Course program “Self-Compassion and Mindful Innovation”

July 2021


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The radiant, elegant cosmos that we can observe is actually our own consciousness and not something separate from us on the outside”
(Thich Nhat Hanh)

Join us in July 2021 for a sparkling, pioneering initiative, in which we take compassionate action by bringing together passionate professionals from different cultures, countries, areas of expertise and training to explore mindful ways of living and caring for ourselves, our society and our planet.

We will become witnesses and participating actors in the framework of adaptation and resilience of local mountain communities in times of climate emergence, maybe even daring to start befriending any unconscious eco-anxiety, in order to forge a new, loving relationship with our planet Earth and ourselves as part of the Earth and AS nature – remembering that we are not alone and that it needs each and every one of us becoming more aware that we are “active members of Spaceship Earth”. We will be inspired by and further explore the interwovenness of mindfulness, compassion, sensory awareness and body movement, science, systemic design, innovative transformation and mindful dialog practice in an Alpine nature setting.

You may choose between these 3 complementary offers, one building on the other, which can be booked individually or in a package. The original invitation is to avoid traveling and instead staying local in this year of change, explore the secrets of one place without adding to our carbon footprint by looking for more. Family or partners may join you. Leisure, vacation, learning, exercising, getting inspired, connecting, solo time, relaxing – all is possible in this one place.

  1. Explore your inner nature and relation to others during the 5-day Mindful Self-Compassion (MSC) Intensive program with the title “Opening Hearts through Mindful Self-Compassion – A Time to Come Alive, Thrive and Care for our Planet Earth” (acknowledged for the official MSC-Teacher Training Path), by Mirjam Luthe and Helga Luger-Schreiner and external virtual contributions by Christiane Wolf and Cassondra Graff.
  2. Continue this journey deeper into the terrain of “taking action by being”, becoming an active part of a newly developed 5-day pilot course format titled “Mindful Innovation – Becoming change agents for sustainability” with Tobias Luthe, Justyna Swat, Mirjam Luthe and external virtual contributions by Mark Coleman (tbc), Susan Eirich and Michaela Emch.
  3. The mindfulness journey of July 2021 will be completed by a 4-day-long “Timeout Trekking – A hike in Mindfulness and in Nature” around stunning Monte Viso with mountain guide Philip Svobodnik.

On the weekend of July 16-18, Ostana community hosts a music festival that will attract many visitors from the region, in case you want to celebrate and enjoy local culture.

Detailed 2021 course descriptions

July 11-16, 2021

Mindful Self-Compassion Intensive (MSC) – Opening Hearts and Engaging Through Mindful Self-Compassion: A Time to Come Alive, Thrive and Care for our Planet Earth

Teacher: Mirjam Luthe and Helga Luger-Schreiner

Live-Online Inspirational Practice with Christiane Wolf and Cassondra Graff in two evenings (Dhana)

We are living in a time, when confusion, loss of control and fear seem to take hold of our minds. (Self-)Compassion can become an antidote: To live well, thrive and care, we need to live well together. (Self-)Compassion helps to broaden our awareness and our respect for ourselves and then also for other living beings – expanding and deepening our relationship with our planet Earth, helping us to become aware of our interconnectivity. And compassion is not a luxury, it is even a necessity, if we are to survive. Life is calling us to live it well, fearless and intentional, to not only survive, but to let all life including ourselves thrive. Life is a precious gift. Let’s celebrate it!

Following ancient traditions that value the transformative power of nature, we will seek refuge in the beauty, stillness and silence of the natural world in the breathtaking Italian Alps, in Ostana province.

Join Mirjam Luthe and Helga Luger-Schreiner (both Certified MSC Teachers) at Monviso Institute, Ostana, Italy, for an immersion into self-compassion in connection with nature. Nested in the mountains of the Italian Alps, in Cuneo province and Ostana community, immerse yourself in your natural capacity for compassion and wisdom by participating in a 5-Day Mindful Self-Compassion Intensive course, the empirically-supported 8-week Mindful Self-Compassion (MSC) program designed to cultivate the skill of self-compassion. It was developed by Christopher Germer, PhD, a leader in the integration of mindfulness and psychotherapy and Kristin Neff, PhD, a pioneering researcher in the field of self-compassion. MSC combines the skills of mindfulness and self-compassion to enhance our capacity for emotional wellbeing. Mindfulness is the first step—turning with loving awareness toward difficult experience (thoughts, emotions, and sensations). Self-compassion comes next—bringing loving awareness to ourselves. Together, mindfulness and self-compassion comprise a state of warm, connected, presence during difficult moments in our lives.

