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 Natural Awakenings Lancaster-Berks

Mindful Self-Compassion Program Builds Emotional Resilience

Feb 01, 2015 06:49AM ● By Lesley Huff

Compassion for ourselves and for others is a reciprocal relationship. However, many of us find it easier to show kindness and patience towards others, and could not imagine speaking to our loved ones the way we speak internally to ourselves. Through the Mindful Self-Compassion (MSC) program, developed by Christopher Germer, Ph.D., a clinical psychologist, and Kristin Neff, Ph.D., an associate professor in human development, we learn how to relate to both ourselves and others with greater kindness, increase our appreciation for our humanity and connection with others, and strengthen our mindfulness skills to enable us to better respond to painful experiences when they arise.

As a complementary program to other mindfulness-based approaches, MSC is a journey of self-discovery and self-transformation focused on increasing our ability to respond to moments of pain with greater loving-kindness and to reduce our suffering. The goal is not to avoid pain or to make ourselves feel better immediately. As Neff states, “We are compassionate with ourselves, not to feel better, but because we feel bad.”

According to Germer, research on self-compassion has shown that it boosts happiness, reduces anxiety and depression, and can even help us maintain lifestyle changes, such as switching to a healthy diet and exercising consistently. Self-compassion is a strength that offers us resilience when we are faced with difficulty, and is a more effective motivator than self-criticism. Often a focus on the “self” can be misperceived as indulgent or selfish. On the contrary, self-compassion provides us with the safety to make mistakes and take greater responsibility and helps us connect better with others.

Since its inception in 2014, the Change Through Compassion seminar series, held at Samaritan Counseling Center, in Lancaster, has been guiding individuals along the journey towards greater self-compassion and connection with others. Two levels of the course are offered. Each lasts eight weeks and includes an extended retreat session for more hands-on practice.

In the Level 1 Introductory course, participants engage in hands-on practice of mindfulness and self-compassion exercises while following along with Germer’s book, The Mindful Path to Self-Compassion.

The Level 2 Intermediate/Advanced course provides opportunities for participants more familiar with the concepts of mindfulness and self-compassion to explore their deeper experiences and build stronger emotional resources.

Cost: Level 1, $150; Level 2, $300. Location: 1803 Oregon Pike, Lancaster. Dates: Level 1, either 6–7:30 p.m., Thursdays, 3/26–5/14, or 10:30 a.m.–12 p.m., Fridays, 3/27–5/15; Level 2, from 6 to 8:30 p.m., Wednesdays, 3/25–5/20 (no class 5/6); Retreat, 10 a.m.–1:30 p.m., 5/9.

Lesley Huff, PsyD, is a licensed psychologist and a Trained Teacher in MSC. To learn more about participating in the seminar series, call 717-560-9969, email [email protected], or visit

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