"The Nature of Self-Compassion:

Exploring Mindful Self-Compassion in Alaska

August 15 - 22, 2020

With Megan Prager & Kurt Hoelting

Going to the Mountains is Going Home. -John Muir

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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 Alaska's sublime wilderness. Based at Keene Channel Lodge, 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 Southeast Alaska’s natural history and ecology 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 Alaskan wilderness as a resource for well being and self-care.


For a look at the location, please view the following video:

(INSERT KURT VIDEO HERE)

Retreat Location: Southeast Alaska

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This program will take you to the heart of an increasingly rare wild coastal ecosystem in Alaska's Panhandle region, otherwise known as the Alexander Archipelago, or more commonly, Southeast Alaska. Unlike any other region in the world this region contains the 17-million acre Tongass National Forest, the largest in the US National Forest System, with much of the last intact old growth temperate rainforest left on the planet. Stretching from Dixon Entrance to Icy Bay, this tapestry of islands, fjords and glaciated mountains contains over 15,000 miles of coastline, more than the entire contiguous United States combined.

Because of the remote and rugged nature of the region, much of it remains essentially wild in character right down to tidewater. The Tongass region is also home to the world's largest concentrations of bald eagles, and many other free roaming wild species that are endangered or extinct in the lower 48 states.

About Mindful Self-Compassion (MSC):

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

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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 othersBurgeoning 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.

Objectives:

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 Southeast Alaska’s natural history and ecology

Target Audience:

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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.

Training:

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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. For more information on self-compassion, please see www.Self-Compassion.org and www.MindfulSelfCompassion.org

Participant Guidelines:

The MSC program 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

Teachers:

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Megan Prager is a Certified Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction Instructor, a Certified Mindful Self-Compassion Instructor, and Compassion Programs Director and University Liaison at UC San Diego Center for Mindfulness. Megan is also an Adjunct Faculty member at San Diego State University and a Compassion Cultivation Teacher (CCT) in training through Stanford’s Center for Compassion Altruism Research and Education. In addition to teaching Mindfulness-based programs, Megan specializes in developing and delivering mindfulness trainings for Fortune 500 companies as well as for educational, healthcare, and academic settings. Megan is currently collaborating with universities to embed Mindfulness and Compassion courses and values within institutions of higher education. In all her ventures, Megan’s passion and mission are the same: to empower individuals and systems with an understanding of the important role they play in shaping well-being. Megan believes through compassionate awareness all are able to utilize the best resource they have: themselves.

Email: meganprager@gmail.com

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Kurt Hoelting is the founder and head guide with Inside Passages, bringing twenty-five years of experience as a wilderness guide and meditation teacher. He has co-led Inside Passages retreats in Alaska with noted teachers in Buddhist, Western and secular lineages, including MBSR founder Jon Kabat-Zinn, poet Gary Snyder, Rabbi Rachel Cowan, and Zen teacher Norman Fischer. He also draws upon a deep local knowledge built over four decades of guiding and commercial fishing in Southeast Alaska. On this retreat, in addition to his roles as a guide and naturalist, he will serve as host and resident mindfulness teacher, while Megan will teach all sessions related to the Mindful Self-Compassion training.

Kurt is a graduate of Harvard Divinity School, and is ordained as a United Church of Christ minister. He has also trained in the Zen tradition for almost four decades. He is certified as a Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction teacher through the Center for Mindfulness in Medicine at the University of Massachusetts Medical School, and teaches MBSR to veterans at Seattle’s VA Hospital, along with his practice as a mindfulness coach.

Kurt is the author of The Circumference of Home,which was a finalist for the Washington State Book Award in 2011.

Email: kurt@insidepassages.com

Retreat Cost: $2250

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Costs include: Charter boat transportation to and from Keene Channel Lodge from Petersburg, Alaska, lodging for seven nights, all meals during the week at the lodge, kayaks and kayak gear, kayak guide services, and all trainings in mindfulness and Mindful Self-Compassion.

Costs do not include: Transportation to Petersburg, Alaska from the Lower ‘48, and any lodging and meals in Petersburg before or after the retreat itself.

For more information about location and travel arrangements, please visit: http://www.insidepassages.com/travel-to-alaska

Tentative Schedule:

Day One: August 15th

Charter Pick-Up for trip to Keene Channel Lodge, 4:30-6:00 pm

Dinner: 6:30-7:45 pm

First Session: 8:00-9:00 pm

Day Two-Six: August 16-20th

Movement & Meditation Session: 7:00-7:45 am

Morning Session: 9:00-11:30 am

Kayaking: 1:15-3:30 pm

Afternoon Session: 4:00-6:30 pm

*Day Four and Six: Afternoon Off to Explore

Day Seven: August 22nd

Closing Session: 7:00-8:00 am

Early Departure by Charter Boat for for Petersburg, and flig to Lower ‘48: 8:30 am