Mindful Self-Compassion for Caregivers (Tuesdays, May – June 2020)

MINDFUL SELF-COMPASSION FOR CAREGIVERS

Tuesday Mornings 8am-11am: May-June 2020

Free Orientation Session: Tuesday April 7, 9am

First Course Session, Tuesday May 5, 8am

This is a special Mindful Self-Compassion course offering for caregivers  

 

What is Mindful Self-Compassion(MSC)? 

Self-compassion involves responding to difficulty with kindness & understanding so that we soothe & comfort ourselves when we’re hurting or motivating/encouraging ourselves with kindness to achieve our goals!  Studies show that MSC practice increases emotional well being, self acceptance, resilience and happiness while also reducing self criticism, anxiety and tension.  No experience with mindfulness or meditation is necessary!

Taking care of other people is both rewarding and challenging.  It is a cliche that carregivers need to have high levels of self care so that we have capacity and space to be there for others.  MSC is uniquely well suited to the needs of people whose work or daily life involves putting other people’s needs before their own: therapists, educators, counselors, coaches and even parents.This unique, small-group training (maximum six participants) is designed for people who work as caregivers and will focus on the unique demands of these roles and the needs of those who care for others.  The teachers are experienced guides who will also share from their own experiences.

 

MSC Teachers:

Ben Weinstein and Lihi Darnell are licensed psychologists and trained MSC Teachers. Learn more about us on the main page: mscthailand.org


Course Calendar:

All course sessions will be at Psychological Services International (PSI) on Tuesday mornings from 8am to 11am plus a Saturday retreat session.

Orientation: April 7

Session 1: May 5  (8-12)               Session 6: June 2                                        

Session 2: May 12                          Retreat Session:  June 6 (Saturday)

Session 3: May 19                          Session 7: June 9

Session 4: May 26                         Session 8: June 16

Session 5: June 23

 

MSC for Carers registration includes:

  • 8 course sessions (25 hours)
  • 1 retreat session (4 hours)
  • 1 private coaching session (60 minutes) with a teacher to practice applying MSC in your context (regular cost 3500 baht) between June 6-June 30
  • Abundant participant resource materials including participant workbook, guided meditations, and online resources

Cost: 27,500 baht

 

Seats are limited!!

To Register: Email us at mscthailand.org@gmail.com  to avoid losing your seat!

Please note that this is a separate registration process from the Sunday MSC course; you can only register by emailing us.

 

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Managing Anxiety & Fear in The Time of COVID 19


Here in Thailand, we’ve been living under the shadow of COVID 19 (CV 19) since January when the usually plentiful Chinese visitors vanished from Bangkok.  We’ve all been wearing masks. I hear from clients about their concerns. My wife and I talked about it a few weeks ago and we made what we feel are prudent preparations.  In the last 2 weeks, I’ve been hearing more and more from clients and trainees all over the world. Then, stock markets crashed and COVID 19 emerged in the USA. Yesterday, an upset client emailed me saying their spouse is breaking down from the strain of fear.  Kuwait announced the evacuation of their citizens from Thailand, where I live. 

Last Wednesday, I found myself not able to sleep. As I did my usual sleep routine of following my breathing and feeling my body melting into the mattress, I noticed that stimulating, anxious thoughts kept floating up. What if I get sick?  What if this is the last week of my life? I could feel my body getting tenser. I started to review what I would be doing if this were the last week of my life. I also recognized it as anxiety and a distraction from sleep. Then a really anxiety-stimulating thought came up. What if my wife gets sick? What if she dies? My body went from tense to panicked — I could feel my heart rate accelerate. I saw the anxiety mushrooming into fear and panic. I started to feel overwhelmed and like I needed to get up and do something. At that point, I intentionally deepened my breathing, gently directed my attention to my body, and used some self-soothing skills I know from my work as a teacher of Mindful Self Compassion. I smiled at my human mind, put both hands over my heart and soothed myself until I eventually fell asleep.

People, including me, are anxious and getting afraid. In fact, CV 19 will trigger the most intense forms of anxiety for most people.  The anxiety arising from coronavirus comes from normal human fear of real risks combined with the equally normal emotional reactions to uncertainty, unpredictability, and uncontrollability. These three elements — unpredictability, uncontrollability and uncertainty, are the “perfect storm” when it comes to anxiety and fear. They can stimulate strong anxiety reactions in anyone, especially in people who are more vulnerable to feeling unsafe or threatened (for example, those with a history of trauma or other mental health challenges).  This situation involves a very high degree of uncertainty and unpredictability/uncontrollability about something that poses real risks for some of us (bearing in the mind that even with the risk of death, most CV 19 cases appear to be mild). 

