Natalie Bell is Associate Executive Director (AED) for Programs at CMSC. She plans and directs programs and events and collaborates with Steve Hickman, Executive Director, and Aly Waibel, AED for Professional Training and Operations. Natalie’s work serves MSC students far and wide, as she co-developed the Teaching Self-Compassion Online Teacher Training to help MSC teachers cultivate safety and embodied presence online. She directs the Live Online Mindful Self-Compassion program and is both director and teacher trainer for the Self-Compassion Training for Healthcare Communities (SCHC) program. Natalie is a certified MSC teacher.
Mindfulness and meditation have been key practices in Natalie’s life for decades, and in 1989, she lived in an ashram for a year, fully immersing herself in mindful and compassionate practices.
“MSC directly answers the need for caring and kindness that we each have,” Natalie said.
“It is, in my view, the most direct approach we can take to embracing ourselves through life’s challenges. MSC specifically addresses our mind’s tendency for judgment, perfectionism, and doubt. There’s so much to this practice. It’s so potent today because of the often unrealistic expectations we have of ourselves in our lives.”
Natalie is also dedicated to embodying self-compassion, particularly through a movement practice known as 5Rhythms.
“Dance is a weekly practice for me,” Natalie said.
“Physical embodiment has to be part of compassion. We live in bodies, and there’s incredible healing potential to loving, tending, and discovering our own bodies and emotional needs.”
Her movement and dance practice enables Natalie to teach MSC from an embodied perspective, and it supports her in holding loving, connected presence as a speaker, leader, and facilitator of healing work. Natalie added with a laugh, “And 5Rhythms dance is certainly a discovery process that goes deep. I like to joke that if you don’t know how you’re feeling, you certainly will after 5Rhythms!”
Natalie also shared that practicing meditation in nature is “my inspiration for feeling spacious, having perspective, and receiving awe—the beauty that surrounds me always.”
Loving-kindness, compassionate language, and soothing touch are Natalie’s favorite MSC practices.
“I use these everyday as a constant companion. I also have a special interest in the interplay between loving and fierce self-compassion. In the SCHC program, we use a lot of fierce qualities—for leadership, meeting yourself where you are, and having the strength and ability to provide for and motivate yourself.”
In Natalie’s work as a teacher, she continues to explore her passion for finding compassionate language that speaks to anyone and everyone, regardless of background or experiences.
Natalie lives in Santa Monica, California. She teaches mindfulness for the Mindful Awareness Research Center at the University of California, Los Angeles, and was previously the Director of Corporate Programs for Unplug Meditation. She founded Mindful Wellness, through which she teaches mindfulness and self-compassion in corporate and private settings. Natalie also has a background in health care; she studied neuropsychology and was a physical therapist and Director of Rehabilitation for 17 years.