Meet the Teachers
Voraciously curious about the shared human experience across cultures and circumstances, I have spent much of my personal life exploring themes of belonging and connectedness, resilience, and self-determination. My mindfulness practice has illuminated my way, and it was the rigors of parenthood (and wise counsel by caring mentors) that ultimately prompted me to add a dedicated self-compassion practice into the mix.
After my first MSC course, I recognized that I was at the beginning of a much longer journey. Hearing the same need for continued practice echoed among many colleagues and peers, I conceived the Community for Deepening Practice (CDP). With the support and guidance of the CMSC senior training team, and in partnership with Bal de Buitlear, I offered the pilot program in 2016. Since then, the teaching team has evolved to include Tina Gibson, David Spound, David Fredrickson, Dennis Johnson, and Ruth Williamson, each of whom brings to the CDP their unique depth of wisdom, experience, and full-heartedness.
Besides my work in the CDP and CMSC, I am a chaplain-in-training at Upaya Zen Center in Santa Fe, where I’m studying contemplative end-of-life care. I aspire to offer warmth and creativity in my teaching, which is rooted in my deep respect for that which is shared by all I encounter: a heartfelt desire to be loved exactly as we are.
I come to MSC honestly, having lived and known suffering. I spent my career working with children and families who had experienced serious and complex trauma. My volunteer life was dedicated to those who were infected and affected by the devastation of HIV/AIDS. And along the way, I often forgot or refused to include myself in the circle of compassion, seeing those needs as a weakness or distraction to my work. As a result, I suffered burnout and health consequences. Thankfully, I found my way to MSC, and discovered this balm and resource for life’s challenges. Much gratitude for all the conditions and teachers that have been and are my guiding light.
I am humbled and honored to be part of the CDP teaching team, knowing that my teaching is the product of my practice, of being a student, of learning from you. I look forward to the ways my heart will be expanded by our showing up. May we rest in love together as we begin again and again. Isn’t it a relief that MSC is not a self-help program or spiritual path that requires rose-colored glasses but rather is a practical practice of something much more honest—just as I am—messy and with a beating and loving heart? In this awareness, I know I am not alone but rather I am in the good company of all of us.
I’m a long-time resident of San Francisco, lover of nature, music, good friends, dogs and good food. I see the world through the lens of a retired psychotherapist, seeker, writer, kitchen elf, and the squishy heart of a MSC student and teacher. DavidAFredrickson.com
I teach Mindful Self-Compassion (MSC) and it keeps teaching me. How wonderful it is to truly say I teach MSC for a living – this is in no way relating to $, it is in every-way relating to my aspiration to keep learning what it means for me to be compassionately human. I am continually learning and growing my understanding of personal MSC practice, curious at any given moment what this may look and feel like. A key to keeping me curious and inspired is community – often called sangha. I feel so delighted to be joining Aimee and David and this Community for Deepening Practice. Practicing MSC asks me to be self-reflective and to have humility. Connection is the key to my humility. Desmond Tutu uses an African word to describe this: Ubuntu, ‘Ubuntu is the essence of being human. It speaks of the fact that my humanity is caught up and is inextricably bound up in yours. I am human because I belong. It speaks about wholeness, it speaks about compassion.’
The practice of self-reflection requires receptive listening — compassionate listening both to myself — but also to others along the way.
Prior to teaching mindfulness and then MSC I had a background of working within health and education with diverse populations in the roles of Kinesiologist, Health Care Worker, Rehabilitation Counsellor, Health Educator and Emergency Paramedic.
These days I spend of lot of time practicing with my three Zen masters: my young grandchildren. Some of my favourite places are in the bush, the beach and my garden. I am also fortunate to teach regular MSC programs, be a Zoom host for new MSC teachers, a MSC mentor and teacher trainer. AdelaideMindfulness.com
Dennis teaches MBSR and MSC courses and works as a sociotherapeutic attendant with people in extreme states of mind at Windhorse Integral Mental Health. He has an academic background in Tibetan and Buddhist Studies and has previously worked as a librarian, translator, editor and interpreter. Since 2012, he has pursued additional training in various mindfulness-based, psychosocial and psychotherapeutic interventions, including a clinical research internship at the Oxford Mindfulness Centre. Dennis first encountered the soothing and encouraging quality of self-compassion at an MSC Intensive in 2015 and has since continued exploring the landscapes of the heart through further practice, study and teaching, including the MSC Community for Deepening Practice and the Somatic Self-Compassion Training.
David Spound, M.Ed., is a meditation teacher and consultant based in Northampton, MA. where he offers courses including Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) and Mindful Self-Compassion (MSC) through his company Valley Mindfulness. David also enjoys creating new and customized training programs, leading silent meditation retreats, and exploring possibilities for online education and training. David is a former staff member and trainer at the UMass Center for Mindfulness, the organization founded by Jon Kabat-Zinn, and he has co-led programs for the Center for Mindful Self-Compassion. www.ValleyMindfulness.com
Ruth is a certified life coach and leadership consultant. She facilitates workshops and retreats in Mindfulness and Self-Compassion, and hosts a weekly Circle of Practice through CMSC. Ruth believes these practices are foundational to living life with courage, conviction and in joyful celebration.
Ruth has worked deeply in community, non-profit, government and business sectors for over 25 years. She holds a PCC certification through the ICF, trained at the highly-regarded Hudson Institute of Coaching. She is credentialed to deliver the Daring Way™, Rising Strong™ and Dare to Lead™ curricula of Dr. Brené Brown. Her coaching methodology includes the IEQ9 Enneagram personality assessment to cultivate personal awareness and transformation with clients. And, with great anticipation, she is beginning a two-year chaplaincy training through the Upaya Zen Center in Sante Fe. Finally, her own daily practices of meditation, mindfulness and self-compassion inform and enrich all of these endeavors.