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—more fully ourselves.
Fortunately, self-compassion can be learned by anyone, even those of us who did not learn these skills as children.
At the completion of this activity, participants should be able to:
This program is designed for members of the general public, based on the values of equity, diversity and inclusiveness. 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, difficult emotions are likely to surface during the program, including past traumas. MSC teachers are committed to helping participants feel safe and comfortable during the course. However, participants agree at the outset that they will take primary responsibility for their emotional wellbeing.
MSC is therapeutic but it’s not therapy. The emphasis of the program is on building the resources of mindfulness and self-compassion. MSC is not a substitute for medical or mental health care.
Participants should also be aware that MSC is mindfulness-based compassion training. Mindfulness and compassion go hand-in-hand, but our main purpose is compassion training.
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). Improvements were linked to how much a person practiced in their daily lives. After the Intensive, MSC participants are encouraged to practice mindfulness and self-compassion up to 1/2 hour per day, and teachers will provide tips for home practice.
MSC is taught in a variety of formats and an Intensive is the most emotionally challenging format to learn MSC. This is because it is 5 days of full immersion in self-compassion and participants do not have as much time to digest the course material and they don’t have access to their usual social supports. The depth of the training also means that difficult emotions are more likely to surface. Nonetheless, the deep dive into self-compassion that happens at an Intensive is a unique opportunity to experience its transformative potential.
To create an optimal learning experience, Intensives are only taught by Certified MSC Teachers (the highest level of training). All participants are encouraged to engage in the Intensive to the extent that they feel comfortable, and not more. However, participants should consider in advance whether they ready for this kind of learning experience or if a different MSC format might be preferable at this point in time. If you are unsure, please contact a teacher for further discussion.
Steven Hickman, Psy.D., is a Licensed Clinical Psychologist and an Associate Clinical Professor in the UC San Diego Departments of Psychiatry and Family Medicine & Public Health. As Executive Director of the Center for Mindful Self-Compassion, Dr Hickman’s role is to provide oversight, vision, direction and focus for the development and expansion of CMSC around the world. He is also the Director of Professional Training, overseeing the training of teachers from “start to finish” and assuring the highest quality standards and the best possible resources for teaching. Steve is the Founder and Executive Director of the UCSD Center for Mindfulness, a program of community building, clinical care, professional training and research. He has taught Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) for 15 years and has trained teachers of MBSR, Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) and is an MSC Teacher Trainer as well. He leads MSC intensives and workshops around the world.
Michelle Becker is a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist in private practice in San Diego, utilizing mindfulness and compassion based approaches to psychotherapy. In addition she is a certified teacher of Mindful Self-Compassion, Compassion Cultivation Training, and The Daring Way™ and Rising Strong™ programs. Michelle is a senior teacher trainer, mentor, and co-founder of the teacher-training program in Mindful Self-Compassion. She teaches and speaks on the topics of compassion for self and others nationally and internationally, especially in regard to relationships, healthcare, and the workplace. She particularly delights in supporting compassion teachers.
Venue and Schedule
This course is being 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.
The course begins with dinner at 6:00 pm on Sunday, December 6, 2020 and ends by 12:00 pm on Friday, December 11.
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: 9:30–12:00 pm
There may be optional sessions on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday evenings. And optional morning meditations (or yoga with the Esalen community) daily.
This course will have 50 participants. **
Continuing Education and Scholarships
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.
Highly recommended while participating in the MSC course:
It is recommended, but not required, that participants read the following two books before participating in MSC: