The 3 Components of Mindful Self-Compassion





Kristin Neff's 3 components 

of self-compassion are:

1. Self-kindness vs Self-judgement 

2. Common Humanity vs Isolation 

 3. Mindfulness vs Over-identification

These components are also referred to as 

Loving, Connected, Presence.


Self-kindness vs Self-judgement  

 teaches us to remember that we can 

treat ourselves with the same 

warmth, kindness, and love 

that we would give a dear friend.  

When we are loving to ourselves, 

we learn to take care of our own emotional 

needs as we build resilience and strength. 

We become our own ally and

 increase our capacity to be in healthy 

relationship with ourself & others.





Common Humanity vs Isolation 

reminds us that in being human, we experience many emotions that are universal in nature 

and that we are not alone in our suffering.  

 Through the practice of self-compassion, 

we can learn to choose 

supportive, healthy connection 

toward ourselves & from others instead 

of isolation when dealing with loss,

 strong emotions, disappointments, 

and our own imperfections & vulnerabilities.  

Growth & well-being can  flourish 

when we no longer abandon ourselves 

and feel instead that we "have our own back."





Mindfulness vs Over-identification 

brings awareness and availability to  

slow down..... 

This allows us to see & feel 

what is happening so that we can respond 

with honesty & understanding 

to ourselves & others..  

When we increase our capacity through compassion to be present, we offer ourselves a little space and freedom to respond to our circumstances with discernment.  

Our reactivity can then be  explored in a more conscious and skillful way. 

Engaging mindfulness & self-compassion is a step of courage and presence as we learn how to support ourselves and others in a world in much need of kindness & compassion as a whole.

Mindful Self-Compassion at a Calm retreat


Next 9-week MSC Course

*  Next course will be in the fall of 2020 as I am engaged in further study this spring/summer

* The cost for this fall 2020 course is $425 and it includes the MSC Handout Booklet 

*  There are a few sliding scale spots - please contact Nicola to arrange 

* The cost to repeat the course is $300....I would love to have you join again!

* There are 8 teaching sessions and a silent retreat day, making the course 9 weeks in total 

*  A certificate is given if 7 of the 9 weeks are attended

* There are weekly emails to summarize the previous session and to share resources

* This course can be used as a prerequisite to the MSC Teacher Training

* Either by phone or over a cup of tea, I do a check-in with each participant to see what your goals are 

  for the 9-week course, and if there are any barriers to these goals.  I also like to make sure that each

  participant has resources to support them through the process of this inner work.

MSC Course Content

Each session contains an educational component, exercises for reflection, and practices to support embodied & transformative growth.

* Session 1 - Introduces self-compassion 

* Session 2 - Introduces mindfulness & how mindfulness and self-compassion support each other

* Session 3 - Learning loving-kindness to bring goodwill and warmth to our practice

* Session 4 - Discovering a compassionate voice to replace the inner critic

* Session 5 - Connecting with core values & compassionate listening to others

* Silent Retreat......guided throughout, allowing time to understand self-compassion more deeply

* Session 6 - Cultivating the capacity to meet difficult emotions using mindfulness & self-compassion 

* Session 7 - Exploring challenges in relationships, caregiving fatigue & meeting our own unmet needs

* Session 8 - Gratitude practices to notice & savour as we integrate our learning & support health 


One to One MSC

If you are wanting to explore Mindful Self-Compassion individually, I offer an individual module of three 

1-hour sessions spaced over 4-6 weeks for the cost of $225.00.  

* Session 1 - An introduction to mindfulness & self-compassion

                    - Participate in reflection exercises, and self-compassion practices to learn to treat 

                      ourselves with the kindness and care with which we would treat a friend

                    - Identify what is needed at this time in order to personalize sessions 2 & 3

* Session 2 - Learn some MSC practices relevant to support your journey of self-compassion 

                     - Learn how to incorporate these into daily life

* Session 3 - Information to help support an orientation toward gratitude to balance the innate 

                        negativity bias 

                     - Stepping toward the integration of self-compassion teachings and the radical choice to 

                        use self-compassion, not in service of self-improvement, but because it is the kind way to

                        treat ourselves          

If you have taken the 9-week MSC course in the past and are wanting a refresher, to fine-tune some of the practices, or to explore & process personally about self-compassion in your life I offer sessions for $80.00/hr. 

Trauma-Informed Mindfulness

This brings a paradigm shift to the way we teach mindfulness and to the way we are in the world with each other.  It allows us to bring consciousness to the struggles that many people may be facing as they try to navigate their ever-changing internal feelings in the midst of their practice of mindfulness, self-compassion &  meditation.   There can be both "a desire for" & "a knowing of" the benefits of practicing mindfulness & meditation at the same time that there is an overwhelm that can show up in response to sensations, emotions, story and fight, flight, freeze states in our body.

Trauma-Informed Mindfulness presents a way to navigate and adjust practices to create a growing capacity for internal safety as well as how to be respectful of ourselves and others in community.  

This is a growing consciousness that we approach with humility as we learn how to co-create supportive spaces.    David A. Treleaven is in the forefront of this work with his book Trauma-Sensitive Mindfulness and his website 

From his book he gives 3 ways that mindfulness has been proposed to support self-regulation and feelings of safety: 

1. Attention regulation (we can choose were we put our focus & develop a witness to our experience)

2. Body awareness (not abandoning our body but attuning to feelings & sensations with skillfulness)

3. Emotional regulation (recognizing emotions and responding with skill)

Why take MSC?

* to explore the radical and often counter-cultural teaching of self-compassion as you learn to have 

   your own back, take care of your own emotional needs, and balance the innate negativity bias

* to address caregiver fatigue in your professional or personal life as you support others 

* to enhance emotional regulation as you learn practices that support an inner stability

* to learn in community and share in the incredible wisdom of each other

* to learn to motivate from your compassionate self instead of the inner critic

* to take conceptual understandings of compassion and gratitude into embodied wisdom

* to bring warmth to ourselves which naturally radiates out to others from a nourished centre

An inclusive space

* At a Calm retreat we are open to and growing in ways supporting inclusion & diversity  

* We welcome people of all walks of life

* This quote found on the Raffi Foundation for Child Honouring website speaks to the many gifts we 

   gain as we create places of welcome.  It was written in honour of children, and for sure can be used as an 

   inspiration no matter what age we are.

"Diversity is about abundance: of human dreams, intelligences, cultures, and cosmologies; of earthly splendours and ecosystems. Introducing children to biodiversity and human diversity at an early age builds on their innate curiosity. There’s a world of natural wonders to discover, and a wealth of cultures, of ways to be human. Comforted by how much we share, we’re able to delight in our differences."

Nicola Usher


My own experience with self-compassion

30 years ago, I was in a yoga class and the teacher said loving-kindness phrases during Shavasana at the end of class.  It was entirely new to me to hear this blessing...."May you be happy, may you be safe, may you be free from suffering, may you be at ease in your body....May all beings be happy, may all beings be free from suffering, may all beings be at ease in their bodies."  I felt an opening in my heart in that moment that changed me, it tapped into the deep longing I had for these words to be true for me, and for all beings. 

 In the busyness of life, these phrases went into the background for a time, and then in the spring of 2013, I attended a 3-day Silent Vipassana Retreat that explored Metta and the practice of Loving-Kindness.  At this retreat, I came face to face with my own shadow as I experienced the opposite of loving-kindness toward myself.  I awoke to the harshness of a prominent inner critic within me. When I came upon and read the book by Kristin Neff called  Self-Compassion, The Proven Power of Being Kind to Yourself, I knew that I needed to learn self-compassion.   I watched every Youtube video that she put on the internet, bought her CD and signed up for an MSC retreat.  

At this 5-day retreat with Kristin Neff & Chris Germer in December of 2015, I began untangling the deep-seated critic and discovered an intimacy with myself  that slowly began to acknowledge and be with the tenderness of my own heart.  As I continue to experience the transformation in my own conditioning through self-compassion awareness & practices, I feel more inner freedom and connection to life.  This connection has me looking in our culture for voices of compassion, nurturance and love as a motivator for creating, a response to difficulty and a way to heal collectively.  Wonderfully they are there, they have always been there, and there is a new wave of activists  & writers inspiring us to follow the thread that is love.  


On becoming a Trained Teacher of MSC

In August of 2016, I attended a 6-day MSC Teacher Training with

Michelle Becker & Steve Hickman and then participated in the supervision to become a Trained Teacher of Mindful Self-Compassion.  

I am so grateful that as I teach, I get to deepen in my understanding of the practice and learn with the participants as we contribute to a growing international  awareness of mindfulness and compassion in the world.  


In the spring of 2020 I will be teaching through the course for the 4th time - I look forward to being immersed in the curriculum again, and experiencing the wisdom that is shared between participants! 

 I am pleased to announce that Anne-Marie Lappano will assist me bringing her years of experience with meditation, mindfulness & trauma awareness.

Nicola cell: 519-949-3822 email: