Each week, Counseling and Psychological Services at Southern Utah University holds a Mindfulness Self Compassion Group for students wanting to improve their relationship with themselves.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, many students are struggling with feeling isolated and alone. CAPS offers several drop-in groups that allow students to attend when it is convenient for them to find connections and make new friends.
The mindfulness group is run by Dr. Kristina Johnson, a staff psychologist at SUU who says the group helps students, “practice being their own best friend.”
Held every Thursday from 12-12:50 p.m. from Jan. 21 – Apr. 22, except during the week of spring break (March 1-5), students can join via Zoom without a referral from CAPS.
Blaine Edwards, a counselor and group coordinator for CAPS for over 22 years, noted that this group is a good way to connect with others during a pandemic.
According to Edwards, a variation of this group has been running for many years at SUU, but this variation with a self compassion emphasis started during the fall semester.
“This group is an awesome drop-in opportunity that students can have where they can come in and explore and develop ways of being nice to themselves,” Edwards said. “One of the things that many human beings do is that they’re kind of mean to themselves, there’s this mean voice and a voice that’s kind of nice, and the Mindfulness Group helps that nice voice get a little louder.”
Edwards encourages any student that wants to be “kinder to themselves” to attend the group. Students can go as often or as little as they like.
“Students can have the camera off during the group, but one of the things that I think that kind of affects our mood is being isolated,” Edwards said. “So if a student is comfortable, [they should] turn their camera on so [that others] see that there’s another person in the world that wants to be nicer to themselves.”
Each week, Johnson comes up with a mindfulness activity for the group to participate in. Sometimes the group meeting involves writing activities, but Edwards said the activities vary.
One of the exercises linked to the CAPS website encourages participants to write down what they would do for a friend who is struggling and how things might change if they “responded to [themselves] the same way they typically respond to a close friend when [they’re] suffering.”
Although the group isn’t therapy, according to Edwards, “most human beings could benefit from increasing their mindfulness.” Edwards explains that there is a difference between therapy, which involves developing awareness and skills, and the Mindfulness Self Compassion Group.
“‘It’s not therapy, but it can be therapeutic,’” Edwards said.
For more information on this group, visit the CAPS website and click on “groups” under the “programs” tab on the left-hand side. The Mindfulness Self Compassion Group can be found under “Open Enrollment Groups and Workshops.”
“I don’t know a human being that couldn’t benefit from this,” Edwards said.
Story by: Elizabeth Armstrong
Photo by Lesly Juarez on Unsplash