Mindfulness-Based Compassionate Living



Mitgefühl üben – das große Praxisbuch Mindfulness-Based Compassionate Living

Authors: Christian Stocker, Jana Willms, Frits Koster & Erik van den Brink
Publisher: Springer
ISBN: 978-3-658-26824-4

Neueste Forschungen belegen, dass Mitgefühl – vor allem mit uns selbst – einer der Schlüsselfaktoren für geistige Gesundheit und emotionales Wohlbefinden ist. Mitgefühl üben – das große Praxisbuch Mindfulness-Based Compassionate Living (MBCL) ist eine ausgezeichnete Landkarte, die Sie auf Ihrer Entdeckungsreise zu mehr Achtsamkeit und (Selbst-)Mitgefühl begleiten kann.

Das Buch bietet klar strukturiert und übersichtlich alle Inhalte, Erklärungen, Übungen und Praxis-Materialien eines MBCL 8-Wochenkurses (inklusive zahlreicher angeleiteter Meditationen und Arbeitsblättern als Download-Material). Es kann kursbegleitend oder auch losgelöst von einem MBCL-Gruppenkurs für das eigenständige Üben zu Hause genutzt werden. Sowohl Lernende als auch MBCL-Lehrende können mit diesem Buch praktisch arbeiten. Die beiden Niederländer Erik van den Brink und Frits Koster haben vor etwa zehn Jahren das Trainingsprogramm “Mindfulness-Based Compassionate Living“ (MBCL) zur systematischen Kultivierung von Achtsamkeit und (Selbst-)Mitgefühl entwickelt. MBCL ist als vertiefendes Training für Menschen gedacht, die bereits ein Achtsamkeitstraining (MBSR, MBCT oder ein ähnliches Programm) absolviert oder eine andere systematische Achtsamkeitspraxis erlernt haben.


  • ‘Ich habe das Gefühl, jedes Mal, wenn ich in das Buch eintauche, eine Schatzkiste zu öffnen.’ – aus dem Vorwort von Dr. Linda Lehrhaupt, Leiterin Institut für Achtsamkeit, Deutschland.
  • ‘Dieses Buch führt uns durch die Landschaft unseres alltäglichen Lebens und eröffnet neue Perspektiven. Es lädt uns ein zu lesen, dann zu reflektieren und dann zu üben.’ – aus dem Vorwort von Mark Williams, Emeritierter Professor der klinischen Psychologie der Universität von Oxford, UK.

Wounded Healers

Authors: Erik van den Brink
Publisher: LinkedIn Post

Click here for the story of Chiron and its profound meaning for all who care. 

Mindfulness-Based Compassionate Living (MBCL): a deepening programme for those with basic mindfulness skills. In: Handbook of Mindfulness-Based Programmes, edited by Itai Ivtzan

Authors: Erik van den Brink & Frits Koster
Publisher: Routledge
ISBN: 9781138240940

Handbook of Mindfulness-Based Programmes: Mindfulness Interventions from Education to Health and Therapy offers the first comprehensive guide to all prominent, evidence-based mindfulness programmes available in the West.

Social mindfulness

Authors: Erik van den Brink
Publisher: LinkedIn Post

Click here for a response to 'The mindfulness conspiracy' (Robert Purser, The Guardian 14.6.19)

Born from a retreat in Auschwitz

Authors: Erik van den Brink
Publisher: LinkedIn Post

Click here for an experience of teaching MBCL in Poland.

Mind like sky, body like mountain, heart like sun

Authors: Erik van den Brink
Publisher: LinkedIn post

Click here for an experience with MWAC in Sydney, Australia 

New MBCL book freely shared online

Authors: Erik van den Brink
Publisher: The Mindfulness Network UK

Click here to read an introduction to "A Practical Guide to Mindfulness-Based Compassionate Living - Living with Heart"

Discovering MBCL

Authors: Barbara Hussong
Publisher: The Mindfulness Network UK

Click here for an account of a mindfulness teacher's experience with MBCL

A Practical Guide to Mindfulness-Based Compassionate Living - Living with Heart

Authors: Erik van den Brink & Frits Koster, with Victoria Norton; Foreword by Mark Williams
Publisher: Routledge
ISBN: 9781138228931

A Practical Guide to Mindfulness-Based Compassionate Living: Living with Heart is a step-by-step guide for those who wish to deepen their mindfulness skills with compassion for a healthier, happier life and more fulfilling relationships. It offers a clear structure as well as ample freedom to adjust to individual needs, starting with learning to be kind to yourself and then expanding this to learn how to be kind to others.

