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5-Day Mindful Self-Compassion Intensive, Big Sur , CA , United States

Steve Hickman and Michelle Becker

May 6, 2018 - May 11, 2018

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This offering is an intensive version of the empirically-supported 8-week Mindful Self-Compassion (MSC) program designed to cultivate the skill of self-compassion. It was developed by Christopher Germer, PhD, a leader in the integration of mindfulness and psychotherapy (www.MindfulSelfCompassion.org) and Kristin Neff, PhD, a pioneering researcher in the field of self-compassion (www.Self-Compassion.org). This program fulfills a prerequisite for becoming a MSC teacher.

MSC combines the skills of mindfulness and self-compassion to enhance our capacity for emotional wellbeing. Mindfulness is the first step—turning with loving awareness toward difficult experience (thoughts, emotions, and sensations). Self-compassion comes next—bringing loving awareness to ourselves. Together, mindfulness and self-compassion comprise a state of warm, connected, presence during difficult moments in our lives.

Most of us feel compassion when a close friend is struggling. What would it be like to receive the same caring attention from yourself when you needed it most? All that’s required is a shift in attention—recognizing that as a human being, you, too, are a worthy recipient of compassion. Self-compassion involves the capacity to comfort and soothe ourselves, and to motivate ourselves with encouragement, when we suffer, fail, or feel inadequate. Self-compassion is learned in part by connecting with our innate compassion for others, and self-compassion also helps to grow and sustain our compassion for others.

Burgeoning research shows that self-compassion is strongly associated with emotional wellbeing, coping with life challenges, lower levels of anxiety and depression, healthy habits such as diet and exercise, and more satisfying personal relationships. It is an inner strength that enables us to be more fully human—to acknowledge our shortcomings, learn from them, and make necessary changes with an attitude of kindness and self-respect.

Fortunately, self-compassion can be learned by anyone, even those of us who did not learn these skills as children.

MSC Objectives

At the completion of this activity, participants should be able to:

  • describe the theory and research supporting mindful self-compassion
  • motivate themselves with encouragement rather than self-criticism
  • relate to difficult emotions with greater moment-to-moment acceptance
  • respond to feelings of failure or inadequacy with self-kindness
  • begin to transform difficult relationships, old and new, through self-validation
  • practice the art of savoring and self-appreciation
  • integrate core mindfulness and self-compassion exercises into daily life
  • teach simple self-compassion practices to patients, students, or clients


This program is designed for members of the general public. Meditation experience is not necessary to participate in MSC. All are welcome!

Program activities include short talks, experiential exercises, meditation, group discussion, and home practices.  MSC is an opportunity to explore how we typically respond when difficulties arise in our lives and to learn tools for becoming a warm and supportive companion to ourselves.

The MSC program is a journey—an adventure in self-discovery and self-kindness. Self-compassion has the paradoxical effect of both soothing our emotional distress as well as opening us to the pain that we may have been unconsciously holding inside, often for many years.  Therefore, some difficult emotions are likely to surface during the program as we grow in our capacity to embrace and heal them. MSC teachers are committed to providing an environment of safety, support, privacy, individual responsibility, and a common commitment to developing compassion for oneself and others.

MSC is therapeutic but it’s not therapy. The emphasis of the program is on enhancing emotional resources to meet emotional challenges, old and new. MSC is also not primarily a type of mindfulness training; MSC is mindfulness-based compassion training in which the quality of warmth is emphasized more than awareness itself.

In a randomized, controlled study, MSC significantly increased self-compassion, compassion for others, mindfulness, and life satisfaction, as well as decreased depression, anxiety and stress. Improvements were linked to how much a person practiced in their daily lives. For the full-text article, please click here (PDF).

Register Here

Venue and Schedule

This course is being managed by CMSC and held at the beautiful Esalen Institute in Big Sur, California.**  Please see the Esalen site here for travel information and other tips on how best to plan your stay.  And this page for Accommodations pricing.

The course begins with dinner at 6:00 pm on Sunday, May 6, 2018 and ends by 11:00 am on Friday, May 11, 2018.

Approximate Course Times:

Sunday:  8:00-9:30 pm
Monday – Thursday:  9:15 am-12:45 pm
Monday, Tuesday and Thursday:  2:45– 6:15 pm
Friday:  9:30–11:00 am

There will be optional sessions on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday evenings.  And optional morning meditations (or yoga with the Esalen community) daily at 7:30 am.

This course will have 50 participants. **

**For those of you seeking a retreat experience, please be advised that Esalen is designed as a workshop center (with multiple programs at the same time) rather than a silent retreat center.

Continuing Education and Scholarships

    Psychologists: Continuing Education Credit for this program is provided by UC San Diego Center for Mindfulness. The UC San Diego Center for Mindfulness is approved by the American Psychological Association to sponsor continuing education for psychologists. The UC San Diego Center for Mindfulness maintains responsibility for this program and its content. This course offers 24.0 hours of credit.


California licensed MFTs, LPCCs, LEPs, LCSWs: The UC San Diego Center for Mindfulness is approved by the American Psychological Association to sponsor continuing education for psychologists. The UC San Diego Center for Mindfulness maintains responsibility for this program and its content. 24.0 contact hours may be applied to your license renewal through the California Board of Behavioral Sciences.  For those licensed outside California, please check with your local licensing board to determine if APA accreditation meets their requirement.

    • Nurses: UC San Diego Center for Mindfulness is approved by the California Board of Registered Nursing, Provider Number CEP16351, for 28.75 contact hours.


      • Social Workers: This program is Approved by the National Association of Social Workers (Approval # 886771645-2718) for 24 continuing education contact hours. Some States do not accept this approval. Please contact your local board if you are unsure.


      • Fees for APA CE credits: $75  (Submit when registering)


      • A limited number of Scholarships will be awarded.  If you would like to be considered for a Scholarship,  please email

    [email protected]

        • .

    Recommended reading:
    Kristin Neff, Self-Compassion: The Proven Power of Being Kind to Yourself

    Christopher Germer, The Mindful Path to Self-Compassion

    Program fees:

      • The tuition fees for the course are payable to the Center for Mindful Self-Compassion.  Once you have paid your tuition in full, you will be emailed a passcode and contact information (within 72 hours) so that you can reserve and purchase your accommodations through Esalen.


      • Earlybird tuition and materials (before March 6, 2018):  $695
      • Standard tuition and materials (from March 6, 2018):  $795


      • All meals will be prepared and arranged by Esalen.  While focused on plant-based cuisine, daily menus also include sustainable sources of animal protein, as well as gluten-free and lactose-free options. All dishes are crafted on-site, from scratch, using mindfully sourced, natural and organic ingredients. Please see

    this page

      •  for more information regarding the Esalen kitchen and recipes. (Esalen is happy to work with individual guests to accommodate specific dietary needs.)

    Register Here

    Cancellation policy:
    $200 Non-Refundable cancellation fee for tuition applicable at any time. Please contact Esalen for information regarding cancellation fees for accommodations.

    Your tuition payment (less the $200 non-refundable cancellation fee) will be refunded if we are notified before April 22, 2018 that you need to cancel your registration.

    No refunds are available after April 28, 2018, except on compassionate grounds.

    In the unlikely event that the course is canceled, CMSC is responsible only for a full refund of the registration fee and not for transportation, hotel accommodations or any miscellaneous expenses.


May 6, 2018
May 11, 2018


Esalen Institute
55000 Highway 1
Big Sur, CA 93920 United States
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