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Happy New Year!

I am pleased to announce that I will be offering two 8-week Mindful Self-Compassion groups in Thunder Bay over the winter months.

We all know how to be kind to others when they suffer or struggle, but there are many blocks we have toward extending the same kindness to our own suffering.

Mindful Self-Compassion (MSC) is a scientifically supported, training program designed to cultivate the skill of self-compassion based on the groundbreaking research of Kristin Neff and the clinical expertise of Christopher Germer.

This group involves guided meditations, exercises, education, and discussion of relevant material that enable participants to respond to difficult moments in their lives with kindness, care and understanding.

This group will help you to be able to:

· Practice self-compassion in daily life
· Understand the empirically-supported benefits of self-compassion
· Motivate yourself with kindness rather than criticism
· Handle difficult emotions with greater ease
· Transform challenging relationships, old and new
· Manage caregiver fatigue and burnout
· Practice the art of savoring and self-appreciation

MONDAY EVENING MSC GROUP:

Facilitators: Monique Mercier & Jennifer Lailey
Dates: Jan 20th – Mar 16th (no session Feb 17)
Time: 6:00-8:30 pm
Place: 1119 Victoria Ave East (Main floor of Community Midwives Building)
Cost: $400

WEDNESDAY MORNING MSC GROUP:

Facilitator: Monique Mercier
Dates: Jan 22nd – Mar 11th
Time: 9:30am-12:00 pm
Place: 129 Algoma St. South (Lakehead Unitarian Fellowship)
Cost: $400

Call to inquire with your extended health benefits/insurance provider about possible partial or full cost re-imbursement under ‘psychological services’.

You can also read more about MSC here:
• The Centre for Mindful Self Compassion website: https://centerformsc.org/
• Dr. Neff’s website: http://selfcompassion.org/
• Dr. Germer’s website: https://chrisgermer.com/
If you have any questions or would like more details, please email me at info@moniquemercier.ca.

Call or email me for registration or more information.

Warmly,
Monique

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Tomorrow is the last session of my first MSC group (winter session) – and it was fantastic! Lots of heartfelt and courageous moments where people were able to connect to their hearts and learn how to begin to make peace with themselves and the inherent suffering that comes along with being human.

I will be offering a spring mindful self-compassion group starting April 3rd, on Wednesday nights from 630-9pm at 1119 Victoria Ave E. in Begin Yoga Studio. Dr. Jennifer Lailey of Mindfulness Thunder Bay will be assisting me in delivering the group.

There are currently 5 spots left in the spring group – but if there is enough interest, I may consider running another group at a different time.

See more info and details in my poster and email (info@moniquemercier.ca) or call me for registration (807-630-5926)

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I will be offering the 8 week Mindful Self Compassion Course in January 2019 with Dr. Jennifer Lailey.

Mindful Self-Compassion (MSC) is a an empirically-supported, 8-week, training program designed to cultivate the skill of self-compassion based on the groundbreaking research of Kristin Neff and the clinical expertise of Christopher Germer.

MSC teaches core principles and practices that enable participants to respond to difficult moments in their lives with kindness, care and understanding.

Rapidly expanding research demonstrates that self-compassion is strongly associated with emotional wellbeing, less anxiety, depression and stress, maintenance of healthy habits such as diet and exercise, and satisfying personal relationships. And it’s easier than you think.

This is a skills-based group – it does not involve sharing personal details about your life or past. You will be guided through different exercises and practices (opportunities for sharing about these experiences is optional) to support relating to yourself with more self-compassion.

See more info and details in my poster and email (info@moniquemercier.ca) or call me for registration (807-630-5926)

I recently completed the Mindful Self-Compassion teacher training this past June with Christopher Germer, Dawn MacDonald, & Michelle Becker. While mindfulness is quite the buzz word these days, most people are left not really having an understanding of what this self-compassion business is about.

First of all, mindfulness and self-compassion complement one another and are actually meant to be practiced together. Think of a plant in a pot. The mindfulness would be the moment-by-moment changes in our awareness of what is happening with the plant. The self-compassion would be the pot and soil, providing a container that nourishes the plant. (and for the purpose of my compassionate plant analogy here, the pot and soil are very gently and lovingly holding this awareness of the plant). In sum, the self-compassion is HOW we relate to ourselves, as we observe WHAT is arising in our awareness.

