"Give yourself permission to allow this moment to be exactly as it is and to allow yourself to be exactly as you are."
Professor Jon Kabat-Zinn is the founder of the Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction Program (MBSR), developed in 1979, at the University of Massachusetts Medical School. The Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction program saw a coming together of western psychology and science and eastern meditation and yoga to develop a secular, meaning non-religious, mental skills training that helps to alleviate stress, anxiety, depression, chronic pain and a variety of other ills of modern day life. Participants in Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction programs have found the weaving of mindfulness practices into their daily lives, opens up the possibility of having a different relationship to whatever they are experiencing, allowing them to step out of habituated ways of reacting, that may be unhelpful.
Mindfulness programs are now taught across many different sectors, from community centres, hospitals, schools, universities, in organisations and even in the UK parliament. The proliferation of mindfulness programs has gained momentum as more and more research studies validate the benefits of these programs for human health and well-being, across the lifespan.
The benefits from mindfulness are derived from engaging in a regular mindfulness practice and weaving mindful moments into the fabric of everyday life. As a mindfulness practitioner and teacher I continue to be inspired by the profound effects mindfulness practices have on the lives of those who choose to make these practices as part of their daily life, no matter their age, education, health status or personal circumstances.
I invite you to take a few minutes to enjoy Jon Kabat-Zinn's explanation of mindfulness in the clip below:
You can find out more about the next Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction course Perth, here:
A Brief History of the Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction Course
History of the Mindful Self-Compassion Course
The Mindful Self-Compassion 8-week course was created by Chris Germer and Doctor Kristen Neff in 2012.
In creating this course, Chris and Kristen recognised how combining the skills of mindfulness, where we learn to turn gently and lovingly towards difficult and painful experiences, and hold those in awareness with kindness, tenderness and non-judgement. And self-compassion, where we explicitly begin to recognise and befriend our inner critics and all parts of us, treating ourselves like we would a dear friend, especially when we feel find ourselves feeling inadequate in some way or feeling shame, embarrassment, or like we've failed or in some other way fallen short. Overtime, all new skills take time, and in the right environment, one that feels safe and supportive, its possible grow our capacity to be able to comfort and soothe ourselves, and encourage and motivate ourselves, just like we would a dear friend.
Chris Germer says, "...mindfulness and self-compassion comprise a state of warm, connected, presence during difficult moments in our lives."
And a growing body of 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." Chris Germer 2022
History of Compassion Cultivation More Generally
The Mindful Self-Compassion course is a modern day, secular training in cultivating self-compassion and is filled with incredible wisdom, teachings and resources to support you as you walk along the path of developing self-compassion.
And, its also important to acknowledge that compassion cultivation practices, as apposed to self-compassion cultivation practices, have been part of the great wisdom traditions, like the Tibetan Mahayana Buddhist teachings for thousands of years. The modern day programs, like MSC and Compassion Cultivation Training, draw on some of the practices and teachings from the ancient Tibetan Mahayana Tradition, adding a modern slant, adaptions, reflections and activities from Western Psychology and Psychotherapy, thus often differing in context to that taught in the Tibetan Mahayana Tradition.
I thought it important to highlight this connection, as my early training in mindfulness and compassion was through the Vajrayana Institute in NSW, a Foundation for the Preservation of the Mahayana Tradition centre and I've had the great fortune to be a student of this tradition and many of its masters, including His Holiness The 14th Dalai Lama. The concept of "Common Humanity" as one of the pillars of MSC, appears to me to originate from His Holiness The 14th Dalai Lama's modern teaching that we are "one global human family" and are all interconnected in some way (in Buddhism this is termed Dependant Origination). So it is true that MSC and other similar compassion focused programs, have connections to and roots in Tibetan Mahayana Buddhism, yet are also very much westernised and secular, as all religion has been removed from the teachings and thus has fundamentally changed the intention behind the practices. For better or worse.
If you're curious enough to want to explore this further, I found The Buddhist Roots of Secular Compassion Training, by Julia Caroline Stenzel, to be informative.
History of Living Gratefully
I cannot pin-point when living gratefully was first taught, and perhaps that's because being appreciative and grateful for all of the gifts in our lives, is innately part of us. An inner virtue as spoken about in ancient religions. If you think of little children, and how they view the world around them with awe, wonder and appreciation for the tiniest things, this points to gratefulness being a natural human quality. Of course, life circumstances can change that, and awareness of all that is good in our lives can be dampened down, even completely taken away by all that is painful, distressing, overwhelming and difficult. The good news is, we can choose to intentionally practice being grateful every day.
In my own experience, being appreciative of the gifts of this precious life, even in times of despair, grief and struggles, has been and remains an important daily nourishing practice that supports my own wellbeing. Research, though still in its infancy on the benefits of grateful living, from organisations like Greater Good Science Centre, at The University of California, Berkeley, now point to the profound positive wellbeing affects of living with appreciation and gratitude for the gifts in our own lives.
A Network for Grateful Living is a wonderful source of resources around how to live with gratefulness and I'm deeply grateful that I am a Gratefulness Gatherings Host. A FREE monthly online gathering for those who wish the explore living a grateful life.
And, for those who benefit from reading information about various aspects of living gratefully, and some of the key benefits, you might like to read, The Research on Gratitude and Its Link With Love and Happiness, by Heather Craig, BPsySc.
If you would like to join in for my FREE Online Monthly Gratefulness Gatherings, please be in touch via email and I'll send you the schedule and link to join: