Cultivate a warm connected presence with yourself. Feel deeply at home in your own skin.

This six week program focuses on cultivating mindfulness and self-compassion together. Together, they are a powerful combination for managing difficult experiences, thoughts and emotions and when dealing with the pressures and strains of life.

Mindfulness develops presence and awareness, steadies the mind and develops equanimity. Self-compassion helps us to stay connected with ourselves and our experience, build inner resources which help us tolerate difficulties without shutting down or avoiding them. This in turn builds resilience, trust in oneself and the ability to creatively respond. Together self-compassion and mindfulness are like the ‘two wings of a bird’, each essential to assist the other.

Self-compassion frees us up to be more present, creative and responsive in our relationship with ourselves, with others and the world.

A six week evidence-based program to learn how to:

develop awareness

stay connected

manage difficult emotions

I found the variety of meditation practices so useful and easy to use throughout the day. I also love learning all the science and research. — 2022 Self-compassion participant

Thank you, as always this was such a powerful program. — 2022 Self-compassion participant

The science around self-compassion is very compelling.
Peer reviewed research points to a range of benefits from self-compassion: people who practice self-compassion are generally more emotionally resilient, more motivated to achieve their goals, happier and healthier mentally and physically and have more compassionate, satisfying relationships with others.

What are the possible benefits?

Peer reviewed research on self-compassion points to a range of benefits:

More emotional resilience

More motivated to achieve goals

Healthier mentally and physically


More satisfying relationships with self and others

Develop new neural pathways

It felt like the missing piece in my mindfulness practice. It has helped me cultivate a sense of kindness towards myself in the moment rather than trying to ‘earn’ it….I have a greater appreciation for the power of gentleness. — 2022 Self-compassion participant

Self-compassion is at the heart of healing.

 Self-compassion is a powerful tool for changing our relationship with ourselves, and healing parts of us that are wounded.

Self-compassion practices help us to learn how to meet ourselves with a constructive, supportive inner voice rather than a harsh, judgemental or critical inner voice.

This is a very practical way of transforming patterns learned from previous life experience which now limit or harm us.

It’s been the perfect reset for the week, to slow down and check in on myself and remember I’m also deserving of that check-in. — Sarah, 2022 Self-compassion participant

How self-compassion helps

Self-compassion transforms our inner world as we practice. In neuroscientific terms, it helps us to practice responding to ourselves differently and over time new neural pathways develop which change the way we experience life, respond to ourselves and to circumstances around us.

This brain training literally helps us to feel more at home in our own skin, safer, more supported and  more connected. The practice develops inner resources which are particularly helpful when facing difficulties.

The more connected and present we are, the more energy we have for fully engaging in our lives. It leads to calm, reduces inner tension and conflict and helps us feel both cared about caring. This naturally flows into our relationships with others and the rest of our lives.

Every person could benefit from this course. — Caroline Luke-Evered, 2022 Self-compassion participant

What does the self-compassion course include?


13+ hours of face-to-face instruction

2 ¼ hour class once a week for 6 weeks

Mindfulness meditation training

The practice of mindfulness meditation sits at the core of the program

A range of learning approaches

Brief lectures, group discussion and experiential activities

Tailored meditations

Short exercises to meet specific challenges you may be having


Home practices

to integrate self-compassion into your life

Digital downloads of guided meditations and teachings

Lifetime access to our members-only digital library

If you want more joy in your life, then self-compassion is a vital ingredient.

course outline

Each class includes some theory, short guided exercises to help integrate self-compassion into your life and longer practices to relax and dive deeper. The classes are skilfully facilitated in a safe and supportive structure. 

class 1: 

Introduction to self-compassion theory, practice and the course. Self-compassion and mindfulness work together.

class 2: 

How self-compassion works. Understanding yourself and your nervous system. 

class 3: 

Develop courage and resilience with self-compassion. Working with obstacles

class 4: 

Learn to trust yourself, to meet difficult moments with skill, courage and kindness

class 5: 

Deepening self-compassion and working with resistance. Understanding and working skilfully with inner patterns. 

class 6: 

Integrating self-compassion into your life. How to keep building the neural pathways & changing your relationship with yourself.

