The modern world is inter-connected, busy, and fast-paced. Stress seems to be a natural part of this type of life, even among the most stoic individuals. Knowing how to manage stress in a healthy way is the key to improving our life quality and we all have different ways of going about doing so. Some of us enjoy a glass of quality wine to unwind while others take to playing various sports for a physical stress release. And, there are those of us who use the option of working with a certified therapist.
All these methods of stress-reduction can be highly effective and none is necessarily better than the others. However, for me personally, the practice of mindfulness-based stress reduction, or MBSR, has played a bigger role than any of the previous methods. Mindfulness is is one of the less-talked-about stress-management methods, but it can be one of the most effective. Put simply, mindfulness is a spiritual practice of centering your mind on the present moment. Despite originally being an ancient Buddhist practice, mindfulness is now also widely accepted in Western medicine circles.
The Benefits of Learning Mindfulness
There are several scientifically proven benefits to mindfulness, such as increased job satisfaction, reduced stress, and stronger emotion regulation skills. Yet, the benefits of learning mindfulness are not limited to emotional well-being. There are also various physical health benefits to learning mindfulness, such as better eating habits, higher quality of sleep, and better overall physical health. Benefits such as these make learning mindfulness an extremely worthwhile investment.
For me personally, one of the key benefits of mindfulness is that I can access the practice anytime and anywhere. We all know the feeling of our legs going shaky and our minds going numb before a key moment in our lives. This is especially common before events such as key business meetings or public speaking. These are just some of the many examples of stressful situations that could be managed by practicing mindfulness. Focusing on the present moment grounds your mind and it allows full dedication to the task at hand. By practicing mindfulness long-term, you will experience a drastic increase in the quality of your life.
Before we continue with the top-rated mindfulness courses, allow me to present a video of one of Google’s Mindfulness lectures by Dr. Jon Kabat-Zinn. Dr. Kabat-Zinn is one of the main pioneers of mindfulness in western medicine and an engaging speaker. His calm and perfectly articulated manner of speaking comes from a lifelong practice of mindfulness. If you have previously never heard of mindfulness, this video gives you a clear idea of what the practice is about.
What are the Best Mindfulness Courses?
Learning mindfulness requires nothing more than dedication and an open mind. This makes it an ideal skill to pick up online. Despite having no material requirements, having a good introduction to mindfulness is extremely important. There are several high-quality courses available online that will help you with the fundamentals of mindfulness. To cover all types of experience levels, we rounded up the best mindfulness courses for both total beginners and advanced practitioners looking to expand upon their knowledge.
These are the best mindfulness courses:
- Best Overall: De-Mystifying Mindfulness (Coursera)
- Best for Meditation: Mindfulness Meditation (Skillshare)
- Best for Beginners: Mindfulness for Well-being and Peak Performance (Futurelearn)
- Best for Work-related Use: Mindfulness and Resilience to Stress at Work (edX)
- Best for Experts: Maintaining a Mindful Life (Futurelearn)
- Best for Theory: Sounds True’s Freedom to Choose Something Different (Udemy)
- Best Free Course: Mindfulness-based Stress Reduction (Palouse Mindfulness)
- Best Short Course: Mindfulness Practices (LinkedIn Learning)
Best Overall: De-Mystifying Mindfulness (Coursera)
A great all-around course in developing mindful living.
In my opinion, “De-Mystifying Mindfulness” on Coursera is the best online course on mindfulness currently available. This course was developed by the oldest university in the Netherlands, Universiteit Leiden and it is a good match both for beginners and advanced practitioners. The course material is free to take, unless you want a certificate in mindfulness.
The course takes approximately 34 hours to complete and it consists of video lectures, practical exercises, and plenty of quizzes to test your knowledge. Despite the extensive time frame, the course still feels practical and concise.
In the beginning, learners are introduced to mindfulness from several different perspectives, with both skeptics and beginners being treated with equal respect. The first phase is also the most practical one, as it is meant to get students familiar with the common exercises straight away. In the second week, students will learn the psychological aspects of mindfulness, with the course shedding a light on how and why mindfulness has become a scientifically accepted method.
After that, the third week goes deep into the philosophy behind mindfulness. Attendees will learn how aspects of mindfulness are found in almost all religions in the world. The last phase of the training course is rather unique. Attendees will be asked to dwell on the idea of politics and mindfulness. Lecturers will present practitioners with an idea of mindfulness as a social movement. In the western context, debating on the wider impact of mindfulness is an interesting topic and even the most advanced practitioners of mindfulness enjoy debating on the impact of mindfulness.
All in all, if you are willing to invest your time and are interested in meditation and spiritual living, this is the best overall mindfulness course currently available.
