Archives for March 2019

Guidelines for Permissions and Approval of Adaptations

The following guidelines are designed to facilitate widespread dissemination of the principles and practices of the Mindful Self-Compassion (MSC™) program while maintaining the integrity and consistency of the program, the quality of teaching, and the intellectual property of Chris Germer and Kristin Neff (hereafter referred to as the Co-developers). These guidelines are becoming increasingly important as professionals (MSC-trained and untrained) integrate self-compassion training into their work and publish MSC-related training materials.

Copyright and Trademark

  • Copyright refers to the “tangible expression of ideas,” especially the words used in trainings and published materials describing the concepts and practices of the MSC™ program. Copyright laws are designed to protect intellectual property. Permission from Guilford Press is required to publish material from the MSC program.

For permission from Guilford Press, please go to https://www.guilford.com/permissions

  • Trademark refers to the “source” of a product, or branding. “MSC™” is a registered trademark in many parts of the world. Trademark laws are designed to protect the rights of developers and reduce confusion about a particular product. CMSC owns the MSC™ trademark and is responsible for maintaining the consistency and integrity of the MSC program and reducing confusion about what MSC™ signifies to the public. Therefore, approval by CMSC is required for all adaptations that have “MSC” in the title (i.e., subtitle).

For approval from CMSC, please email your request to steve@centerformsc.org

Permissions

  • Permission refers to allowance given by the Co-developers to use material from the MSC program as well as permission by Guilford Press to publish material from the MSC workbook or professional textbook. Permission is a way of protecting copyrighted material.

Unpublished Matter

  • Individuals may distribute unpublished, printed or online material of up to 7 topics or practices (i.e., meditations, informal practices, exercises) from the MSC curriculum at workshops, trainings, on websites, etc. without requiring written permission from Guilford Press or the Co-developers. However, the source of those materials (the MSC workbook or professional textbook) should be appropriately cited. This guideline refers to practices that use “original” text from published MSC materials as well as materials “adapted from” the MSC curriculum.
  • Unpublished printed or online material containing 8 or more MSC practices requires permission from CMSC. For permission, please email steve@centerformsc.org This guideline insures that bulk use of MSC materials upholds the integrity of MSC. The published sources of unpublished material should always be correctly referenced.

Published Matter

  • Publishing any material from the MSC program (original or adapted) requires permission from the publisher of the workbook or the professional textbook (Guilford Press).
  • Publications that use 8 or more MSC practices (original text or “adapted from”) require permission from both Guilford Press and CMSC (as the holder of the trademark). Generally speaking, this is a simple process because Guilford Press and CMSC are happy to see MSC materials disseminated.

Use of MSC™ in Professional Activities

  • The co-developers of MSC heartily encourage professionals to use the concepts and practices of the MSC program in the context of their ongoing professional activities (e.g., teaching a course on parenting, mindfulness instruction to organizations, psychotherapy.) These are informal, unpublished, integrations of MSC into professional work.
  • Components of the MSC curriculum (topics, practices, exercises) used in these activities, such as in handouts or PowerPoint presentations) should be cited appropriately. Professionals can reference either the professional textbook, Teaching the Mindful Self-Compassion Training Program (Germer & Neff, 2019) or the workbook, The Mindful Self-Compassion Workbook (Neff & Germer, 2018).
  • Since “MSC” is a registered trademark, it cannot be used in the name of an organization or in the URL of a website unless permission is received from CMSC. Permission is usually only given to an organization that represents the entire MSC community in a particular region. 

MSC™ Applications

  • An MSC “application” is an MSC program that contains 85% or more of the MSC curriculum. It is essentially a full MSC program with some minor changes (language, content) for specialized populations. An application may use the “MSC” in the main title of the program, such as “MSC for Men” or “MSC for Diabetes.” Trained MSC teachers with particular expertise or training should feel free to develop and teach MSC applications for specialized populations.
  • The Center for MSC (CMSC) is available to consult with developers who are unsure whether their application has 85% or more of the MSC curriculum. CMSC would like to be made aware of any interesting, new applications of MSC so we can advise, support, and possibly help disseminate these applications.
  • Developers of specialized applications must be at least Trained MSC Teachers. Research on specialized programs should only have Certified MSC Teachers teaching the program to insure a high standard of teaching competence.
  • Developers do not require permission or approval from CMSC to teach new applications of MSC unless they intend to publish their curriculum.

MSC™ Adaptations

Approval by CMSC

  • An MSC “adaptation” is a structured program that is recognizable by someone familiar with MSC as primarily derived from MSC™, it contains less than 85% of the MSC curriculum, and the adaptation has been approved by CMSC. An approved adaptation can use “MSC” in the subtitle of the program. For example, “Making Friends with Yourself: MSC for Teens” would be an approved adaptation.
  • It is not necessary to obtain approval from CMSC to create and disseminate a program using material from MSC™. Approval is only required if the developers of the adaptation want their program to be considered an official adaptation of MSC and use “MSC” in the subtitle. However, permission is still required if 8 or more practices are used, or adapted from, the MSC curriculum. Receiving permission from CMSC is a relatively easy process since the mission of CMSC is to support the dissemination of MSC in diverse contexts and populations.
  • Nonetheless, developers of an adapted program are strongly encouraged to submit their program to CMSC for “approved” status. When an adaptation is approved by CMSC, it can be advertised as “an adaptation of the Mindful Self-Compassion program approved by the Center for Mindful Self-Compassion” and listed on the CMSC website.
  • To receive CMSC approval for an adaptation of MSC™, or permission to use 8 or more MSC practices in your adaptation, please submit your adapted curriculum to Steve Hickman, PsyD at steve@centerformsc.org

Criteria for Approval

  • An official adaptation may either be shorter or longer than the standard MSC program. The MSC curriculum contains 7 meditations, 20 informal practices, 14 class exercises, and 34 didactic topics, and consists of 24 hours of classroom activity.
  • Approval by the CMSC Adaptation Committee depends on fidelity of the adaptation to the MSC curriculum. For example, a 6-hour adaptation for a specialized population (e.g., healthcare workers, business leaders) which draws over 90% of its content from MSC is likely to receive approval from CMSC. By comparison, a 24-hour program that is equal parts yoga, hypnosis and MSC is unlikely to receive approval as an adaptation. CMSC will probably offer permission to use MSC material in such an adapted program, but “approval” status is reserved for programs that are distinctly MSC related.

Sponsorship

  • Sponsorship refers to adaptations and applications for which CMSC has agreed to support the development and training of teachers as well as other activities of dissemination and ongoing support. Teachers of sponsored programs are formally trained as MSC teachers and subsequently take additional training (online or in-person) in the specific adaptation or application.
  • Applications and adaptations are considered for sponsorship by the CMSC when the developers are Certified MSC Teachers, the program is supported by empirical outcome research, and there is an established cadre of Trained MSC teachers who are committed to sustaining and developing the program into the future.

MSC Teacher Training and Online Training

  • CMSC is the only organization with the right to organize MSC™ Teacher Trainings. CMSC has carefully selected organizations in a variety of countries to host Teacher Trainings and we maintain close contractual collaborative relationships with those organizations to provide high quality, integrated training opportunities for all current and future MSC teachers. CMSC has complete authority and responsibility for the content of Teacher Trainings, while the hosts are responsible for the logistics of the trainings.
  • CMSC also retains the right to be the sole purveyor of online MSC™ training. For now, online training is a key source of revenue that allows CMSC to continue to function as a non-profit organization. Individuals or organizations that would like to provide online MSC training are invited to contact CMSC to discuss the options.

Call to Psychotherapists: Self-Compassion in Psychotherapy Peer Consultation Group

“It’s not therapy, but it IS therapeutic.”

We have all heard those words in MSC Teacher Training, and many of us who are psychotherapists in addition to being MSC teachers have found the practices, the embodiment and the wisdom of MSC to be very helpful in working with a variety of clients and patients with clinical conditions.

As a support to those doing this important work on the “frontier” of psychotherapy and exploring how best to incorporate self-compassion into therapy, CMSC is launching a regular Zoom Peer Consultation Group starting in April. Come and share what you’re learning, what you’re wondering and how you’re drawing upon your experience as an MSC teacher to support your patients and clients.

CMSC Executive Director, Steve Hickman, will host this first meeting, but we hope that others will step up to host perhaps a weekly version of it if there is demand. What a great opportunity to have a place to drop in for 90 minutes and meet with other MSC teachers to explore this rich and rewarding topic!

