Stellenbosch University.
  • Beingmindful, Vredehoek, Cape Town: Denise Washkansky, clinical psychologist and life coach, and Debbie Grusd, physiotherapist and TRE practitioner. Monthly meditation meetings are also offered.
  • Vijo Wellness Clinic, Durbanville, Cape Town: Dr Annelie van Breda, psychologist. In addition to MBSR, Annelie also offers mindful eating workshops.
  • Mindfulness in East-London: Barbara Gerber, counselling psychologist, and Janine Kirby, family practitioner and homeopath.
  • Mindfulness Port Elizabeth: Dr Margo de Kooker and Dr Greg Smith.
  • MBSR Somerset WestDr Lydia Altini, integrative medical practitioner.
  • MBSR Knysa and Plettenberg BayAnneke Barnard, counselling psychologist. Anneke received professional training in body-mind medicine and MBSR under the leadership of Jon Kabat-Zinn and Saki Santorelli.
  • Mindfulness Training Pretoria: Lyn Lupke, counselling psychologist, and Hettie Mathie, trauma counsellor.
  • Mindful Living, Fourways, Johannesburg: Nico Brink, clinical psychologist. One-day workshops on mindfulness are also offered.
  • Palouse Mindfulness is an excellent free online MBSR course.

Mindful Self-Compassion (MSC)

MSC teaches simple effective skills and develops emotional strength to meet life’s challenges with kindness, care and understanding instead of blaming, shaming or criticizing ourselves. The core skills of self-compassion develop courageous attitudes which help us stand up to harm, even the harm we may inflict unwittingly upon ourselves, through self-criticism, self-isolation or self-absorption. MSC is based on the groundbreaking research of Kristin Neff, Ph.D and the clinical experitise of Chris Germer, Ph.D, University of California San Diego.

After the course, you will be able to handle challenging emotions with self-kindness. To learn more and to test your compassion level: self-compassion.org

  • Mindful Self-Compassion, Cape Town: Claire Breen, educational psychologist, 082 066 2212 or 021 794 5477. Trained by Chris Germer and Kristin Neff.

Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT)

MBCT is an approach that grew out of MBSR and combines the practice and clinical application of mindfulness meditation with the tools of cognitive therapy. It is used for working with the faulty thinking involved in depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder and other mood disorders.

Mindfulness-Based Relapse Prevention (MBRP)

MBRP brings together principles of cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) and mindfulness meditation practice. During the eight-week course, participants learn meditation practices and skills for working with craving, difficult emotions, and situations that may put them at high risk for relapse.

Corporate interventions

  • Mindful Leadership, Johannesburg: Casper Oelofsen, coach. Mindful leaders have an increased ability to respond rather than react to the discomfort of complexity. It is in the act of stepping back/pausing/reflecting that leaders respond in wiser ways to the ever-increasing demands of the world of work. Tailor-made mindfulness-based interventions, including coaching, are offered.
  • Be-awake, Cape Town: Linda Kantor, yoga teacher and psychologist. Programmes can be formatted according to organisational needs, including two-day workshops, eight-week programmes meeting weekly for 2 hours, individual/team-based coaching and half-day sessions, and leadership, teambuilding and restoration retreats.

Open the Heart and Still the Mind

  • Cape Town and at retreat centres nationally: Sue Cooper, clinical psychologist and psychoanalytic psychotherapist, integrates Buddhist meditation and psychotherapy in 8-week courses and weekly groups, as well as afternoon, day and weekend retreats.

Mindful movement

  • Stillness-Dancing and Stillpoint of the Dance Retreats, Cape Town and nationallyLisa Firer.
  • Be-awake, Cape Town: Linda Kantor, yoga teacher and psychologist.
  • Body Sensing, Cape Town, with retreats out of town: Yasmin, a body/mind coach, movement professional, and somatic movement therapist.

Mindful eating

  • Minding the Food Space, Cape Town and Johannesburg: Julie Deane-Williams, registered dietician, and Fathima Bux, registered dietician. This intervention offers eight-week mindfulness-based courses, workshops and retreats to help all interested people wanting to develop healthier relationships with food, eating, their bodies and themselves.
  • Mindful Eating for Overeaters, Durbanville, Cape Town: Annelie van Breda, PhD psychologist, presents a full-day workshop and individual sessions for people who struggle with overeating. She also offers MBSR courses.

Mindfulness and creativity

Introduction to Mindfulness and Meditation

Mindfulness for healthcare professionals

  • Newton Park, Port Elizabeth: Tracy McIntyre, clinical psychologist trained at the Karuna Institute in the UK, offers an introduction to mindfulness for health professionals (workshop of 2 hours) and a two-day intensive for psychologists on mindfulness-based psychotherapy.