Mindful Self-Compassion Intensive Training

Dec 6 - 11, 2020

Self-compassion is the heart of mindfulness. It is warmhearted, connected presence during difficult moments in our lives. Self-compassion provides emotional strength and resilience that allows us to admit our shortcomings, motivate ourselves with encouragement, forgive ourselves when needed, care for others and be more fully ourselves. Rapidly expanding research shows that self-compassion is strongly associated with emotional well-being; lower levels of anxiety and depression; healthy habits such as diet and exercise; and more satisfying personal relationships.

Fortunately, self-compassion is a skill that can be cultivated by anyone. During this workshop, you will learn how to:

  • Practice mindfulness and self-compassion in daily life
  • Understand the science of self-compassion
  • Handle difficult emotions with greater ease
  • Motivate yourself with kindness rather than criticism
  • Transform challenging relationships, old and new
  • Manage compassion fatigue
  • Practice the art of savoring and self-appreciation
  • Teach simple self-compassion practices to others

This workshop is an intensive training program rather than a retreat. It is a condensed version of the eight-session, empirically-supported Mindful Self-Compassion (MSC) training developed by Christopher Germer and Kristin Neff. MSC is an experiential journey — an adventure in self-discovery and self-kindness — supported by the beautiful Esalen campus. This program fulfills a prerequisite for becoming an MSC teacher.

Recommended reading: Neff, Self-Compassion: The Proven Power of Being Kind to Yourself; Germer, The Mindful Path to Self-Compassion; Neff and Germer, The Mindful Self-Compassion Workbook.

Additional tuition $525 per person, added to the workshop cost.

CE credit for nurses; see faculty.

CE credit for MFTs, LCSWs, LPCCs and LEPs; see faculty.

CE credit for psychologists; see faculty.


Acceptance and Commitment Therapy: Cultivating Psychological Wellness

Oct 11 - 16, 2020

Acceptance and mindfulness-based practices are rapidly making their way into mental health care, medicine and society — to alleviate human suffering and also to nurture psychological health and wellness. This body of work offers a fresh perspective on psychological suffering and powerful clinical strategies that support meaningful life changes. In this workshop for mental health professionals, you will learn about one particular approach and set of evidence-based practices called Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT). ACT balances mindfulness and acceptance processes with commitment and behavior change in the service of living a more vital life.

Through lectures, live and video demonstrations, and practical experiential exercises, you will learn new ways to help your clients grow and live meaningfully without first having to defeat or eliminate sources of emotional and psychological pain. This work can be challenging for both therapists and clients because it calls on each to stand in difficult places and open up to that difficulty, both personally and professionally. You are encouraged to engage the material at a personal level, as it applies to your own life and also in the context of your mental health work. Mental health professionals, including graduate students and post-doctoral fellows, are invited to attend. Familiarity with ACT is not required.

Recommended reading: Forsyth and Eifert, The Mindfulness and Acceptance Workbook for Anxiety: A Guide to Breaking Free from Anxiety, Phobias, and Worry Using Acceptance and Commitment Therapy, Second Edition; Harris, ACT Made Simple, Second Edition.

(A $75 additional tuition will be added to the workshop cost.)

CE credit for MFTs, LCSWs, LPCCs and LEPs. CE for nurses. CE for psychologists; see leader.


Positive Neuroplasticity: How to Grow Resilient Self-Worth and Happiness

Sep 6 - 11, 2020

In volatile times, it’s vital to develop resilient well-being. With the science of positive neuroplasticity, we can turn passing experiences into lasting inner strengths such as grit, gratitude and self-worth.

In this experiential workshop, you’ll learn why mindfulness alone is not enough and what to do with a brain that’s like Velcro for bad experiences but Teflon for good ones. We’ll explore effective ways to release anxiety, hurt and anger, heal from past painful experiences, and to rest in open-hearted happiness. You’ll learn how to influence the brain-change process from the inside out and develop a greater sense of calm, self-compassion, feeling loved and contentment, all of which are hardwired into your nervous system. We'll also explore building a sense of self-belonging with guest teacher Laurel Hanson, using tools from self-affirmation theory to identify and grow the good things already inside us.