Best for Meditation: Mindfulness Meditation (Skillshare)
An engaging course on the basics of mindfulness meditation.
“Mindfulness Meditation” on Skillshare is a beginner-level course that is highly practical for both beginners and advanced students of spirituality. The main focus here is on mindfulness meditation and its various benefits. The course is rather short at 24 minutes, and the lessons are straightforward and on-point. For those of us with a busy lifestyle, a short crash course such as this is very helpful.
The lecturer, Mr. Zachary Philips, is a renowned life coach who strongly encourages the use of mindfulness for his clients. In the introduction, you are given a short introduction to the phenomenon of mindful living. The attendees are then given a practical breathing exercise and some tips on avoiding mental strain. The tips shared are practical and will surely help beginners establish a solid meditation routine. This video-based mindfulness training class also has a one minute long guided meditation.
For beginners, having a good first guide is extremely important. It could be the difference between you just trying meditation out for one time or living a mindful life with all its benefits. After the guided meditation, the attendees are advised on how to develop meditation as an ongoing practice. As a class practice, the attendees will also be asked to journal their experiences for seven days. Reviewers report that the seven-day period is enough to show some encouraging benefits of the practice.
In online reviews, the attendees of the course were also inspired by the guided meditation. Attendees were also complimentary of the encouraging yet concise lecturer. In addition, most of the viewers of the course reported that they have continued the practices after the seven day trial period. Overall, I would recommend this course if you are looking for a concise course on mindfulness training. It’s short, but it’s a good introduction to mindfulness meditation.
Best for Beginners: Mindfulness for Well-being and Peak Performance (Futurelearn)
An informative and practical entry-level course to mindful living.
The major advantage of this course is that it is tailored to suit everyone. The captivating lecturers from Monash University (one of the leading universities in Australia) teach mindfulness in a humorous and lighthearted manner. This makes it a solid introductory course to get your first experiences with meditation and Eastern spirituality in general.
The course starts with giving us specific examples and scientific research into how living unmindfully impacts us all. By educating us on the basic ideas on mindful living, we are then given practical advice on how to incorporate mindfulness into our daily lives. We are given detailed exercises for fostering healthier relationships and improving our level of communication. The course also gives us examples of how mindful living can be beneficial for your memory. This makes it one of the best online courses for students looking to improve their study-performance.
Once you have a clear overview of the exercises, the course is rounded up with a final chapter. There, you are given an impactful final lecture on how to fully incorporate the practices into your daily life. By the end of the course, expect to have a clear vision of how to live your daily life more harmoniously.
Online reviews of this course have highlighted the humorous tone, which makes the course easy to follow for beginners. The memory-boosting benefits have also garnered acclaim from students. Many attendees report greater study-performance after completion of the course.
Best for Work-related Use: Mindfulness and Resilience to Stress at Work (edX)
A practical mindfulness course to boost your work performance.
Whether we love our field of work or not, there is no escaping work-related stress. “Mindfulness and Resilience to Stress at Work” on edX is an excellent way of learning to deal with work-related stress, and it is a good fit for organizations wishing to boost their performance without massive investments. Remember, mindfulness requires nothing but your mind and some dedication. The course will start off by educating you on how toxic stress impacts both teams and individuals negatively.
You will then learn exactly how to spot the difference between toxic stress and beneficial healthy stress. This course is presented by the University of Berkeley, one of the top-ranking universities in the world. This is a good fact to know if some of you still think of mindfulness as just another New Age practice. The two instructors of the course, both directors of Greater Good Science Center, are easy-to-follow and charismatic.
You will be informed on how to incorporate mindful living in a business-related environment. For managing work-related stress, the exercises are simply fantastic. Many organizations have enrolled in the course and reported a significant increase in the health of the team. This always leads to an improvement in work-related results as well.
The course is, however, not limited to work organizations. Users looking to improve upon their personal life have also reported greater happiness and success after taking the course. If you are still in doubt whether spirituality and work are a good mix, this is an ideal online course for you and your organization.
Best for Experts: Maintaining a Mindful Life (Futurelearn)
A course in developing mindfulness as a daily habit.
“Maintaining a Mindful Life” on Futurelearn builds upon the previous Futurelearn course in this list. If you have no previous experience with mindfulness and spirituality, the material presented here could overwhelm you. However, you do not necessarily need to have completed the previously mentioned Futurelearn online course on mindfulness. Just having previous experiences with meditation and spirituality are enough.
As with the previous Futurelearn online course in this list, this mindfulness course is also presented by Monash University. This course is the logical next step to solidify your understanding of mindful living. All in all, this also one of the most practical online courses on mindfulness you can take. The audio, video, and text materials encourage you to start applying the techniques in your daily life. To get the most out of this course, be sure to fully devote yourself to the material presented.
