“For someone to develop genuine compassion towards others, first he or she
must have a basis upon which to cultivate compassion, and that basis is the ability to
connect to one’s own feelings and to care for one’s own welfare…
Caring for others requires caring for oneself.“
– Tenzin Gyatso, the 14th Dalai Lama –
Mindful Self-Compassion (MSC) is an intensive training retreat version of an empirically-supported 8-week program designed to cultivate the skill of self-compassion. Based on groundbreaking research by Kristin Neff and integrated with the clinical perspective of Christopher Germer, MSC teaches core principles and practices that enable participants to respond to difficult emotions with kindness and understanding.
The three key components of self-compassion are self-kindness, a sense of common humanity, and balanced, mindful awareness. Kindness opens our hearts to suffering, so we can give ourselves what we need. Common humanity opens us to others, so that we know we aren’t alone. Mindfulness opens us to the present moment, so we can accept our experience with greater ease. Together they comprise a state of warm, connected, presence during difficult moments in our lives.
Self-compassion can be learned by anyone, even those who didn’t receive enough affection in childhood or who feel uncomfortable when they are good to themselves. It’s a courageous attitude that stands up to harm, including the harm that we inflict on ourselves through self-criticism, self-denial, or self-absorption. Self-compassion provides emotional strength and resilience, allowing us to admit our shortcomings, forgive ourselves, motivate ourselves with kindness, care for others, and be fully human.
Rapidly expanding research clearly demonstrates that self-compassion is related to emotional wellbeing, lower anxiety and depression, maintenance of healthy habits such as diet and exercise, and more satisfying personal relationships.
Christopher K. Germer, PhD is a clinical psychologist in private practice, specializing in mindfulness,
acceptance, and compassion-based treatment. He has been integrating the principles and practices of meditation into psychotherapy since 1978. Dr. Germer is a Clinical Instructor in Psychology at Harvard Medical School and a founding member of the Institute for Meditation and Psychotherapy. He lectures internationally on mindfulness and self-compassion, is a co-editor of Mindfulness and Psychotherapy, and Wisdom and Compassion in Psychotherapy, and author of The Mindful Path to Self-Compassion.
Kristin D. Neff, PhD, is an Associate Professor in Human Development and Culture at the University of Texas at Austin. She was one of the first scholars to define and measure self-compassion in an academic context, has written numerous research articles on the psychological benefits of self-compassion, and is a co-developer of an empirically-supported, 8-week mindful self-compassion training program. Dr. Neff is the author of Self-Compassion: The Proven Power of Being Kind to Yourself. In addition, she is featured in the award-winning book and documentary The Horse Boy, which chronicles her family’s adventure with autism.
At the completion of this activity, participants should be able to:
- Describe the theory and research supporting mindful self-compassion
- Develop and apply self-compassion practices to motivate themselves with encouragement rather than self-criticism
- Assess and manage difficult situations and emotions with greater moment-to-moment acceptance
- Develop and apply self-compassion practices to respond to feelings of failure or inadequacy with self-kindness
- Transform difficult relationships, old and new, through self-validation
- Utilize the art of savoring and self-appreciation to overcome negative attention bias
- Apply core mindfulness and self-compassion practices into daily life
This program is designed for members of the general public, as well as for professionals who wish to integrate self-compassion into their work. Participating in a MSC program satisfies a prerequisite for becoming a MSC program teacher. Meditation experience is not necessary to participate in this 5-day MSC program for professionals. All are welcome!
Program activities include meditation, short talks, experiential exercises, group discussion, and home practices. The goal is to provide a safe and supportive environment for exploring how we typically respond when difficult emotions arise and to provide tools for becoming a warm and supportive companion to ourselves. The emphasis of the program is on enhancing emotional resources and personal capacities. For more information on self-compassion, please see www.Self-Compassion.org and www.MindfulSelfCompassion.org
It is widely acknowledged within the field that the teaching of mindfulness and compassion arises out of the personal practice of them. Thus, training courses include substantial periods of personal practice of mindfulness meditation and compassion to help develop the personal and professional resource of these human qualities. An analogy might be that the swimming coach would have to be an excellent swimmer, or a violin teacher would actually be a skilled violinist. Therefore in the field of mindfulness and compassion, the teacher must have a well-developed and substantial experiential grounding in these practices, which is partially supported through meditative practice and exercises during the training.