The weekly 2 hours has given a great platform for practicing at home. Getting familiar wit the practices that draw on things I know about but in a much more accessible way. — 2022 Self-compassion participant

Meet your self-compassion teacher

Megan Layton

Megan Layton

Director, Senior MBSR, PNT, Self-Compassion and Yoga teacher

Megan Layton is the Director of Simply Mindful, a senior Mindfulness and Yoga teacher and Mental Health Social Worker with more than 25 years experience. Megan has been on a lifelong journey to understand human suffering and healing. She is convinced that compassion and self-compassion in some form are key to healing and happiness, the prevention of unnecessary suffering and prevention of intergenerational trauma.

Megan has explored many modalities for happiness, health and healing including working cross-culturally with survivors of torture and trauma both in Australia and overseas, and  the tools and insights offered  in psychology, neurobiology and neuroscience and in human spiritualities and contemplative practices.

In this 6 week program she brings together insights and practical tools from 25 years of work in mental health,  mindfulness, mind-body health sciences, positive neuroplasticity and self-compassion.

It was all so good. Megan is an excellent presenter and her experience is apparent which gives me confidence in the content. — Meredith Hughes, 2022 Self-compassion participant

Thank you so much for providing a safe and supportive space with no judgement. — Sarah, 2022 Self-compassion participant

Our venue: the Gathering Place

Our programs are offered at our beautiful northside Canberra venue. We are delighted to share this beautiful place of peace, meditation, contemplation, healing, renewal and learning.

A moment of self-compassion can change your entire day. A string of such moments can change the course of your life.

Christopher Germer

Researcher, teacher and author on Self-compassion

enrol now in Self-compassion

Choose a start date below. (We generally run 1-2 courses per year, so check back later if you don’t see a date that suits you.)

Answers to your questions

Will this make me more selfish or weak?

Sometimes people fear that practicing self-compassion will make them more self-absorbed, arrogant or selfish. Actually, the opposite is true. People who practice self-compassion are generally more emotionally resilient (the opposite of weak), less self-absorbed and narcissistic.

Do I need to believe anything? Is this a ‘spiritual’ program?

There is no need to believe anything in particular. This program builds a practical and easily adapted skill set for anyone from any background. Self-compassion can be integrated into any belief system. It can deepen and enrich existing spiritual practices and beliefs. Self-compassion and compassion is widely recognised in psychology and health as a key to happiness and a joyful, fulfilling life.

Do I need mindfulness or meditation experience?

No. Some experience with mindfulness practice is a good foundation for this course. If you have not had any prior experience of mindfulness, you will learn this as part of the course. Feel free to contact Megan prior to the start date to discuss the program, your needs and experience. This helps ensure that the program is beneficial and appropriate for all participants. If after talking you decide you don’t wish to do the program you will be given a full refund.

I’ve already done the MBSR course. Is this more of the same?

If you’ve already done the MBSR course, then the idea of self-compassion and some of the core concepts and approaches to practice will be familiar to you. This course is a much deeper dive into self-compassion and ways of developing self-compassion. If you benefitted from the MBSR course, this will continue to transform your relationship with yourself. It will also equip you with a bunch of new practices which will be tailored through the course to meet your specific needs and challenges.

What is the structure of the course?

Each week we’ll explore a little theory and a lot of practice. There will be short exercises to meet specific challenges you may be experiencing, exercises to help integrate self-compassion  into your life and longer practices to literally ‘soak’ in. We begin in week 1 with a focus on the body and progress through the 6 weeks to working with strong or self-limiting inner patterns.

Questions? Send us a message.

What is mindfulness?

Mindfulness is about being fully present and aware to all of life. Presence is an innate human capacity, however this capacity is underdeveloped in most people.

