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Nature of Self-Compassion


This offering combines an intensive version of the empirically-supported 8-week Mindful Self-Compassion (MSC) program with a rare opportunity to reconnect with one’s own inner depth, vitality and resilience in the context of the outdoor wilderness.


Based in various stunning locations, participants of the program are invited to gently journey “home” through both self and nature with daily participation in the MSC program, balanced with spending time outside kayaking, mindfully moving, savoring, and learning about natural history and ecology around them with experienced wilderness guides and meditation teachers. This program is designed to cultivate the skill of self-compassion, fulfills a prerequisite for becoming a MSC teacher, and also invites participants to explore, play, and rest in the wilderness as a resource for well being and self-care.

About Mindful Self-Compassion

The Mindful Self-Compassion (MSC) program was developed by Christopher Germer, PhD, a leader in the integration of mindfulness and psychotherapy ( and Kristin Neff, PhD, a pioneering researcher in the field of self-compassion ( 


MSC combines the skills of mindfulness and self-compassion to enhance our capacity for emotional wellbeing. Mindfulness is the first step—turning with loving awareness toward difficult experience (thoughts, emotions, and sensations). Self-compassion comes next—bringing loving awareness to ourselves. Together, mindfulness and self-compassion comprise a state of warm, connected, presence during difficult moments in our lives.


Most of us feel compassion when a close friend is struggling. What would it be like to receive the same caring attention from yourself when you needed it most? All that’s required is a shift in attention—recognizing that as a human being, you, too, are a worthy recipient of compassion. Self-compassion involves the capacity to comfort and soothe ourselves, and to motivate ourselves with encouragement, when we suffer, fail, or feel inadequate. Self-compassion is learned in part by connecting with our innate compassion for others, and self-compassion also helps to grow and sustain our compassion for others.


Burgeoning research shows that 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. It is an inner strength that enables us to be more fully human—to acknowledge our shortcomings, learn from them, and make necessary changes with an attitude of kindness and self-respect. Fortunately, self-compassion can be learned by anyone, even those of us who did not learn these skills as children.


At the completion of this program, participants should be able to:

  • Motivate themselves with encouragement rather than self-criticism

  • Relate to difficult emotions with greater moment-to-moment acceptance

  • Respond to feelings of failure or inadequacy with self-kindness

  • Begin to transform difficult relationships, old and new, through self-validation

  • Practice the art of savoring and self-appreciation

  • Integrate core mindfulness and self-compassion exercises into daily life

  • Have basic knowledge of locations natural history and ecology.


This program is designed for members of the general public, as well as for professionals who wish to integrate self-compassion into their work. Participating in this program satisfies a prerequisite for becoming a MSC program teacher. Meditation experience is not necessary to participate in this 5-day MSC program for professionals. All are welcome!

It should be noted that more rigorous activities such as kayaking are included in this program. If there are questions or concerns about whether this is the right fit for you, please email teachers.


Program activities include meditation, short talks, experiential exercises, group discussion, and mindful movement activities such as kayaking and Qi Gong.  The goal is to provide a safe and supportive environment for exploring how we typically respond when difficult emotions arise and to provide tools for becoming a warm and supportive companion to ourselves. The emphasis of the program is on enhancing emotional resources and personal capacities. 


Participant Guidelines:

The MSC program, which this program is adapted from, is a journey—an adventure in self-discovery and self-kindness. Compassion has the paradoxical effect of both soothing and comforting as well as opening us to the pain that we may have been unconsciously holding inside, often for many years.  Therefore, some difficult emotions are likely to surface during the program as we grow in our capacity to embrace and heal them. The teachers are committed to providing an environment of safety, support, privacy, individual responsibility, and a common commitment to developing compassion for oneself and others.

MSC is therapeutic but it’s not therapy. The emphasis of the program is on enhancing emotional resources to meet emotional challenges, old and new. MSC is also not primarily a type of mindfulness training; MSC is mindfulness-based compassion training in which the quality of warmth is emphasized more than awareness itself.

In a randomized, controlled study, MSC significantly increased self-compassion, compassion for others, mindfulness, and life satisfaction, as well as decreased depression, anxiety and stress. Improvements were linked to how much a person practiced in their daily lives.

It is recommended, but not required, that participants read the following two books before the training retreat:Self-Compassion: 

  • The Proven Power of Being Kind to Yourself  by Kristin Neff

  • The Mindful Path to Self-Compassion by Christopher Germer

  • The Mindful Self-Compassion Workbook: A Proven Way to Accept Yourself, Build Inner Strength, and Thrive

Please visit our Schedule page to enroll in this course, or contact us if you are interested in enrolling or learning more.


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