Course Syllabus

The CCT program was developed at Stanford University, Centre for Compassion and Altruism Research, by a team of contemplative scholars, clinical psychologists, and researchers to provide a supportive environment, proper tools and steady care to develop the capacity to respond compassionately, consistently. The program includes: developing skills in how we relate to others and ourselves; how to intentionally choosing compassionate thoughts and actions; instruction in compassion, based on the most recent science; and strengthening daily mediation practices to build the qualities of awareness, focus, compassion and courage.  Our two-hour weekly classes: support dialogue in pairs and small group listening and communication exercises; supplemental reading, research; and practices for on the spot needs in daily life.


Each session will be accompanied by a meditation practice and suggestions for daily, ‘real life’ awareness practices. All participants will have access to a set of eight guided meditation practices focusing on the topic of each week.

Week 1: Settling and Focusing
Introducing attention training and the role of intention. In this step we explore the definition of compassion and the skills of mindfulness, meditation, and self-awareness. This step is considered the foundation for the other practices in this program.

Week 2: Compassion and Kindness for a Loved One
Continue exploration of what compassion is, and relationship to kindness and mindfulness. Learning to recognize how the experiences of compassion and kindness feel when they occur for a loved one. The meditation and practical exercises offered in this step aim to help practitioners generate thoughts and feelings of kindness and compassion.

Week 3: Self Compassion
Developing skills such as compassionate self talk, greater self-acceptance and self mentoring in the face of setbacks. Connecting with one’s own feelings and needs and relating to them with compassion is the basis for developing a compassionate stance toward others. Exploring barriers to self-compassion.

Week 4: Self Kindness
Exploring what it would mean to offer qualities of warmth, joy, and gratitude for oneself. While the previous step focused on self-acceptance, this step focuses on developing appreciation for oneself. Specific exercises will be offered to explore what provides sense of connection, meaning, happiness, health and well-being.

Week 5: Common Humanity
Exploring further the basis for compassion toward self and others through recognizing our shared common humanity. Discussion of why it is easier to have empathy for some people. Appreciating the contributions of others to our lives. Recognizing how, as human beings, we are deeply interconnected.

Week 6: Broadening Compassion
Deeper exploration of what compassion is and what it is not. Extending compassion to more ‘challenging’ subjects. Bringing awareness to challenges to and the benefits of compassion in everyday life. 

Week 7: Active Compassion
Focusing on the compassionate action that goes beyond feeling of other’s suffering. Strengthening courage to be with suffering, and willingness to help relieve that suffering.

Week 8: Closing and Integrated Daily Compassion Cultivation Practice
In this final class, the essential elements of all steps are combined into an integrated compassion meditation practice that can continue to be done daily by participants who choose to adopt it. There will be also an opportunity to reflect on the experience, learning and challenges of this course.

You can download a copy of the complete syllabus here: Fall 2021 Syllabus