This guide consists of a eight chapters that follow the eight sessions of the mindfulness-based compassionate living training programme. To enhance the learning experience, this book features accessible transcripts and downloadable audio exercises, as well as worksheets to explore experiences during exercises. It also includes suggestions for deepening practice at the end of each session.

A Practical Guide to Mindfulness-Based Compassionate Living explores the science of compassion in an easy-to-understand and comprehensive manner, one which will appeal to both trained professionals and clients, or anyone wishing to deepen their mindfulness practice with ‘heartfulness’.


'It’s not that compassion has been over-sold, but that it has been over-told. Telling people to love may change behavior temporarily, but it has a short half-life. We need a different approach, and this book takes us by the hand and leads us gently away from the mere idea of compassion towards the experience of compassion.'
- From the Foreword by Mark Williams, Emeritus Professor of Clinical Psychology, University of Oxford.

'A practical yet rich guide in living with a wise heart.'
- Tara Brach PhD, meditation teacher, USA, and author of Radical Acceptance and True Refuge.

'From the first page of this book it is clear that Erik and Frits have a burning desire to help people ease the pain in their hearts and minds with their MBCL course. Building on the wonderful work of their first book 'Mindfulness-based Compassionate Living', they have now produced a volume where accessibility is paramount, with the eight-week course clearly laid out to make it easy for the reader to follow and get the most out of their excellent, kind, heart-felt work. They have a gift for synthesising vitally important ideas into an easy-to-follow programme that anyone can access and benefit from. Highly recommended.'
Vidyamala Burch, co-founder of Breathworks, UK, author of Living well with Pain and Illness and co-author (with Danny Penman) of Mindfulness for Health.

'Mindfulness-Based Compassionate Living is spreading beautifully into the world and touching lives in transformative ways. This new book makes the work more accessible to everyday people. It offers us a personal training pathway for enabling compassion to emerge in our daily lives. The book is a gift to us all.'
- Rebecca Crane PhD, director of Centre for Mindfulness Research and Practice, Bangor University, UK, author of Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy.

'This wonderful guidebook will benefit any reader interested in the healing power of mindful compassion. The authors have dedicated their lives to these teachings and have produced a clear and practical way to integrate the best of science with the insights of the contemplative traditions. I feel this eight-session approach is powerfully innovative and exactly what the world needs right now. I can't recommend this book highly enough.'
Susan Gillis Chapman, Vancouver, Canada, Faculty for Karuna Training, Acharya, Buddhist teacher and author of The Five Keys To Mindful Communication.

'Erik and Frits have crafted a programme that carefully builds on the learning from mindfulness-based programmes such as MBSR and MBCT. From this foundation, they introduce compassion-based practices explicitly. There is a solid and compelling theoretical base to the programme, which Erik and Frits have thoughtfully adapted to make it particularly relevant for clinical settings. The practices and exercises offer the potential for a thorough exploration of compassion in one’s life. In this practical guide, each week a menu of options is offered with the encouragement to explore and work with what is needed, possible and helpful at any one moment in time. I have a sense I will revisit its delights often.'
Alison Evans, founder and co-director of the Mindfulness Network CiC, and core teacher at the Centre for Mindfulness Research and Practice, Bangor University, UK

'This pragmatic and user-friendly workbook brings forth a powerful integration of compassion practices for people who have some mindfulness experience "under their belts" already. Underpinned by evolutionary understanding of why human beings are so driven to bring hurt to ourselves and others, it provides a supported pathway for people to meet and transform distress, and connect with their capacity to feel and express more kindness and compassion moment by moment in their lives. May many be touched by it!'
Timothea Goddard, Sydney, Australia, Founding Director of Openground Mindfulness Programs and Mindfulness Training Institute - Australia and New Zealand

'This is a thoroughly friendly book, in which the authors show great care and respect for their readers, both service users and professionals. The work is very down-to earth and accessible, including vivid and engaging examples, poems and stories to encourage the reader on this life-changing journey. The Mindfulness-Based Compassionate Living course detailed here is closely based on mindfulness with the same experiential method of learning, and deepens that knowledge into heartfulness. I very much enjoyed this book and am sure that many will benefit from it by learning how to make the comfort of compassion for themselves and others an essential, fundamental part of their lives.' 
Judith Soulsby, Senior teacher and trainer with the Centre for Mindfulness Research & Practice, Bangor University, UK.

