What is Mindful Self-Compassion?
MSC is an empirically-supported program based on the groundbreaking work and research of Dr. Kristin Neff and Dr. Chris Germer. It consists of 9 sessions, including 8 interactive classes and 1 retreat that provides opportunity for deeper practice. In each session, participants learn practical skills that can be immediately integrated into their lives.
In MSC, self-compassion is understood to have three interconnected parts: 1) a balanced, mindful awareness; 2) a sense of shared humanity; 3) and self-kindness and respect. Mindfulness helps us open to the reality of our present moment experience (even if it's difficult) with balance, courage, and greater ease. The "humanity" perspective allows us to consider our own experiences in a wider context, and invites a sense of connection with others who may share similar experiences. Kindness and respect are invaluable resources for opening our hearts to our own pain and challenges, so we can learn to identify and meet our own needs. Together, these components comprise a state of warm-hearted, connected presence.
Self-compassion can be learned by anyone, even those with difficult relational histories or who feel uncomfortable with the idea of "self-kindness." It's a courageous attitude that stands up to harm, including the harm that we unwittingly inflict on ourselves through self-criticism, self-isolation, or self-absorption. Self-compassion provides emotional strength and resilience, allowing us to admit our shortcomings, motivate ourselves with kindness, forgive ourselves when needed, relate wholeheartedly to others, and be more authentically ourselves.
Rapidly expanding research demonstrates that self-compassion is strongly associated with emotional well-being, less anxiety, depression and stress, maintenance of healthy habits such as diet and exercise, and satisfying personal relationships. And it’s easier than you think.
MSC focuses on helping participants build skills and confidence around:
Practicing mindfulness and self-compassion in daily life
Understanding the empirically-supported benefits of self-compassion
Motivating themselves with kindness rather than criticism
Handling difficult emotions with greater ease
Transforming challenging relationships, old and new
Managing caregiver fatigue
Practicing the art of savoring and self-appreciation
This program is appropriate for the general public, as well as mental health and medical healthcare providers. Healthcare professionals will learn tools that they can use with their clients and patients; however, are encouraged to take the course as students, with their own well-being in mind. Continuing Education Units are available. Please see the link below for more information.
What to expect
Whether "self-compassion" is a strange new word, an uncomfortable but intriguing idea, a longtime companion, or something else entirely - you are welcome here. This class is intended to provide an encouraging, supportive, and inclusive environment for you to learn and explore how the practices of mindfulness and self-compassion can support you in doing the things that matter most to you.
Self-compassion is not another self-improvement project, or another thing to add to your to-do list. Self-compassion is about learning to approach the you that you are and the life that you live with warmth, caring attention, and a deep, genuine desire to tend to your own needs and values, especially during the toughest times. At times this may mean learning how to fiercely move towards change, personally or collectively; at others, it may mean learning how to comfort, connect, and care for ourselves right in the midst of our busy lives.
Self-compassion may feel like a radical shift in our relationship to ourselves; and yet, the capacity for care is hardwired within us. Many of us are well-practiced at extending our care outward - this course is about learning to include ourselves in that circle of care as well. Interestingly, doing so actually fortifies our capacity to be in relationship with others, thereby strengthening our capacity to extend genuine care outward, as well. As such, this course can be particularly powerful for those in helping professions, personal caregivers (i.e. caring for a loved one, a child, a parent), and care-providing volunteers.
Below you'll find more information to help you determine if this course is right for you, right now.
Dr. Chris Germer (co-founder of MSC with Dr. Kristin Neff) discusses the MSC program and the core components of self-compassion
What will the classes be like?
The MSC course meets for 8-weekly sessions that are 2.5 hours in length, and includes one 4-hour retreat.
Each week will include guided meditations, short talks, experiential exercises, opportunities for large and small group discussions (if you choose), practice support, and materials for home practice. During the half-day retreat, participants have the opportunity for more immersive practice. After each class, you will receive an email from Taryn, your teacher, with a session recap, additional practices, and resources for home practice and further exploration of topics.
Each class will also include breaks, opportunities to stretch and move your body, and every invitation to use the time together to practice what we're learning: self-compassion. You will always have agency to take care of yourself as you need in the moment. Together, we will build a community that supports our practice of self-compassion in real time, so that we can learn to bring it into our daily lives.
Is compassion training the same as mindfulness training?
MSC is primarily a compassion training program rather than mindfulness training, like Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction or Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT), although mindfulness is the foundation of self-compassion. There will be less emphasis on establishing a formal mindfulness practice (although folks are welcome to do so), and more focus on weaving mindfulness and compassion into one's lived experiences.
Compassion is a positive, energizing emotion. However, some difficult emotions may arise while learning and practicing self-compassion. As your teacher, I am committed to providing a safe and supportive environment for this process to unfold, and to making the journey enjoyable for everyone. It is also true that compassion can have a way of opening us up to connection, belonging, joy, and laughter - so please make room for this possibility as well.
