Interest in self-compassion and MSC, in particular, is spreading rapidly around the world. Nonetheless, our work has just begun. There are so many people and places that have not been exposed to the concept of self-compassion or have been given the opportunity to practice it. Some of these places are quite fascinating in their own right.
This is all possible through a unique partnership between CMSC and a special organization called Global Engagement Institute (GEI). GEI is dedicated solely to inspiring and empowering people to create positive change in the world. Together, we have created a unique opportunity for you to support local citizens and professionals to attend alongside you (at little or no cost) the same MSC program and, as a result, grow a local network devoted to compassion and self-compassion training. This is possible while you get to take the course yourself (for the first time, or as a repeat) and also to travel, study and experience the local culture, geography, and people.
After a successful start of our collaboration in 2018 and 2019, we are enthusiastic about strengthening our current relationships and networks in Vietnam and Kenya with new programs in 2021. Both countries offer fascinating local sights and delights as well as dedicated partner organizations working in education, healthcare, and mental health. Mindfulness and compassion are only beginning to be woven into the fabric of their work – in both places very differently, but definitely with an inspiring energy and dedication! The joint vision held by CMSC and GEI is to share the practices of mindfulness and self-compassion to cultivate emotional resilience, build capacity to address social problems, and contribute to world peace. For their part, the senior MSC teachers who will be teaching these programs have agreed to forgo honoraria and use the extra funds to support self-compassion training in the local communities.
Steven Hickman, Psy.D., is the Executive Director of CMSC and the co-developer of the MSC Teacher Training program. Steve has been teaching mindfulness, in the form of Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction, for nearly 20 years and is the Founding Director of the University of California at San Diego Center for Mindfulness. Steve is a world authority on training teachers of mindfulness and compassion and joined CMSC as the Director of Professional Training in 2014. Steve has taught MSC courses across the US and around the world and has trained hundreds of MSC teachers in the US, UK, Netherlands, Sweden, Korea and Australia. When asked what motivates him to do this work, he replied: “There is no deeper honor than to be witness to a person discovering their own inner compassionate voice and their deep capacity for being kind to themselves, often after decades of self-criticism, self-hatred, and debilitating shame.”
Cassondra Graff, M.S., LCSW is a Certified, Senior teacher of MSC and MBSR at the University of California at San Diego Center for Mindfulness. She is also the Director of the Speakers Bureau and teaches MBSR for a long-range National Institutes of Health (NIH) research study evaluating the potential benefits of mindfulness in the senior aging process. Cassondra works closely with the Center for Mindful Self-Compassion, CMSC. With over 22 years of experience as a mental health practitioner, Cassondra had a private practice and also mentored therapists for the California state licensing exam. Her work transformed over the years, becoming mindfulness and compassion based. When asked why she does this work, she replied “I cannot, not do this work. It is tied to the way I live, truths I cannot deny. It is a joy to witness us humans discover our own strengths and capacities, and in this, become more alive and thrive. MSC offers skills and wisdom needed to effect real growth, real freedom.”
Marta Alonso, Licensed Clinical Psychologist specializing in mindfulness and compassion treatments and has obtained Europsy certification as a European Expert in Psychotherapy by the EFPA. Marta is an MSC Teacher Trainer and Mentor and the first certified teacher in Spanish language. She has taught more than 40 editions of the MSC program, which she introduced in Spain. Marta is a founding member of the Spanish Association of Mindfulness and Compassion and acted as president until 2017. She is currently a member of the honorary council. Visit Marta’s sites: Here (MSC Teacher Training Pathway), Here (MSC courses), Here (Mindfulness and Clinical Psychology), Here (Resources and Audio practices). “I have seen how the MSC has helped thousands of people from different cultures and contexts because it teaches us to remember that all human beings have a compassionate heart full of seeds of love to be watered. Self-compassion is our universal legacy and it is a privilege to teach this program”.
Martin Thomson-Jones, Ph.D., is a Certified Teacher of MSC. He first encountered loving-kindness meditation, one of the core elements of MSC, when he took MBSR in 2010. From there, he gradually found his way to Kristin Neff’s and Christopher Germer’s work and was invited to be part of the CMSC’s first teacher training course, led by Chris Germer, Kristin Neff, Michelle Becker, and Steven Hickman in 2014. He has been teaching MSC ever since, and his MSC website is here. Martin adds: “Practicing self-compassion has transformed my life, and teaching these practices to others has brought me so many more rewards. I’m honored and excited to help bring MSC to parts of the world where it’s not so readily accessible.” Martin is English, but he has been living in the U.S. for more than half his life. He is a philosophy professor at Oberlin College and has taught philosophy at Princeton University and U.C. Berkeley. He has a Ph.D. in philosophy from Stanford University, and a B.A. (Joint Hons.) in physics and philosophy from Oxford University. You can read more about his work as a philosopher here.