Richard E. Berger, MD

Rick is a Professor Emeritus in the Medical School at the University of Washington and the primary teacher of Mindfulness NW. He received his undergraduate education and medical degree from The University of Chicago. He received his certification in the teaching of Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction at the University of Massachusetts Center for Mindfulness and received a Certification in Mindfulness Facilitation from the Mindful Awareness Research Center at the University of California in Los Angeles. Rick has taught Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) and Mindful Awareness Practices (MAPS) classes at the University of Washington Hospital, the University of Washington Intramural Activities Center and the Center for Child and Family Well-being. He also holds certificates to teach mindfulness to children and adolescents from Inn Kids and Mindful Schools and teaches mindfulness in the Seattle Public Schools. His ongoing practice includes daily meditation, yoga, silent retreats and continuing education in mindfulness and related areas.

Rick’s offerings at CCFW:

  • Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction
  • Drop-in Meditation Sessions

Read an interview with Rick about his courses:

How does being a medical doctor influence your mindfulness practice and teaching? 

We can be happier and have a richer life if we pay closer attention to what is happening in the present moment. Just listening attentively to a patient, colleague or family member greatly enhances my experience as well as theirs. Mindfulness teaches us the skill of real listening, which is a great gift to ourselves and others. Mindfulness also teaches us that we can direct our attention. We can refine our minds so that it is easier to see the brighter side of a situation or the better side of ourselves and others. This is my meaning of freedom.
What will participants learn in your MBSR course?

The most important thing that I hope students will learn is a new view of themselves and their mental processes. The mindful view allows you to practice stepping back from your own thoughts and experiences in order to view them more clearly and non-judgmentally. This view leads to the development of more empathy and kindness both to yourself and to others, which naturally leads to an increased state of calmness and confidence. During the course you learn about neurological changes in the mind, explore and become familiar with your own mind and thoughts, and come to know yourself better, and practice methods that can lead to more healthy emotional and thought patterns.
What inspired you to start teaching MBSR?  
Studies have shown the effectiveness of MBSR in relieving stress and improving the mental and physical health of people from all walks of life. My interest in mindfulness and my profession as a medical school professor naturally lead me to consider sharing the mindfulness instruction that I had received. My eagerness to continue studying led me to become a certified in mindfulness for adults, children, and adolescents.  
How did you create the happiness course, and what was your inspiration?  
Many people who have taken my MBSR classes share that they are happier and have more realistic views toward life after the course. This inspired me to create a happiness course. Happiness is something that most of us want for ourselves and our loved ones – yet we often have difficulty expressing happiness or understanding how one achieves it.
I created the course by drawing upon mindfulness trainings that I have completed, and have created a space where participants talk with one another about their experiences with and beliefs about happiness. We will also learn the research and basic neurophysiology of mindfulness and happiness. The class style blends lectures, discussion, practice, self-inquiry, and homework.

What have you learned through your personal mindfulness practice?  

I have learned that my own difficulties are rarely unique but are part of the problems we face from our common humanity. My practice taught me to be more forgiving of my mistakes and therefore of others. I have also learned that I am connected through my biology to others, the earth and the universe. I have evolved to survive and thrive in this world - enjoyment of the world is part of that. Trying to be happy is not selfish but contagious to those that I am around directly or indirectly. I have learned that my own happiness is very much connected to the happiness of others.