Community Classes

Mindful Self-Compassion Program
8-Week In-Person Program

Mondays, 4 – 6:30 pm
October 16 – December 11, 2023

  • 3.5-hour retreat on Sunday November 19th
  • No class on November 20th

Location: Mt. Ararat Middle School, Topsham, Maine
Offered in partnership with Merrymeeting Adult Education

Continuing Education Credit: This workshop has been approved by NASW – Maine for 22 Continuing Education Contact Hour(s)

Course Details: The 8-Week Mindful Self-Compassion (MSC) program, developed by Drs. Kristin Neff and Chris Germer, is an empirically supported training program designed to cultivate the skill of self-compassion for personal growth.

In this class you will discover:

  • The science and physiology behind self-compassion
  • Skills to practice self-compassion in your daily life
  • On-the-spot practices for stressful moments
  • How to soften self-criticism and perfectionism
  • Meet difficult emotions with greater ease
  • Manage burnout and caregiving fatigue

The course includes meditation, reflection and writing exercises, and group discussion, with a focus on in-session practice of the skills we are learning. No prior meditation experience is necessary.

A growing body of research demonstrates that self-compassion is strongly associated with emotional wellbeing, an ability to cope with life challenges, a healthier lifestyle, more satisfying personal relationships, and lower levels of anxiety and depression.

Registration Fees

Course Objectives: The course aims to help participants 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
  • Demonstrate simple self-compassion practices to others: patients, students, or clients

What is Self-Compassion? Defined by Kristin Neff (2003), three key components of self-compassion are self-kindness, a sense of common humanity, and mindful awareness.

  • Kindness: With self-compassion, we treat ourselves with kindness, care, and understanding, just as we would treat a friend we cared about. Compassion also entails concern with the alleviation of suffering, meaning there is an action component to self-compassion – actively soothing and comforting ourselves when we’re in pain, supporting ourselves and protecting ourselves from harm.
  • Common Humanity: With self-compassion we see life’s many difficulties as part of the larger human experience. Acknowledging that others struggle too helps to lessen feelings of isolation.
  • Mindfulness: In order for us to respond to our struggles with compassion, we first have to know we are struggling. Mindfulness allows us to turn toward painful feelings and “be” with them as they are with a balanced state of awareness.

This MSC course provides the opportunity to learn and expand your experience of self-compassion. Fortunately, self-compassion can be learned by anyone, even those of us who did not learn these skills as children.

More information about MSC:

Readiness to Take the Course

  • Practicing self-compassion can be emotionally activating. If you’ve experienced a traumatic event recently, or are feeling consistently overwhelmed, we recommend waiting a few months before taking the course.
  • This is a compassion training program and is not therapy or a substitute for mental health treatment.

With this in mind, if you would like to talk more about your readiness to take the MSC program, please reach out to Heather Shaughnessy-Cato to schedule a brief consultation:

Interested in becoming an MSC teacher or integrating MSC into your work?

This MSC course qualifies as a prerequisite for MSC teacher training and for the Self-Compassion in Psychotherapy Certificate Program offered through the Center for Mindful Self-Compassion.

Participants are encouraged to focus on their own learning and application of the tools throughout the course. Helping professionals will be positioned to integrate aspects of MSC into their work with clients after completing the course.

The course will also provide skills to reduce burnout and enhance capacity for embodied, compassionate listening and relating in professional work roles.

About the Course Leaders

Heather Shaughnessy-Cato, MA
Certified Mindful Self-Compassion Teacher & Course Instructor
Heather is an Integrative Health Coach, workplace wellness facilitator, and self-compassion, yoga and mindfulness teacher. She teaches MSC because of the impact it has had in her own life. To learn more about Heather, visit the About Me page.

Sarah Scott Zell, LCPC
Course Assistant & Facilitator
Sarah is a Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor who incorporates mindfulness and self-compassion into her work with clients. She is in private practice and has over twenty years of experience serving the midcoast area.

Self-Compassion Meditation Series

Two session dates:

  • October 3, 2023, 7 – 8 pm ET: Affectionate Breathing Meditation
  • November 14, 2023, 7 – 8 pm ET: Loving-Kindness Toward Ourselves Meditation

You will have the option to indicate which session(s) you plan to attend during the registration process.

Take a break from the chaos of life with meditations focused on being kinder to yourself. This virtual event offers a safe space to explore meditations from the Mindful Self-Compassion Program. No prior experience needed.

Sessions will include:

  • A brief arriving meditation
  • A description of the meditation that will be offered with tips for practice
  • Guided meditation
  • Brief sharing focused on your experience in the meditation and questions.

Offered by Certified Mindful Self-Compassion Teachers, Emily Whyte Rubin and Heather Shaughnessy-Cato.

Circles of Practice Public Offering
Free self-compassion meditation sessions

Offered virtually (via Zoom)
through the Center for Mindful Self-Compassion

I am one of several Certified Mindful Self-Compassion teachers who volunteer to lead these free sessions, open to the global community.

I facilitate some of the Wednesday sessions at 5 am PT (8 am ET)

Soothing the Mind, Body & Heart: A Mini-Retreat
2-hour in-person experience

Sunday 12/3, 2 – 4 pm ET
Sundara Yoga

The transition to shorter days, colder temperatures, and the approaching holiday season can bring a mix of feelings and increased stress. Moments of transitions like these can be a fruitful time to turn inward and to offer ourselves soothing and comfort. 

Join this 2-hour mini-retreat to rest, replenish, and recharge. Together we will engage in:

  • Gentle movement and restorative yoga
  • Soothing meditations to relax and comfort the body
  • Journal prompts for reflection
  • Practical tips on “bringing your yoga off the mat” in stressful moments.

Following the session, you will receive links to guided versions of the meditations we will practice together in session, for those who wish to practice the meditations beyond our mini-retreat.

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Learn about classes and offerings as they are scheduled.

Questions, comments, thoughts?
Please send me a note.

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