A new key to happiness exists where one might expect it least — the Martha’s Vineyard Hospital. On Sept. 30, the hospital welcomes back Meditation and Mindfulness, an eight-week class directed by Dr. Elliott S. Dacher MD, now in its eighth year.

“We teach meditation not as a means of relaxation but as a skilled, personalized way to improve a person’s well-being,” said Dr. Dacher.

Dr. Dacher practiced internal medicine for 20 years before quitting his practice to seek a new way to help his patients. He traveled extensively in India and Nepal studying meditation and the inner aspects of health and healing.

More than 400 students have taken Meditation and Mindfulness over the years. — Tova Katzman

Returning to America 12 years later, Dr. Dacher distilled this education into a single eight-week course. Integrating Eastern and Western healing practices, his class seeks to eliminate the false preconceptions of meditation that so often prove detrimental.

“If you only use meditation as a relaxation technique, it fades away,” he said. “The self-education approach of the mind helps us understand the mind. It helps form a permanent stability from within the mind. It’s more of a state of calmness as opposed to a dull mind.”

More than 400 students have taken the class over the years.

“Elliott brings a unique perspective to mindful living,” said former student Sanford Low. “He is trained in both Western and Eastern healing practices. He studied with the Dalai Lama and is able to combine the savvy of the emergency room with the deep roots of Zen.”

Mr. Low emphasized the power of discipline taught in Dr. Dacher’s class, and he applied the meditative techniques he learned to his native Hawaiian roots and found astounding results.

“I try and visualize and bring about the most important people in my life who have passed,” Mr. Low said. “Meditation has truly put me in a deeper context of life. Through meditation, Elliott teaches us a larger part of humanity.”

Even the most-experienced students marvel over Dr. Dacher’s teachings. For nearly 10 years Alan Brigish practiced meditation. Despite his years of experience, he said he had never encountered a class quite like Dr. Dacher’s.

“What’s different about [Elliott’s class] is that, being a trained doctor in the Western world, he adapts the meditative techniques from the East without adapting the aspects of Buddhist religion,” said Mr. Brigish.

By leaving out the religion aspects of Buddhism, Dr. Dacher is able to cover meditation from a more clinical and scientific perspective.

Deborah J. Mayhew said she experienced dramatic improvement in her everyday life after taking the class. Ms. Mayhew earned her Ph.D. in experimental cognitive psychology from Tufts University. She credits the class with helping her navigate through a series of difficult moments in her life.

“It has helped me to manage chronic stress, work through grief and become more mindful in my everyday life, as well as to manage relationships better and simply enjoy life more,” Ms. Mayhew said.

“It helped me transition out of a very busy, overscheduled lifestyle and become more calm and at peace with life’s ups and downs,” she added.

The eight-week class begins on Wednesday, Sept. 30, and meets each Wednesday at the Martha’s Vineyard Hospital from 6 to 8:15 p.m. For more information and to register for the class, email mvhmeditation@partners.org. The class uses Dr. Dacher’s latest book, Aware, Awake, Alive, as a guide for meditative techniques.