Course 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 six modules over eight weeks:

Module I: Developing Attentional Stability and Clarity

The initial practice trains attentional stability in order to improve mental stability and clarity; typically this is done by placing and retaining focus on the unfolding sensations of the breath and by learning to relate to distractions with greater equanimity.

Module II: Cultivating Insight into the Nature of Mental Experience

Still rooted in the present moment, the focus shifts to how mental experience unfolds from moment to moment. The goal is to pay attention without pushing away this mental activity or becoming overly involved in it. This practice develops a flexible responsiveness to inner experience, insight into habitual mental patterns, and increased calmness of mind.

Module III: Self-compassion

Using insights from Module II, this practice looks closely at how mental patterns and inner perspectives contribute to a sense of well-being. Lasting relief from difficult life circumstances is often possible by shifting one’s inner attitudes and by reducing unrealistic expectations and unhelpful reactions. When the practitioner engages these tendencies with a view of kindness toward one’s self, these practices work to strengthen the determination to replace negative and damaging thought patterns with more constructive and realistic viewpoints

Module IV: Cultivating Impartiality

Humans are intrinsically social creatures, so attitudes toward others are of great importance. By examining the tendency to place people into in-groups and out- groups based on temporary and subjective criteria, practitioners consider how such categories are both artificial and fluctuating. By contemplating that people— on the most basic level –share a common humanity, the practitioner learns to see that the desire for personal fulfillment and the wish to avoid distress and dissatisfaction is a shared aspiration.

Module V: Appreciation and Affection for Others

This module begins by recognizing that everything that helps one to thrive and flourish is dependent upon countless others, and this understanding inspires appreciation for those responsible. By attuning to this interconnected ecosystem, a sense of gratitude toward others is engendered. The practitioner moves away from the narrow view of independence and isolation that maintains a self-centered mindset. Through reflection on the daily and long-term gifts of the broader society, and the drawbacks of self-focused attitudes and actions, deep affection is cultivated for others.

Module VI: Empathy and Engaged Compassion

With the perspectives of seeing each person as equally deserving of happiness and as having great value in their own right, practitioners place their attention on the difficulties and distress experienced by so many, which naturally invokes an empathic response. When supported by the inner strength developed in earlier modules, this empathy leads to the strong wish to see others free of difficulties and distress and to orient one's core motivation toward the alleviation of the suffering of others.

 

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.

Please note that this course, while taught by Certified CBCT Instructors, does not count toward the pre-requisite for CBCT Teacher Training, nor does completion of this course 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.

 

*CBCT(Cognitively Based Compassion Training)  is a program of Emory University and Lobsang Tenzin Negi, Ph.D.