The year was 2014.
I had learned the year or so before that "compassion" had been formally incorporated into the MI Spirit and I was eager to know more! So in the January I had participated in a Mindful Self-Compassion retreat with Drs Kristin Neff and Chris Germer at the Joshua Tree Retreat Center in Southern California. This was a deeply moving and inspiring experience.
On the way through the US, I had met Professor James Doty at the Center for Compassion Altruism Research and Education (CCARE) at Stanford University and invited him to come later in the year to launch our UQ Compassion Symposium. And on my return to Australia, I traveled to Byron Bay in Northern New South Wales, Australia, and participated in my first CFT training with Professor Paul Gilbert!
The way Paul wove the story of compassion together--the evolutionary roots, the social-relational contributions, attachment, neuroscience, the spiritual and wisdom traditions--I was rather in awe of the man and his intellect.
Plus, the thing I loved about CFT was that Paul's integration of so many theoretical and practical pieces means that it offers people many entry points. If you are someone who loves evolutionary theory, then there's a lot in here for you. If you are super-interested in the role of attachment and human relationships, then CFT puts this at its heart. If you like to geek out with neuroscience, vagus nerve, heart rate variability etc, then CFT will leave you feeling very satisfied. And if you really value the spiritual and wisdom traditions, Paul effortlessly merges that in with the hard science in a way that is both delicate and powerful.
There are a number of ways to get more involved in cultivating compassion and self-compassion. From recently developed approaches such as Mindful Self-Compassion (MSC) and Compassion Cultivation Training (CCT), through to exploring the ancient philosophical and religious texts, there are plenty of ways to do a deep dive. The beauty of CFT is that, to a certain degree, it incorporates all of that, opening doors to a fascinating array of pathways to thought and learning about compassion and the compassionate mind.
Oh, and it is just so helpful for working with the really tough stuff.: anxiety, anger, self-criticism, shame, depression, trauma. And can bring us to a place of profound well-being and flourishing. Check out more about CFT here. Or read my book, The Gifts of Compassion!!