Open the window of your heart
Dear Friend of the Center,
For thirty-three years the revolutionary work of the Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction Clinic and the Center for Mindfulness has touched the lives of tens of thousands of people all over the Earth. Most of what we do is public and highly visible, ranging from clinical care to the training of health care professionals, from research investigating the science of mindfulness to our annual international scientific conference, from our work in organizations and institutions to our programs with teachers and children.
In 1979 there was one MBSR program in the entire world. Today, there are more than 700 programs worldwide. There are 521 of these programs across the United States and participants from 54 countries and 5 continents participate in our Oasis Institute Education and Training programs. Last fall, 570 people attended our first Creating a Mindful Society public conference in New York City. Additionally, 5,000 people from around the world participated through live streaming! Today, we are more and more capable of transmitting the message of mindfulness to people locally, nationally and internationally. This is an amazing change of events in a mere three decades. As a friend of the Center, you are an active agent in this transformational process.
Today, I want to speak with you about another of our efforts - an essential yet less visible effort for which my colleagues and I now need your help.
Amidst all this growth, and the demands that come with growth, we are absolutely committed to taking responsibility for creating broader access to our programs for people who cannot afford to pay full tuition fees for these services. We have been actively engaged in social justice projects for two decades through teaching in prisons, creating a free, local inner-city clinic, working with women in shelters and assisting in the development of programs for women and young mothers in recovery.
Now is the time to make more public our longtime commitment to extending access and assistance: Since 2008, more than 1,500 people have received tuition assistance to attend our programs. In the last 3.5 years, we have offered participants a total of about $300,000 in tuition assistance. In this same period of time, we have received $90,000 in donations to support this effort.
Without hesitation, we have freely and gladly offered $210,000 more in tuition assistance than we have received in donations.
Here's what Tim says about the tuition assistance he received for our Oasis Institute professional training programs:
"The CFM is a leader in the field of 'well-being' and as such, is a critical source of training and fellowship. The tuition assistance allowed me put more resources into helping others and broadening my scope – I am now working with veterans and medical students and starting to work with nurses and social workers. Teaching MBSR offers a meaningful right livelihood opportunity – it would be great to increase the available pool of support for those who need it."
Tuition for our world-renowned Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction Program costs $600. For more than a decade, we have kept the cost of this program at less than $20.00 per hour. Such low-cost, expert, evidenced-based care is unique in our nation's healthcare. During the last four years, 562 people completed this program. Of these graduates, 445 received tuition assistance - they did not pay the full price for the program. This is 80% of all attendees.
Wes, who is currently enrolled in the Stress Reduction Program, says:
"I am benefiting so much from this program - it has changed my life. Before the course, I was having such an argument with my body, my mind and myself. Now I am having a conversation. What I am bringing home of myself now has a direct effect on my, and my wife's, life – she has been my caretaker for years with my illness. She sees and feels the difference in me. It is so important. When I was first referred to the program, I knew I could not swing the full cost. If the course had not been sliding scale, I would not have been able to afford it and I would still be battling with myself. When I saw that the cost could be based on my income, I said 'I have to do it."
I want you to know that no one has ever been turned away from the Stress Reduction Program because they have not been able to pay. We have kept our commitment to this simple act of caring for 33 years, and we have kept this quiet and close to our hearts until now.
Now, we need your help. We know that in order to assist others more directly, we need to give away more; to give away more, we need to have more to give...
The amount that we have offered in tuition assistance – while generous – is far less than we would like to give. It is incumbent on us to embody our values of generosity and inclusivity, as mindfulness ripples out in more and more diverse expressions in the United States and around the world... So, at our 10th Annual Scientific Conference last month, we launched a new tuition assistance initiative that we call Hearts Open Wide.
Today, I am asking you to join us, and "open the window of your heart." Please help us reach our annual goal of raising and distributing at least $100,000 per year to people like Wes and Tim, and so many others. 100% of the money raised between now and September 30, 2012 will be dedicated to Hearts Open Wide, assisting and supporting people to participate in programs that can changes their lives.
You can make a real difference.
With our hearts open wide, my colleagues and I thank you.
Saki F. Santorelli, EdD, MA
Associate Professor of Medicine, University of Massachusetts Medical School
Executive Director, Center for Mindfulness in Medicine, Healthcare and Society