Compassion Cultivation Training
Compassion Cultivation Training (CCT) is an eight-week program designed to develop the qualities of compassion, empathy, and kindness for oneself and for others. CCT integrates traditional contemplative practices with contemporary psychology and scientific research on compassion. The program was developed at Stanford University by a team of contemplative scholars, clinical psychologists, and researchers.
Compassion has a stigma of being something that is weak or allows people to take advantage of us. Compassion fatigue is often felt when we feel hopeless or overwhelmed with events and situations that there is nothing that we can do about. Why would we want to learn more about something that is hard, painful and exhausting?
According to the Dalai Lama, compassion is one of the integral — if not the most important — components of fostering stronger friendships and relationships and establishing happier lives for ourselves and those around us. With cultivation of compassion, we can feel more connected and fulfilled in our lives and relationships.
Cultivating compassion goes beyond feeling more concern and empathy for others. It can help you develop the strength to be with suffering, the courage to take compassionate action, and resilience in the face of life’s challenges. Humans have a natural capacity for compassion. However, everyday stress, social pressures, and life experiences can suppress it. The good news is that we can train ourselves to nurture others while developing our compassionate instinct. This process requires patience, proper tools, and a supportive environment.
Each of us can choose to nurture and grow the compassionate instinct, like a plant that is carefully cultivated from a seed. The process of cultivating compassion involves training our own minds, developing specific skills in how we relate to others, and ourselves and intentionally choosing compassionate thoughts and actions. In CCT, the training process includes:
- Daily meditation practices to develop loving kindness, empathy, and compassion
- A two-hour weekly class that includes lecture, discussion, and in-class partner and small-group listening and communication exercises
- Real-world “homework” assignments to practice compassionate thoughts and actions
In this program, you will learn . . .
- Increase kindness and compassion for yourself and others
- Develop profound levels of serenity, resilience, and creativity
- Calm your mind and direct thoughts more positively
- Sharpen your ability to focus and pay attention
- Access a variety of self-care skills and techniques
Cultivating compassion goes beyond feeling more empathy and concern for others. It develops the strength to be with suffering, the courage to take compassionate action, and the resilience to prevent compassion fatigue. These qualities support a wide range of goals, from improving personal relationships to making a positive difference in the world.
Compassion cultivation can also support one’s own health, happiness, and well-being. Preliminary research suggests that CCT and similar programs can increase self-compassion and self-care, reduce stress, anxiety, and depression, and enhance connection with others.
CCT is designed to support anyone who wants to cultivate compassion for themselves and for others. This includes parents, caregivers, educators, healthcare professionals, therapists, executives, public servants, and people in a wide range of professions and life contexts. No previous meditation experience is required.