The history of MBSR and MBCT


From the very beginning there was for me one primary and compelling reason for attempting to bring mindfulness into the mainstream of society. That was to relieve suffering and catalyse greater compassion and wisdom in our lives and culture.

Jon Kabat-Zinn, 2011


Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction

A key contributor to the spread of mindfulness meditation in the West - Professor Jon Kabat-Zinn - is a scientist trained in molecular biology who has a passionate interest in the potential of Buddhist meditation practices and yoga to relieve suffering.

Thirty-five years ago he brought together the scientific method, the Western Insight Vipassana tradition (a form of Theravadan Buddhism) and Hatha yoga to generate the Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction program. In this eight week program, he brought together these understandings in the following skilful ways: 

 it was grounded in science;

 it was secular enough to appeal to a wide range of people from all sorts of walks of life;

 it was intensive enough to make a difference; and

 it was short enough to be "do-able" in a community setting.

The scientific paradigm emphasises objectivity, cost-effectiveness of health outcomes and a quest for evidence-based practice – and has been crucial for mindfulness to be able to have found it’s strong and impactful place in the world. The teachings from Buddhist practice bring their profound experiential understanding of the mind and body - providing a useful map for how to investigate the relationship between our 'inner' and 'outer' lives in order to really understand how to reduce suffering for ourselves and others.

Over the years Jon Kabat-Zinn's original program has now been translated into a range of mindfulness applications for specific issues including: substance addiction, pain, depression, anxiety, eating problems, cancer and for specific contexts such as leadership, workplaces, education, the criminal justice system and for frontline workers such as medical staff, child-protection workers, police personnel and firefighters.

People came to those original mindfulness trainings with Jon with all their stress, hope, curiosity, skepticism, busyness, pain, physical illness, demanding jobs, anxiety, depression, relationship troubles, general disenchantment and unease, and genius - to do an experiment in living with more presence and care over eight weeks and beyond. 

We invite you to come and do that same experiment and see what it can offer you.


Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy

Closely based on MBSR, Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) was developed by Segal, Williams and Teasdale as an intervention designed to prevent recurrences of major depression.

It integrates the main elements of MBSR with some cognitive therapy components. Although originally designed to prevent depression relapse, applications of MBCT to other problems and disorders are being explored and the research literature shows promising results. It is most relevant:




If you wish to find out more about how an MBCT course could help you with your anxiety and depression start here.


What People Are Saying

I have learnt a lot about myself through the MBSR course. Coming from a place of feeling very disconnected to myself, I now feel I am engaged and listening to what I need, which then has allowed me to handle what life has to offer in a positive way.

Anonymous, 2018

Since doing your course (Living with Wisdom and Compassion) my major transformation has been in my daily work as a family doctor. Instead of being the best doctor I can so that patients will admire me and appreciate me I am aware that I am regularly “putting myself in my patients shoes.” I want their lives to be better and their suffering to diminish. Whether that is through my doctoring or something not related to me is not relevant.



Ingrid (GP), 2018

Understanding mindfulness has changed my life.



Lee-Anne , 2018

It was great to be able to explore the strength of compassion, both internally and externally, through Living with Wisdom and Compassion. This course builds on what MBSR began. While it had its challenging moments, I came away from it feeling stress-relief thanks to my heart softening yet strengthening. And from the ability to see that even though we are all unique individuals, and we may express ourselves in wildly different ways, we all have the same needs. The better I can get at understanding those needs the more effective I can be in helping myself and others. I highly recommend this course to everyone.

Lisa, 2018

Bravo Ingrid Jolley and Openground! Thank you for your soothing and strengthening MBSR course. I’m feeling grounded, curious and hopeful about the future. I have the tools I need to lead an authentic, fulfilling life. 


Roz , 2018