Wellbeing Programing

Since 1995 the Earl E. Bakken Center for Spirituality & Healing has played a pivotal role in improving the health and wellbeing of individuals, organizations, and communities in Minnesota, nationally, and internationally. In addition to programming for individuals and the community, we offer a variety of wellbeing programming for organizations.

Through this programming your employees will have the opportunity to explore tools and resources to enhance their health and wellbeing. Programming is led by University of Minnesota experts, and is available on-site at your organization in the Twin Cities metro area or remotely via webinar. In addition to the topics below, we welcome the opportunity to collaborate on programming to create customized programs for your group’s unique needs or interests.

To learn more about the Bakken Center’s wellbeing programming for organizations, please contact Molly Buss, community relations program and event manager, at [email protected] or 612-625-8164.

About Wellbeing

We believe that wellbeing is not just—or even primarily—about physical health. Rather, wellbeing is about finding balance in body, mind, and spirit. In this state, we feel content, connected, energized, resilient and safe.

The Bakken Center’s Wellbeing Model, developed by Bakken Center founder and director, Mary Jo Kreitzer, PhD, RN, FAAN, takes into account our interconnectedness and interdependence with our friends, families, and communities, as well as the personal and global environment we live in. It addresses the importance of security and purpose in our lives. The Model can be conceptualized and expressed at many levels—including the individual, family, organization/system, and community.

Mindfulness Programming

The Bakken Center has offered evidenced-based mindfulness programming for individuals, organizations, and communities for more than fifteen years.

Mindfulness means paying attention in a particular way: on purpose, in the present moment, and nonjudgmentally. Simple as it may sound, mindfulness transforms how we relate to events and experiences. It creates a more spacious way of being in the world that is less reactive and more content and at ease.

More than 30 years of research on mindfulness-based training demonstrates positive outcomes associated with increased self-awareness, stress reduction, and emotional and attention regulation. In addition, mindfulness-based training has been associated with a reduction in symptoms for various physical and behavioral health conditions including anxiety, depression and chronic pain.

Finally, as organizations and individuals work toward social justice, mindfulness can be an important tool. As noted by Rhonda Magee, Law professor, mindfulness teacher, and social justice advocate, “Mindfulness deepens our ability to notice very subtle aspects of our lived experience and to be present with those aspects. It also provides an ethical lens to help us understand how the ways we engage impact our interpersonal relationships and actions in the world.”

Learn about our Mindfulness at Work for organizations course, and learn about our available wellbeing workshops and retreats below.


Wellbeing Workshops and Retreats

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An Introduction to Mindfulness at Work

A growing body of research has begun to point to the numerous benefits of mindfulness practice. Studies indicate that mindfulness helps enhance emotional and physical resilience, improve decision-making, and often allows us to see and respond to others with greater sensitivity and empathy. This experiential workshop will include an introduction to mindfulness meditation, and will explore the ways in which mindfulness relates to essential workplace skills, such as regulation, resilience, and cognitive flexibility.

Mindful Self-Leadership and Resilience

This workshop focuses on supporting leaders and building leadership competencies from the inside out. Personal resilience is increasingly considered an essential quality of leadership and yet many leaders today feel there isn’t enough time or space in their day to care for themselves. This workshop will present mindfulness as a tool for building more space in your day, reducing stress and enhancing overall wellbeing. The relationship between emotional intelligence, mindfulness and self-leadership will also be highlighted and research on the benefits of mindfulness and leadership execution will be presented. A portion of the workshop will be experiential and participants will be invited to practice mindfulness exercises. Practical and easy to apply in-the-moment mindfulness tips will be provided, as well as ideas for incorporating a regular mindfulness meditation practice into a busy daily routine.

