Compassion Cultivation Training
Stanford University’s Compassion Cultivation Training (CCT) is an 8-week educational program designed to help you improve your resilience and feel more connected to others—ultimately providing an overall sense of well-being. CCT integrates contemplative traditions with modern psychology, neuroscience and scholarly studies on compassion training. Learn how to train your mind to intentionally choose compassionate thoughts and actions and develop skills that help you relate to others—and yourself.
Why: 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 empathy 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. Research suggests that CCT and similar programs can increase self-compassion and self-care, reduce stress, anxiety, and depression, and enhance connection with others.
In CCT, students 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
The resulting benefits are:
- Enhanced ability to feel compassion for oneself and others
- Increased calmness and ability to handle stressful situations
- Better engagement and communication in relationships
- Self-evaluation and mindfulness when feeling overwhelmed
- Increased job satisfaction and decreased job overwhelm
- A more pleasurable, nurturing life at home or with family
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 the willingness to take action to relieve that suffering.
Cultivation: 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.
Training: 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.
Who: 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.
What to Expect
- Eight weekly two-hour classes that includes discussion, and in-class partner and small-group listening and communication exercises
- Daily meditation practices to develop kindness, empathy, compassion for others, and self-compassion
- Real-world “homework” assignments to practice compassionate thoughts and actions
Origins: Dr. James Doty, a Stanford neurosurgeon, envisioned a scientific multidisciplinary approach to compassion based on his interest in a basic human motivation for people to do good. His efforts were supported by a team of scientists at Stanford University and by the 14th Dalai Lama after a visit in 2005. In 2008 the Center for Compassion and Altruism Research and Education (CCARE) at Stanford University School of Medicine was founded with the explicit goal of promoting, supporting, and conducting rigorous scientific studies of compassion and altruistic behavior.
Thupten Jinpa, the senior author of CCT and longtime translator for the 14th Dalai Lama, describes the program in these words: “What CCT aims to do is to make people become more aware and more connected with their compassionate nature so that their instinctive response to a given situation will come from that compassionate understanding standpoint rather than negative excessive judgment.”