Tag Archives: Steve Hickman

Join February’s Unconference: Sitting in a circle and talking about what’s really alive for people

by  Susan Kaiser Greenland

kaisergreenlandsusanSusan Kaiser Greenland, JD, Author, Educator, is the developer and co-founder of the Inner Kids mindful awareness program for children, teens and their families. She is author of The Mindful Child: How to Help Your Kid Manage Stress and Become Happier, Kinder, and More Compassionate (Free Press, 2010).

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Have you heard that 2014 will usher in an era of mindful living? It must be true because J. Walter Thompson, a giant advertising agency with considerable qualitative, quantitative and desk research prowess, has identified the top 10 trends for 2014 and mindful living is tenth on the list. What’s more, mindfulness is implicit in several of the top 10 trends. In keeping with this year’s second trend “Do You Speak Visual?” here’s a video teaser:

It’s a funny video and so is characterizing mindfulness as a new trend given its ancient roots in the East and, through Pop icons like Alan Watts, the Beat poets, John Lennon and George Harrison, its decades old roots in the Western zeitgeist. But there’s no denying that mindfulness has become trendy and with popularization insiders are both happy and concerned. If you’re curious about the positive aspects of the growing mindfulness movement check out Mindful Magazine published by seasoned veterans in the field and, if you’re interested in insiders’ concerns, read Ron Purser and David Loy’s Huffington Post article Beyond McMindfulness.

The trendiness of mindfulness has created an explosion of interest in sharing it with children, teens and families and not unlike popularization itself, growing interest in kids’ mindfulness has created it’s own set of plusses and minuses. Last year, Amy Saltzman and Steve Hickman reached out to Mark Greenberg and me to ask if we’d join them in hosting a symposium connected with this year’s Bridging the Hearts and Minds of Youth Conference at UCSD. Together we polled a handful of our colleagues and were especially struck by the following three responses:

* From Chris McKenna with Mindful Schools: “We are looking for issues that are really alive for people and not just theoretical.”

* From Lisa Flook a scientist with The University of Wisconsin, Madison: “How do we engage mindfully (with heartfulness and skillfulness) together and what are mechanisms for explicitly addressing this ongoing group process?”

* From Wynn Kinder with Wellness Works: “ Collaboration and cooperation are messy.”

bridging2014badgeWe went back to the drawing board and the symposium morphed into an Unconference with this Native American adage in mind: “In the circle, we are all equal. When in the circle, no one is in front of you. No one is behind you. No one is above you. No one is below you”.  Steve carved out a morning for mindfulness veterans, newcomers, and those in-between to sit in a circle and (borrowing from Chris) talk about what’s “really alive for them.” We chose this format with professional group facilitators to ensure the “mindful, heartful and skillful process” that Lisa highlights in her comments above. And, we promise to remember Wynn’s prompt that “collaboration and cooperation are messy”.

Here how the Unconference morning will break down:

* The 1440 Foundation has generously underwritten a significant portion of the event including breakfast starting at 7am.

* We’re honored that Sharon Salzberg will lead a meditation at 8:30am.

* Small, facilitated groups will meet for an hour and a half.

* We’ll conclude with a panel discussion moderated by Mark Greenberg.

Like much of the cutting-edge and field development work that’s happening in the mindfulness world, the Bridging the Hearts and Minds Unconference wouldn’t be possible without a generous grant from the 1440 Foundation.

Veterans slated to join our working circles include Sharon Salzberg from IMS, Mark Greenberg and Christa Turksma from CARE, Jim Gimian and Barry Boyce from Mindful Magazine, Vinny Ferraro and Megan Cowan from Mindful Schools, Lisa Flook from University of Wisconsin, Madison, Randye Semple with USC and UCLA, Lidia Zylowska co-founder UCLA Mindful Awareness Research Center, Wynne Kinder from Wellness Works, Chris Willard who wrote A Child’s Mind, Rona Wilensky, Lesley Grant with Marin Mindfulness, Amy Saltzman from Still Quiet Place, Steve Hickman with UCSD and me.

We hope you’ll join us.

The Unconference will be held on the morning of February 7, 2014.  For more information and to register visit the UCSD website.

