“For someone to develop genuine compassion towards others,
first he or she must have a basis upon which to cultivate compassion,
and that basis is the ability to connect to one’s own feelings and to care for one’s own welfare…
Caring for others requires caring for oneself.”
Tenzin Gyatso, the 14th Dalai Lama
Mindful Self-Compassion (MSC) is an empirically-supported 8-week course, based on the ground-breaking research of Kristin Neff and the clinical expertise of Christopher Germer. With its foundation in mindfulness, MSC teaches principles and practices of self-compassion that enable participants to respond to difficult moments in their lives with kindness, care and understanding.
The three key components of self-compassion are mindful awareness, a sense of common humanity, and self-kindness. Mindfulness opens us to the present moment, so we can be with our experience with greater ease. Common humanity opens us to our essential interrelatedness, so we can feel connection with others and know we are not alone. Kindness opens our hearts to suffering, so we can give ourselves what we need, learning to respond to ourselves as we would to a friend we cared about.
Self-compassion can be learned by anyone, even those who didn’t receive enough affection in childhood or who feel uncomfortable when they are good to themselves. It’s a courageous attitude that stands up to harm, including the harm that we inflict on ourselves through self-criticism, self-isolation, and rumination. Self-compassion provides emotional strength and resilience, allowing us to admit our shortcomings, forgive ourselves when needed, motivate ourselves with kindness, be more authentically ourselves, and be more genuinely compassionate towards others.
Rapidly expanding research demonstrates that self-compassion is strongly associated with emotional wellbeing, less anxiety, depression and stress, maintenance of healthy habits such as diet and exercise, and more satisfying personal relationships.
The course includes meditation, short talks, experiential exercises, group discussion, and home practice (half an hour a day). While difficult emotions may arise when practising self-compassion, the aim is to provide a safe and supportive environment where we can develop the capacity to be with ourselves in a kinder way, with the emphasis on directly experiencing self-compassion, learning practices that evoke self-compassion in daily life, and building our emotional resources.
You will be asked to fill in an application and personal information form before having a pre-course phone call with the tutor, Helena Martin.
Helena trained for 5 years with the Centre for Mindfulness Research and Practice at Bangor University, has been teaching mindfulness for several years, and at the Letchworth Centre since 2012. She has always been particularly drawn to the compassionate aspects of mindfulness, which she has explored in various ways, through trainings, retreats, research and personal practice. She is grateful to have trained with Kristin Neff and Christopher Germer to teach MSC.
The Mindful Path to Self-Compassion by Christopher Germer
Self-Compassion by Kristin Neff
The 5 Myths of Self-Compassion by Kristin Neff
MSC has 8 weekly sessions, the first and last of which is 3 hours long. The first session includes orientation to the course. In addition there is a practice session on a Saturday or Sunday in the second half of the course. You will be given a workbook, and meditations to download, and should plan on practising at home formally or informally for half an hour a day.