A Guide for Mindful Communication

We’ve probably all had conversations that have deteriorated and resulted in hard feelings, when our intention was otherwise. In this session, you will explore a model for mindful communication that supports meaningful connections and productive conversations – at work, at home, and in our larger communities. Practical tips and strategies will be shared for enhancing your skills and your confidence in putting mindful communication into daily practice. This experiential workshop includes an introductory overview to mindfulness as the foundation for mindful communication

Mindful Meetings - Creating Engaging and Productive Meetings

Rooted in the practice and principles of mindful communication, this workshop focuses on methods, processes and practical tips for making workplace meetings more productive, engaging, and inclusive - whether in person or online. This workshop may also be customized to address an organization’s specific needs or discussion topic.

Full or Half-Day Mindfulness Retreats

Our mindfulness retreats can help further your understanding of mindfulness and deepen your practice. These full- or half-day offerings invite your employees to intentionally step away from daily routines and the busyness of everyday life for the purpose of renewal. A skilled mindfulness teacher will provide guided instruction related to meditation as well as gentle mindful movement such as qigong or standing or chair yoga. Our full or half day retreat offerings are appropriate for participants with some meditation or mindfulness experience.

Applied Mindfulness Retreats

This offering is a 1-2 hour, in-depth exploration of an applied mindfulness topic. Each retreat will include an evidence-based presentation, group discussion, and experiential practice. It is appropriate for experienced mindfulness meditation practitioners and those brand new to mindfulness. Potential topics include mindful eating, mindful movement/yoga, mindful communication, managing transitions and changes, aging, or we are able to customize the topic or area of focus to suit your organization's needs.

Mindful Leadership Coaching

Mindful leadership coaching is a highly individualized development process designed around a leader’s unique leadership needs and aspirations. Jon Kabat-Zinn, founder of Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) and an international leader in bringing mindfulness to healthcare, business and other settings, defines mindfulness as, “Awareness that arises through paying attention, on purpose, in the present moment and non-judgmentally.” More recently, Kabat-Zinn has added, “in the service of self-understanding and wisdom.”

Through reflective dialogue, mindfulness-informed leadership practices and action planning, a mindful leadership coach partners a leader to support, challenge and inspire their growth and development. Mindful leadership focuses on four essential components of effective leadership:

  • Self-awareness, self-management, and social awareness
  • Attention, Focus, and Clarity
  • Agility, resilience, and the ability to respond skillfully to change
  • Compassion and empathy

Mindfulness meditation practice will be incorporated and encouraged throughout the duration of the coaching engagement.

Enhancing Personal Wellbeing: At Work and at Home

This session will highlight the six dimensions of the University of Minnesota’s Earl E. Bakken Center for Spirituality & Healing’s Wellbeing Model developed by Bakken Center founder and director, Mary Jo Kreitzer, PhD, RN, FAAN, and its application in fostering resilience in individuals and teams. It will also include examples of wellbeing practices and tools for supporting resilience and wellbeing, and an opportunity to practice mindfulness, which is an evidence-based wellbeing practice.

Cultivating Gratitude: A Powerful Wellbeing Tool

Practicing gratitude not only makes you feel good–it can also have a positive impact on your relationships and your sense of wellbeing. Research indicates that gratitude may lower blood pressure, improve immune function, reduce cardiac inflammation, increase happiness, and decrease depression. In this session, you will explore ways to cultivate gratitude and learn simple techniques for practicing gratitude in your everyday life, at work and at home.

Pathways to Resilience

We live in a world that is constantly demanding our time and attention. Disorienting changes in our personal and professional lives contribute to these demands, which creates stress. In times of stress and rapid change, it's easy to lose focus on ourselves and stop making simple daily choices that help us bounce back no matter what life throws our way.

This session will offer an opportunity to reconnect with yourself while you try out practices and skills that are simple to remember, easy to apply, and nourishing for your whole being.

Cooking for Wellbeing

Our hands-on cooking classes will explore both basic culinary techniques and general eating choices that build on each other, and help you find strategies to integrate them into your life. Through experiential learning, our instructor will guide you toward finding the sweet spot where your personal needs, skills, and desires intersect. In the end, you will leave with a better understanding of the role of food and cooking in long term health and wellbeing, and the confidence to implement basic strategies to sustain your own health and wellbeing.