To learn more, contact Steve at steve@centerformsc.org

Do you get a second chance at life?

The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism indicates that 15.1 million adults in the US suffer from Alcohol Use Disorder. The odds that you have these folks in your classes is high, which means you have the opportunity to be the missing link for those who want to recover.

• • •

Did you know that people with low levels of self-compassion are at greater risk for addiction? I didn’t understand this correlation, but I felt it.

One day in 2012, I was reading emerging research in self-compassion. As I turned the pages of the article and learned the outcomes associated with these skills and practices, it hit me hard. This was going to change my life.

At the time, I was stuck. I was stuck deep in shame, mired in addiction, unable to change my life’s trajectory. I had developed unhealthy drinking habits after a devastating divorce that in one fell swoop cost me a husband, stepson, friend, business, hobby, and about $60K.

If anyone could think themselves out of alcoholism, it should have been me. I had a PhD in pharmacology with a focus in neuroscience and experience in behavior change, and yet, I was stuck. I checked myself into an outpatient rehab program because I knew I needed help.

Rehab taught me how alcoholism worked from the inside and how to arrange my life and relationships to support not drinking. I reluctantly listened. I did not want to be there. I did not want to be an alcoholic, and most importantly, I did not want anyone to know.

As you can imagine, rehab brought limited results. You see, I secretly didn’t want to quit drinking, what I really wanted was to be a normal person without a mental illness. What rehab did not teach me was how to deal with my overwhelming shame.

So, as I was reading about self-compassion, it was a total-body, ah-ha moment. The kind of moment you remember just where you were and how you were feeling for the rest of your life.

In that moment, I asked myself, “What would be the most self-compassionate thing I could do for myself?” The answer came before I could even finish the thought. I needed to quit drinking, for real, forever. With full faith in the power of self-compassion, I immediately set my sober date and began my adventure in learning how to be self-compassionate.

My felt sense that self-compassion was my missing link to sobriety turned out to be spot on. I just celebrated 6 years of not drinking. But I’m a trained researcher, and an N of one (single case study) does not a hypothesis prove. So I got to work.

https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0376871617305744

Last year, colleagues at UT Health San Antonio and I published a small study that showed the first evidence that self-compassion is correlated with addiction risk.

I’m often asked what I think is going on behind the data. Even though low self-compassion is correlated with increased risk for addiction (and vise versa), this does not indicate causality, meaning we don’t know which came first to cause the other, or if it’s even casual at all.

My suspicion is that it goes both ways. People who have low self-compassion tend to isolate themselves and stay in shame, which puts you at risk. However, you can also look at it the other direction. People who have been stuck in chronic addiction are continuing a set of behaviors that are self-harming, and I believe this in and of itself could be enough to lower your levels of self-compassion.

Either way, I know that my ticket to freedom from addiction had to include self-compassion to address my overwhelming sense of shame, and I know this is likely true for many others.

If you are interested in working with people who are learning how to recover from addiction, let me know. I’m actively using self-compassion in recovery coaching and testing a relapse prevention program that is based on this wonderful science.

The work we do as teachers of MSC is important. When you are out there in the community, you never know who your students are going to be. The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism indicates that 15.1 million adults in the US suffer from Alcohol Use Disorder.

The odds that you have these folks in your classes is high, which means you have the opportunity to be the missing link for people just like me.

Dr. Phelps is a mindfulness teacher, researcher, instructional designer, coach, and international speaker. Her expertise is in using research-based mindfulness methods to help people improve their lives by creating a more compassionate relationship with themselves. She has a PhD in pharmacology with a focus in neuroscience and behavior change, and uses her background and practical design experience to incorporate the science of compassion into her work. She is the founder of InnerAlly, a B-Corporation that leverages research in positive psychology to create research-based curricula and digital tools to improve mental wellness. CynthiaPhelps.com

Woman photo created by onlyyouqj – www.freepik.com

Do you get a second try at life?

Did you know that people with low levels of self-compassion are at greater risk for addiction? I didn’t understand this correlation, but I felt it.

One day in 2012, I was reading emerging research in self-compassion. As I turned the pages of the article and learned the outcomes associated with these skills and practices, it hit me hard. This was going to change my life.

At the time, I was stuck. I was stuck deep in shame, mired in addiction, unable to change my life’s trajectory. I had developed unhealthy drinking habits after a devastating divorce that in one fell swoop cost me a husband, stepson, friend, business, hobby, and about $60K.

