Diane Reibel, Ph.D.
Director, Mindfullness Institute

Diane Reibel, Ph.D. co-founded the Mindfulness- Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) Program at Jefferson Hospital in 1996 and is currently the Director of the Mindfulness Institute at the Jefferson Marcus Center of Integrative Medicine and Research Associate Professor in the Department of Emergency Medicine at Jefferson Medical College. She has been teaching mindfulness for 20 years in medical, educational and corporate settings. She currently runs a Practicum for professionals who want to teach MBSR and offers supervision and internships in MBSR for professionals. 

“In the mid 80’s I was an Assistant Professor in the Department of Physiology at Jefferson Medical College, investigating cardiac metabolism and function. My research was funded by NIH. I was presenting regularly at scientific meetings, publishing scientific papers, and teaching cardiovascular physiology to medical students. In the midst of this highly successful time professionally, I became ill. I suffered with an immune disorder and was in chronic physical pain. I suffered emotionally as well, with the uncertainties of whether my illness would progress, and whether I would be able to care for my child, have more children, and continue my career.

After batteries of medical tests, repeated visits to specialists, and an exhausting array of conventional medical treatments, I was told to “learn to live with the pain.” Despite all my years of higher education, that was something that I never learned. Although as a scientist I was skeptical, I began to explore alternative medicine, trying biofeedback, hypnosis, energy healing and meditation for pain management. After practicing meditation for several months I found that I was struggling less emotionally and experiencing a general sense of well-being even in the midst of my chronic illness. I found this to be very curious. Reflecting on my first-hand experience of the benefits of meditation and other mind/body techniques, I became interested in learning more about the use of these modalities in healthcare. At a behavioral medicine conference, the workshop on biofeedback that I originally signed up for was cancelled, so on an impulse I shifted to something that was new to me — a workshop with Jon Kabat-Zinn on Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction(MBSR).

The experience moved me deeply. It fueled my personal meditation practice. It also gave me some hard evidence that mindfulness was beginning to be integrated into mainstream medicine. With continued practice through the years, mindfulness became a way of life. Life became richer and fuller. My health improved. And my passion for wanting to share mindfulness meditation with others grew. I let go of my academic position to embark on a new career. I attended professional trainings with Jon Kabat-Zinn, went on retreats with many different mindfulness teachers and began teaching MBSR at cardiac rehabilitation centers in local hospitals. After I had been teaching MBSR primarily to cardiac patients for several years, a former colleague of mine at Jefferson asked me if I would run a stress reduction program for medical students. So I closed the circle, going back to Jefferson to teach medical students again. But this time I was teaching meditation. Following the success of the pilot course, MBSR was soon integrated into the medical school curriculum. I was offered a faculty position and found myself back on staff at Jefferson, now as Director of the Stress Reduction Program at the Center for Integrative Medicine, developing and teaching MBSR programs for patients. My research background came in handy as we began to study the physiological and health benefits of MBSR.

I have been living my passion for the practice and teaching of mindfulness, which have both nourished me in ways I could never have imagined. In describing my career change, one of my colleagues said that I have gone from being a heart researcher to a heart healer. Whether in practice or teaching, mindfulness is very much about healing the heart.

Through the years I have experienced and been trained in a rich variety of healing modalities that are also very much about healing the heart, mind, body, spirit. I bring all that I have learned and all of who I am into my work with others. I am continually in awe of the healing power that resides within each and every person. It is an honor and privilege to companion people on their healing journey.”

Diane participated in professional training under the direction of Jon Kabat-Zinn, PhD, and has completed the most advanced teacher training at the Center for Mindfulness at University of Massachusetts Medical Center where she has been awarded MBSR teacher certification. 

In addition to her passion for teaching mindfulness she studies the physiologic effects and health outcomes of mindfulness training and her research is published and widely cited in both scientific journals and the popular press. She is coauthor of the book Teaching Mindfulness: A Practical Guide for Clinicians and Educators, a Springer publication (2010).

Diane is a long-time student of Mind-Body Medicine and has completed a four year training in Non-Dual Healing under the direction of Jason Shulman, and also has training in Reiki, Polarity, and Therapeutic Touch. She incorporates a variety of mind-body techniques in her work with individuals. Above all, Diane listens deeply, embodying compassionate presence.

“What lies behind you and what lies in front of you, are small matters compared to what lies inside of you.”- Ralph Waldo Emerson