The emphasis of the course is on practical exercise. I would also highlight how the course does not shy away from negative experiences in your life. The lecturers give us specific practices to apply in stressful situations and relationships. By the end of the course, you will know how to start building a so-called mindful life. You will have a clear view of how being mindful could become an almost automatic part of your daily living. And as I have mentioned several times, living mindfully can dramatically increase your quality of life.
Best for Theory: Sounds True's Freedom to Choose Something Different (Udemy)
A Tibetan-Buddhism inspired course on mind patterns.
“Sounds True’s Freedom to Choose Something Different” on Udemy is presented by Tibetan Buddhist writer and teacher Mrs. Pema Chodron. It’s a good choice for both beginners and advanced practitioners alike. It’s worth mentioning, though, that the main focus of the course is a bit more specific than the other programs on this list. It emphasizes learning about mind patterns and how your thought patterns have led you to your current life situation, whether that is good or bad.
The first lessons in this online class will guide attendees into identifying their own negative thought patterns and how addictive this kind of thinking can become. Then, the class continues by teaching a simple meditation that makes it easy to search for dark mind patterns and thought processes. The lecture also gives some background information regarding the Tibetan theory of attachment. In the context of ancient Buddhism, attachment is one of the root causes of suffering. The attendees are then guided on how to gently start replacing negative thought patterns with more positive ones.
Throughout the course, Mrs. Chodron provides real-world examples of how attendees can benefit from being mindful of their patterns of thought. By the end of the course, attendees will be familiar with basic Buddhist philosophy. They will learn to implement Buddhist laws of mindfulness in their daily lives.
Online reviews of this course have highlighted the lighthearted delivery of the lecturer. The reviews are also complimentary on the fact that the course has a clear focus on one thing, the thought patterns. I would recommend the course to people who are on a look for a bit of fine-tuning of the mind.
Best Free Course: Mindfulness-based Stress Reduction (Palouse Mindfulness)
An extensive mindfulness course with a free certificate of completion.
“Mindfulness-based Stress Reduction” by Palouse Mindfulness is 100% free, but it is still one of the most extensive online courses on the subject. It’s full of useful material and it’s suitable for all mindfulness experience levels.
The introduction of this program gives students a solid foundation on the basics of both meditation and mindfulness. The cited extensive scientific research might convert even the most skeptical of minds. The official time of the course is two months. However, it is neatly spread into separate weeks.
During each week, you will view video lectures and work through additional reading material (various articles and books on mindfulness and spirituality in general). The additional weekly practices and exercises help absorb the material. In addition, the FAQs included in the chapters are very helpful for beginners. Lots of misconceptions and common mistakes get addressed very well. Once you have completed the course and the additional material, you can claim a free certificate of completion. You can do this by sending an e-mail containing your completed worksheets and a so-called “letter of learning”. You will assess your progress and give examples of how you will incorporate mindfulness practices in your current life situation.
The attendees of the course have been impressed by the sheer scale of the course, despite it being free. The chance of having a free personal certificate of completion was also impressive to several reviewers. I would recommend taking the Paloused Mindfulness course to everyone willing to invest their time into mindfulness. Of the free material available online, this is still clearly the most extensive mindfulness course.
Best Short Course: Mindfulness Practices (LinkedIn Learning)
A quick course to get you started on the basics.
“Mindfulness Practices” on LinkedIn Learning is one of the best quick courses available for learning mindfulness. This short mindfulness course by LinkedIn focuses mainly on mastering work-related stress. However, the practices would certainly benefit your personal life as well.
In this class, students learn to harness spirituality to better lead both others and themselves. The syllabus lasts a mere two hours in total but it still covers all the basics of mindfulness practices. The lectures also have unique takes on the subject of spirituality. Students who take this course will learn to become leaders of their own emotions and though-patterns with a strong focus on using mindfulness for inspiration.
You will learn how to become friends with your inner critic and embrace inspiration, even in challenging circumstances. Both in your personal life and in your workplace. The second section of the course focuses on leading a team. While mindfulness is mostly a practice of the self, you will certainly become a better leader by becoming more in tune with your inner life. Some of the most influential leaders in world history were practitioners of mindfulness and meditation. For example, Mahatma Gandhi. The final section of the lecture will further expand on spirituality in leadership. You will learn to manage to lead in situations where the team spirit is unreceptive.
Other reviewers online have highlighted the structure of the course. For example, it’s helpful that each practice and theoretical piece of information is timestamped. So, if you need a quick mindfulness-related practice or theory, you will easily find it within seconds. In my opinion, this is the most concise, straight to the point mindfulness course you will find online.