Compassion is the capacity to be sensitive to the suffering of ourselves and others and the willingness to relieve and prevent it (Paul Gilbert, 2014). It is a capacity inherent in all of us which for many reasons does not always come to flourish. Fortunately, it can be trained, developed and deepened through practice. Compassion is characterised by kindness and receptivity as well as courage and responsibility. Many believe compassion should be directed towards others rather than ourselves. But self-compassion is not a selfish activity. Research increasingly shows that self-compassion is – like mindfulness – key to mental health and goes hand in hand with greater openness and empathy towards others.
What is Mindfulness-Based Compassionate Living (MBCL)?
MBCL is a mindfulness-based programme that supports the development and training of (self-) compassion to enhance physical, emotional and relational health and well-being. It is grounded in science and integrates work of Paul Gilbert (Compassion Focused Therapy) and Kristin Neff and Christopher Germer (Mindful Self-Compassion) as well as elements of Acceptance and Commitment Therapy and Positive Psychology. The MBCL programme is suitable as an advanced course after having followed a mindfulness training (MBSR, MBCT or equivalent). It is similarly structured and consists of eight weekly sessions of 2.5 hours, offering explicit exercises to nurture compassion with oneself and others. The training can be particularly supportive for clients suffering from shame and self-criticism, social isolation, depression, anxiety, trauma, chronic pain or illness. It was originally developed in the mental health setting but the scope of its application extends much further. It can be helpful to anyone – care-seeker or care-giver – wishing to deepen mindfulness with ‘heartfulness’.
What does this MBCL Foundation Course offer?
In this three-day workshop participants will experience key features of the MBCL curriculum, including the main themes as well as the major exercises.
Themes include: the evolutionary perspective and multi-layered brain; the three basic emotion regulation systems and the value of training our soothing system; expanding the stress theory with the psychological equivalents of fight, flight, freeze and their antidotes self-kindness, common humanity and mindfulness of suffering; tend and befriend; cultivating a compassionate mind and an inner helper rather than an inner critic; overidentifying and disidentifying; Four Friends for Life: loving kindness, compassion, sympathetic joy and equanimity.
Exercises include: soothing breathing rhythm, compassionate imagery (safe place, compassionate companion, embodying compassion); relating compassionately to resistance, desire and inner patterns; loving kindness towards ourselves and others; compassionate breathing; a bodyscan with gratitude; walking and moving with kindness; compassionate letter writing; practising sympathetic joy, gratitude, forgiveness and equanimity; informal practices in daily life.
During the workshop, relevant scientific insights underpinning compassion training will be interwoven in the teaching.
Mindful Yoga Oslo, Dronningensgate 23, 0154 Oslo
MBCL Teacher Training
Teacher training seminars are increasingly offered across Europe, either in 2 modules of 3,5 days or in one residential retreat of 7 days. See www.compassionateliving.info for more information. Completion of the Foundation Course is a requirement for participating in a teacher training curriculum. To become MBCL teacher one should be a certified mindfulness (MBSR or MBCT) teacher. However, many professionals who are not mindfulness teachers can benefit from the seminars to deepen mindfulness-based and compassion focused interventions and enhance their therapeutic skills in individual or group work.
Frits Koster is a Vipassana meditation teacher and a certified teacher of Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) and Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT). He has also trained and worked as a psychiatric nurse. He has taught mindfulness in mental health settings, including clinics and hospitals, for many years. He has been practicing Theravada Buddhism for more than 35 years and lived as a Buddhist monk in Thailand for six years in the 1980s. He has been leading Vipassana retreats and courses since the 1980s. He is a member of the faculty of the Institute for Mindfulness-Based Approaches (IMA), the Institute for Mindfulness (IvM) in the Netherlands as well as various mindfulness training institutes across Europe.
He was trained by founding teachers in Compassion Focused Therapy, Mindful Self-Compassion and Interpersonal Mindfulness (Insight Dialogue). He is the author of several books, including Liberating Insight, Buddhist Meditation as Stress Management and The Web of Buddhist Wisdom. Thailand: Silkwormbooks.
With Erik van den Brink he developed the MBCL programme and co-authored several publications.