Program activities will include meditation, short inspirational talks about the science of mindfulness and self-compassion, many experiential exercises, and group dialogs. We will take care of our physical needs and incorporate movement though yoga, hikes, swims and dance (optional). We will enjoy healthy local food. The goal is to provide a safe and supportive environment for exploring how we typically respond, when difficult emotions arise and to provide tools for becoming a warm and supportive companion to ourselves. The emphasis of the program is on enhancing emotional resources and personal capacities. We will also enjoy sensing and savoring the great outdoors and exploring our surroundings, the local Occitane culture, connect with local people and learn about their  resilience to undesirable changes and about new ideas for reviving Alpine villages like Ostana.

In addition to indoor practice in a safe container of our meditation room in the local “Centro Culturale” with a nice coffee place, we will practice with mindfulness outdoors to help awaken our sensitivity to our inner and outer world, open our appreciation of nature as a profound teacher, and invite wakefulness to every moment. Every activity, from meditation to hiking and a short daily work meditation time on the MVI campus, to sitting around the campfire is an opportunity to deepen our awareness. We will together discover how meditative time outdoors easily leads to states of joy, peace, wonder, love and connection with oneself, each other and the larger web of life.

No meditation experience is necessary. A previous interview with the teacher(s) is required. Sufficient physical condition (adapted to altitude of about 1500m asl and walking in the woods and on mountainous terrain) are required. Accommodation varies among simple options with camping and outdoor toilet and shower to more private ones in a local hostel, to private rooms in an Agriturismo or a Rifugio, or sharing an apartment. Please note: This offer differs from regular MSC Intensive locations,  as we will integrate the local setting in our practice and not stay as a group overnight in the same accommodation. We will share meals but leave freedom for personal choices and space.

This course qualifies as a pre-requisite on the path towards becoming a Trained MSC Teacher (see www.centerformsc.org)

Course language: English (with a possibility of partial German translation and Italian partial translation, where needed)


According to current local conditions, climate and participant group, we will adapt the daily times for this MSC Intense Program (to be posted here asap). Main course location is the “Centro Culturale Polifunzionale di Ostana” with an option to switch to MonViso Institute for additional indoor and outdoor activities. We will leave space during the day for individual or group activities in nature. Meals will mostly be held together, but also allow for individual options. 
Covid-19 measures will be taken care of. We will include this conversation and “what to bring” in the previous interview we will hold with you via Zoom as soon as we have your expression of interest recorded.

Sign-up/expression of interest here below at MVI (deadline is July 1st, 2021). You will then quickly be contacted via email by us to schedule a Zoom or phone conversation to clarify questions. Logistics for arrival (ideally train and then shuttle from one hour distance), lodging, meals, transport within the village of Ostana can be found here. Minimum group size: 8 participants.  Maximum size: 18 participants.

Course material: 
The official MSC Handouts will be provided to you during the course. You will  receive a Certificate of Participation at the end.
Recommended course literature (ideally please purchase and bring it with you): “The Mindful Self-Compassion Workbook: A Proven Way to Accept Yourself, Build Inner Strength, and Thrive”, Germer & Neff (2018)
In German: Christopher Germer: Selbstmitgefühl – Das Übungsbuch; erschienen im Arbor-VerlagSee here for additional suggestions: https://centerformsc.org/cmsc-library/

Cost of course: 600 EUR (reduced fee 540 EUR, if your life circumstances require so). Approx. cost of lodging: varies between 15 (camping) to 18 (hostel w bunks) to 40-50 (shared apartment) to 80 EUR (private single room) per night depending on the option you choose (limited availabilities). Approx. cost of meals: about 50 EUR per day for full pension including snacks and tea/coffee. The total of additional costs with lodging and meals would range between 350-700 EUR for the full course (6 nights, 5 days). Arrival on Sunday 11th with start of program by dinner at 6pm; departure on Saturday, July 17th in the morning.

You are warmly welcomed to stay for the next course in “Mindful Innovation” and the Hike around Monte Viso.