 You can add to this the emotional impact of misinformation, rumors and outright hysteria, which unfortunately abound at the moment. Plus, we feel more anxious when many (or all) of the people around us are anxious or when we are constantly consuming anxiety-provoking information. Taken together — real risks, normal reactions to uncertainty, unpredictability and uncontrollability, plus misinformation/rumors, group panic — these are ideal conditions to stimulate anxiety, and easily feed anxiety to develop into fear and panic. Fear and panic are problems that make life unlivable and contribute to poor decisions.

All of us need to take steps to prepare ourselves and to act prudently. At the same time, simply taking those steps will not eliminate anxiety. In everyday life, using our good problem-solving skills usually reduces anxiety significantly since we feel we have managed the problem. CV 19 is a situation where we will have to tolerate a higher degree of anxiety-provoking uncertainty, unpredictability and uncontrollability that prudent actions alone will not soothe.

 How can we handle the challenge and the anxiety? I have eight ideas to offer:

 1)   Educate yourself with reliable scientific information.
If you are not sure where to find such information, try
here or here or here or here or here or here.

  • Recognize that prudent action will not eliminate all risks. Even isolating yourself in a bunker would not eliminate all risk (eventually you have to come out of the bunker…) and trying to live by completely isolating yourself and your family might create more dysfunction.
  • Make this experience more bearable by avoiding misinformation (see # 5).

 

2)   Take all the steps you feel are reasonable and prudent to protect you and those you love

  • What’s right for you and your family may be different than what feels right to others.
  • If you and your spouse/partner disagree about steps to take, see if you can agree about what to use as a source of authoritative information first.

 

3)   Once you have taken the reasonable and prudent steps, take a moment to pause and recognize and appreciate thatBeyond this point, it becomes really important (and perhaps the next big challenge) to recognize and manage anxiety to prevent it from blooming into panic and panicked behavior. It may also help to recognize that anxiety comes in the form of self-doubt and worry.

  • Consider asking yourself: Once I have taken the steps I am able to take today, what can I do to relax and recharge so that worry and tension do not take energy I need for other things or make me act like a person I do not want to be?

 

4)   Connect with the people around you.
This is such an important tip that it deserves its own point!!  We all benefit from connection when we feel stressed and fearful.  Give yourself permission to take time and be truly present with people that you feel safe with.

 

5)   If you find yourself constantly seeking information and reading or watching clips about it, just stop.  Please stop seeking information constantly. This is like trying to drink from a firehose. Social media does not exist to inform you; these services exist to stimulate you and capture your attention. Constantly seeking and consuming negative stories about this situation may be a sign of anxiety and it will definitely stimulate anxiety and panic, not reduce it. 

  • Recognize that looking for information is part of trying to feel in control (psychologists call it informational control and it is sometimes helpful). It’s normal to do this. But after a certain point, you will not get more useful information.
  • You will do yourself a big favor if you avoid sources of misinformation and mass hysteria. For example, if you live in Thailand, that means avoiding Pantip (for those fluent in Thai) and Thaivisa.

 

6)   Rely on timeless and enduring wisdom that is beautifully expressed in the first lines of Reinhold Niebur’s Serenity Prayer:

                 God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,

                 Courage to change the things I can,

                 And wisdom to know the difference.

 In this situation, we do need to take action and hopefully our actions are prudent and reasonable. At the same time, there is a limit to what we can do. There are elements of this that we are all going to have to live with for a while. In general, this is one of the biggest challenges of human life and enduring human wisdom can help us through painful passages like now and the coming months. 

 

7)   Recognize that your emotional reactions are normal human reactions. Please do not rub salt in the wound of anxiety and stress by blaming and criticizing yourself for feeling anxious and upset by what is happening. Consider trying to be kind to yourself, perhaps by giving yourself permission to feel worried and anxious because you are a normal, caring human being…

 

8) Use your regular coping skills and find additional ways to soothe and distract yourself when you notice that anxiety is coming up and pushing you.  

  • There are so many wonderful ways to take good care of yourself and deal with anxiety. For example, what do you think is motivating me to write this? This is one way I’m managing my own anxiety, by using some of my usual coping strategies: trying to help others, and organizing my thoughts into a list. What do you usually do?  Exercise? Do that. Talk to friends? Do that. Gardening? Walking? Cooking? Do what what you usually do to help you relax. Or try something new… If you need some ideas about self care, coping or how to sooth anxiety, please check out this. Or this. Or thisOr this. Or this.
  • You might try asking yourself, “what do I need today?” This can be a very hepful question. Start from accepting that this is going to be stressful period, with a high level of tension and anxiety. In order to take good care of yourself and take care of others, you might ask yourself “When I’m living through a more difficult period, what do I need to cope with the tensions and bring out my best?” AND then give yourself permission to have/get/give yourself some of what you need!

