Mindfulness involves learning to be more aware of life as it unfolds moment by moment, even if these moments bring us difficulty, pain or suffering. This is a challenge we will all face at some time in our lives, and which health professionals face every day in their work. The Mindfulness-Based Compassionate Living programme presents a new way of learning how to face the pressures of modern living by providing an antidote which teaches us how to cultivate kindness and compassion – starting with being kind to ourselves.
Compassion involves both sensitivity to our own and others’ suffering and the courage to deal with it. Integrating the work of experts in the field such as Paul Gilbert, Kristin Neff, Christopher Germer and Tara Brach, Erik van den Brink and Frits Koster have established an eight stage step-by-step compassion training programme, supported by practical exercises and free audio downloads, which builds on basic mindfulness skills. Grounded in ancient wisdom and modern science, they demonstrate how being compassionate shapes our minds and brains, and benefits our health and relationships. The programme will be helpful to many, including people with various types of chronic or recurring mental health problems, and can be an effective means of coping better with low self-esteem, self-reproach or shame, enabling participants to experience more warmth, safeness, acceptance and connection with themselves and others.
Mindfulness-Based Compassionate Living will be an invaluable manual for mindfulness teachers, therapists and counsellors wishing to bring the ‘care’ back into healthcare, both for their clients and themselves. It can also be used as a self-help guide for personal practice.
Table of Contents
Endorsements. Gilbert, Foreword. Maex, Preface to the first Dutch edition. Introduction. Part I Approaches to suffering. Old Truths. The Diagnosis. The Cause. The Prognosis. The Treatment. Modern Myths. The Myth of Controllability. The Myth of Specific Remedies. The Myth of Dependence of Professionals. The Myth of Freedom From Values. Timeless Values. ‘Put Everything to the Test and Keep What is Good’. ‘Treat Others as You Want to be Treated Yourself’. ‘There is More Right Than Wrong With us’. Causes and Remedies. Causes of Suffering: A Meeting Between East and West. Liberation From Suffering: a Marriage Between East and West. From Mindfulness Training to Compassion Training. Mindfulness Training in Health Care. Compassion Training in Health Care. Research. Correlation Studies: Mindfulness, Self-Compassion and Health. Intervention Studies in Non-Clinical Samples. Intervention Studies in Clinical Samples. The Neurobiology of Compassion. Part II. Compassion Training in Practice. Session 1: Three Emotion Regulation Systems. Why do we Need Compassion? Exercise ‘The Breathing Space With Kindness’ The Evolution of Our Brain and Our Capacity to be Compassionate. The Threat, Drive and Soothing System. Exercise ‘The Three Circles’. A Matter of Balance. Exercise ‘The Safe Place’. Out of Balance: More Stress than Rest. Restoring the Balance. Exercise ‘Kindness Meditation - Yourself’. Exercise ‘Compassion in Sounds, Colours and Scents’. The Symbols of Compassion. Calendar Exercise ‘The Soothing System’. Session 2: Stress Reactions and Self-Compassion. Flight, Flight, Freeze. Exercise ‘Compassionately Dealing With Resistance’. Tend and Befriend. Self-Compassion as a Response to Emotional Pain. Acceptance of Pain and Ways to Self-Compassion. Exercise ‘A Hand on Your Heart’. Survival of the Nurtured. Exercise ‘The Breathing Space With Compassion’ - Coping With Emotional Pain. Dealing With Obstacles. Image … Imagination as Skillful Means. Exercise ‘The Compassionate Companion’. Backdraft – How Self-Compassion Can Evoke Old Hurts. Calendar Exercise ‘The Threat System’. Session 3: Inner Patterns. Exercise ‘Compassionately Dealing With Desire’. Which Mode is Predominant? The Hunger For Self-Esteem. The Inner Bully. Shame and Shyness. Guilt. Exercise ‘Recognising Inner Patterns’. Naming Inner Patterns. Exercise ‘Kindness Meditation - a Benefactor’. Calendar Exercise ‘The Drive System’. Session 4: The Compassion Mode. The Circle of Compassion. Exercise ‘The Compassion Mode’. Just Fooling Ourselves? Exercise ‘Kindness Meditation - a Good Friend’. Exercise ‘Kindness Meditation - a Neutral Person’. Exercise ‘Kindness For the Body’. Movement Exercises With Kindness. Exercise ‘Walking With Kindness’. Calendar Exercise ‘The Inner Bully’. Session 5: Self and Others. Compassion Practice: Self-Transcendent and Relational Aspects. Exercise ‘A Compassionate Letter’. Practising Kindness For Others. Exercise ‘Kindness Meditation - a Difficult Person or Inner Difficulty’. Exercise ‘Compassionate Breathing’. Calendar Exercise ‘The Inner Helper’. Session 6: Happiness For All. Common Humanity. Exercise ‘Forgiveness’. Four Friends For Life. Discovering What Contributes to Happiness. Exercises For Sustainable Happiness. Exercise ‘Kindness Meditation – All Beings’. Calendar Exercise ‘Receiving Compassion’ . Session 7: Compassion in Daily Life. Exercise ‘Equanimity’. Motivation Based on Threat or Drive. Motivation Based on Care. Freedom of Choice. Exercise ‘Discovering Compassion in Daily Life’. From Formal to Informal Practice. Practical Ethics. Exercise ‘A Compassionate Emergency Plan’. Calendar Exercise ‘Giving Compassion’. Session 8: The Healing Power of Compassion. Compassion and Self-Healing. Intimate Connectedness. Boundless Openness. How to Continue. The Compassionate Therapist. The Value of Personal Practice. Therapeutic Use of General Insights. Teaching Compassion Practice to Clients. For Which Clients? By Which Teachers? Guided MBCL-Exercises That Can be Downloaded.
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. He currently works at the Center for Integrative Psychiatry in the Dutch city of Groningen and is a frequently asked guest-teacher at training institutes across Europe. Website: www.mbcl.org.
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. The author of several books, he trains mindfulness teachers across Europe at the Institute for Mindfulness-Based Approaches (IMA). See www.fritskoster.com or www.compassionateliving.info.
"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." - From the Foreword by Paul Gilbert
"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... 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).
"... a compelling guide, skilfully conveying how compassion can be cultivated in the service of relieving suffering." Willem Kuyken, PhD, Professor Clinical Psychology at the University of Exeter. 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).