Practicing Mindfulness and Compassion Conference

April 06, 2013 9:03 AM | Admin EBCAMFT
Greetings friends and colleagues,

On Friday March 8, as a representative of EBCAMFT, I attended the “Practicing Mindfulness and Compassion” conference (The Science of a Meaningful Life) at the Craneway Conference Center on South Harbor Way in Richmond. The conference was envisioned and organized by The Greater Good Science Center at UC Berkeley and Mindful Magazine, a brand new print magazine for fostering mindfulness and its benefits for the general public, and co-sponsored by numerous other groups and organizations, including EBCAMFT. The “headliners” at the conference were Jon Kabat-Zinn, Kristin Neff, Paul Gilbert and Shauna Shapiro, but their were numerous other inspiring speakers and presenters.

From the outside, the conference center looks like a huge warehouse or factory and, come to find out, that's exactly what it is. Apparently the site was formerly a Ford Motor Company manufacturing plant where Model-T's were produced in the early part of the 20th Century. Also interesting to note is that Henry Ford III is apparently a proponent of mindfulness practices. Not sure if that had anything to do with the conference being held at this location.

For me the conference was a wonderful, warm, inspiring, refreshing and enlightening experience which reinvigorated both my mindfulness practice and my self-compassion practice. These were the two primary focuses of the conference and we had many opportunities throughout the day to explore various ways of cultivating these two practices and understand their relationship to one another. Some of the presenters emphasized the pivotal place in our planet's evolution that we now occupy and the importance of widespread Mindfulness practice and Compassion for the survival and continued evolution of the species.

Roughly 500 people turned out for the conference, most of whom were not therapists or mental health clinicians. We were all treated to a wonderful blend of direct experience, inspiration and information throughout the day with each of the contributors providing an essential piece of the overall picture. EBCAMFT had a small table set up, along with many other groups, where people browsed and networked before, during and after the event. We provided postcard brochures, newsletter samples and membership applications to anyone who wanted them.

Jon Kabat-Zinn was the first speaker and mixed humor, warmth, Buddhist teaching, practical  exercises and anecdotes, providing a lovely overview of Mindfulness practice and it's place in modern society. Kristin Neff focused exclusively on Self-compassion as an essential aspect of Mindfulness practice and shared research findings and more practical exercises on the subject to give us a taste of where self-compassion fits in to the grand scheme of things and how important it is, especially in healing work. Shauna Shapiro focused on the health benefits of mindfulness practices as well as their importance in helping therapists and other professionals to be more compassionate and empathetic with their clients. Paul Gilbert, a British therapist, led us in a variety of therapeutic exercises based on warmth, empathy, compassion and mindfulness for integrating and healing conflicting aspects of the personality. He shared many clinical examples, answered many questions and entertained us throughout with his uniquely British brand of humor.

Lastly, a panel of four presenters spoke about their work using Mindfulness practices “in the field” with prenatal care and birthing, school children, lawyers, and seniors and provided moving anecdotes and answered questions from the audience. Dacher Keltner, co-founder of the Greater Good Science Center, moderated the event.

All in all, I came away from the conference with a deep appreciation for the Greater Good Science Center at UC Berkeley and a deeper commitment to Mindfulness practice in my own life and work as a means for helping our species and planet move in a direction that will foster peace, cooperation and harmony for the future. Definitely time well spent and I look forward to many more such conferences as I continue on my personal and professional journey.

Thank you to EBCAMFT and the Greater Good Science Center for offering me this rich opportunity.

Peter received his Masters Degree in Counseling Psychology, with a Transpersonal Focus and a Specialization in Child and Adolescent Therapy, from John F. Kennedy University. He is also Certified by the Kripalu Yoga Institute in Lenox, MA as a Holistic Health Counselor / Educator. He was originally trained in the Humanistic Client-Centered and Gestalt methods, gradually incorporating a myriad of other methods and approaches, 25 years of Zen Buddhist practice, and his training in Holistic Health Counseling and Education into his practice as a Psychotherapist. He also completed 12 units of Early Childhood Education at Merritt College and taught preschool for three years. Peter specializes in working with people in 12-Step Recovery, those who have survived the suicide of a loved one, adolescents and their families, and spiritual and existential dilemmas. He lives by the lake in Oakland and has an office in South Central Berkeley.

Peter Carpentieri, MFT
Comments and inquiries welcome.

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