Thanks for your time in reading this. I want to offer good wishes, wellbeing and prayers for those who are already suffering or have lost those they love. I want to wish all of us a safe passage through stormy waters. Most of all, wishing all of us courage and wisdom.

The Power of Mindful Self-Compassion

What if you already have a superpower?

The combination of mindfulness with self-compassion has the power to transform your life. 

Individually mindfulness and self-compassion are effective resources. Each of them helps people to improve their lives.  Mindfulness and self-compassion share a very important characteristic: they are inner resources which you already have. Each of us has the capacity for mindfulness and for Self-compassion built right into us as part of being human.  It’s not something outside of us. Every one of us has it and can learn to tap into the resource and develop it.    

Mindfulness is a resource that allows us to be aware of what’s happening within and around us in real time. Mindfulness is the antidote to our natural human tendency to run on autopilot, especially when we are stressed.  This is our inclination to operate from our habits and our past experience.  Mindful contact with the present moment is a resource that creates the possibility to free ourselves from the grip of automatic habits that no longer work for us. 

Self-Compassion is a resource that helps us relate to ourselves with caring.   Self-compassion is the antidote to our human tendency to judge, blame and even harshly criticize ourselves when we’re not as we wish we were or when life is difficult.   The human mind naturally works in such a way that the majority of us sometimes generate guilt, self-blame when it isn’t necessarily helpful.  For some people this becomes self condemnation or even self hatred.   Self-compassion is a resource that enables us to see ourselves as a human being who needs encouragement and support.  With self-compassion, we can give ourselves some of that.  Self-compassion also helps us  to make choices from warm concern for ourselves instead of beating ourselves up.

Alone, they are both powerful resources anyone can develop.  Please take just a moment and ask yourself these two questions:  What would my life be like if I could slow down when I need to, take a breath, and be a little kinder with myself?  What would my life be like if I could do that at challenging moments?

Together, mindfulness and compassion are like two jet engines.  They can lift us higher, faster and farther.  

Registration to Mindful Self-Compassion Course September – November, 2019 is now open!

There will be 9 course sessions on Sundays.

The free, Early-bird Orientation session will be on Sunday August 11, and a Second Orientation Session will be on Sunday September 1st. The course starts on Sunday September 8.

Ready to make this happen? the next step is to register for the Orientation session

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What is Self Compassion and Why Does It Matter?

How do you respond to yourself in facing the daily challenge of your life? That is, what kind of thoughts and feeling typically appear when you feel a little overwhelmed by your responsibilities or relationships? If you’re like many people, you may sometimes criticize yourself when you are under pressure, stressed or feeling you haven’t done as well as you wished. You may sometimes judge yourself harshly or imagine negative judgments of others. How do self criticism and self judgment effect your ability to engage with your life? Research shows that most people are harder on themselves than on their friends when the friends face the same challenges!

Self Compassion is when we respond to ourselves supportively, with kindness and understanding. Whether we’re facing a daily hassle or a big challenge, we offer ourselves encouragement and support rather than blame. When we want to achieve an important goal, we can use self compassion to motivate ourselves rather than criticism, fear and blame.

Self Compassion is not a theory or a concept. It is a concrete and practical skill that can be learned, practiced and applied in daily life right at the moment we need it.

This matters because research shows that learning and practicing self-compassion are strongly connected with greater emotional well being and resilience as well as big reductions in self criticism and anxiety.

Ask yourself: how would your life be with less self criticism and self blame, and more kindness and understanding?

Registration to Mindful Self-Compassion Course April-June, 2019 is now open!

There will be 9 course sessions on Sundays.
The free, pre-course orientation session will be on Sunday March 31, and the course starts on Sunday April 7.

Check out the full course description and schedule here:
www.mscthailand.org or contact us for more information at hello@mscthailand.org

If you’re ready to make this happen, the next step is to register for the Orientation session here: https://goo.gl/forms/NTWhnQSEXmt9vwsw2

The following course will begin in September 2019- if you want to be notified when registration opens for that course, sign up here: https://forms.gle/bVdE6MdweeUwa4J48

Gratefully,
Mindful Self-Compassion Thailand

Looking to the New Year with Hope

Wishing everyone the very best for a wonderful, fulfilling and happy 2019!

This is a hopeful time of year when we look forward and think about goals and growth for the coming year.
When we look forward, it can help to have wise guidance to help us choose a path.
Since we naturally get lost in the daily responsibilities and stresses of our lives, wise guidance helps us remember the big picture. Part of the big picture is that our time is finite. This article, How Cancer Changes Hope, reminds us about this. The author shares her main hope to live deeply and fully in each moment of daily life. Her insight can help us set our own direction for the coming year.

This year, we wish that all of us may learn how to live deeply, fiercely and fully in the present moment.

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