Mindful Self Compassion training was developed by Prof. Christopher K. Germer,  leader in the integration of mindfulness and psychotherapy www.MindfulSelfCompassion.org and Kristen Neff PhD.,  the world’s foremost researcher on self-compassion www.Self-Compassion.org

Mindful Self Compassion is a workshop style course taught weekly to groups for eight weeks with an extra half day retreat session around week 6. It includes meditation, short talks, experiential exercise, group discussion and some exercises to try out between sessions. What do the words mindful self-compassion, conjure up for you? Do you associate these with emotional strength, resilience, warmth, wisdom, motivation, accountability, patience and kindness? In recent years, empirical research has shown that these are the very qualities that develop through practice. The common belief that compassion and particularly self-compassion leads to self- pity, weakness, letting oneself off the hook, some kind of religiosity or resulting in becoming de-motivated,  has been proven to be incorrect.

Compassion is aware and attitudinal. The meaning of compassion is literally to ‘suffer with’. There are two aspects to compassion: firstly the recognition that in life there is a great deal of experience that we react habitually to, because fundamentally we would rather not have the experience. This is the ‘suffering’ part. Secondly, this recognition is combined with a sincere wish to alleviate it, in ourselves and others. Once we are on the path to increased awareness through meditation, sooner or later, we come face to face with challenging thoughts and feelings that arise whether we want them to or not. Self-compassion recognises that there is no such thing as perfection, that we do not live in isolation and that our life is an accumulation of influence from many factors over time; from our inheritance, our family, society’s influence, our reactions and our conditioning. Even though we do feel unique and separate, much of the difficulty we have with experience, links us in our common humanity.

Self-compassion involves offering compassion to ourselves: confronting our own suffering with an attitude of warmth and kindness, without judgment. Instead of simply being aware, we choose on purpose to bring this sense of warmth, understanding and kindness to our experience. We do this because we are suffering not in order to get rid of it, and over time, the practice changes our inner relationship. We learn to treat ourselves as we would a good friend; step by step we befriend ourselves, recognising (as in the safety instructions in an aeroplane) the wisdom of putting on our ‘own oxygen mask first’. 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 satisfying personal relationships. It is shown that self–compassion reduces anxiety and depression. It also helps us to develop healthier habits like exercising and better relationships. In one study, participants in an eight-week Mindful Self-Compassion program reported more mindfulness and life satisfaction, with lower depression, anxiety, and stress afterwards compared to people who didn’t participate—and the benefits lasted up to a year.

Barbara Boxhall’s next course runs on Thursday mornings from February 16th – April 6th 2017 at Hamblin Hall, Bosham near Chichester, West Sussex. For more details, go to www.dailymindfulness.com/current-courses

 'A moment of self-compassion can change your entire day. A string of such moments can change the course of your life.' Christopher K. Germer

Post by Barbara Boxhall