Learn more about the teachers>>

Mirjam Luthe

Helga Luger-Schreiner

External virtual contribution for course 1

Cassondra Graff (M.S., LCSW)

July 19-23, 2021

Mindful Innovation – “Becoming change agents for sustainability”

Teachers: Dr. Tobias Luthe, Justyna Swat, Mirjam Luthe (onsite), Haley Fitzpatrick (virtual)
Live-Online Inspirational Practices with
Mark Coleman (TBC) or other “Awake in the Wild”
Teachers (Dhana), Dr. Susan Eirich (EarthFire Institute), Michaela Emch (Biomimicry Switzerland)

Towards a personal toolkit for regeneration and resilience (please see as well some more framing text at the bottom of this page)

The challenges to respond to the multiple global crises seem overwhelming. Pandemics require more resilient regional economies with less dependence on global supply chains, and more livable cities with larger green space access for anyone and cleaner air. Climate change requires the decarbonization of our economies, less traveling and integrated e-mobility, low carbon buildings, and more conscious lifestyles. Biodiversity loss demands a new relation with nature and how we live and act with ecosystem services and the landscape. We have no time to lose, but act now for maximized impact as part of the current UN Decade of Action on the Global Sustainable Development Goals. We all need to act as change agents and transformers of local people action, and put systemic innovation into place. Systemic innovation contains technical and social innovation. As of technical innovation, we already know enough to implement right now – but we need to practice, recall, and experience. 

Social innovation is the most critical component – how to infuse change into society, starting with our knowledge, awareness, behavior, and moving towards communities that support transformational change, as opposed to resisting change? Here comes into play the practice of Mindful Innovation – tools, techniques and practices to infuse technical innovation into communities, based on our own active illustrative roles and our own toolkit. This “Toolkit for regeneration and resilience” or “Tools for Change” requires both technical skills and knowledge, and mental and emotional tools and practices. Systemic innovation is about transformation across scales of governance, from raw materials to bio-regional economies. How to cope with such complexity? Where to start and how not to feel overwhelmed? How to nourish joy and engagement, as we proceed? For my own role, and for encouraging and inviting others? How to see and activate the innovative, positive, creative and motivational side and energy of the problematic and sometimes anxious side of “the new”, of “change”, of global sustainability challenges?

This course addresses both spheres. We spend a couple of days together in a highly innovative and transformative place, the MonViso Institute (MVI) real-world laboratory, as part of the reviving Ostana community in the Po river mountain valley, and the diversity of the Piedmont region at the border between Italy and France, close to the Mediterranean Sea. We explore technical innovation skills across governance scales, from green chemistry such as understanding carbon flows, to using raw materials for construction such as local lime stone, hemp and wood, to product design such as building a practical kitchen tool with various machinery, to passive house design and water circularity, to community integration with tourism and e-mobility, to landscape planning e.g. via green roof building, and the regional economy with evolving circularity. Every day, we dive into one of such technical practices, learn new handcrafting skills, new design tools, new systems science, and expand our own scope and skillset across governance scales. This enables us to learn to design and plan in complexity, in very applied and hands-on daily activities, using the latest didactics in systemic design. To equip ourselves with the technical and practical systems understanding and skillset to drive real action.

The frame for this technical innovation are the practices of mindfulness and self-compassion. In this course, we draw inspiration from nature, because this is essential for a healthy inner sustainability during times of ecological and major global crisis. As we experience ourselves as part of the broader web of life, our lives gain new meaning and we can renew the sense of enchantment and connection with life as well as a deeper motivation to engage. We need to get to know ourselves better, in order to understand our own role and function in systemic innovation, feel our behavioral illustrative power, and learn to respond to, integrate and then transform societal resistance against change, which is a natural security patch, naturally built into our human expression. Learning to zoom out from our own daily rush and our own action- and result-driven opinion and mindset, we want to see, feel and comprehend the greater system and its interconnectivity. We may need to reassess our core values, build trust in our own innate capacity of resilience and learn to listen to others and the natural world more deeply, in order to bring forth and sustain the essential collaborative leverage to drive systems change as self-empowered agents of innovation and transformation. To consciously engage communities with so-called Tools for Change, based on the MVI Systemic Design Principles, support communities to understand a systems’ view and hence together decrease opposition against needed innovation to build trust and gain collective support – to regenerate and build resilience.

