CBCT Program Description

CBCT (Cognitively Based Compassion Training)* classes are held several times each year in Tucson. This course is an introduction to the concepts and meditation practices that form the basis for gradually training the mind to enhance the trait of compassion toward self and others.

During this course, practitioners will explore and begin to move through eight modules over eight weeks:

Module 1: Connecting to a Moment of Nurturance

In this module, we connect to nurturing moments to elicit feelings of safety, deepen our appreciation for compassion, and strengthen our motivation to expand it. This is done by recalling a time (or times) from our past in which we felt safe, comforted, or cared for. We then spend time immersed in the nurturing and warm feelings associated with the moment and reflecting on the benefits of that moment in our lives. This practice is considered foundational to CBCT as it directly contributes to both resilience and compassion.

Module 2: Developing Stable and Clear Attention

In this module, we train attentional stability to improve focus, mental clarity, and resilience.

Module 3: Enhancing Self-Awareness

In this module, we train the skill of non-judgmental awareness to cultivate greater insight into our mental and emotional habits. We also gain greater flexibility in how we respond to these habits. This training takes the form of turning our attention inward, focusing on unfolding thoughts, emotions, impulses, and other inner experiences without pushing them away or becoming overly entangled in them.

Module 4: Cultivating Self-Compassion Part 1: Accepting Our Vulnerabilities

In this module, we deepen our understanding and acceptance of the shared human condition to soften harmful responses of excessive self-criticism, self-blame, and shame. This is done through the process of analytical meditation. We deepen the understandings that we are not alone in experiencing setbacks or having limitations – none of us are in full control, though we all have strengths.

Module 5: Cultivating Self-Compassion Part 2: Finding Meaning in Our Vulnerabilities

In this module, we strengthen our ability to find meaning in our challenges and vulnerabilities to relieve feelings of helplessness and despair and tap into empowerment and self-agency. This is done through analytical meditation as well. We familiarize ourselves with the understandings that we can grow from our setbacks, that they can help us to connect to our values, and that they can inspire us to help others. We further practice this skill as we shift our attention toward what we can do rather than fixating on what we cannot.

Module 6: Expanding Our Circle of Concern

In this module, we turn our attention from ourselves to others. We begin to identify with others to promote a sense of connection with a widening group of people and to soften the hard line between ingroup and outgroup. We take the analytical approach of broadening and familiarizing perspectives as we attune to our common humanity, our shared aspirations to be well and avoid harm, and our shared human condition. These are all realities that connect us at a fundamental level.

Module 7: Deepening Gratitude and Tenderness

In this module, we attune to and appreciate the benefits we receive from others to foster feelings of warmth and affection for a widening group of people and to move away from a narrow self-interest that feeds disconnection. This is done by making visible the extraordinary interconnectedness and interdependence of today’s world. This analytical approach promotes our understanding that, as social beings, we benefit from and depend on many individuals within and beyond our inner circle.

Module 8: Harnessing the Power of Compassion

In this module, we make visible what others are up against, remain mindful of the tenderness we feel for them, and apply discernment. In doing so, we elicit genuine compassion and promote effective compassionate action. This is done through the analytical approach of examining others’ struggles from a systems lens. In other words, we uncover the many causes and conditions that contribute to their predicaments, and thereby gain a better understanding of what people are going through. We can then tap into our compassion and discover what we can do to make a difference.

Each of these topics is explored in depth through discussion, group activities, and guided meditation practice.  Articles and books are suggested for students who wish to learn more about the social psychology and neuropsychology that informs this meditation protocol. Participants will also receive recorded guided meditations to support their practice in between class sessions.

This course is open to any adult interested in exploring methods of cultivating compassion, as well as deepening their understanding of the psychology of compassion. Both experienced meditators and those with no prior meditation experience are welcomed.

This course, when offered by a Level 2 CBCT Instructor may satisfy the pre-requisite Foundational Course for CBCT Teacher Training, which must be completed through Emory University.  Completion of this course does not prepare one to teach this meditation protocol to others. For details regarding the process to become certified to teach CBCT, please visit CBCT Teacher Certification for more information.