Integrating mindfulness and self-compassion

Integrated Mindfulness is an interesting project from Tim Duerden and Annette Dunn which brings together insights from Mindfulness Based Stress Education and Mindful Self-Compassion Training into an integrated approach which they call Mindful Resilience Enhancement.

MRE frames the cultivation of mindful awareness as a value. We have many opportunities in our daily experience of life when we can choose to move towards being more mindfully aware and the motivation to do so can, in time, become important to us in its own right. In this way being mindfully aware becomes more about how we are (a core value) than about something that we do for a particular end (a goal)…..

MRE seeks to explicitly teach ways of enhancing self-compassion just as it seeks to explicitly teach ways to enhance mindful awareness. The centrality of the cultivation of self-compassion to MRE is supported by research that indicates that when self-compassion is explicitly cultivated alongside mindfulness, the enhancement to well-being and the development of mindful awareness are greater and longer-lasting.

Their curriculum overlays this approach onto a traditional 8 week MBSR/CT type program in a very interesting way that gradually scaffolds the introduction to mindfulness practices:

The first phase is learning to mindfully be more at ease alongside difficulty with kindness and is the focus of the Level 1 teacher-training. Mindfulness in daily life is emphasised as the core practice in the MRE Level 1 curriculum, with short mindfulness practices that incrementally build to longer practice periods being progressively woven into daily routines supported by self-compassion practices. It is important to note that the Level 1 Competency Certificate only applies to teaching brief mindfulness and soothing practices that support being at ease alongside difficulty.

The second phase is to approach and explore difficulty with kindness and curiosity and is the focus of the Level 2 teacher-training. Building on the Level 1 curriculum, the Level 2 MRE teacher-training curriculum has a greater emphasis on cultivating self-compassion and on more sustained periods of mindfulness practice. These support the approaches that encourage turning towards difficulty.

This approach could be very useful with students in addressing a range of both personal transition issues and transition to study issues and the emphasis on kindness and self-compassion is a great balance to the competitive pass/fail orientation of higher education.