Archives for February 2019

The MSC Workbook Online Companion

Since the release of The Mindful Self-Compassion Workbook by Chris Germer and Kristin Neff, MSC teachers around the world have been wondering how the release of this book could help their participants gain even more from their classes. The basic PDF workbook that was being offered is also being phased out, so now is the time to transition to using the full workbook. Kristy Arbon has come up with a wonderful online companion to help with this transition.

Teachers are already familiar with the Haiku/PowerSchool learning platform, which is where The MSC Workbook Online Companion is being offered.  It is a hybrid self-paced/teacher-supported offering that gives a structure of material supporting each chapter of the workbook with; videos (both original and curated from the internet), readings, downloadable meditations, and a discussion board.

MSC teachers are invited to use it to; support their own study and practice, offer extra material for their participants so that they don’t need to include this material in emails, and support participants in catching up with material when they have to miss a session.

Material includes many of the publicly available videos and readings offered in CMSC’s Teacher Training platform and the LOMSC platform. There is a cost for this service, but discounts for bulk registrations (ie if you want your whole class to have access to the companion along with their own dedicated discussion board in Haiku/PowerSchool Learning) are available for MSC teachers.

To find our more please visit

Translators Link CMSC to the World

CMSC now has five “official languages” in which we offer the Teacher Guide and MSC Teacher Training, and another one coming soon (in Dutch). Furthermore, there are at twelve other translations that are considered “unofficial.” As you can imagine, it is a monumental job to translate the Teacher Guide and Course Handouts into a new language, and this work is being done by a virtual army of willing volunteer MSC teachers across the globe. CMSC wishes to thank those translators for your many hours of dedication to the MSC program through your diligent and careful work in translation of the curriculum and various other documents into your native language. You are doing important work toward spreading the powerful practice of self-compassion throughout the world. In many ways, you are the most important “link in the chain” between the Center for MSC and the people who need the practice most all around the world.

Moving forward, CMSC would like to support our translators even better and really build community amongst the group. So, dear translators, please watch for an email to you, inviting you to get together on a Zoom meeting later in March. Also, if you have done translations for CMSC and have not been contacted recently about this effort, please contact Mirjam Luthe (our CMSC Translations Coordinator) at [email protected] to be added to our official list and to be included in our community of translators.  


My Journey to Teacher Training

By Kathy Sharpe

MSC Teacher in Training
February 11, 2019


In autumn of 2017, I embarked on a Mindful Self-Compassion (MSC) journey beginning with a five-day intensive in the Georgia mountains. As each day passed, I noticed a warm feeling in my chest growing stronger, indicating that the practice would serve me well beyond that week. As I would soon learn, this feeling was something I’d want to share with others.

With my home practice, my outlook on life changed and grew, little by little, as did my self concept. Happily, my inner critic begin to soften and I was able to implement boundaries when needed. These insights compelled me to want to learn how to teach this practice to others. I decided that teaching MSC would be my next dream and adventure.

In order to more fully embody self-compassion in preparation for teacher training, I signed up for the Community for Deepening Practice. In the CDP, our group met weekly for 8 months, where together we explored the MSC curriculum at a spaciously paced one month per MSC session. There were many opportunities to learn from our teachers, guest speakers and classmates. The online discussion forum provided endless links to resources and creative initiatives. In keeping with MSC philosophy, each member was encouraged to participate as much or as little as he or she felt comfortable with.

Twelve months later, the teacher training was finally here. I remember feeling both nervous and curious, but within five minutes of arriving, I ran into two classmates from online and felt an immediate sense of loving, connected presence. Because teacher training is an intense week, the inner critic had ample opportunity to rise up, providing an opportunity to get to know it better and meet it with compassion. As such, I felt immense gratitude for the support my home practice and experience with CDP provided throughout the week.

Unsurprisingly, I highly recommend the CDP to anyone who wants to deepen his or her practice and make meaningful connections with other people interested in Mindful Self-Compassion. Is a lifelong exploration, and we need each others’ help along the way.

I am looking forward to what’s next on this journey!

The Man Barrier: Issues and Opportunities for Bringing Men into the Practice of Self-Compassion

What percentage of participants in your MSC courses are men? My experience as a teacher of MSC and of MBSR, and my conversations with dozens of MSC teachers, suggests that it is common for about 10-15% of any course group to be male.

I have taught MSC courses in which I was the only man in the room. I once taught an MSC course that was equally male and female, but my average is about 10% male and 90% female. (I am starting to see a very small number of transgender people, too.)

A few years ago, I was part of a group of male MSC teachers who met monthly on Zoom to puzzle out why the percentage of men in our MSC classes was so low and figure out what we could do to attract more men.

Many of us who teach have noticed that men in our society do not seem to take courses related to their own health and well-being, with the possible exception of when they are in an unavoidable crisis. As my friend and colleague Daniel Ellenberg writes, “men are conditioned to suffer in silence.” Rather than participate in self-development workshops about health, well-being, presence, and compassion (such as MSC and MBSR), men are more likely to take “training” courses related to improved focus, results, effectiveness, income, and overall success.

That’s because male cultural conditioning favors a bias toward developing so-called “hard” skills that are outwardly focused and do not involve gentle and tender emotions, as opposed to “soft” skills that are inwardly focused and involve softer, more vulnerable emotions. A major reason for the misunderstandings and misgivings about self-compassion is that it’s falsely perceived as soft, weak, and wimpy. One way to begin shifting this misconception is to include both the Yin and the Yang aspects of self-compassion in our presentations and conversations.