The MSC program is a journey—an adventure in self-discovery and self-kindness. Compassion has the paradoxical effect of both soothing and comforting as well as opening us to emotional distress 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. The teachers are committed to providing an environment of safety, support, privacy, individual responsibility, and a common commitment to developing compassion for oneself and others.
Although participants take primary responsibility for their own safety and well-being in an MSC Intensive, we would also like to be sure that this program is a good fit for you at this time. In order to assist you and the teachers in making this determination, you will be asked to fill out a survey (application form) during the registration process. The information you provide will only be reviewed by experienced MSC teachers and not by administrative personnel. After completing the registration, you will be notified of your formal acceptance to the MSC Intensive. Please do not make any travel arrangements until you receive a formal acceptance.
It is recommended, but not required, that participants read the following two books before the training retreat:
- Self-Compassion: The Proven Power of Being Kind to Yourself by Kristin Neff
- The Mindful Path to Self-Compassion by Christopher Germer
Over the past few years, mindfulness has become mainstream in the general population and is being increasingly integrated into professional practice (e.g.,mental health, medical care, education, business, law). As the demand grows, the demand for quality professional training in these practices and techniques is growing each year. Self-compassion is a “trending health term” (Reader’s Digest, 2012) and an area of burgeoning research that is following in the wake of mindfulness. However, misunderstandings about self-compassion abound, such as conceptual confusion with self-esteem, self-indulgence, and existing notions of self-care. Despite impressive scientific evidence for the connection between self-compassion and emotional wellbeing, explicit training in the skill of self-compassion is relatively rare. This course at the UC San Diego Center for Mindfulness is the first empirically-supported self-compassion training offered in the United States for professionals and the general public.
Continuing Education Credit
Psychologists: This program is sponsored 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 CE credit.
California licensed MFTs, LPCCs, LEPs, LCSWs: This program is sponsored 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. 24.0 CE credit 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 CE credit is accepted.
Nurses: UC San Diego Center for Mindfulness is approved by the California Board of Registered Nursing, Provider Number CEP16351, for 28.75 contact hours.
Cultural and Linguistic Competency Statement
This activity is in compliance with California Assembly Bill 1195 which requires continuing medical education activities with patient care components to include curriculum in the subjects of cultural and linguistic competency. Cultural competency is defined as a set of integrated attitudes, knowledge, and skills that enables health care professionals or organizations to care effectively for patients from diverse cultures, groups, and communities. Linguistic competency is defined as the ability of a physician or surgeon to provide patients who do not speak English or who have limited ability to speak English, direct communication in the patient’s primary language. Cultural and linguistic competency was incorporated into the planning of this activity. Additional resources can be found on the UC San Diego CME website.
It is the policy of the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine to ensure balance, independence, objectivity and scientific rigor. All persons involved in the selection, development and presentation of content are required to disclose any real or apparent conflicts of interest. All conflicts of interest will be resolved prior to an educational activity being delivered to learners through one of the following mechanisms: 1) altering the financial relationship with the commercial interest, 2) altering the individual’s control over CME content about the products or services of the commercial interest, and/or 3) validating the activity content through independent peer review. All persons are also required to disclose any discussions of off label/unapproved uses of drugs or devices. Persons who refuse or fail to disclose will be disqualified from participating in the CME activity.
Tentative Schedule for Non-Residential Program
Registration: 8:30 am-9:00 am
Morning Session: 9:00 am-12:30 pm
Lunch: 12:30 pm-1:30 pm
Afternoon Session: 1:30 pm-5:00 pm
Morning Session: 9:00 am-12:30 pm
Afternoon Session: 2:00 pm-5:00 pm
Morning Session: 9:00 am-12 noon
Tentative Schedule for Residential Program
Registration: 3:00–5:00 pm
Dinner: 5:30–6:30 pm
First Session: 6:45–8:45 pm
Morning Session: 9:00-12:30
Afternoon Session: 2:30-5:30
Evening Session: 7:00-8:30
Session Ends: 1:00 pm
- Self-Compassion: The Proven Power of Being Kind to Yourself by Kristin Neff
- The Mindful Path to Self-Compassion: Freeing Yourself from Destructive Thoughts and Emotions by Christopher Germer
- The Compassionate Mind by Paul Gilbert
- Wisdom and Compassion in Psychotherapy by Christopher Germer and Ronald Siegel
- Mindfulness in Psychotherapy by Christopher Germer, Ronald Siegel and Paul Fulton
- The Mindfulness Solution by Ronald Siegel
Frequently Asked Questions (for Residential MSC)
I am flying in for the training. What are my options and what do you recommend?
