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Mindfulness & Compassion Certificate Training For Healthcare and End-of-Life Professionals

“I think that it is really sinking in that I really have to show compassion for myself;
that I cannot be forgotten in the process of the work we do.”
-Participant of the Mindfulness & Compassion Training Program 

This unique program spans 5 weekends over 9 months. It is designed for health and end-of-life care professionals develops the skills of mindfulness and compassion in mediating suffering, illness and dying while also sustaining our well being.

Cohort 5 Begins October 17. 2020

Thank you to the generosity of a community donor.

We are excited that our 2019 – 2020 program is again being held in collaboration with the Mindfulness Project at SickKids Hospital.

In recognition of this partnership, SickKids staff receive 25% off Program Cost ($900 total)

Program Registration: Maxine Iharosy, Office Admin maxine@saranainstitute.org
Program Details: (Rev.) Andrew Blake, Program Director andrew@saranainstitute.org

Mindfulness + Compassion Training curriculum:

  • Mindfulness & Compassion Certificate Programincludes training in the foundations, theory, and practices of secular mindfulness, as well as an overview of its roots from Buddhist philosophy and Psychology;
  • develops mindfulness skills that establish “bearing witness” & “presence”, as a daily mindfulness strategy that is applicable in the workplace and in everyday life;
  • encourages and supports participants in establishing a daily mindfulness practice;
  • provides crucial experiential communication and relationship building skills, through practices such as “mindful listening” practices, which enhances patient care and workplace interactions;
  • focuses on neuroscientific evidence supporting the efficacy of mindfulness and compassion skills, with special concentration on the latest research from the healthcare field that supports its application  as best practices in caregiving and self care;
  • teaches compassion-based approaches to address and alleviate suffering with self, patients and the entire careteam;
  • explores the effects of empathy fatigue, burnout and moral distress and the use of healthy empathy in sustaining well being;
  • investigates “system thinking”, team building and interprofessional collaboration skills;
  • addresses the psycho-social-spiritual domains within the context of  Healthcare and EOL caregiving, including working with children, physician hastened dying, complex suffering, systemic issues, moral distress and structural violence, as well our personal relationship to illness, dying and death;
  • builds mindfulness and compassion skills within all aspect of Healthcare and End-of-Life caregiving through exploring case studies and clinical applications to complex scenarios.

Program Dates & Location 2019-20:
9 – 5 am 

Module 1: October 17/18, 2020 (Saturday, Sunday)
Module 2. Nov 21/22, 2020 (Saturday, Sunday)
Module 3: Jan 22/23, 2021 (Friday, Saturday)
Module 4: Mar 26/27, 2021 (Friday, Saturday)
Module 5: June 12/13, 2021 (Saturday, Sunday)

All modules take place at The Peter Gilgan Centre for Learning and Research, 686 Bay Street, Toronto

M+C Module Details:

Please note that in order to receive your certificate you must attend all 5 modules. Should you need to miss a weekend, you can complete the training the following year by attending the module that was missed at a retake fee. Details here.

Module 1:                                      

 Being Present: The Roots & Practices of Everyday Mindfulness                                   images-2

Don’t touch me. Don’t question me. Don’t speak to me. Be with me.”  Samuel Becket, when he was dying.

In Module 1, we explore mindfulness as a practice, skill, and state that brings us into the moment and develops greater mental stability and emotional freedom. Being more grounded and at ease in the moment, our empathy with others is enhanced, as we also attune to our inner experiences. As a ground and foundation for our training, participants will be encouraged to establish a daily mindfulness practice as a means for creating a foundation for the development of inner ease and greater self-other awareness.

By exploring mindfulness practice and developing “presence,” you will :

  •  Discover what is ‘mindfulness’? How does it work and how do I practice it?; Establish your goals for developing a daily practice;
  •  Learn to access everyday mindfulness skills and practices, like P.A.U.S.E., to  bring focussed attention and awareness to work and life;
  •  Understand how mindfulness helps us to be less judgmental and accepting and how it aids us  in letting go of stressful experiences and distressing emotions, which produces greater ease;
  • To understand the neural pathways of healthy and unhealthy empathy,  to discern the differences between empathy, sympathy, empathic concern and compassion, and develop altruistic motivations and trust in “not knowing”;
  •  Explore the essentials of Mindful Listening or Inner/Outer Awareness, which ultimately enriches the quality of our presence and quality the care we offer;
  • Integrate empirical research from neuroscience that reminds us of how effective mindfulness is as means of reducing stress and increasing empathy, as well understanding the core principles of mindfulness from Buddhist teachings.

