USC International Conference on Yoga, Mindfulness, and Integrative Health

Date: September 20, 2014

The Mayo Clinic, UCSF’s Osher Center for Integrative Medicine, Duke Univ., Univ. of AZ, Cleveland Clinic, and many other centers of excellence in healthcare offer yoga therapy and meditation as both wellness methods and treatment modalities. Duke University’s health care center for Integrative Medicine, with ten physicians and a large number of supporting health care providers introduces its work with these words: “More and more people of varied ages, abilities and health conditions are turning to yoga to find ease in body and mind. This trend is fueled, in part, by a growing body of research suggesting that yoga may offer relief from a host of ailments—ranging from hypertension and fibromyalgia, to cancer, depression and insomnia. In fact, nearly 14 million Americans, say that a doctor or therapist has recommended yoga to them, according to a study by Harris Interactive Service Bureau.”

The National Institutes for Health’s National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM) lists its ongoing research projects involving meditation on its website which notes that: “Most meditative techniques started in Eastern religious or spiritual traditions” but that “A 2007 national Government survey…found that 9.4 percent of respondents (representing more than 20 million people) had used meditation in the past 12 months” for health related matters.

The numbers have continued to rise in tandem with strong growth in research on the mental and physical health implications of yoga and meditation practices. We are witnessing a sea change in the way health will be perceived and preserved in the foreseeable future. But at the present time, we are at a watershed moment where the foundations of our understanding of the nature of well being are being challenged and transformed by insights that are both very ancient and completely novel at the same time.

The USC International Conference on Yoga, Mindfulness, and Integrative Wellness seeks to explore the latest advancements at the forefront of the intersection of yoga, meditation, and integrative health. We are inviting papers on reviews of current scientific research in any aspect of Yoga, Mindfulness, Breath Control, and Other Meditation Methodologies Applied to Physical, Mental, Social or Relational Wellbeing and Wellness.

Mindfulness in the Classroom: Implementing the University-Wide Initiative

Date: September 25, 2014

The Contemplative Pedagogy Initiative brings together USC faculty to learn from each other about using reflective, meditative, contemplative, or other similar elements in teaching. It is sponsored by the USC Center for Excellence in Teaching. All who teach at USC in any discipline or program are welcome to any and all events.

12:30-1:45 pm, DML 233, lunch provided – RSVP to Dana Coyle .

Mindful Self-Compassion Class Begins

Date: October 16 (Thursdays)
Time: 5:15-7:45pm
Where: University Religious Center

Mindful Self-Compassion (MSC) is a program developed by Kristin Neff, the pioneering researcher in the field of self-compassion ( and the author of Self-Compassion: Stop Beating Yourself Up and Leave Insecurity Behind; and Christopher Germer, a clinical psychologist who specializes in mindfulness and compassion-based psychotherapy ( and the author of many books including A Mindful Path to Self-Compassion.

In this program, you will learn:
– Self compassion as a skill that can help you to meet life’s difficulties with more wisdom and kindness.

– How to offer yourself the compassion you would naturally extend to a dear friend or stranger.

– A courageous attitude of mind that will give you emotional stability and resilience to be more fully present with uncertainty so that you can recover from life’s difficulties and move on with more ease and confidence.

Research has shown that self-compassion greatly enhances emotional well-being. It boosts happiness, reduces anxiety and depression, and can even help you stick to your diet and exercise routine. All that’s required is a shift in the direction of your attention–recognizing that as a human being, you, too, are a worthy recipient of compassion.

From the New York Times
The research suggests that giving ourselves a break and accepting our imperfections may be the first step toward better health. People who score high on tests of self-compassion have less depression and anxiety, and tend to be happier and more optimistic. Preliminary data suggest that self-compassion can even influence how much we eat and may help some people lose weight.

This idea does seem at odds with the advice dispensed by many doctors and self-help books, which suggest that willpower and self-discipline are the keys to better health. But Kristin Neff, a pioneer in the field, says self-compassion is not to be confused with self-indulgence or lower standards.

“I found in my research that the biggest reason people aren’t more self-compassionate is that they are afraid they’ll become self-indulgent,” said Dr. Neff, an associate professor of human development at the University of Texas at Austin. “They believe self-criticism is what keeps them in line. Most people have gotten it wrong because our culture says being hard on yourself is the way to be.”

Imagine your reaction to a child struggling in school or eating too much junk food. Many parents would offer support, like tutoring or making an effort to find healthful foods the child will enjoy. But when adults find themselves in a similar situation – struggling at work, or overeating and gaining weight – many fall into a cycle of self-criticism and negativity. That leaves them feeling even less motivated to change.

“Self-compassion is really conducive to motivation,” Dr. Neff said. “The reason you don’t let your children eat five big tubs of ice cream is because you care about them. With self-compassion, if you care about yourself, you do what’s healthy for you rather than what’s harmful to you.”

Register for this class

SEARCH INSIDE YOURSELF featuring Chade-Meng Tan

Date: October 22, 2014
Time: 6:30pm
Location: Bovard Auditorium

Chade-Meng Tan (Meng) is Google’s Jolly Good Fellow (which nobody can deny). Meng was one of Google’s earliest engineers. Among many other things, he helped build Google’s first mobile search service, and headed the team that kept a vigilant eye on Google’s search quality. His current job description is, “Enlighten minds, open hearts, create world peace”.  He is also the author of the highly acclaimed book Search Inside Yourself.search_yourself

Outside of Google, Meng is the Founder and (Jolly Good) President of the Tan Teo Charitable Foundation, a small foundation dedicated to promoting Peace, Liberty and Enlightenment in the world. He is a Founding Patron of Stanford University’s Center for Compassion and Altruism Research and Education (CCARE). He is also a Founding Patron of the World Peace Festival, and adviser to a number of technology start-ups.

Register for this event

Image: Twitter, Chade-Meng Tan at the United Nations.

HSC Professional Development Workshop: Mindfulness

Tuesday, February 24 at 12pm
RSVP by February 19th at

“Mindfulness is being present in the moment, fully aware without judgment. It
allows you to be in the here and now with awareness of your mind and body. This
workshop will introduce mindfulness based stress reduction tools to increase
personal awareness and deal with stress.”
~Rachel Plasencia, LCSW
Rachel Plasencia is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker and Employee Assistance
Professional with the USC Center for Work and Family Life.
Her clinical experience focuses on the workplace including stress, civility at work and work life balance. She
emphasizes a strengths based approach with a special attention to mindfulness and
facilitates a mindfulness group for faculty and staff at the CWFL.