Mindfulness training is a bit like ‘mental exercise’. As we practice over time,  we build what’s known as the ‘mindful muscle’ – our ability to be fully present and alive to our lives more of the time.

What does the MBSR course involve?
  • 2 ½ hour class once a week for 8 weeks plus one full day session (held on the weekend)
  • Mindfulness meditation training, access to the online library of guided meditation recordings, and course workbook
  • Learning about the effects of stress on our bodies and minds
  • Exploring patterns of thinking, feeling and behaving and their relationship to stress
  • Developing strategies for applying mindfulness in daily life
  • Learning through brief lectures, group discussion and experiential activities
Who is MBSR for?

This is suitable for absolute beginners as well as those who’ve previously done some mindfulness training.

How can MBSR help me?

"This is the most important thing I have ever done for myself"—this quite literally is the feedback we hear from participants again and again.

If you want to learn how to work skilfully with your own mind, body and emotions and really enjoy being you and feel truly at home in your own skin, then mindfulness training is for you. It is a proven method for improving health, mental health, self-awareness and skilfulness.

Is there science to back this up? Isn’t meditation a spiritual thing?

MBSR teaches the art and science of presence.

It’s an art because everyone’s internal world is completely unique, nuanced and it’s also a creative changing space. No one else can tell you exactly how to meditate or do it for you.

It’s a science because research in neuroscience, medicine and psychology have helped us to understand how this ancient practice actually works, how it not only changes the structure of the brain, but also improves health and mental health, and even slows down the process of ageing. (see our resources for some references)

Mindfulness and MBSR is open to anyone. You don’t have to believe anything in particular to benefit from it. It’s compatible with a wide range of spiritual and religious beliefs. Anything that is important or meaningful for you in your life can be enhanced by mindfulness practice.

I have a really busy mind. I can’t sit still, how am I going to meditate?

Almost everyone in our MBSR courses complains of a busy mind!

The mind’s job is to think. In mindfulness meditation we are not trying to stop thinking, we are learning to relate differently to it.

Throughout the course you will have the opportunity to explore strategies, techniques and practical approaches for relating to your mind.

You will learn to meet your thoughts, mental and emotional habits, fears and stuck places with kindness and curiosity.

Why should I do MBSR when I can go to a local meditation centre for free?

Many people come to MBSR because they specifically want a mindfulness training that is secular and has no particular spiritual orientation or beliefs attached to the process.

As well, most “free” meditation centres rely on people’s generosity to support and sustain their work and the teachings. In order for these centres to survive, they need to be considered as supported by the people who use them.

MBSR is the world’s gold standard evidence based mindfulness training, It has been a major source of the evidence base over the last 40 years as it began in a university hospital setting, the university of Massachusetts medical school and was designed by a scientist, Dr Jon Kabat-Zinn.

Someone down the road is offering a mindfulness course cheaper. What’s the difference?

Check it out! We encourage you to be curious about the differences. It is likely that with a shorter course (ie 4 weeks of 1 hour each week) that you will get ‘mindfulness lite’, a superficial and no doubt helpful course, but not something that sticks, or substantially changes anything in your life.

For over 40 years, Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) has been the gold standard of teaching mindfulness in a secular setting for the relief of physical and psychological suffering. It is taught by people who have committed themselves to training, doing retreats and having a personal practice themselves, over many years.

Training takes place over a long period, is in depth and high standard. MBSR started at the University of Massachusetts Medical School over 26,000 people have participated in the research. This is a major source of the evidence base and current interest in mindfulness.

However, many people are now offering “mindfulness” courses “based on MBSR” or “based on the work of Jon Kabat-Zinn” with very little personal experience and immersion in mindfulness practice themselves, and little or no training in MBSR.

These courses are often shorter, perhaps 6 sessions of 1.5 hours (ie 9 hours long) or 6 sessions x 2 hours (12 hours long) for around $400. This works out as more expensive than the MBSR program which is 27 hours long, including a silent retreat day, plus email and phone contact with the teacher if you need it during the 8 weeks.