Mindful Self-Compassion (MSC) is a program designed to help people be kind to themselves in moments of suffering. MSC was created in collaboration between researchers Dr. Kristin Neff and Dr. Chris Germer in response to the observation of shame and self-criticism that many individuals experience. The self compassionate approach can be seen as an antidote to our tendency to judge and berate ourselves when we mess up. There are three core aspects of this program: self-kindness, a sense of common humanity, and mindfulness. The kindness portion refers to the practice of giving ourselves what we need, self-soothing when we are upset, and treating ourselves the same way we would treat a loved one. The common humanity tenet helps us to recognize that everyone is imperfect and that the messy, tough experience of life connects us to others. Finally, mindfulness is the practice of recognizing and watching how we feel without judgement, allowing us to experience our emotions without being consumed by them. MSC has now been linked to motivation, well-being, resilience, and better interpersonal relationships - so it’s worth asking, what is Mindful Self-Compassion all about?
I recently got the chance to speak to Vira Salzburn, one of Georgia’s leaders in Mindful Self-Compassion and a close partner of Resilient Georgia, about how she sees MSC transforming her community in Chatham County and beyond. Vira has led a variety of MSC trainings, including 8-week full courses, 1 day workshops, and 1 hour sessions (which you can watch here).We discussed her experience coming to MSC, the training and teaching process, and challenges she faced along the way. Vira works in community suicide prevention, and has seen how self-compassion can not only alleviate the added layer of self-judgement, but can begin to chip away at the original suffering by letting it pass through mindfully and giving ourselves what we need. By accepting ourselves as we are, and kindly responding to ourselves, we can enter a state of mind where change and growth is possible. MSC is a valuable tool for everyone, but can especially support individuals with symptoms of burnout, chronic stress, and even trauma. To listen to our full conversation, follow this link to the video on our Resilient Georgia YouTube channel.
Following our conversation, I was lucky enough to attend the one day MSC training. The training was not only extremely educational about how MSC works, but I also believe it achieved its purpose of promoting gentle self kindness for our group. Vira led us through many different exercises, including various meditation and thoughtful reflections about how MSC relates to our lives. At times this was an emotive process, and Vira encouraged us to take care of ourselves however we needed to in those moments. We were also given the chance to share with the group when we felt that we were making realizations about self-compassion in our lives (or the previous lack thereof). I could not more strongly recommend the training, which equipped me with a number of emotional and physical tools that have allowed more self-compassion and peace into my life. To participate in an upcoming FREE training for MSC, browse these options from Chatham County Safety Net.
For those interested in learning more, we recommend checking out the following resources. First, watch this video of a presentation by Dr. Kristen Neff or Dr. Chris Germer about how MSC works. If you can’t find a scheduled training time that works for you, or you’d prefer to develop these skills alone, this awesome research-backed workbook will gently walk you through MSC. Finally, this kid-focused yoga site can help develop mindful self-compassion from a young age.
ABOUT US: Resilient Georgia is a statewide coalition of more than 100 partners and 700 stakeholders committed to building a stronger, more resilient Georgia. Through a network of public and private partners, Resilient Georgia is creating a pipeline of trauma-informed behavioral health services and resources that support child and family wellness. This integrated system includes prevention, early intervention, research, advocacy and policy, and System of Care implementation and coordination. For more information about our work, check out the Resilient Georgia website. You can also find us on social media: @resilientgeorgia on Instagram and @resilientga on Facebook.