Compassion involves both sensitivity to suffering – of ourselves and others – and courage to deal with it. This book starts by exploring how ancient wisdom and modern science mutually enrich each other in the face of suffering. A rapidly expanding body of research is reviewed revealing that being compassionate shapes our minds and brains, and benefits our health and relationships. Building further on basic mindfulness skills, such as taught in MBSR and MBCT, the heart of the book is a step-by-step guide taking the reader through the full eight-session MBCL programme. It can be used as a manual for mindfulness teachers and therapists and as a self-help guide for personal practice, supported by free audio downloads. The book concludes with valuable advice for health care professionals wishing to bring the ‘care’ back into healthcare, both for their clients and themselves.
From the foreword by Paul Gilbert PhD, FBPsS, OBE, Professor of Clinical Psychology, University of Derby, UK...
In this remarkable and accessible book Erik van den Brink and Frits Koster have produced a masterpiece of integration of Western science with insights from the contemplative traditions that stretch back many centuries...
In these pages you will find a very well researched and beautifully written account of how and why training ourselves in mindful compassion can lead to a meaningful, healthier and happier life with greater social harmony. This is a wonderful path for a mindfulness-based compassionate way to live. A book to be treasured.
Other leading authorities in the field say...
Mindfulness-Based Compassionate Living is an important and beautiful book. Decades ago, when I learned to meditate, I was taught to practice mindfulness and compassion practices equally. I have always felt grateful for that training and have come to understand why mindfulness and compassion are seen as two wings of a bird - they offer balanced and essential qualities on our journey towards wholeness. Both are necessary.
As mindfulness becomes increasingly popular, it is equally important to develop specific ways to cultivate ‘heartfulness’, kindness and connectedness. In developing the Mindfulness-Based Compassionate Living programme Frits and Erik have done just that. With intelligence and skill they have created a rich and powerful course that will surely be of benefit to many.
Vidyamala Burch, co-founder of Breathworks.
With tremendous wisdom and skill this book offers a way to deepen and develop the learning that has started in an 8-week course of MBSR or MBCT. Here participants learn some of the building blocks that enable compassion to flourish – the possibility of stepping aside from the battle ground of thoughts, and of gently and tenderly allowing experience to be as it is. This book and the programme that it describes bring these compassionate responses to the fore, and offer systematic methods to explicitly develop them, so that mindful compassion can become a natural and accessible part of our being. A wonderful contribution.
Rebecca Crane PhD, Director of Centre for Mindfulness Research and Practice, Bangor University, UK.
This new volume by Van den Brink and Koster speaks to the pressing need to bring more care and warmth into daily life, particularly for those in the healthcare professions. Drawing on the latest theory and evidence from contemplative science and positive psychology, it presents a range of helpful practices for cultivating compassion, even in the most difficult of circumstances. This book is destined to be of great value not only to readers but also to those whose lives they touch.
Barbara Fredrickson PhD, Professor of Psychology at the University of North Carolina, USA.
This innovative book brings the ancient, healing wisdom of compassion training to a modern audience. Based on solid research, contemplative experience and clinical practice, this eight-session training programme strengthens our natural instinct for compassion and provides important tools for managing emotional pain in a healthy, radically new way.
Christopher K. Germer PhD, Clinical Psychologist, Harvard Medical School, USA.
This book is a treasure, full of insight and wisdom. It brings together in a very effective way ancient wisdom and modern science, the ethical and cognitive, the theory and practice and the mind and heart. It recognises that compassion is an essential part of mindfulness and that mindfulness training is only true mindfulness training when it is compassion training as well. The book gets better as you read it as the chapters build on one another. It is not only an invaluable resource for professional teachers and trainers it is also a wonderful guide for anyone who wishes to live authentically with courage and compassion. The authors are not only consummate professionals and teachers but they are also committed practitioners.
Sr. Stanislaus Kennedy - 'Sister Stan', Social Campaigner, The Sanctuary, Dublin, Ireland.
Every major contemplative tradition, evolutionary biology, and a growing body of science emphasise the importance of compassion. Mindfulness-based Compassionate Living is a compelling guide, skilfully conveying how compassion can be cultivated in the service of relieving suffering. Through their extensive personal experience, deep knowledge and a rich collaboration Frits Koster and Erik van den Brink embody what they teach. They generously offer teachings that have been transformational for the authors and have the potential to be transformational both for therapists and their clients.
Willem Kuyken PhD, Professor Clinical Psychology at the University of Oxford.
This book, which presents in detail a training program known as Mindfulness-Based Compassionate Living (MBCL), nourishes the brain and the heart. Erik van den Brink and Frits Koster present a solid review of the scientific basis of compassion training. They also show the value in human terms of how opening our hearts to ourselves and to others can have a significant effect on mental and physical wellbeing.
Their book draws not only on their own decades-long meditation practice but also their extensive experience as mental health professionals teaching MBCL. The 8-week MBCL course developed by the authors promises to be a significant contribution to the field of mindfulness-based approaches. It teaches in a step-by-step way how compassion training can support emotional resilience, heal the wounds of low self-esteem and reveal the strength of vulnerability. I heartily recommend this book, both for one’s own personal use as well as for its rich possibilities for introducing others to compassion training.
Linda Lehrhaupt PhD, Founder and Executive Director of the Institute for Mindfulness-Based Approaches, Zen Teacher, Germany.
The Dharma holds many treasures. I can only hope that more books like this will be published, which further explore the immeasurable richness of the Dharma and make it accessible where it is most needed: wherever people are suffering.
Edel Maex, psychiatrist at the Stressclinic of ZNA, Antwerp, Belgium.
This book is thoughtfully and sensitively written from the depth of the Dharma. It is also easily accessible for people newer to meditation practice. May it touch many lives and offer a taste of freedom.
Florence Meleo-Meyer, Director Oasis Institute, Center for Mindfulness, University of Massachusetts Medical School, USA.
While the benefits of mindfulness in therapeutic settings are well known, new research suggests that self-compassion is also key to mental health. This book offers innovative techniques for helping both therapists and clients develop a more compassionate way of relating to themselves and others.
Kristin Neff PhD, Associate Professor in Human Development, University of Texas, USA.
Compassion is at the heart of the mindfulness-based interventions in health care. It is encouraging to welcome the recent interest in compassion in both clinical practice and research. This book is a valuable contribution to this field, in particular with regard to offering compassion training to patients with psychiatric disorders as depression and anxiety. Both authors have extensive experience with offering mindfulness and compassion training to this population. We are very happy to collaborate with them in examining the effectiveness of Mindfulness-Based Compassionate Living as a postgraduate training in a randomised controlled trial of patients with recurrent depression.
Anne Speckens PhD, Professor of Psychiatry of the Radboud University Medical Centre in Nijmegen, The Netherlands.