1st Edition

Mindful Communication Speaking and Listening with Wisdom and Compassion

Edited By Frits Koster, Jetty Heynekamp, Victoria Norton Copyright 2023
    160 Pages 6 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    160 Pages 6 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    Skilful communication and warm connection are needed today more than ever before. This book explores the potential of mindfulness skills, and how they can be applied to communication in a range of settings.

    Experienced mindfulness teachers and trainers Frits Koster, Jetty Heynekamp and Victoria Norton provide an outline of the mechanisms underlying mindful communication while a selection of experts presents a concise overview of six communication programs that are becoming well-known in the mindfulness world. They describe the background and structure of each course and offer tasters in the form of short exercises and online audio downloads. Each chapter is followed up by further resources, reading lists and web addresses.

    Mindful Communication will be of interest to professionals in mental health, social care, education and to anyone who wishes to listen and speak with more wisdom and compassion.


    Alison Evans


    Ernst Bohlmeijer


    How this book came about

    1. Introduction The value of mindful communication
    Frits Koster, Jetty Heynekamp and Victoria Norton

    2. Nonviolent Communication Mindfulness and compassion in relationships
    Oren Jay Sofer and Sietske de Haan

    3. Interpersonal Mindfulness Awakening together

    Erik van den Brink

    4. Green Zone Communication Our day-to-day conversations as mindfulness practice

    Gregory Heffron, Esther Hasselman and Chris Trani

    5. Mindfulness and Communication Creating a space to coexist

    Edel Maex

    6. Deep Listening Transforming communication

    Rosamund Oliver and Chantal Bergers

    7. Experiences with Open Dialogue Mindfulness and the dialogic practice, on the way to insight

    Russell Razzaque, Heleen Wadman, Kwok H. Wong and Olaf Galisch


    Frits Koster lived as a Buddhist monk in Asia for six years. He is a qualified MBSR, MBCL and IMP teacher and teaches mindfulness and compassion internationally. He is the co-author of various books (Silkworm Books and Routledge). See www.compassionateliving.info or www.fritskoster.com.

    Jetty Heynekamp is a qualified physiotherapist who has been practising insight meditation since 1982. She is a certified mindfulness teacher and leads meditation retreats and communication workshops with her husband Frits Koster. She is the co-author of several books.

    Victoria Norton is a certified mindfulness teacher whose professional background is in teaching and communications management.

    ‘I am delighted to recommend this valuable collection of teachings on mindful communication. If there is one thing to be learned during these times of great disruption it is that the key to resilient relationships and societies lies in our capacity for authentic dialogue. This is an essential need that all human beings share … to be recognized, valued and affirmed in our fundamental goodness. Yet, in this age of disembodied social media, while chats go on all the time, we are often left feeling more isolated and discouraged. Thank goodness there is a rise of interest in mindfulness, compassion and now these specific instructions about how to open our hearts and minds with each other in genuine communication. Thank you Frits, Jetty and Victoria and to all the authors! I am confident this book will benefit countless people.’

    Susan Gillis Chapman is a retired Family Therapist, Dharma-teacher, author of The Five Keys To Mindful Communication (2012) and Founder of Green Zone Communication.

    ‘It is wonderful that Frits Koster, Jetty Heynekamp and Victoria Norton have edited this excellent and very timely book on Mindful Communication. In our digital, disembodied and stressful world, where it’s hard to know whom to trust and to find the time for deeper and more meaningful communication, this book has been sorely needed. Now at last we have a practical guide on how to take things deeper and further with one another. With so many people already familiar with mindfulness practices, at least in principal, this invaluable guide can help us all to take some next important steps on the journey.’

    Michael Chaskalson, MA, author of Mindfulness in Eight Weeks (2014) and co-author (with Dr. Megan Reitz) of Mind Time (2018). Professor of Practice adjunct at Hult International Business School (Ashridge) and Associate at the Møller Institute, Churchill College in the University of Cambridge.

    ‘This is a treasure trove of wisdom from a diversity of teachers sharing a diversity of approaches, held together by a common aspiration to enable us all to cultivate our skills in communicating mindfully. As a species we deeply need wise guidance on how we can integrate compassion and care into our social and relational networks. Let’s share this book widely and put into practice the wisdom it offers us!’

    Rebecca Crane, PhD, Director, Professor, Centre for Mindfulness Research and Practice, Bangor University, UK, author of Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (2017) and editing author (with Karunavira and Gemma Griffith) of Essential Resources for Mindfulness Teachers (2021).

    ‘We are born without our consent or choice, created by DNA, with minds that are responsible for the most amazing compassion but also for the most sadistic cruel and terrifying actions. Despite appeals by many of the contemplative traditions that it is essential we understand the nature of our mind and take responsibility for what they do, it has only been in the last few decades that western science and education have started to explore this as a serious possibility. For too long we have been left ignorant of our minds and vulnerable to the suffering of mental health problems, selfish and anti-social behaviour. However, within schools and workplaces and the flourishing of internet based self-training, this is beginning to change. It is therefore a delight, a pleasure and excitement to be able to recommend this wonderfully insightful and practical book that lays out some of the key challenges and opportunities for mindful awareness and compassionate action training. Bringing together some of the top international contributors in the mind training world, I for one will be referring to this book for many years to come and I'm sure others will too.’

    Paul Gilbert, OBE, Professor, author of Compassion Focused Therapy (2010b), co-author (with Choden) of Mindful Compassion (2015) and co-editor (with Gregoris Simos) of Compassion Focused Therapy: Clinical Practice and Applications (2022).