Petaluma: Training in Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy

text & photos by Dzung Vo
Windswept Trees. MBCT Training, Earthrise Retreat Center, Petaluma, California (2/18/13)
Gratitude
Hope
Connectedness

these three words
express my experience with
the Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) Teacher Training
which is a very skillful application
of mindfulness for preventing relapse of chronic depression in adults

Sitting View. MBCT Training, Earthrise Retreat Center, Petaluma, California (2/17/13)

the five-day training was an interesting hybrid
of a meditation retreat
and professional training workshop
i was fascinated to watch my mind going back and forth
between “just being”
enjoying the breathtaking natural environment
walking, eating, and sitting mindfully
being fully in each breath
and “doing”
watching my analyzing, planning, comparing and judging mind at work

breathing in, i am aware of my thinking
breathing out, i smile …

View from Hill. MBCT Training, Earthrise Retreat Center, Petaluma, California (2/18/13)

how lucky i am
to be able to consider this experience
part of my “work”
more and more, as my work comes from the heart
the line between my profession and my bodhisattva path
begins to dissolve…

Deer Having Dinner. MBCT Training, Earthrise Retreat Center, Petaluma, California (2/18/13)
"May Peace Prevail on Earth." MBCT Training, Earthrise Retreat Center, Petaluma, California (2/21/13)

the faculty
(zindel segal, sarah bowen, and steve hickman)
brought tremendous warmth, gentleness
and clarity of vision
in teaching and embodying the training
the students brought a depth and diversity
of practice and experience
and a bright curiosity

it gives me great hope
to see these practices
skillfully adapted and offered to the world

it gives me great humility
to be a part of this growing “professional sangha”

MBCT Petaluma Class of 2013. Earthrise Retreat Center, Petaluma, California (2/22/13)
MBCT Teacher Training, Petaluma, Class of 2013

i bow deeply to all of you

Dzung Vo and Ken Ginsburg, Philadelphia, 11-21-11I have long had a dream to teach mindfulness practice to adolescents suffering from chronic illness and chronic stress. With my position at the British Columbia Children’s Hospital–and the luxury of having a more functional health care system with sufficient time to spend with my patients and explore issues deeply–I have finally had a chance to start making this a reality.

(see more photos on my flickr set)

How Do You Meet Your Suffering? Opportunities Abound to Learn Self-Compassion in San Diego

Dr. Kristin Neff and Dr. Christopher Germer have dedicated years to studying, researching, and teaching self-compassion. All of this dedicated effort and passion have resulted in the Mindful Self Compassion (MSC) program, a research- and skill-based eight week training similar in format to Mindfulness- Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) but focused on this key component of how we meet our own suffering. Outside of Dr. Neff and Dr. Germer’s own courses, the The UC San Diego Center for Mindfulness is currently the only place offering MSC courses. (Note: Dr. Neff will present a one-day workshop on the topic in San Diego on September 22, 2013. See below for more details.)

Drs. Neff and Germer trained Michelle Becker, a San Diego Marriage and Family Therapist and MBSR teacher, as the first teacher of the program. She, along with Dr. Steve Hickman, the second teacher trained by Neff and Germer, will lead their second MSC program at the UCSD Center For Mindfulness this September.

In describing how thoughts arise from actions, Michelle noted that “when something bad happens, it is like being hit by an arrow, difficult and painful. Unfortunately, a second arrow, our thoughts and reactions, follows the first. Many times, it is these thoughts and reactions (i.e. “this shouldn’t be happening,” “you failed,” “you’re so lazy,” “maybe you’re stupid”) that cause the bulk of the suffering. The event, the first arrow, is painful, but how different would it be if instead of that second arrow, we just attend to the fact that the first arrow hurt?

Compassion is a response to witnessing suffering. Becker notes that “showing kindness and compassion to ourselves makes such a difference in our lives. Even simply responding by acknowledging ‘Oh wow, that hurt,’ radically changes our experience”.

Through mindfulness and self-compassion training, a space is formed between event and reaction, and within that space, Becker explains, we are able to choose how to react. “When we create the space, it’s the difference between reacting and responding. So when we choose to respond, can we be kind to our own selves?”

Kristin Neff

Kindness and compassion are skills that can be developed. Rather than continually judging and evaluating ourselves, self-compassion involves generating kindness toward ourselves as imperfect humans, and learning to be present with the inevitable struggles of life with greater ease. It motivates us to make needed changes in our lives not from a place of motivating ourselves with punishment, but because we care about ourselves and want to lessen our suffering.  But becoming more compassionate requires breaking down old habits and building new mindful skills and habits.

Step one in developing self-compassion is mindfulness. In order to change a habit, we must become aware of its existence. We need to become aware of whatever sensation, thought, or emotion is causing suffering. Once we identify our suffering, the second step is to remember that we are not alone in our suffering.  Pain and suffering are part of any life, and therefore our suffering is a simply a normal part of belonging to the human race.