In addition, I have found this article by Chris Germer and Kristin Neff on “The Near Enemies of Self-Compassion” to be very illuminating. It reflects on the value of self-compassion practices in meeting the real challenges of our lives and our world — a perspective that might appeal to many men. Self-compassion is central to thriving and resilience.

I don’t think there is any disagreement in our community that men benefit enormously from MSC courses. We have all seen this happen. So what can we do to bring in more men?

For one thing, I would like to invite the entire MSC Teaching Community to continue this conversation. Whether we do so on PowerSchool Learning, during MSC Teacher Trainings, or periodic community gatherings, sharing effective ideas and strategies would be extraordinarily valuable. As part of our efforts, I would like to see us collect statements and testimonials from the men who do take our courses. We can ask such men what they would say to encourage other men to participate.

In his excellent talk at last fall’s Compassion in Connection Conference at the Omega Institute, CMSC Executive Director Steve Hickman offered his thoughts on bringing men into the world of self-compassion. He also suggested that we widen our view to consider how we might bring in more types of people who are not commonly represented in our classes. 

Another approach may lie in providing MSC groups that are just for men. There are issues such as shame, bullying, and sexual abuse that some men will feel safer and more willing to explore when in the company of just men.

CMSC did try to fill two different 5-day, men’s-only MSC Intensives but was not successful in attracting enough participants. However, in January 2018, Daniel Ellenberg and I worked with Chris Germer to fill and deliver a weekend MSC Core Skills for Men workshop in Boston. Such weekend workshops might offer a more appealing and accessible approach than a 5-day intensive or 8-week course.

CMSC is also beginning to offer Live Online MSC courses that are just for men. One such course, with Martin Thomson-Jones and Joel Grow, happened in 2018. Another LOMSC for Men program, led by Rainer Beltzner and me, will begin March 7.

Even with these men-only MSC offerings, we might also need a different approach, perhaps with different branding, that would be more appealing to more men at first glance; so that they would not be forced to confront their biases against words like “self-compassion” before they even consider the possible merits of the program. In recognizing this need, about two years ago, Steve Hickman, Daniel Ellenberg, and I began offering a weekend workshop called Ultimate Courage. This two-day workshop is deeply rooted in the core concepts of MSC, and also draws from other traditions and approaches. We invite men to engage in the healing cultivation of loving, connected presence in the face of pain and shame, and we also include specific techniques and exercises that encourage them to connect with each other and to discover and acknowledge what is most valuable within each of them.

We have two Ultimate Courage weekend workshops coming up this spring, one in Massachusetts in April and one in California in June.

View upcoming Ultimate Courage opportunities

Let us keep this conversation going. Feel free to be in touch with Steve Hickman, Daniel Ellenberg, and me, David Spound.

Do you have a great idea for adapting MSC? CMSC’s new incubator may be able to help

By Steven Hickman, PsyD

Executive Director, Center for Mindful Self-Compassion
February 11, 2019

MSC co-developer Chris Germer recently stated his belief that “the future of MSC is going to be adaptations of the program.” Indeed, we have heard reports of MSC teachers contemplating or actively developing adaptations of the program for: people with eating disorders; for healthcare and education settings; for substance use disorders; for men and for parents, just to name a few. Most MSC teachers are familiar with Mindful Self-Compassion for Teens: A Mindful Self-Compassion Program for Teens which is already wildly successful and proliferating all over the globe.

In an effort to guide, support and encourage the adaptation of the MSC program, CMSC has formally launched the Program Adaptation Incubator (PAI) project with a generous contribution from a donor and fellow MSC teacher. The goal of the PAI project is primarily to leverage the existing extensive resources of CMSC (in terms of expertise related to program dissemination, finance, research, marketing, administration, teacher training, etc) to help launch new, promising efforts at adaptation of the program.

The ultimate goal is to be able to reach more people on the planet with the practice of self-compassion, and we believe that we can be most successful at this effort if we work together, rather than separately.

The vision for the PAI is still evolving, and if you are a program adaptor, or are considering exploring an adaptation, we would like to have your voice in the conversation as we build the project. Ultimately, the PAI will offer small grants (of funds and services) to worthy and promising adaptation efforts to help overcome the barriers often faced by talented people with good ideas who lack the expertise in other areas that are needed to turn a good idea into a viable reality.

One definition of an incubator is “a collaborative program designed to help new startups succeed. Incubators help entrepreneurs solve some of the problems commonly associated with running a startup by providing workspace, seed funding, mentoring, and training. The sole purpose of a startup incubator is to help entrepreneurs grow their business.”

In the context of CMSC, we see YOU as the entrepreneur who wants to grow your adaptation and we hope you will consider joining us. Even if your idea for an adaptation is still only an idea. Join us and let’s see if your idea can grow!

 Some MSC teachers have ideas about wanting to create an adaptation, but would like to team up with others with a similar interest in a particular setting or population, and we hope the PAI will serve as a networking opportunity to bring people together in this way as well.

Share your vision

The first step is to complete a short online survey so we can gauge interest in the PAI project and potentially schedule the first of a series of monthly online Zoom meetings to meet, discuss, collaborate and encourage each other. Once we have a sense of who is possibly interested in collaborating, we will schedule our first online meeting.

Follow the link and complete the survey soon so your voice can be heard. If you have specific questions, suggestions or expertise to offer, please email CMSC Executive Director Steve Hickman at [email protected] or include your comments in the survey.