    ‘We all want good relationships at home and at work, but that’s often challenging. Relationships are built from interactions, and interactions are built from communications. The authors of this ground-breaking book show us many ways to communicate honestly and effectively, even during emotionally intense conflicts. With many examples, they bring together the power of mindfulness, deep listening, compassion, and skillful assertiveness. Written with great clarity and depth, this is an excellent guidebook to harmonious, fulfilling, and productive relationships.’

    Rick Hanson, PhD, Senior Fellow of UC Berkeley's Greater Good Science Center, author of Resilient: How to Grow an Unshakable Core of Calm, Strength, and Happiness (2018) and other books on positive neuroplasticity.

    ‘This wonderful book explores the art of human communication and connection, and in doing so, takes us to the heart of what our minds most need for healing, growth, and for facing the challenges of daily life.’

    Charlie Heriot-Maitland, PhD, DClinPsy, Clinical Psychologist and Director of Balanced Minds, and co-author (with Eleanor Longden) of Relating to Voices using Compassion Focused Therapy (2022).

    ‘This book teaches us interpersonal meditative skills, based on both ancient techniques and modern science to foster our ability to reconnect to others, which seems crucial in these times of polarization, me-first and us-against-them attitudes.’

    Rogier Hoenders, MD, PhD, psychiatrist, director of the Center for Integrative Psychiatry, Lentis, Groningen and chair of the Dutch consortium for integrative medicine and health.

    ‘If you want to cultivate wisdom and compassion in your relationships, this book offers an accessible and practical guide to getting started. An inspiring collection of six different approaches to becoming a better listener and a more authentic speaker, I highly recommend this book to anyone who values being truly present with those they care about. In a world riddled with conflict and in our day-to-day challenges of living, our shared humanity depends on our collective ability to connect deeply with each other. This book shows you how, so let it be your next step towards mastering the art of mindful communication.’

    Mark Hopfenbeck is social anthropologist specialising in health and social policy, an assistant professor (and mindfulness teacher) at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU), visiting fellow at London South Bank University (LSBU) and individual partner at the Collaborating Centre for Values-based Practice in Health and Social Care, St Catherine’s College, Oxford University. He is the co-editor of The Practical Handbook of Hearing Voices (with Isla Parker and Joachim Schnackenberg, 2021), The Practical Handbook of Eating Difficulties (with James Downs et al., 2022) and The Practical Handbook of Living Well with Dementia (with Isla Parker and Richard Coaten, 2022).

    ‘A quality that defines humanity is our capacity for complex communication. But in today’s modern world how we communicate with each other has transformed, and not necessarily for the better. We have almost forgotten what it means to be with, listen and share. In this comprehensive book editors Koster, Heynekamp, and Norton present six mindful communication programmes that ground us in these most fundamental human qualities of connection and communication. If you want to improve your communication and how you connect with others, this book is a must have.’

    James Kirby, PhD, Clinical Psychologist, Co-Director of the Compassionate Mind Research Group, School of Psychology, The University of Queensland, Australia.

    ‘This book lets the diamond of mindful communication shine, from various perspectives. A valuable resource to create better human communication.’

    Wibo Koole, director of Centrum voor Mindfulness, The Netherlands and author of Mindful Leadership (2014).

    ‘We are a social species – historically our survival depended on being part of a group. We need friendship, good relationships, and love; they are associated with good health. In contrast loneliness and chronic conflict are toxic, associated with many poor health outcomes. This edited collection of original essays draws on ancient wisdom and modern psychology to provide a fresh, engaging and eminently practical set of ideas and tools. It provides a way to realise a vision of the world in which connection, good communication, and, yes love, will enable us to meet the challenges of the next fifty years. This is no surprise given the authors’ commitment over many years to developing these ideas through deep professional and personal experience, and first and foremost an embodiment of the ideas they extol. It is a stepwise development for the field, applying what we know about mindfulness to communication.’

    Willem Kuyken, Ritblat Professor of Mindfulness and Psychological Science, University of Oxford and co-author (with Christina Feldman) of Mindfulness: Ancient Wisdom Meets Modern Psychology (2019).

    ‘May this book allow many to see clearly and live with awareness of awakening together.’

    Florence Meleo-Meyer, Assistant Professor of the Practice, Program Director, Global Relations and Professional Education, Mindfulness Center, Brown University School of Public Health, USA.

    ‘As social beings, people have a deep need to connect with each other. But communicating can be both healing and harming. This book explores how mindfulness and compassion can contribute to people communicating with each other in a more wholesome way. Inspiring examples are offered, from different perspectives, to apply in daily practice. For everyone who is interacting with human beings - and who isn’t - this book is warmly recommended. I think our society is in need of this more than ever before …’

    Anne Speckens, professor of psychiatry and founder and director of Radboudumc Centre for Mindfulness in Nijmegen, the Netherlands.

    ‘I particularly enjoyed how accessible the book is, with lots of simple examples and a collection of ideas I had some familiarity with but presented in a fresh way with easy to use resources. Imagine how much better the world of corporate work could be if the CEO or human resource manager about to have a difficult conversation used some of these approaches.’

    Fionnuala Tennyson, Senior Communication Consultant whose former roles include Director of Communications at Kraft Foods Europe, Coca-Cola Enterprises and Chief of Strategic Communications at the United Nations World Food Programme.

    ‘Through mindful communication, the emotional ripples of presence, understanding, empathy, help and support spread out and are replicated across our communities and societies. We desperately need mindful communication, presence and compassion at this point in our evolution, to rise to the challenges we face. This wonderful book offers a powerful and practical guide to helping each of us develop those deep and essential capacities.’

    Michael West, CBE, is Senior Visiting Fellow at The King's Fund, London and Professor of Organisational Psychology at Lancaster University. His latest books include The Courage of Compassion (with Suzie Baily & Ethan Williams, 2020) and Compassionate Leadership (2021).