Throughout the workshop we’ll apply these insights to important relationships. You’ll see how to be both appropriate and authentic, and both kind and assertive. As you deepen your sense of the good inside yourself, you can be more present for others – and grow the good together, in a wonderful upward spiral.

Recommended Reading: Hanson, Resilient: How to Grow an Unshakable Core of Calm, Strength, and Happiness.

CE credit for MFTs, LCSWs, LPCCs, and LEPs.

CE credit for Nurses.


Character Strategies: A Transformational System for Attaining Deep Intimacy and Erotic Fulfillment

Nov 13 - 15, 2020

Learning about the Six Characters Strategies, and how to identify your own and your partner’s, can transform your relationships forever. By knowing your wounds around specific developmental needs and the ways that they are different from your loved ones, you will be able to take care of a partner’s deepest emotional needs while taking their defenses less personally. Additionally, early unfulfilled needs are sign posts pointing to your core sexual desires. The most healing and exciting erotic connection comes when you understand, embrace and have these desires met.

During this workshop, you will take an experiential journey through the six character strategies. Through lectures and clothes-on experiential exercises, you will practice how to empathize, attune and connect with someone based on their character strategy. If you continue to practice these skills in your life, your intimate relationships will be more loving and harmonious. You will also learn how sexual needs relate to your character, leading to more fulfilling sex.

This workshop is for individuals and couples of all genders and sexual identities.

Recommended reading: Harel & Hirschman, Coming Together: Embracing Your Core Desires for Sexual Fulfillment and Long-Term Compatibility; Making Love Real: The Intelligent Couple's Guide to Lasting Intimacy and Passion.

CE credit for MFTs, LCSWs, LPCCs, and LEPs; see faculty.


Relational Gestalt Practice: The Transformative Power of Emotion

Nov 15 - 20, 2020

Our sense of self develops in connection with others and our experience in early relationships shape our beliefs — about ourselves, other people and what is possible for us in our lives. While we cannot change the past, we can change the parts of our lives that we find difficult or unfulfilling by having new experiences of contact. When our need for understanding and emotional attunement is met, our limiting beliefs can change.

In this workshop, we will:

  • Learn skills that will increase our presence and awareness
  • Explore how to establish healthy boundaries
  • Develop and track awareness of our physical sensations and emotions
  • Communicate our needs and wants effectively.
  • Discover habitual relational patterns that prevent us from cultivating the type of connection we long for

The workshop includes time for basic gestalt awareness practices, a mixture of didactic and experiential exercises, as well as individual "open seat" sessions with Dorothy and with the support of the group.

Recommended reading: Korb, et al, Gestalt Therapy: Practice and Theory; Mann, Gestalt Therapy: 100 Key Points and Techniques.

For continuing education syllabus, see www.esalen.org/relational-gestalt-practice.

CE credit for LCSWs, LEPs, LPCCs, LEPs and MFTs.

CE credit for Nurses.


The Art of Mindful Communication: Living Your Values

Dec 4 - 6, 2020

Mindfulness practice provides a powerful support for clear, kind and effective conversations. Join author and meditation teacher Oren Jay Sofer for this exploration of how our spiritual practice can provide a foundation for bringing more compassion, clarity and connection into our speech and relationships. Oren will be offering teachings from his book, Say What You Mean: A Mindful Approach to Nonviolent Communication.

During this workshop, we will explore the foundations of an integrated approach to skillful communication. Drawing on Buddhist concepts of Right Speech, mindfulness practice and the modern discipline of Nonviolent Communication, we will learn practical tips to bring more clarity and care to our relationships, and to create the conditions for meaningful collaboration. The workshop will include a combination of guided meditations, discussion and interactive practices, including:

  • Deepening relationships
  • Reducing stress and interpersonal conflict
  • Strengthening resilience and empathy
  • Learning practical tools for effective dialogue

This workshop is appropriate for all levels of experience.