Mindful Self Compassion, Mindfulness practices and related, explorative “mental and physical practices” are the daily frame for our hands-on design for sustainability experiences. All system‘s scale and daily “getting dirty hands” experiences on the compound  will be supported by Mindfulness practices in regards to enhanced sense awareness and the essential practice of self-care on the path to self-empowerment, together with exploring “alternative” ways to connect with the inner and outer environment. We will draw on the stunning cultural wilderness of this location and its surroundings to help us nurture a felt connection to our natural environment. This includes practices with positive emotions like joy, curiosity, gratitude and wonder, in order to sustain a healthy level of engagement, being “agents of change” and empowering others to support us on the path. This entails both active, short snapshot talks and hands-on work, as well as more contemplative practices. All with the aim to develop and strengthen mindfulness skills with direct applicable values, and gain deep understanding within a concrete outdoor-experiential didactic setting. We will experience engaging with the broader local community and culture of Ostana and consciously expose ourselves to the cultural expressions of daily life in an Alpine community that is prone to rapid change, while beautifully striving to protect and re-enliven its very particular characteristics.

One output of this course will be a set of short video snippets as “mindful instructions” on how to e.g. mindfully use the technology (low and high tech) of the onsite MVI passive netpositive house “Il Doppio”.

Suitable for non-meditators, beginning and experienced meditators from all traditions, and for visionaries yet-to-become. Open for designers, engineers, scientists, practitioners, activists, and anyone who’d like to nudge and drive transformative action for regeneration and resilience.

Experiment with future solutions – between people, technology and nature

The MonViso Institute in Piedmont, Italy

A real world laboratory for research, education, entrepreneurship and new lifestyles on sustainability and regenerative design in the Italian Piedmont Mountains.

The world around us is changing rapidly – the climate, the economy, our way of working and living – everything is becoming more variable, faster, less controllable. The weather is becoming more unpredictable, the winters milder, the politics more populist, the economy is thinking more regionally. We humans are part of the changes; we are both directly affected, but also responsible. The rapid changes in the human-environment system have both negative and positive effects. With opportunities for conscious design.

As part of our annual program on the diverse topics of sustainable development and regenerative design, nature sports, building and handcrafts, MVI will become a new experience and learning center for mindfulness in and with nature in an atmosphere of traditional culture in July 2021. Together with people who are reinventing their village and region, we offer a special day for the exchange of consciously designed innovation processes in complex human-nature systems with our “Monviso Regenerative Design Talks” format.

For half a day, we invite all course participants to the public “Regenerative Design Talk (RDT)”, organized by the MonViso Institute. The RDT are a series of discussions on systemic innovation and regenerative design in mountain areas and beyond. It is about the connection between local identity, global change with local effects, technical and social innovation, nature and culture, and regional resilience. This RDT focuses on the topic of “careful handling of changes”. The mindfulness trainers of the weekly courses, in dialogue with local residents, investigate how necessary innovation on site can also be implemented with influence from outside. Everyone is invited to contribute.

More reading:


According to current local conditions, climate and participant group, we will adapt the daily times for this course.Main course location is the Monviso Institute compound at Serre Lamboi (in case of need indoors, usually outdoors).We will leave space during the day for individual or group activities in nature. Meals will be held together, but also allow for individual options. 
A typical day may look like this:

Early morning 8-9h: 
Different mindful morning practices to choose from (yoga, still meditation, a nature walk, reading, tea sipping with view, music listening, ….) as well as “alternative” ways to connect (morning run, martial arts introduction, photography practice,…)

Breakfast 9-10h

Late morning 10.30-12h: A short inspiration of a mindfulness and self-compassion topic introducing the day, following with a short open dialogue
Technical-scientific-design scale “theory” such as systemic design and Gigamapping methodologies. Topic and task framing for the day.

Lunch break 12.30-13.30h with a short Mindfulness practice. Free time.

Afternoon 14-17h:
Design experience practice of the day on MVI campus (about 3h)

Free (socializing) time (17-19h): Free time /activities to choose from, such as rock climbing, a bike ride, community visit, some physical outdoor work, reading in hammock, bathing in natural granite pools, enjoying a local coffee in the local cooperative,…

Dinner 19.30-21h: Joint cooking on our fire pit, with our wood fire pizza oven, catering from local slow food producers, self-made meal in a stone house, visit a local Ligurian restaurant etc.)
Reflection time on the day activities and how this relates with systemic innovation.
Mindfulness framing of the day.

Covid-19 measures will be taken care of. We will include this conversation in the previous interview we will hold with you via Zoom (upon expression of interest).

Sign-up/expression of interest here below at MVI (deadline is July 1st). You will then quickly be contacted via email by us to schedule a Zoom or phone conversation to clarify questions. Logistics for arrival (ideally train and then shuttle from one hour distance), lodging, meals, transport within the village of Ostana can be found here. Minimum group size: any. Maximum size: 12 participants.