Mindfulness-Based Compassionate Living - A new training programme to deepen mindfulness with heartfulness

Authors: Erik van den Brink & Frits Koster; Foreword by Paul Gilbert
Publisher: Routledge, London/New York 2015
ISBN: 978-1-13-802215-7

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...
'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.'
    Paul Gilbert, PhD, FBPsS, OBE, Professor of Clinical Psychology, University of Derby, author of The Compassionate Mind (Constable & Robinson, 2009) and Mindful Compassion (with Choden; Constable & Robinson, 2013).

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 - mindfulness and compassion based approaches to pain, stress and illness, author of Living well with Pain and Illness (Piatkus, 2008) and co-author (with Danny Penman) of Mindfulness for Health(Piatkus, 2013).

‘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, Director of Centre for Mindfulness Research and Practice, Bangor University, UK, and author of Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (Routledge, 2009).

‘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, author of Positivity (Three Rivers Press, 2009) and Love 2.0 (Penguin books, 2013).

‘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, and author of The Mindful Path to Self-Compassion (Guilford Press, 2009).

‘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. Author of Day by Day (Transworld, 2013) and Moments of Stillness (Transworld, 2011).

‘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. His work with people with mood disorders spans twenty years, and is focussed on mindfulness mechanisms, clinical trials and implementation. He is author (with Christine A. Padesky and Robert Dudley) of Collaborative Case Conceptualization (The Guilford Press, 2011).

‘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, co-author of Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction: An MBSR Course Handbook, and author of Riding the Waves of Life (in German).

'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, and one of the pioneers of MBSR in Holland and Belgium, author of several publications on mindfulness and buddhism.

'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, Mindfulness-Based Professional Education and Training, Center for Mindfulness, University of Massachusetts Medical School.

‘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, and author of Self-Compassion (New York: William Morrow, 2011).

‘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.

Vida compasiva basada en mindfulness - Un nuevo programa de entrenamiento para profundizar en Mindfulness con Heartfulness

Authors: Erik van den Brink & Frits Koster; Foreword by Paul Gilbert
Publisher: Desclée De Brouwer
ISBN: 978-84-330-2945-4

'Una explicación bien estructurada y bellamente escrita sobre cómo y por qué el cultivo de la compasión plenamente consciente nos conducirá a una vida más sana, más feliz y con mayor armonía social.'
Paul Gilbert, autor de Terapia centrada en la Compasión

'Una guía apasionante, que nos enseña cómo cultivar la compasión al servicio de aliviar el sufrimiento.'
Willem Kuyken, Universidad de Oxford.

Mindfulness implica aprender a ser más conscientes de la vida momento a momento, aun cuando nos acarree dificultad, dolor o sufrimiento. Es un desafío al que todos hemos de hacer frente en un momento u otro y al que los profesionales de la salud se enfrentan cada día.

La compasión conlleva a su vez sensibilidad para con nuestro propio sufrimiento y el de los demás, y un valor especial para hacerle frente. Los autores han elaborado un programa de entrenamiento de ocho fases en el cultivo de la compasión, con ejercicios prácticos sustentados en habilidades de mindfulness.

Apoyados en la sabiduría antigua y la ciencia moderna, nos hacen ver cómo el hecho de ser compasivos moldea nuestras mentes y cerebros y resulta sumamente beneficioso para nuestra salud y nuestras relaciones.

Este programa será útil para lectores con diferentes problemas de salud mental crónicos o recurrentes, y un medio eficaz para hacer frente a la baja autoestima, la autoculpabilización o la vergüenza, permitiendo a los participantes experimentar más calidez, seguridad, aceptación y conexión consigo mismos y con los demás.