Is MSC a therapy group?
MSC is an educational class that focuses on building skills, rather than a therapy group. The emphasis in MSC is on building emotional resources through compassion training, rather than addressing old wounds. You are encouraged to discuss (if you choose) the process of practicing the skills rather than sharing specific personal content. Positive change tends to occur naturally as we develop the capacity to be with ourselves in a kinder, more compassionate way. Please note that you will never be required to participate verbally, although you will be invited to do so, as this deepens the learning for everyone.
Are there any prerequisites?
Your lived experience as a human being is all of the experience you need to participate in this course. There are no prerequisites for the program, and everyone is welcome, including people of all backgrounds and identities. No previous experience with mindfulness or meditation is required. When registering for MSC, you will be asked to provide some personal information to help determine your safety and readiness for this kind of emotional work. Answering any of these questions is optional. Please reach out if you have any questions or concerns regarding the course or its fit for you at this point in your life.
If you yourself are interested in becoming an MSC teacher, this program fulfills one of the prerequisites. For more information on MSC or MSC Teacher Training, please visit www.centerformsc.org
What are expectations for attendance?
Prior to registering, participants should plan to attend every session, although a known conflict with one class or the retreat should not prevent folks from signing up. Weekly emails will include exercises, resources, and practices shared in each class that will be helpful for supporting continued participation in the event of a missed class. A certificate of attendance will be provided to those who attend 7 of 9 sessions (including the retreat). If you are receiving CE units, then you must attend 7 of the 9 sessions to receive credit. If you are concerned about the impact of potential conflicts, please reach out - I'd be happy to help you figure out what might work best.
What is the cost of the course?
At present, the course will be offered with three price options that participants are invited to self-select.
I need a little support to take the course: $325 (supported rate)
I am happy to pay the standard rate: $425 (standard rate)
I would like to support someone else's ability to take this course: $525 (contributing rate)
Participants taking the course for CE credit will pay an additional $75.
Cost includes eight live online classes, a live online 'retreat' session, weekly emails from your teacher, and resources and materials for use at home both during and after the course.
If the cost feels like an insurmountable obstacle, please contact me. I don't want the cost to stand in the way of anyone's access.
When is the next course offering?
The next MSC course will be offered Winter 2023.
Please sign up below to be kept in the loop about future offerings!
Can I receive Continuing Education credit for this course?
Accreditation is provided by UC San Diego Center for Mindfulness, which is approved by the American Psychological Association and the California Board of Registered Nursing to provide continuing education units.
Psychologists may receive 24.0 CE credit
California-licensed MFTs, LPCCs, LEPs, LCSWs may receive 24.0 CE credit (those licensed outside of CA should check with local licensing boards)
Nurses may receive 28.5 CE credit
Participants taking the course for credit will pay an additional $75. They are strongly encouraged to attend every session, but may miss up to 2 of the 9 sessions for credit. For the complete CE information, please access the flyer below with detailed information.
About the facilitator
Taryn Gammon, PhD, BCB is a Certified Mindful Self Compassion (MSC) Teacher. She is also a licensed clinical psychologist, a board certified biofeedback therapist, and mindfulness instructor. She has been immersed in the world of mindfulness and self-compassion since 2012 as a researcher, clinician, program developer, teacher, and - first and foremost - a student. Throughout her doctoral training and postdoctoral fellowship, she co-developed programs and spearheaded self-compassion initiatives at a number of healthcare institutions (i.e., Sharp Memorial Hospital's Pain Management Program, UCSD Center for Eating Disorders, San Diego VA, VA Los Angeles) with a focus on increasing accessibility of mindfulness and self-compassion practices to healthcare consumers, healthcare providers, and the community. She has since completed the Institute for Meditation and Psychotherapy's Certificate in Mindfulness & Psychotherapy, New York Zen Center's Foundations in Contemplative Care training program, and is currently completing training in Advanced Trauma-Sensitive Mindfulness. She is also uncomfortable with writing about herself in 3rd person, and the distance, inequity, and paternalism that valuing of “expertise” and "professionalism" can foster. It's perhaps most true to say that my deepest education in self-compassion has come over the last five years, during which I cared for a parent through her dying process and became a mother myself, during the pandemic. These experiences inform my teaching, just as all of our experiences inform the way we move through the world and approach each other. As your teacher, I am committed to showing up wholeheartedly - with my knowledge and training, yes, but also my humanity and humility, honoring and acknowledging the limits of my own perspective and the unique wisdom, knowledge, and experience you are bringing to the space.
Disclaimer: The information contained in this course, including ideas, practices, exercises, and other materials, is educational in nature and is not medical or psychological advice. By registering for this course, you are not entering a therapeutic relationship with Taryn Gammon, but rather taking responsibility for your personal experience, your own care, and your application of the mindfulness and self-compassion skills offered.