What is Compassion Cultivation Training (CCT)?
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 the Center for Compassion and Altruism Research and Education, at Stanford University by a team of contemplative scholars, clinical psychologists, and researchers. It is now stewarded by Compassion Institute.
A compassionate attitude can greatly reduce the distress people feel in difficult situations and can become a profound personal resource in times of stress.
Compassion is a process that unfolds in response to suffering. It begins with the recognition of suffering, which gives rise to thoughts and feelings of empathy and concern. This, in turn, motivates action to relieve that suffering.
Humans have a natural capacity for compassion. However, everyday stress, social pressures, and life experiences can make it difficult to fully express this capacity. Each of us can choose to nurture and grow the compassionate instinct, like a plant that is carefully cultivated from a seed. This process requires patience, steady care, proper tools, and a supportive environment.
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.
Individuals will learn how to:
- Increase kindness and compassion for themselves and others
- Develop profound levels of serenity, resilience, and creativity
- Calm the mind and direct thoughts more positively
- Sharpen their ability to focus and pay attention
- Access a variety of self-care skills and techniques
In CCT, the training process includes:
• Daily meditation practices to develop lovingkindness, 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
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 sustainability professionals, environmental and social justice activists, parents, educators, healthcare professionals, therapists, executives, public servants, and people in a wide range of professions and life contexts. No previous meditation experience is required.
Click here to learn more about upcoming Compassion Cultivation Trainings in BC.