Please contact maya at firstname.lastname@example.org for any questions –
JOIN ME FOR CCT Fall 2015 or Spring 2016 on Mercer Island!
COMPASSIONATE CULTIVATION TRAINING
As a growing number of our daily interactions happen in the digital world, the skills of listening, compassion, and empathy are often lost. This nine-week course will help you develop those skills and put them to use in your everyday life. Instructor Maya Nader will teach mindfulness techniques and meditation, cultivation of loving-kindness for loved ones and for oneself, developing compassion for our neighbors, our planet and more.
This class helps to:
• Jump start personal meditation practice. • Improve one’s communication skills.
• Develop resilience, courage, and a way to connect better with others
THURSDAYS 10:30 AM -12:30 PM
OCT 22, 29 • NOV 5,12,19 • DEC 3,10,17
FRIDAYS 10:00 AM – 12:00 PM, April and May 2016
Bringing Compassion to Everyday Life with Compassion Cultivation Training (CCT)
By Leah Weiss, PhD, MSW
Many of us are called to make the world a better place, but it isn’t necessarily clear where to start. We want to respond to the big and small suffering in our communities and the larger world but it isn’t straightforward how to do this in a way that is both sustainable for ourselves and objectively impactful. Out of the desire to support people in embodying compassion in the midst of busy, complicated lives, the idea for the Compassion Cultivation Training Protocol was born.
The Compassion Cultivation Training (CCT) program was developed at Stanford University’s Center for Compassion and Altruism Research and Education (CCARE). CCARE investigates methods for cultivating compassion and promoting altruism within individuals and society through rigorous research, scientific collaborations, and academic conferences. CCT and other featured public events and programs belong to the educational part of CCARE or the E in the acronym CCARE.
The CCT protocol was created by Thupten Jinpa, a former Tibetan monk and the principal English interpreter for the Dalai Lama. The program was enhanced with contributions from an interdisciplinary team of researchers including neuroscientists, psychologists, and contemplative scholars – Kelly McGonigal, Margaret Cullen, Erika Rosenberg, Leah Weiss, and Philippe Goldin.
To date, CCT has been offered to the general population, healthcare workers, teachers in K-12 education, leadership training programs, and to trauma survivors, among others. The course has been offered at Stanford University, UC Berkeley, Google, the Cancer Support Community, Sharp Healthcare in San Diego, VA hospitals, hospice centers, and PTSD treatment centers. There have been approximately 100 teachers trained in the method and the course has been offered in North America, Europe, and in countries such as Australia, Colombia, Mexico and Botswana. The senior teachers also offer condensed versions of the course. We anticipate that the program will be further customized to meet the needs of specific populations and cultures over time.
The formal meditations offered in this protocol are principally derived from compassion practices found in the Tibetan Buddhist tradition. They have, however, been adapted to suit the needs of a multicultural context and for use by people from diverse ethnic, religious, and cultural backgrounds. Special care has been taken to ensure that the practices presented are thoroughly non denominational and secular.
The Compassion Cultivation Training (CCT) program consists of six progressive steps.
Step 1 involves settling the mind and learning to focus it—skills essential for any form of reflective mental exercise – as well as learning to neutrally observe one’s own thoughts and emotions, the basic elements of mindfulness practice. This creates a solid foundation for steps 2 through 5, which comprise the actual compassion cultivation practices.
Steps 2 teaches participants how to cultivate loving-kindness and compassion for a loved one;
Step 3 helps the student develop loving-kindness and compassion for oneself;
Step 4 establishes the basis for compassion toward others by embracing shared common humanity and appreciating the deep interconnectedness of self and others. The phrase ‘just like me’ is used as a reminder that all people – even those who we appear to have nothing in common with – wish to be happy and free from suffering;
Step 5 deepens the ability to cultivate compassion toward others, including even those with whom we might have some negative experiences or difficulty;
Step 6 is an active compassion practice and involves visualizing transforming others’ pain and suffering and offering them one’s own happiness and joy.
Finally, in week eight, the course culminates with an integrated practice that builds on the preceding steps, and synthesizes the various trainings into a comprehensive, daily compassion meditation.
Research on CCT to date is briefly summarized below with more details/citations available on the CCARE website. 
CCT engenders significant improvements in all three domains of compassion – compassion for others, from others, and for self.
The amount of time spent in meditation practice was also tracked during the course and a dose response was found (more meditation practice yields more impact).
Mindfulness skills, self-efficacy, care for self and others, and mind wandering toward pleasant topics increased as a result of CCT.
Worry and mind wandering onto unpleasant topics, on the other hand, decreased after taking CCT.
Moving forward, we remain committed to implementing CCARE’s mission to increase compassion and promote altruism on the individual and societal levels. We aspire, through the medium of education, to cause a tipping point that will lead to a world that is equitable, peaceful, and healthy.
Leah Weiss, Ph.D., MSW is Director of Contemplative Education and Scholarship at HopeLab. She is also a lecturer at Stanford Business School and Senior Teacher of the Stanford Compassion Cultivation Program. Dr. Weiss has taught in a variety of settings, including Harvard-affiliated hospitals, Stanford School of Medicine, and Veterans with PTSD at the Department of Veterans Affairs. She received her B.A. from Stanford University, her M.A. degree in clinical social work from Boston College, and her Ph.D. in theology and education from Boston College. Concurrent with her graduate work, she completed the traditional teacher-training curriculum of the Nyingma school of Tibetan Buddhism in the context of four silent, cloistered 100-day meditation retreats, one 6-month retreat, and dozens of weeklong retreats.
 Jazaieri et al., 2012, 2014, 2015. See CCARE website for complete citations.
The Compassion Cultivation Training (CCT) program is being taught in various places around the world. If you are interested in taking a CCT class, please check the CCT Directory to find out if there is a certified teacher in your area. If you are interested in becoming a CCT certified teacher, or if you simply want more information on the educational or research programs at Stanford’s Center for Compassion and Altruism Research and Education (CCARE), please visit the CCARE website.
The Catalyst is produced by The Shift Network to feature inspiring stories and provide information to help shift consciousness and take practical action. To receive The Catalyst twice a month, sign up here.
This article appears in:
2015 Catalyst, Issue 13: The Dalai Lama’s 80th Birthday Gift – Global Compassion Summit
I thoroughly enjoyed Maya’s CCT meditation training course. I found the sessions enlightening and useful for me as I journeyed through meditation. I found the guided meditation easy to follow and they supported my practice of compassion towards others and myself. I would recommend her CCT course to others looking to build empathy and compassion for themselves and others. Julia Van Dyne
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.
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
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.
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
…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