Field Notes on Radical Self Compassion

James Gimian, Mindful's publisher, reflects on the recent Practicing Mindfulness and Compassion Conference. 

We had a great day here in Northern California yesterday, where Mindful co-hosted Practicing Mindfulness and Compassion with our friends and colleagues from the Greater Good Science Center at University of California, Berkeley. We had over 500 people attending a daylong series of presentations and practices with Jon Kabat-Zinn, Dacher Keltner, Kristin Neff, Paul Gilbert, Shauna Shapiro, and many others.

While so much has been made of mindfulness recently, this program made explicit the crucial connection between mindfulness and compassion. This connects perfectly to the way you’ve heard us talk about being mindful, here and in print in Mindful magazine, as including mindfulness, awareness, kindness, and compassion.

The program included wonderful presentations of experiential practices that bring out this connection, and we learned from field reports highlighting the benefits of these practices in areas such as childbirth, education, the law, and healthcare. We met many professionals from local health organizations (such as Kaiser Permanente) who are on the front lines of presenting these mindfulness and compassion-based interventions.

It was a stunningly warm and beautiful day for March in the Bay Area, and at times it was tough to focus on the talks with the sun and ocean and blue sky beaming through the massive wall of windows in the old Ford assembly plant that is now the Craneway Conference Center. In an inspiring act of leadership, the kind that has made their institution one of the national leaders in integrating mindfulness practices in healthcare and wellness, our friends at Harvard Pilgrim Health Care sacrificed their own learning to put these teachings into practice with a radical act of self-compassion, which we document with this photo of freedom and escape.

(Just in case you needed more evidence that these leaders are “contemplative” through and through, the polish featured here is “Reflection” by OPI.)