What is Mindful Self-Compassion Training?

Mindful Self-Compassion (MSC TM) is a program that combines the skills of mindfulness and self-compassion to enhance our resilience and overall wellbeing.

Where did it start?

MSC was developed by Kristin Neff, Ph.D. and Christopher K. Germer, PhD. Kristin is an Associate Professor of Human Development and Culture at the University of Texas at Austin, and a pioneering researcher in the field of self-compassion who developed the landmark Self-Compassion Scale. Chris is a clinical psychologist, part-time Lecturer on Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School/Cambridge Health Alliance, and a leader in the integration of mindfulness and compassion-based psychotherapy.

After Chris and Kristin met at a meditation retreat co-sponsored by the Mind and Life Institute, they decided to create a program to teach self-compassion. They held the first MSC workshop in 2010 at the Esalen Institute in Big Sur, California. Afterwards, they developed the 8-week MSC curriculum and empirically tested the training program in randomized controlled research. Later, they founded the nonprofit Center for Mindful Self-Compassion and, in 2014, initiated the MSC teacher training program at the Center for Mindfulness, University of California, San Diego.

To date, the Mindful Self Compassion Program has been taught by more than 1000 teachers to over 100,000 people in dozens of countries. It has been offered to healthcare providers, therapists, social workers, educators, executives and managers in business and industry, parents, and the general public.

What is the

The Mindful Self-Compassion (MSC) program teaches skills for practicing self-compassion in daily life, enabling participants to respond to difficult moments, challenging emotions, and relationship issues with kindness, authenticity, and courage. By combining the practice of mindfulness and self-compassion, MSC provides a powerful tool for emotional resilience. The program, based on empirically validated research in clinical settings, is highly experiential and practical (featuring mini-lectures, dyadic and group exercises, group discussion, and home practices) for those who wish to deepen their practice of self-compassion. No previous experience with mindfulness or meditation is required.

Mindfulness is the first step—turning with curiosity and loving awareness toward difficult experiences (thoughts, emotions, and sensations).

Self-compassion is the next step—bringing loving awareness to ourselves – to soothe, comfort, and validate ourselves when things go wrong in our lives.

Practicing mindfulness and self-compassion together enables us to develop a state of warm, connected, presence with ourselves and others during difficult moments in our lives.

Classes meet for 2-1/2 hours, once per week, for 8-weeks, plus a half-day retreat.

Each week, we practice meditation and exercises to develop self-compassion. Discussion of research, as well as dyadic and small group exercises, enhances mastery of the material.

Training consists of:

  • Mindfulness Exercises
    Guided meditation, visualization, and breathing practices help to develop loving-kindness, empathy, and compassion.
  • Coursework
    Mini-lectures, group discussions, meditations, visualizations, and communication exercises with partners and small groups helps channel knowledge into positive change.
  • Home Exercises
    Real world exercises help teach the practice of loving-kindness and compassion in order to better relate to ourselves and others.
  • Reading
    Suggested reading: Kristin Neff, Self-Compassion: The Proven Power of Being Kind to Yourself (Harper Collins, 2011).

What are the benefits?

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.

A randomized, controlled study found that MSC significantly increased self-compassion, compassion for others, mindfulness, and life satisfaction, as well as decreased depression, anxiety, and stress.

A growing body of research indicates that the MSC program produces long-lasting benefits, including increasing happiness, resilience, creativity, and satisfying relationships, while reducing anxiety and depression.