The third step is to choose to respond with kindness toward our own selves.  Much like we would respond with kindness for a friend who is suffering in the same way. In Michelle’s words, “It’s really that simple. Not easy. But really that simple.” Awareness and compassion are learnable through education and practice.

MSC is based on research. Early clinical studies indicate that MSC practice will increase happiness and lessen anxiety and depression, as well as supporting and improving mindfulness overall.

Even people who have taken MBSR will benefit from MSC.  Michelle commented, “Both programs have the core elements of mindfulness and compassion. Compassion is not trained explicitly in MBSR, but it is important. We do these practices that help us become aware of where we are, and to the extent that where we are is painful. It would be a little bit cruel to become aware of pain and just meet it with harshness instead of offering ourselves the compassion each of us deserves.”

In addressing which program to take, she remarked, “People will benefit from both. There’s a lot of overlap between MBSR and MSC and it’s about which door you choose to take first. For some people, starting with MBSR would be preferable, and for others, starting with MSC would be preferable. If there is a lot of harshness, a lot of self-judgment and self-criticism, probably your experience with MBSR will be deeper and you’ll get more out of it, and it won’t be quite as painful, if you start with MSC.”

For more information on MSC and to register for the 8-week course starting September 20, please visit the Center for Mindfulness website.

To learn more about Dr. Neff’s pioneering research into self-compassion, check out her homepage, her book “Self-Compassion.”

One-DAY WORKSHOP in SAN DIEGO, September 22

You are invited to attend Kristin Neff’s Self-Compassion & Emotional Resilience one-day workshop on September 22, 2012 from 9 am to 4 pm, on the campus of UC San Diego. The workshop will provide simple tools for responding in a kind, compassionate way whenever we are experiencing painful emotions.

Letting everything become your teacher… absolutely everything!

“I’m going to give you a little advice. There’s a force in the universe that makes things happen; all you have to do is get in touch with it. Stop thinking…let things happen…and be…the ball.” – Ty Webb (played by Chevy Chase in the 1980 comedy Caddyshack)

By Steve Hickman
It’s not every day that you find 80s screwball comedies referenced in articles about mindfulness, so you’ve got to give me credit for even trying. Hang in there and see if you find any wisdom in this silliness. Who says meditation has to be so serious, anyway?

If you are a psychotherapist, then perhaps you recognize those moments with clients or patients when you don’t quite feel like you are JUST a therapist, but that your presence seems to transcend that role. It is as if your manifestation in the room extends beyond simply a treatment plan, case conceptualization or intervention. You have the sense that what is at work is something larger than that, that you are holding a space of equanimity, patience, non-judgment and curiosity that is allowing this person before you to finally have an opportunity to experience themselves and their troubles in a wholly different and powerful way. There is a palpable sense of healing taking place, a felt sense of transformation unfolding in the space you have created together.

In those moments, I believe that we ARE the mindfulness of the healing relationship, the therapeutic field. We don’t DO mindfulness in psychotherapy, we ARE mindfulness in psychotherapy. It just happens.

But is it possible to not only notice it when it happens, but increase the likelihood that it will? Can we learn to cultivate mindfulness in psychotherapy in such a way that we are more effective to our clients and patients, as well as happier, more satisfied human beings in our own right?

I think we can, although I also think that it’s not entirely clear how to go about making this happen. It goes beyond simple instruction to “BE the mindfulness (i.e. “BE the ball.”). It probably arises out of practicing mindfulness intensively, regularly and systematically to create a foundation of personal mindfulness from which we then practice psychotherapy. And then perhaps we can learn some ways to work from that platform to facilitate our day-to-day therapeutic work to infuse it with presence, non-judgment, equanimity and all the rest, for the betterment of those who seek our services.

This exploration fascinates me, which is why I sought out my esteemed colleagues Trudy Goodman and Elisha Goldstein to create and offer a professional training retreat on Mindfulness in Psychotherapy. This training, if you are interested, will be offered on October 2-7, 2011 at the Joshua Tree Retreat Center in Southern California, and will combine mindfulness practice with an exploration of the process of integrating mindfulness into therapeutic presence, mindfulness-based interventions and individual or group psychotherapy.

But my purpose in writing this piece was not solely to promote this training retreat. Instead it was to invite you to consider how you ARE the mindfulness of the therapeutic relationship and perhaps to offer your own comments on this topic. What do you do to integrate mindfulness into your clinical work? Do you think there is benefit in “Being the ball”?

I’m truly curious about your take on this topic. I’m basically a curious guy. “So I got that goin’ for me, which is nice.”