Module 2:                        

Mindfulness & Compassion Retreat: Meetings at the Edge                                                                                                Community-Porgams-Slider

“Love and Death are the great gifts that are given to us; mostly, they are passed on unopened.”   Rainer Maria Rilke

In our 2-day retreat, we are afforded a rare opportunity to dive into the practice of mindfulness, to contemplative and explore our personal relationship with our inner life and death, and to touch a place of inner awareness and interconnectedness  through practicing together. The retreat experience is seen as a core competency in the our program, as it provides a group context in deepening our mindfulness and compassion skills through sitting practice and contemplation. Module 2 invites you to find your “Quiet Mind,” by allowing space and time to just be. You will explore sitting, walking, and other mindfulness skills, as well as contemplative practices exploring meaning, dying, spirituality and lovingkindness.

In this retreat you will:

  • Experience silence and the benefits of extended period of mindfulness practice, as you break from your everyday habits and enter a retreat;
  •  Build your mindfulness skills and explore various contemplative meditation practices and techniques as a means for exploring your “inner” awareness;
  • Observe your relationship with silence and “non- doing” and also gain insight and clarity about how the practice deepens your sensitivity to what is important to you spiritually and personally;
  • Contemplate our relationship with spirituality, death, afterlife, and touch what is meaningful in your life, including the truth of impermanence. 

Module 3:                                            

The Courage of Compassion: Cultivating Kindness and Befriending Distress                            Compassion-Caregiving

“Suffering begins to dissolve when we can question the belief or the hope that there’s anywhere to hide”.  Pema Chodron

“Compassionate care” is about being intimate with our selves, as well as with the individuals we care for and their loved ones. It is most of all, says Roshi Joan Halifax, “about giving the gift of no fear”. To achieve this fearlessness, we must learn how to be present to our own grief, loss, stress, and suffering that accompanies this work. In Module 3, in order to open more consciously to suffering of others, we first explore the stages of cultivating compassion starting with giving to others, receiving kindness, and then offering self compassion. As we expand our kindness towards our selves, touching our strengths and our limits, we expand our authentic compassion towards our patients, their family caregivers, coworkers and beyond.

By embodying, understanding, and practicing the essential elements of compassion, we are not fatigued as we experienced from “Empathy Fatigue, but our sensitivity and intention to serve emerges as caring compassion.

In this module, you will learn:

  • Study the foundations and philosophical underpinnings of compassion, including Eastern, Western neuroscientific, and Evolutionary psychological views in terms of how compassion arises;
  • What does self and other compassion look like? do we experience them differently? and how do we discern the obstacles in experiencing them?;
  • How does self awareness and self compassion play a crucial role in improving and sustaining the quality of care for others and how does a lack of self compassion lead to empathy fatigue, burnout, and distress?;
  • Recognize how mindfulness helps us to recognizing unhealthy (or afflictive) inner states in our selves and others and how this awareness can lead us to compassionate actions through exploring the roots of our early conditioning and the wounds we carry within.
  • Realize how compassion is an “trainable” action that is primed by mindfulness and that allows for an inner stability in meeting the challenging states that accompany working with suffering, loss, dying and death.

Module 4:

 Mindfulness & Collaboration


“The biggest ‘psychosocial’ problem facing us may be the need for our own personal transformation—to understand and promote change within ourselves.” Pew-Fetzer Task Force on Advancing Psychosocial Health Education

Critical to effective collaboration is “self-insight” and “other-understanding,” that is, an awareness of one’s self (biases, reactions, judgments, etc.) and our capacity to remain open in context of our interprofessional relationships, where others may be in similar states. In Module 4, we enter the uncharted territory of Relational Mindfulness, where we engage our inner feelings, thoughts and reactions, as we simultaneously meet others with greater acceptance, openness and compassion. Relational mindfulness and compassion co-arise as our mindfulness acts as a “protective measure” that grounds and develops stability, as we navigate the tender edges of our human exchanges.  Our compassionate presence acts as a skillful means in creating “safety,” enhanced empathy, and patience for our selves, patients and our workplace colleagues.

Healthy, effective, collaborative and mindful team building require communication and listening skills that foster understanding and create cross-culture respect and helps us in alleviating the distress and breakdowns that are natural outcomes of old habits and patterns :

  • Explore collaboration and applications of mindfulness and compassion within a context of group practices;
  • Meet the many faces of suffering within our work relationship and build compassion and mindfulness as the rudder and ballast to guide us towards it;
  • Address the impact of our workplace environments on our roles as caregivers by looking at the “Edge States”, including moral distress and horizontal violence;
  • Investigate relational and collaborative teamwork models, including “System’s Thinking” approaches from General Systems Theory,  and Pew-Fetzer, Relationship-Centered Care model, and others, as best practices in Healthcare delivery, including a general introduction to the interpersonal domain from neuroscience, System Thinking, and the social sciences;
  • Build a safe and supportive environment for sharing and mutual support.

 Module 5: 

Integrating Mindfulness and Compassion into Whole-Person Care                                  DSCN1328                               

“I’m not afraid of dying. I just don’t want to be there when it happens.”    Woody Allen

Module 5 is a “practice” ground for accepting the challenging, distressing or unacceptable, and it is also about the skills needed to stand in the midst of changing and uncertain conditions with openness and acceptance. With a strong emphasis on  team practices and clinical applications, we investigate actualizing the skills by addressing some of complex scenarios we encounter, such as, mental health, complex care, working with children and physician hastened death.

Working collaboratively as well as understanding the role of leaders in building teams, we will encounter a series of case studies and evocative Healthcare and EOL scenarios that ask us to integrate our Mindfulness and Compassion training skills, as well as exploring a Systems views in how to integrate the skills into our lives and to bring them into our workplace.

  • How do we bring our mindfulness and compassion into our teams? How do we feel as a leaders, team members, and what is our growing edge in working with others?
  • What are the resources we need to sustain ourselves in the face of systemic challenges and maintain our integrity and self care?
  • How does the suffering and/or approach to illness and dying of our patients affect how we offer our caring, for example, a patient’s decision to end treatment or our own feeling that sustaining treatment may be harmful or pointless?
  • What are our strength and challenges as individuals on teams as as leaders working collaboratively and compassionately?
  •  How do we remain loving grounded and open in the face of despair, resistance and differing values, with a compassion that is free of attachment to outcomes, and with a wisdom that accepts the unacceptable without abandoning our intentions and highest aspirations?
  • How do we take these skills into the “real” world?

Frequently Asked Questions:

Do I have to currently be working in the health or end-of-life care field? 

Our certificate training is designed to best serve those who currently work in health or end-of-life care fields, or who are undergoing study and apprenticeship soon to be fully hands on.

Such as: Registered Nurses, Doctors, Hospice Workers, Social Workers, Death Doulas, Grief Counsellors, Chaplains, Mental Health Professionals, Physical Therapists.

Each participant brings their unique background of service and experience. If you’re not sure this certificate training is for you, please email us at info@saranainstitute.org with your detailed intentions for registering.

I don’t think I can afford this all at once. Do you do payment plans? Yes! We require a minimum of $200 as a deposit. From there on we arrange a schedule for payment and assist you as much as we can in the process.

What happens if I register and something comes up? Is there a cancellation policy?

Yes! It’s all here on our Cancellation Page.

What do I do if I need miss a module?  

We understand that things come up. Let our admin know when you find out you can’t attend a module. There is a fee of $100 to make up for a missed module. You will not be granted full certificate of completion until you make the module the following year.





Opening the Gifts of Love & Death:
by (Rev.) Andrew Blake

Last weekend, December 3-4, 2016, sixteen from our Mindfulness + Compassion program completed Module Two–a two-day silent retreat. In the retreat, we rested deeply into our bodies as we sustained our mindfulness practice, alternating between periods of sitting and walking meditation.  We also contemplated  impermanence and the inevitability of our own death in ways that opened us to many insights.  Many, who were fairly new mindfulness practice, were very surprised in their ability to complete the retreat, both the silence and the physicality of the sitting.  And many were struck by how contemplating death could enliven their life today and connect them to their priorities and their faith. By the end of retreat, no one wanted to leave, and each left with a revised or new end-of-life plan with their wishes for care-giving and for after death. To say everybody left happy or peaceful may sound counter-intuitive in terms of how we feel about death and dying in our culture, but we did. …continue reading the article here.

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