See our LOCATIONS page for details about travel to the retreat centers and preferred airports. The UCSD Center for Mindfulness will set up a Ride Share Bulletin Board in coordinating shuttle rides for those arriving by air at local airports.
What time should I plan to arrive? When do we finish?
We will begin checking people into the retreat at 1 pm on the first day of the training. However, it may be possible for you to arrive before 1pm and have access to your room. We ask that you plan on arriving no later than 5pm so that we can begin with the full group in attendance at dinnertime. We plan to end the retreat by 1:00 pm on the last day so please plan your travel accordingly, using the time guidelines above. Sometimes situations arise in which people have to leave the retreat earlier than noon on the last day but we strongly urge you to avoid this if at all possible.
Is there wireless service/cellular phone use?
Please do not expect to get consistent, reliable wireless internet service while at the retreat center. It is most advisable to leave your computer at home because of the retreat nature of the training, however we recognize that sometimes computer use is a necessity. Most cellular phones will work in this location. Again, however given the nature of the training there will be limited opportunities to use them, so informing those who may need to contact you of these limitations ahead of time will be helpful.
Is it possible to stay extra nights at the facility or arrive a day or two early?
The retreat center is often booked both right before and right after our training, so arriving early or staying an extra night or two after the retreat is over is not likely to be a possibility. You can of course arrange to stay at lodging near the retreat center if you would like to extend your stay. Contact us directly at firstname.lastname@example.org to make such arrangements.
What do I need to bring?
If it is at all possible, please bring a meditation cushion (zafu) and a yoga mat. We will have a few cushions but not enough to go around, so if you have one and can squeeze it into your luggage or bring it as a carry-on please consider doing so. It is always advisable to check the weather forecast prior to traveling, to help guide you in proper clothing choices.
The relatively remote location makes security a minor concern, but we do want people to know that with shared sleeping quarters and very limited availability of keys to lock rooms, we highly recommend leaving valuable items at home to reduce the possibility of anything being lost or stolen. Certainly some of us will have vehicles where such items can be secured if this is necessary.
What should I expect regarding the format of the training?
This training is taught in a retreat format, which means there is a great deal of mindfulness practice embedded in the training, and we want to reiterate that now so you are not surprised when you get here. The venue very much facilitates this format; we will will meet, eat and be housed in a relatively secluded area. There are no other large groups planned in the center that week so it should be relatively quiet and secluded. The rooms are clean and comfortable, but not by any means luxurious. and as you probably noted on the website, you will have a roommate. In most cases several of you will share a dorm-style bathroom nearby.
What should I read prior to arriving?
Check the “Schedule and Required Reading” page of the specific training you are registered to attend.
What if I require some special accommodations or have dietary restrictions?
While you are asked to note specific food restrictions on your registration application, if there are any additional food or medical concerns we should be aware of please let us know of these in advance so we may assist you.
Registration fees for each course varies. Please check your specific course of interest for fees.
Continuing Education Credit Fees
Continuing education credits for participation in this program are available for an additional fee
Psychologists, Psychotherapists (LCSW, MFT, LPC)$75
Partial payments are acceptable; however a non-refundable and non-transferable minimum deposit is due upon registration.
Please be aware that the early-bird rate is available for all participants who register and pay their balance in full by the Early-Bird Deadline. All early-bird rate participants who have a remaining balance after that date will have their fees automatically adjusted to the General Session Rate.
All remaining balances must be paid in full 30 days prior to the start of the training or your registration will be cancelled for non-payment and you will not be permitted to attend.
A refund (minus your non-refundable and non-transferable deposit) will be made for cancellations submitted in writing on or before a date 30 days prior to the start of the training. No refunds will be allowed after this date.
In the unlikely event that the course is cancelled, UC San Diego Center for Mindfulness is responsible only for a full refund of the registration fee and not for transportation, hotel accommodations or any miscellaneous expenses.