1st Edition

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

    180 Pages
    by Routledge

    180 Pages
    by Routledge

    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 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’.

    (Practices and exercises are marked with ※)

    Foreword by Mark Williams


    A warm welcome

    The gift of mindfulness

    The mindfulness wave


    How MBCL began

    Based in science

    Is MBCL for you?

    How to use this book

    1. Wired to survive rather than thrive
    Session One: How we evolved – The threat, drive and soothing systems

    The challenge of being human
    Compassion: not for the faint-hearted
    ※ The Breathing Space with Kindness
    The human brain and its flaws
    Like Pandora’s box
    Insight: the good fairy

    Three emotion regulation systems
    The stress of threat and drive
    Rest and digest
    ※ Contemplating the Three Systems in Your Life
    Getting out of balance

    Restoring the balance

    ※ A Safe Place

    ※ Kindness Meditation: Yourself

    Suiting your soothing system

    ※ A Pleasure Walk

    ※ Calendar: Soothing System

    Summary and Suggestions for Practice

    2. Embracing inner demons

    Session Two: Threat and self-compassion

    Exploring inner landscapes

    ※ Compassionately Dealing with Resistance

    Outer and inner threats

    Three components of self-compassion

    ※ The Self-Compassion Mantra

    ※ The Breathing Space with Compassion

    Tend and befriend

    Me-first, you-first or we-together

    Survival of the kindest

    Pathways to self-compassion

    ※ A Hand on Your Heart
    When compassion itself seems to be the demon

    A gentle pace

    Wobbles on the way

    Using imagery

    ※ A Compassionate Companion

    ※ Kindness Meditation: A Benefactor

    ※ Calendar: Threat System

    Summary and Suggestions for Practice

    3. Treating habits kindly
    Session Three: Untangling desires and patterns

    Ulysses’ courage

    ※ Compassionately Dealing with Desire


    Why we can’t get no satisfaction

    Habits and patterns

    Three basic modes

    Love thy inner critic as thyself

    Self-conscious emotions

    Don’t kill the messengers
    ※ Compassionately Dealing with Inner Patterns

    Comfort zones without comfort

    Befriending inner patterns

    Taking a more scenic route
    ※ Kindness Meditation: A Good Friend

    ※ Calendar: Drive System
    Summary and Suggestions for Practice

    4. Out of the mud into the light
    Session Four: Embodying compassion

    Flow directions of compassion

    Pretend play

    ※ Doing as If

    ※ Embodying Compassion
    The Lotus of Compassion
    Feeding an inner helper
    ※ Kindness Meditation: A Neutral Person

    ※ Kindness for The Body

    Mindful Movement

    ※ Examples of Mindful Movement
    ※ Walking with Kindness

    ※ Calendar: Inner Critic
    Summary and Suggestions for Practice

    5. Receiving and giving with every breath
    Session Five: Self and others – Widening the circle

    ‘Dear Self’

    ※ A Compassionate Letter
    Who are you?

    The problem with over-identifying

    ‘Selfing’ on autopilot or by choice

    ※ Kindness Meditation: A ‘Difficult’ Person
    Notes on Kindness Meditation

    Challenges in Kindness Meditation

    A wordless alternative
    ※ Compassionate Breathing: Yourself
    Building resilience

    ※ Compassionate Breathing: Others

    ※ The Breathing Space with Compassionate Breathing
    ※ Calendar: Inner Helper

    Summary and Suggestions for Practice

    6. Making friends for life
    Session Six: Growing happiness

    Kissing joy as it flies
    Revisiting the Good

    Three doors to happiness

    Four Friends for Life

    Giving peace a chance

    ※ Forgiving Yourself

    ※ Asking Forgiveness

    ※ Forgiving Others

    Gratitude: The memory of the heart

    ※ Gratitude
    ※ The Silver Lining
    ※ Your Values

    ※ Kindness Meditation: All Beings

    ※ Calendar: Receiving Compassion

    Summary and Suggestions for Practice

    Silent Session
    ※ An Appreciative Body Scan
    ※ The Horse Whisperer

    7. Heartful mind, mindful heart
    Session Seven: Weaving wisdom and compassion into daily life

    ※ A Day in Your Life

    Draining or sustaining

    Egosystem or ecosystem

    From formal to informal practice

    ※ The Breathing Space for Wise Compassionate Action

    Action in deed

    Practical ethics

    ※ Equanimity Meditation

    ※ Sympathetic Joy Meditation

    Caring for the future

    ※ A Compassionate Prevention Plan

    ※ Calendar: Giving Compassion

    Summary and Suggestions for Practice

    8. Healing life
    Session Eight: Living with heart

    A crack in everything

    Wounded healers

    ※ The River of Life

    At home wherever you go
    Tending your inner garden
    Further support
    Spreading your wings
    Summary and Suggestions for Practice

    List of audio downloads

    List of worksheet downloads

    Further reading


    About the authors


    Erik van den Brink studied medicine in Amsterdam and trained to become a psychiatrist in the UK. He has extensive experience in meditation and specialised in mindfulness-based and compassion focussed approaches to mental health.

    Frits Koster is a vipassana meditation teacher and certified mindfulness teacher and healthcare professional. He has taught mindfulness and compassion in healthcare settings for many years. . He studied Buddhist psychology for six years as a monk in Southeast Asia.

    Victoria Norton is a qualified MBSR and MBCL trainer with a professional background in teaching and communications management.

    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, tarabrach.com.

    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 (Piatkus, 2008) and co-author (with Danny Penman) of Mindfulness for Health (Piatkus, 2013).

    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 (Routledge, 2009).

    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 (Shambhala, 2012).

    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 with specialist interest in Mindfulness-based Supervision, 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; Certified teacher and teacher trainer with the Center for Mindful Self-Compassion.