Second of all, self-compassion is slightly (maybe more than slightly) neglected in our culture. Most of us never really learned that it is OK to be kind and gentle toward ourselves and the complexities involved in being a human being. (Where was the “how to” guide??). How many of us experienced consistent messages in school or from our parents that we were loveable even if we were mediocre with our academic performance, athletic skills, or (fill in the blank quality) ____________? Consequently, we can at times be our own worst critic, self-policing to be better, and beating ourselves up when we perceive we’ve fallen short… Enter the need for self-compassion (i.e., to be gentle with our flaws and humanness).

Self-Compassion research is actually relatively new (within the past two decades). The focus has historically been on self-esteem and how to raise self-esteem in children. But what the research has showed us is that self-esteem doesn’t actually promote a stable sense of self-worth. In fact, it has be found to promote narcissistic tendencies, thereby preventing us from really being able to look at ourselves honestly and be vulnerable in our relationships. Self-esteem says that we’re good enough when we are making the mark, but leaves us quite defeated during periods of mediocrity, mistakes, and “failure” – all of which are a natural part of this journey of being a human being. Self-compassion on the other hand, says that we are worthy of kindness just for being human, independent of what we *do* or accomplish.

The Self-Compassion research has been pioneered by research psychologist Kristen Neff. She combined forces with clinical psychologist Christopher Germer and they created an 8-week Mindful Self-Compassion Course designed to teach human beings to re-learn how to relate to themselves with kindness. (Links to their books below)

There are Mindful Self-Compassion courses offered online (https://centerformsc.org/lomsc/). I also plan to offer an in-person group in Thunder Bay in January of 2019. Stay tuned for details!

For more information on Mindful Self-Compassion, check out the websites and books of Kristen and Chris:

KRISTEN NEFF:
Website: http://www.selfcompassion.org/
Book: Self-Compassion: The Proven Power of Being Kind to Yourself (2011)

CHRISTOPHER GERMER:
Website: https://chrisgermer.com/
Book:The mindful path to self-compassion: Freeing yourself from destructive thoughts and emotions (2009)

Untwist your thinking by “putting your thoughts on trial”. This is a very useful CBT technique where we actually look for evidence that DOES and DOES NOT support our negative thought. Writing this out can help to shed some light on how truthful and/or helpful the thought is.

Take for example you did poorly on a test, and you were saying to yourself “I always fail and now I’ll never get into the profession I want.” Evidence you might want to look at would be how many times have you failed in the past? How many times have you passed tests? Does this test mean that you’ll fail the entire course? How much is this test worth of your entire mark? Does it really have an impact on whether or not you complete the course/graduate and fulfill your future ambitions? In six months will you still believe this thought to be true? What about in one year? What about in five years? Is it true that people who are successful in their professions have never failed or done poorly on tests?

Try out the Thought Record/Examining the Evidence worksheet in the Resources section when you get hooked by your next negative thought. It can be challenging when you first start to find evidence that isn’t based on your emotions. But try to stick to the facts just like a lawyer or a detective. And see how looking at these facts might change your perspective even a little bit!

Did you know that our brains are actually hard-wired to detect danger cues over safety cues? Evolutionary psychologists explain that by being slightly more attentive to danger cues, the likelihood of survival of our ancestors was increased. For instance, if a rustle in the bush was ignored it might mean a deadly snake bite or predator attack. So being slightly more vigilant was adaptive. Because this trait/tendency was adaptive, it got passed down through their DNA to us.

It makes sense… but only to a point, right? In today’s culture there aren’t too many physical threats in our day to day lives. Rather, this tendency most often gets (over-)activated in response to cognitive, emotional, and social cues (e.g., think about how safe you feel after watching the news, doing speeches, being evaluated in an interview, etc.) … enter anxiety, stress, and mood difficulties.

So if fear is stickier than safety, how do we cope with this tendency of the mind? Well, one place to start is getting back into the PRESENT moment. Once present, we can ask ourselves “Am I in danger right now in this moment?”. If the answer is no, then try to use your senses and gratitude to help you to anchor to this moment, where you are indeed safe.

Simple things work best, like feeling the warmth of the coffee cup in our hands, smelling its aroma, and feeling the gratitude of savouring those first few sips.

Bringing gratitude and presence into our lives can feel like swimming upstream. But with practice, it can help us to slow down and appreciate that we are in fact more safe than our minds will allow us to perceive.

Check out this 5-minute gratitude practice from Mindful.org:

A 5-Minute Gratitude Practice: Focus on the Good by Tapping into Your Senses

Welcome to my website!

In addition to finding out about my services, I also have posted resources that I use with clients, including pdf handouts and recorded relaxation and mindfulness exercises on my website (under Resources tab). My blog and my professional Facebook page are places where I will be posting relevant information regarding mental health and well-being.

Stay tuned for my next post!

Sincerely,

Monique