For 2021, this is offered as a pilot course. We invite your openness for surprise and flexibility, as we will adapt to the needs of the moment. We will include some documentary work on the course and co-create together in an open, explorative, emergent format. A great chance to “go with the flow” and be open for co-designed surprises.

Cost of course: 350 EUR (reduced fee 300 EUR, if your life circumstances require so). Approx. cost of lodging: varies between 15 (camping) to 18 (hostel w bunks) to 40-50 (shared apartment) to 80 EUR (private single room) per night depending on the option you choose (limited availabilities). Approx. cost of meals: about 50 EUR per day for full pension including snacks and tea/coffee. The total of additional costs with lodging and meals would range between 260-520 EUR for the full course (4 nights, 4 days (3 full plus 2x 1/2 day). Start of the course is on Monday 19th at lunch (12.30h pm); departure on Friday, July 23rd, after lunch (2pm).

You are warmly welcomed to stay for the upcoming Hike around Monte Viso.


Learn more about the teachers>>

Dr. Tobias Luthe

Justyna Swat

External virtual contribution for course 2

Michaela Emch,

July 25-28, 2021

Monte Viso – Timeout Trekking: A Hike through Mindfulness and Nature

Guide: Philip Svobodnik

Wild nature – reflection and wakefulness await you during this „Timeout Trekking“

During this multi-day hike we want to find more aliveness and lightness together. With the help of guided meditations, systemic exercises and the wisdom of nature, you can take new perspectives and draw strength and inspiration for your daily life. 

On an inner and outer journey, you will become familiar with mindfulness and meditation. You will train your perception and practice opening your heart and mind to the joys and tasks of life. 

Tour description 

In the beautiful Cottian Alps in Piedmont – Italy, we will circle around the Monte Viso, during a 4-day hike including overnight stays in various huts. 

With its 3.841m, it is the highest and most impressive mountain of the Southern Alps. Freestanding and over 500 meters higher than its neighbours, the Monte Viso is visible from Corsica, Tuscany and even in the far away Alps. Its shape became the basis for the Paramount logo, which is known from so many movies. 

On the circular hike around Monte Viso we get to know the different faces of this mountain and the varied landscapes in which it is embedded. We will explore boulder fields that give witness to huge landslides, meditate on deep blue mountain lakes and hike through swiss stone pine forests with trees up to 600 years old. 

Giro del Viso (2.950 m) Circumnavigation of the Monte Viso:

Ascent 2,100 m; descent 2,100 m; 4 days; route length: 35 km 

Difficulty / requirement: 

The trails are well passable, but surefootedness and a good physical condition are required. Due to the altitude, experience in alpine terrain is necessary. 

The total cost with accommodation and food is about € 475,- for the whole tour. Cost breakdown: Management and guide: € 240,-Accommodation on 24.7. varies between € 10-80,- per night – depending on the option you choose Accommodation in 3 different huts in dormitory including half board: € 160,-.Organization, processing, place rental from “MonViso Institute”: € 40,- per person
Not included: Lunch during the hike
Optionally bookable:Shuttle serviceCamping Equipment

Arrival on Saturday July 24, with registration in the afternoon, program starts at 6 p.m. Departure on Wednesday 28 July, in the afternoon


Philip-Alexander Svobodnik, Vienna.

Mindfulness Tours, Systemic Experiential Pedagogue, Trekking Guide 

Where could it be easier to adopt the attitude of mindfulness than in nature? In nature we relax and calm down and the more we let it affect us, the more mindful we become. 

Mindfulness & movement in nature enrich and accompany me my whole life. As a leader of mindfulness journeys, I see myself as a companion of people on their inner and outer journey of discovery. Through self-awareness in nature, I want to inspire people to live a conscious, healthy and fulfilled life.

If you have any questions or would like to register, please contact svobodnik@gmx.at

Philip-Alexander Svobodnik

Pre-register here

New course program “Mindfulness and Compassion in Nature”

With this new course program in mindfulness and compassion, the MonViso Institute teamed up with leading trainers, teachers and organizations to offer a program in mindfulness and compassion that is tailored to landscape, spirit, energy and culture of this place, which is strongly related to wild mountain nature, the Occitan-Italian culture, and regenerative design.

Full of positive energy and with a great team of passionate people, we developed this enriching course program, originally to be offered in July 2020, at and around the beautiful campus of the MonViso Institute in Ostana, Italy.

Please pre-register here if your are interested to receive more information about the July 2021 course program.

Virtual single events pre-registration. (Zoom link will be sent to you later on)

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