'Las evidencias científicas empiezan a demostrar de forma contundente que cultivar la compasión y la generosidad es una forma poderosa de promover el bienestar, tanto el propio como el de los demás. A menudo, el ritmo trepidante de la vida nos dificulta el poder conectar con estados internos de amabilidad y altruismo. Vivir con y desde el corazón, sintiendo y aceptando estar abiertos a todo lo que ocurre, aunque en algunos momentos sea difícil o incluso doloroso, supone una manera radicalmente diferente de estar presentes, momento a momento, en el mundo. Erik y Frits han desarrollado un entrenamiento para integrar conscientemente una mayor compasión en la vida cotidiana, con ejercicios sencillos y prácticas de Mindfulness que serán de gran utilidad para todas las personas que, habiéndose ya familiarizado con esta práctica en un programa de iniciación (como por ejemplo el programa MBSR), desean seguir profundizando. ¡Un libro imprescindible!'
Sylvia Comas Barrera, Socia fundadora del Instituto esMindfulness (Barcelona), Autora de Burbujas de paz, un pequeño libro de Mindfulness para niños y no tan niños (Nube de Tinta, 2016)

'VCBM es a la vez un libro y un programa. El libro nos ayuda a comprender la mente humana y la forma de aliviar los problemas que origina y el programa nos conduce a desarrollar compasión, actitud imprescindible para transformar el sufrimiento y llevar una vida más plena y más feliz.'
Estrella Fernández, Directora del Itinerario de Formación de profesores de MBCT (Terapia cognitiva basada en Mindfulness) del CMRP (Universidad de Bangor) en España.

'Es una suerte contar con este trabajo de Erik y Frits que articula con elegancia, rigor y cariño un entrenamiento para la compasión en la vida cotidiana. Juntos reúnen tres componentes extraordinarios para transmitir Mindfulness a la sociedad; la profunda práctica contemplativa de un maestro de meditación, la larga experiencia clínica de un psiquiatra y la claridad expositiva de ambos en su formulación. Por ello es un libro muy recomendable para practicantes de Mindfulness que quieren profundizar en su práctica diaria con Compasión, usando un modelo simple y poderoso a la vez. También me parece fundamental para instructores de Mindfulness como fuente de inspiración y de una mejor comprensión de los procesos que facilitan la compasión en la vida cotidiana. Un verdadero tesoro para la biblioteca de Mindfulness.'
Dr. Andrés Martín-Asuero, Director Instituto Esmindfulness y autor de PlenaMente, Mindfulness o el arte de estar presente (Planeta, 2015)

Mitfühlend leben - Mit Selbst-Mitgefühl und Achtsamkeit die seelische Gesundheit stärken: Mindfulness-Based Compassionate Living - MBCL

Authors: Erik van den Brink & Frits Koster
Publisher: Kösel Verlag, München 2013
ISBN: 978-3-466-30985-6

Wer in der Begegnung mit Schmerz und Leid ein offenes, freundliches Herz bewahren kann, erlebt mehr Verbundenheit, innere Ruhe und Wohlbefinden. Mitgefühl – vor allem mit uns selbst – ist einer der Schlüsselfaktoren für seelische Gesundheit, das legen neueste Studien nahe. Und die eindrucksvolle Nachricht lautet: Wir können selbst etwas dafür tun. Durch praktische Übungen lässt sich unsere Fähigkeit, Mitgefühl zu empfinden, entwickeln und vertiefen.

'Mitfühlend leben ist ein Buch, das das Gehirn ebenso wie das Herz nährt. Erik van den Brink und Frits Koster stellen darin detailliert das Mitgefühlstraining Mindfulness-Based Compassionate Living (MBCL) vor und präsentieren zudem ein Übersicht úber die wissenschaftlichen Grundlagen, auf denen diese Schulung in Mitgefühl basiert. Dabei wird auch deutlich, welche bedeutsamen Auswirkungen auf unser mentales und körperliches Wohlbefinden es hat, unser Herz für uns selbst und für andere zu öffnen.
Das Buch basiert nicht nur auf der Jahrzehntelangen Meditationspraxis der Autoren, sondern auch auf ihrer umfassenden Erfahrung in der psychosozialen Gesundheitsfürsorge. Der achtwöchige MBCL-Kurs, den sie entwickelt haben, verspricht ein bedeutender Beitrag zum Feld der achtsamkeitsbasierten Ansätze zu werden. Schritt für Schritt zeigt er wie Mitgefühlstraining helfen kann emotionale Resilienz zu stärken, die Wunden niedrigen Selbstwertgefühl zu heilen und die Stärke zu offenbaren, die in unser Verletzlichkeit liegt.'
    Dr. Linda Lehrhaupt, Leiterin des Instituts für Achtsamkeit und Stressbewältigung, Zen-Lehrerin und Autorin von Die Wellen des Lebens reiten (Kösel Verlag, 2012).