What people say about CCT

I found the Winter 2014 CCT course led by Maya to be life-changing. The course was extremely well-designed and taught. It provided me with the tools to better face life’s difficulties and challenges as well as appreciate the goodness in life’s simplicities. The tools also helped me better manage my feelings and reactions in my personal relationships and highly emotional situations. Further, applying the concepts of common humanity and non-judgement changed the way I viewed daily discontentments and this shift was liberating. The content, meditations, readings, videos and in-class discussions make this course exceptional and I would highly recommend it to everyone.

– Anonymous

Last year I participated in CCT with Maya and have found the experience incredibly useful in my life. The training helped me peel away the layers necessary to practice compassion towards others and more difficultly to find compassion for myself. I continue to use the audio guided meditation with regularity and would highly recommend the CCT course.
> Charleen Kretschmer

The Power of Empathy, Brene Brown

What is the best way to ease someone’s pain and suffering? In this beautifully animated RSA Short, Dr Brené Brown reminds us that we can only create a genuine empathic connection if we are brave enough to really get in touch with our own fragilities.

Dr Brené Brown is a research professor and best-selling author of “Daring Greatly: How the Courage to be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent and Lead” (Penguin Portfolio, 2013).
She has spent the past decade studying vulnerability, courage, worthiness, and shame.

The Dangers of Stereotyping

How do we make it through the day without feeling completely overwhelmed by life’s miseries? Are we wired to feel empathy and suffer with every sickness, every drama, every suffering that we witness every day? In the 2009 article “From dehumanization and objectification to rehumanization: Neuroimaging studies on the building blocks of empathy” Susan Fiske answers those questions by arguing that in order to feel with someone else, we first need to believe that this someone else has a mind — a mind similar to our own. If we look at someone else as our equal, a human person with intentions, thoughts, and feelings, then we are likely to recognize their suffering. But when we put others in rigid categories and view people as objects, we deprive them of their humanity and we are not likely to feel empathy towards them. This kind of behavior explains how genocides and torturing happened in history. People become just objects being killed or tortured in others’ mind and empathy does not arise.

According to Fiske, how much we empathize depends on what kind of social attributes we give people. Are they warm, friendly, trustworthy and sincere? Are they competent and capable?  Neuroimaging studies showed that the higher the combination of warmth and competence, the more activation of the mPFC region of the brain that is associated with perception. When the perception is low on warmth and competence (outcasts, poor people, addicted people, or homeless,) then the mPFC region of the brain failed to activate. In other words, we view homeless and criminals as objects rather than humans, and we don’t connect to their suffering. Competent but not warm people (rich people or a seductress) can also result in a de-activation or lowering of the mPFC levels. According to Fiske, warm but incompetent people (elderly) can be viewed through a lense of pity: we feel with them, but not as much as people whom we perceive as both warm and competent.
This study warns us of the danger of stereotyping. How we look at people predicts how much feeling and what kind of feeling we can have towards that person. That same predicament shines a light on the potential benefit that mindfulness can have in opening our hearts to less stereotyping and more compassionate perceiving of the world. According to Shapiro’s model of mindfulness, intention and attention, when done in a non-judgmental way will lead to reperceiving of a situation. A non-judmental perception of others, characterized by friendliness, kindness and an open curiosity is the key to true empathy.
Maya Nader

Golden Gardens Tidal Pool

…the tidal pools area brims with sounds, colors, smells, and textures. Waves and gulls dominate the Sound’s waves, regularly interjected by crows and ducks. Finches’ chirps are dampened by brush and tree foliage. The grey, coarse and water-compacted sand turns into a rich palette of algae in different shades of greens, sparkled with yellow, orange and red. The clear tide pool water offers a distinctive and powerful smell, interspersed by the coastal Pacific breeze. The smooth yet hard surface of pebbles is the backdrop for the bouncy and buttery texture of sea anemones and jellyfish. 

by Maya Nader, 2010


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