Topics include:

  • Cooking techniques: Knife skills, roasting, sauteing, steaming, ‘salt/fat/acid/heat’, flavor profiles
  • Pantry building: How to stock your kitchen with the items you need to prepare multiple healthy, simple, and affordable meals
  • Nutrition principles: Whole foods: what are they and why they matter macronutrients-carbohydrates/fats/proteins: where to find them, how to use them, and what they do; feeding your gut: delicious ways to nourish our bodies, and our brains
  • Self-care: Listening to your body, balancing rest, stress and diet, mindful eating
  • Seasonal eating-delicious, simple and healthful ways to spend less and enjoy more
  • Feeding the family: Easy ways to engage kids in cooking and eating for health and happiness


Nature Heals: An Introduction to Nature-Based Therapeutics

Research reveals that environments can increase or reduce our stress, which in turn impacts our bodies. What you are seeing, hearing, experiencing at any moment is changing not only your mood, but how your nervous, endocrine, and immune systems are working. Regardless of age or culture, humans find nature pleasing. In this session you will learn how nature heals, soothes, restores and connects, and how to bring nature into any environment.

Living Well, Dying Well

Living Well, Dying Well aims to help people regain the language and skills needed to empower, nurture, and care for those at the end of life. Not only are Baby Boomers advocating for more control of their healthcare at all stages of life, but the popularity of surgeon and public health researcher Atul Gawande’s book Being Mortal: Medicine and What Matters in the End — which reached No. 1 on The New York Times Nonfiction Best Seller List — signals that people are hungry for these conversations. Whether we’re the person facing mortality, a care partner or loved one, a clinician, or staff of a care facility, celebrating these extraordinary moments can open doors to healing, wholeness, and even peace.

Self-Acupressure for Stress Management

In this session you will learn how acupressure can be a powerful tool for self-healing in times of stress. Acupressure is the practice of applying gentle pressure to specific points on the body called “acupoints” to promote a therapeutic response. The instructor will briefly describe the theory behind acupressure, and will demonstrate how the use of specific acupoints can help to encourage calm, reduce the impact of stress, and promote resiliency. There will be an opportunity to participate in a guided sequence of self-acupressure, breathing, and visualization. Participants will leave this session with the knowledge of how to perform basic self-acupressure to promote wellbeing.

An Introduction to Integrative Health

Integrative health is a rapidly expanding practice that explores the use of integrative therapies alongside standard of care treatments to improve quality of life and aid in symptom management. Integrative health may provide an internal sense of mastery, enable greater flexibility in emotions and beliefs, and empower individuals to make comprehensive lifestyle changes that were previously unobtainable.

Perspective Matters

Positive emotions quiet the often challenging physiological responses that can occur when we experience stress, including increased heart rate, higher blood sugar, and immunosuppression. In other words, they help us to downregulate from a heightened state, so we can relax. This allows us to adopt a broader perspective, allowing for increased flexibility and creativity in our choices - essentially permitting us to “think outside the box” - and positively impact our performance, relationships, and overall wellbeing.

Spirituality and Resiliency

Through the lens of the University of Minnesota’s Earl E. Bakken Center for Spirituality & Healing’s Wellbeing Model developed by Bakken Center founder and director, Mary Jo Kreitzer, PhD, RN, FAAN, and the seven spiritual hungers identified by minister, professor and author Howard J. Clinebell, this workshop will invite participants to reflect on and cultivate meaning and spirituality in their lives.

While spirituality for some may incorporate or denote religion, in this workshop spirituality will be explored from a broader context: connecting with something larger than oneself, leading to enhanced resiliency and a deeper sense of meaning in life.

The role of contemplative practices in accessing a sense of spirituality will be discussed, and participants will be guided through an exercise to inquire and reflect on their own experience and understanding of spirituality.