If anyone could think themselves out of alcoholism, it should have been me. I had a PhD in pharmacology with a focus in neuroscience and experience in behavior change, and yet, I was stuck. I checked myself into an outpatient rehab program because I knew I needed help.

Rehab taught me how alcoholism worked from the inside and how to arrange my life and relationships to support not drinking. I reluctantly listened. I did not want to be there. I did not want to be an alcoholic, and most importantly, I did not want anyone to know.

As you can imagine, rehab brought limited results. You see, I secretly didn’t want to quit drinking, what I really wanted was to be a normal person without a mental illness. What rehab did not teach me was how to deal with my overwhelming shame.

So, as I was reading about self-compassion, it was a total-body, ah-ha moment. The kind of moment you remember just where you were and how you were feeling for the rest of your life.

In that moment, I asked myself, “What would be the most self-compassionate thing I could do for myself?” The answer came before I could even finish the thought. I needed to quit drinking, for real, forever. With full faith in the power of self-compassion, I immediately set my sober date and began my adventure in learning how to be self-compassionate.

My felt sense that self-compassion was my missing link to sobriety turned out to be spot on. I just celebrated 6 years of not drinking. But I’m a trained researcher, and an N of one (single case study) does not a hypothesis prove. So I got to work.

https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0376871617305744

Last year, colleagues at UT Health San Antonio and I published a small study that showed the first evidence that self-compassion is correlated with addiction risk.

I’m often asked what I think is going on behind the data. Even though low self-compassion is correlated with increased risk for addiction (and vise versa), this does not indicate causality, meaning we don’t know which came first to cause the other, or if it’s even casual at all.

My suspicion is that it goes both ways. People who have low self-compassion tend to isolate themselves and stay in shame, which puts you at risk. However, you can also look at it the other direction. People who have been stuck in chronic addiction are continuing a set of behaviors that are self-harming, and I believe this in and of itself could be enough to lower your levels of self-compassion.

Either way, I know that my ticket to freedom from addiction had to include self-compassion to address my overwhelming sense of shame, and I know this is likely true for many others.

You don’t have to fit the criteria of an “addict” to be troubled by habits that don’t serve you. But the good news is that, as a practitioner of MSC, we have the benefits of understanding how to treat ourselves with kindness and support when we are in particularly difficult situations, including those that may be triggers for unhealthy habits. We know that people with higher levels of self-compassion have a better chance of making and sustaining healthy behavior changes. And by all means, if you are struggling, don’t let shame and isolation keep you from getting help, because reaching out to a trusted friend for help may be the most self-compassionate thing you do for yourself, ever.

Dr. Phelps is a mindfulness teacher, researcher, instructional designer, coach, and international speaker. Her expertise is in using research-based mindfulness methods to help people improve their lives by creating a more compassionate relationship with themselves. She has a PhD in pharmacology with a focus in neuroscience and behavior change, and uses her background and practical design experience to incorporate the science of compassion into her work. She is the founder of InnerAlly, a B-Corporation that leverages research in positive psychology to create research-based curricula and digital tools to improve mental wellness. CynthiaPhelps.com

Practicing Through Becoming: No Place For “Trying”

By Dr. Steve Hickman

Executive Director, Center for Mindful Self-Compassion
March 6, 2019

As a teacher of self-compassion and mindfulness, I often have occasion to hear from people about their personal practice. I might ask “How is your practice going?” and quite often the answer is “I’m trying to practice, but it’s not easy.” And therein lies the rub: practice is often not easy, even though it is remarkably simple.

But it’s that word “trying” that really gets me. Are YOU “trying” to practice self-compassion?

 
What is that like for you? For me, just hearing the word “trying” makes me a little bit tired and disheartened on your behalf. What if you were to turn that term upside down and shake it to see what comes out. As the Jedi (Zen?) Master Yoda famously said “Do. Or do not. There is no try.”

As we learn in exploring self-compassion, if what you are doing is a struggle it is not self-compassion.

If we let go of needing to get to a specific destination (“trying”) and instead see ourselves as simply practicing (“doing”) self-compassion moment by moment, we find that we are actually on a continuous journey that is traversed one step at a time, and each step finds us just a tiny bit farther down the path.