Recommended reading: Sofer, Say What You Mean: A Mindful Approach to Nonviolent Communication.

CE credit for MFTs, LCSWs, LPCCs, and LEPs.

CE credit for Nurses.


The Resilience Mindset: Bouncing Back from Disappointment, Difficulty, and Even Disaster

Dec 18 - 20, 2020

Welcome to an experiential weekend of strengthening your inner resources and the natural resilience that supports your well-being and flourishing, a time where you will learn to cope with everyday mishaps and life's extraordinary challenges — from a wobble to a wallop.

You’ll be taught dozens of tools and techniques drawn from the intersection of brain science, relational psychology and mindfulness practices. These can help you reduce the impact of stress and trauma, deepen your self-compassion and self-awareness, and broaden perspectives, possibilities and sense of purpose. You will learn to harness your own self-directed neuroplasticity to rewire your brain for maximum resilience and well-being through:

  • Practical experiential exercises, guided meditations and visualizations
  • Inquiry in dyads and small groups
  • Stimulating dialogue and discussion in large groups

You can learn new and creative ways to navigate the twists and turns of life with more calm, courage and flexibility.

Recommended reading: Graham, Resilience: Powerful Practices for Bouncing Back from Disappointment, Difficulty, and Even Disaster; Graham, Bouncing Back: Rewiring Your Brain for Maximum Resilience and Well-Being

CE credit for MFTs, LCSWs, LPCCs, LEPs.

CE credit for Nurses.


Soul Motion®: Tenderness at the Heart of the Dance

Dec 20 - 27, 2020

Soul is flow, an ever-changing cloudscape of textures, hues, sensations, scents and feelings. Soul is how the deathless Presence meets and moves a finite human body. In this workshop, we will reclaim the body-in-motion as a doorway to the soul’s flow, to the life that is unfolding just under the surface of everyday forgetting.

Soul Motion is a meeting with self and other in a dance that is deeply nourishing, creative, intelligent, emotionally savvy, heartbreaking, soul-making, spirited and transforming. It is a movement toward the dynamic stillness at the center of all things, the place of rest at the heart of sound and motion. We will gather to listen deeply and hover on the threshold between doing and being, solitude and togetherness, awkwardness and grace.

“Dancing at the edge of the continent, the edge of another beginning, the edge of Love despite all odds, we will move with our delight and our sorrow, inspired by the promise of light returning into the heart of darkness," writes Zuza. "This formless dance form allows for passionate, full-bodied movement as well as mindful inner explorations, art making, ritual and luscious lounging.”

There will be a celebratory Christmas Eve dinner in the Esalen Lodge.

Recommended reading: Chödrön, The Wisdom of No Escape.

CE credit for MFTs, LCSWs, LPCCs, LEPs.


Awakening the Creative: The Painting Experience

Dec 20 - 27, 2020

Explore the world of spontaneous creation, an unpredictable territory beyond the expected where no rules apply. In a respectful and nurturing studio environment, you’ll receive individual attention and gentle guidance to help you open to inspiration, creativity, growth and change. Using the powerful tool of “process arts,” you’ll be supportively invited to:

  • Discover a creative voice that’s entirely your own
  • Trust your intuitive perception, not the mind’s critical chatter
  • Follow your energy rather than what looks good or makes sense
  • Overcome blocks by embracing their hidden message
  • Experience your imagination as intelligent — a doorway to deeper knowing
  • Explore process painting as a genuine path to spiritual awakening

In The Painting Experience, everyone is a beginner; people from all levels of experience are welcome, including those who have never picked up a paintbrush. The Painting Experience is about your creative process, not technique or training. There will be no judgment of your work or comparison with others. Instead, you are given the opportunity to embrace your own creative voice and confidently follow it. All materials are supplied — all you have to bring is you!

Recommended reading: Cassou and Cubley, Life, Paint & Passion.

($50 materials fee will be added to the workshop cost)

CE credit for MFTs, LCSWs, LPCCs and LEPs; see faculty.

CE credit for nurses; see faculty.