Elizabeth is a family medicine physician, clinical professor at the School of Medicine, University of Washington, and an adjunct scientific investigator at the Kaiser Permanente Washington Health Research Institute. As a physician researcher, Elizabeth and her team have conducted innovative research to improve mind-body health in general medical settings which have been adopted worldwide. Elizabeth has had a daily meditation practice for more than 25 years. She has trained extensively with Dr. Jon Kabat-Zinn and leaders in mindfulness programs, as well as Drs. Germer and Neff, founders of the Mindful Self-Compassion program. She has been teaching mindfulness and compassion over the past 7 years.
Elizabeth's offerings at CCFW:
- Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction
- Mindful Self-Compassion
- Drop-in Meditation Sessions
Read an interview with Elizabeth about her courses:
How does being a medical doctor influence your teaching in mindfulness?
As a family medicine physician for 30 years, I’ve had the privilege of caring for people of all ages and backgrounds, emphasizing the body-mind connection in well-being. This provides a remarkable foundation for understanding the human condition, happiness, suffering, physical and mental well-being, as well as family and interpersonal relationships. Teaching mindfulness and compassion is a natural extension beyond medical and psychological care for enhancing our health and well-being.
What inspired you to start teaching MBSR?
The scientific evidence on the health benefits of MBSR motivated me to study it. What began as an academic interest became a daily practice that helped me live with the demands of being a physician, mother and researcher. Teaching did not enter my mind until Dr. Jon Kabat-Zinn invited me to a retreat for MBSR and MSC teachers as I was petrified of public speaking. Shortly afterwards, friends and neighbors asked me to share what I learned. The first MBSR classes I taught were in my living room. Seeing the radiance on participants’ faces and witnessing their blossoming enhanced my own learning and practice. Somehow, facilitating the growth of mindfulness and compassion became a mysterious calling.
What makes MSC a unique mindfulness program?
Mindfulness and compassion are interwoven, like the two wings of a bird. Mindfulness focuses on the present-moment experience, while compassion focuses more on the experiencer. Interwoven, MSC shines light on the “self”, the “inner critic”, and delves more deeply into emotional, psychological domains. It calls for kindness and caring to infuse how we see and treat ourselves and the world.
What will participants learn in MSC?
The MSC course is a wonderful opportunity for participants to bring affection, kindness and love to the various mindfulness meditation practices. In class we give attention to discovering our compassionate voices, negative core values and positive core values. We also practice ways of using self-compassion to motivate and soothe ourselves, physically and with loving kindness. This provides us with insight on how to apply MSC in daily life, such as working with difficult emotions or relationships. We also learn gratitude.
What will participants learn in the MBSR program?
Participants will learn meditation practices, enhancing awareness body sensations at rest, or in motion, emotions, thoughts, sounds. They will learn how to choose to respond with mindful awareness, instead of automatic reactions, and how to integrate awareness in daily activities. Participants have an opportunity to learn a new way of experiencing themselves and the world, a new way of being. In addition to learning contemplative and moving meditation practices, participants come to adopt a different approach to their life. Gradually, the process unfolds slowly with persistence, patience, kindness, and an openhearted and receptive framework.
What makes MBSR different from other mindfulness programs?
MBSR is a structured, rigorous program that requires our best intentions, commitment to practice, integrity, and authenticity. The benefits are proportional to one’s efforts. There is a wealth of scientific evidence demonstrating the benefits, ranging from molecular to societal, physical, and psychosocial.
What have you learned through your personal mindfulness practice?
It is a continuing process of learning in our daily lives – coming to terms with reality, and remembering, from time to time, that I can choose my responses wisely. Humility, perseverance, compassion, ease and acceptance may emerge, and in a non-linear manner.