 
Patience is the key. Perhaps you have had the experience of taking a long journey in a car with small children who ask every five minutes “Are we there yet?”. The wise adult in you knows that life doesn’t work this way when you are on a journey, and so it goes with the inner journey of mindfulness and self-compassion, but we forget that.

Is it possible for you to see yourself as simply practicing self-compassion through the process of becoming more self-compassionate? What if you stopped being the nagging child in the back seat asking, “Am I there yet?” and instead say “Here I am!” and perhaps even go on to inquire: “What do I need in this moment?”

Bingo! You just practiced self-compassion through your process of becoming more self-compassionate.

 
No trying required, no effort expended, no destination but simply a journey in the process of becoming . . . a more self-compassionate you. See if you can stop trying and practice instead. Do you really need to “try” to put your hand on your heart when you notice a moment of suffering? Or could you just do it?


This article was originally published in Dr. Hickman’s blog, Stuck in Meditation, in April, 2018.

What Self-Compassion Is

Imagine you drive through your daily life, the same path more or less traversing the neighbourhood of your habits. One day you unexpectedly end up at a house in a part of the community you had no idea existed. Kind strangers welcome you into their home. You enter the house and feel that something is different here, and curiosity bubbles up; you know that you’re in the right place. If you were a tuning fork, you’d be vibrating.

You look into the eyes of someone who mere seconds before was a complete stranger, and in the quiet energy of seeing, a connection is uncovered that must have always been there.

For how it could appear out of nowhere like that? The warmth of this kind of human existence you thought was not possible on earth – it’s just a nice dream. Isn’t life supposed to be a struggle?

 

Holding space for struggle

From the first to the last labored breaths, life is filled with working and striving, trying to find love and then fighting not to lose it. In this house, though, there is something different about the relationship with the struggle. There’s no need to avoid it. Instead, the struggle inside is held in warmth and kindness, just as you would hold a sick child or a hurt puppy. The struggle outside is allowed to be as it is.

That’s profoundly different to anything you’ve been taught.

A radical declaration of kindness

Suffering shows up, big or small, in the body: Ground Zero. “Let’s be kind there — right there — where the hurt shows up,” the family you meet says. “Whether it’s the heart hurting, the gut clenching, the throat tightening, the jaw tensing, or the eyes aching.”

“Let’s learn to gently hold these places, murmur soft words and just say, ‘This hurts.’, ‘This is a moment of suffering.’ And ‘I will tend to it right now with compassion and mindfulness.’”

This is how you know this is family.  You’re connected in common humanity of hurt moments, and they are teaching you it’s okay to take a few moments to clean and dress the wound with gentleness.  You feel in these people an integrity that says, “When I know how to be kind to the hurting I feel, I know how to be kind to the hurting others feel.” This integrity is quiet, but it speaks to your bones.

You know you’re with someone who has warmed up their heart so it radiates kindness. They’ve somehow stopped adding struggle to struggle, hurt to hurt, hate to hate, coldness to coldness. They are adding kindness to struggle, compassion to hurt, love to hate, and warmth to coldness.  You’d prefer to traverse this path if you had a choice, for it’s much easier. You can see that. So you made a choice to learn this and practice it. You learn the power is built on repetition in the Ground Zero of the body which is the training ground for self-compassion and loving kindness. Your heart, your breath, your phrases, your visualizations, your hands and the soles of your feet — they are your tools to transform the struggle that flows in as part of life.

you carry your tools at all times —  in the car, in the line at the grocery store, in the shower and everywhere you go.

They help generate loving energy that soothes the distraught inner child who wants loving-kindness, and the fierce inner warrior who craves safety, and the lonely inner searcher who seeks a tribe.

Self-compassion is being welcomed home.

It’s hard to accept but easy to understand: You can’t give what you don’t have. If your cup is empty, what is it that you’re really giving to the world? Fill your cup in this house of self-compassion. Tend your inner fire of humanity, connection and awareness. Then every connection you have, every living being you meet will also feel the warmth you cultivated within you like a radiation that passes between bodies and bones and sinks deep into the universe. Whether a tree in the forest, a pet whose tail wags when they know you’re coming, a child whose eyes light up for you, a lover who awaits a tender touch, the homeless man on the street corner with his cup out begging for money.

This is the house of self-compassion, and it is welcoming you home.