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Frequently Asked Questions

What’s the difference between mindfulness and meditation?

Meditation is when you intentionally set aside time to do something that’s good for you, and there are all kinds of meditations. Mindfulness is both a general awareness of the world and a formal meditation practice. It’s two things, not one. Meditation and mindfulness overlap in mindfulness meditation, which is one of the most popular types of meditation. ---Dr. Elisha Goldstein

MMSD mindfulness courses include both formal and informal practices. Mindfulness itself is not a religion, and is taught in MMSD with a secular approach. The mindfulness courses offered by MMSD are based on the work and research of Dr. Jon Kabat-Zinn at the University of Massachusetts Medical Center, who developed the Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) course in the late 1970s.

Where can I find course offerings and how do I register?

MMSD offers opportunities throughout the year for staff and teachers to learn and practice mindfulness. Access the MMSD Professional Development Course Catalog to read descriptions and to register. We offer classes for beginners new to mindfulness, for those who have some experience, and for past or current participants interested in continuing their practice with other MMSD members.

Are there prerequisites for any of the courses?

We offer a range of courses depending on experience and interest. Please refer to course descriptions to determine if the course is the right one for you. If you have any questions, please contact Sara Parrell at sparrell@madison.k12.wi.us.

How do I apply for PAC credit for participation in a course?

Course details include information on Continuing Education (CE) or Professional Academic Credit (PAC) if the course qualifies for credit. Edgewood College is our partner who awards the academic credit. Information about PAC or CE credit will be shared with class participants. Not all MMSD mindfulness offerings are eligible for CE or PAC credit.

Do any of these courses lead to certification in mindfulness or mindfulness training?

No. The mindfulness classes offered through MMSD align with the vision of Mindfulness in MMSD which offers mindfulness practices as a way to cultivate staff well-being. The MMSD mindfulness classes are not intended as a preparation program for teachers to teach mindfulness to students. A list of resources is available on our website for MMSD employees interested in learning more about mindfulness organizations, publications, and sites.

What if I can’t make all of the classes in a course?

Our mindfulness courses build in content, skill, and practice over the duration of each class so if you know at the time of registration that you may have a conflict with attendance, please consider signing up for the course at another time. Sometimes unexpected things come up so if you do miss a class, please contact the instructor.

Do I have to bring anything or wear anything special for class?

It’s not necessary to change clothes from work unless doing so will be more comfortable for you. Some participants wear the same clothes from work while others change. Dress comfortably knowing that most classes involve a combination of sitting in chairs or on the floor (on cushions). Class may include gentle, slow movement like walking or yoga. Depending on the class site, some items such as yoga mats, blankets, and sitting cushions are available. Longer classes have breaks, and participants are encouraged to be responsive to their own needs for nourishment or comfort. Feel free to bring what you think you will need.

Before the first class, participants receive an email introduction from the instructor(s) that includes details of items (yoga mat, blanket) that participants might want to use but that may not be available on site.

What if I have medical or health concerns and have trouble with the practices?

Some of the practices require periods of silence and stillness; other practices invite participants to try some gentle movement. Practices can be adapted; modifications or adaptations are offered by the instructor. Participants with health or medical concerns should inform Sara Parrell at sparrell@madison.k12.wi.us, and she can also put you in touch with the instructor(s) for the class if you wish to share any questions or concerns.