Eight-week course in CCT

An 8-week course

Compassion Cultivation Training (CCT) is an 8-week program proven to increase ones ability to tolerate difficult emotions and accept suffering in ourselves and others.

The program includes training in compassion for one’s own suffering as well as the suffering of others (including a loved one, a stranger, a difficult person, and all living beings). While the foundation of compassion training is rooted in mindfulness (the paying attention to the present moment without judgement), the focus within compassion training is to notice and pay attention to suffering - thereby becoming motivated to relieve that suffering.

Emotional and mental well-being

CCT introduces a variety of skills and techniques for emotional and mental well-being and is designed to promote qualities of compassion and empathy, and to cultivate kindness towards self, others and difficult people. Developed at Stanford University in 2009, an increasing number of studies show that Compassion Cultivation Training has a number of positive effects on our well-being.

The Danish Center for Mindfulness is the first to offer courses in Denmark, just as the Center now offers the CCT teacher-training in cooperation with the Compassion Institute. Following completion, participants will receive certification from CCARE at Stanford University, Compassion Institute and Aarhus University.  

CCT-certified psychologist Nanja Holland Hansen is the primary teacher. She also researches whether CCT reduces psychological distress in informal caregivers of people with a mental illness.

See Nanja's bio here: 

About Compassion and Compassion meditation

Compassion is often defined as the feeling that arises when we witness someone suffering and we feel motivated to help. Thupten Jinpa, a former Tibetan munk and founder of Compassion Cultivation Training (CCT), names four components of Compassion.

1) An awareness of suffering (cognitive component)

2) Sympathetic concern related to being emotionally moved by suffering (affective component)

3) A wish to see the relief of that suffering (intentional component)

4) A responsiveness or readiness to help relieve that suffering (motivational component).

Compassion meditation

The intention of compassion meditation is to cultivate a compassionate response to the suffering within ourselves and others. It is typically set up as a gradual progression, where you start by cultivating compassion for a loved one, followed by a stranger or someone you don’t know well, to a difficult person, and eventually all sentient beings. Despite variations in methodology, the practice follows three steps:

1. Envisioning suffering (or imagine a time when a person experienced suffering).

2. Mindful attention to reactions of suffering (where nonjudgmental attention is brought to the bodily sensations, thoughts, and feelings that arise as a response to the imagery of a person suffering).

3. Cultivating compassion (where feelings of kindness and care for the person is cultivated along with a wish that the person be free of the suffering).

Loving-kindness

The methodology and structure of compassion meditation often includes the cultivation of loving-kindness, which is the wish for others to experience joy and happiness. This is especially true for the Western-based compassion programs, which are at the foundation for much of the research being conducted on the benefits of compassion training. Because of this, the terms compassion mediation and compassion training refer to the same phenomenon – a meditative technique which include both the cultivation of compassion and loving-kindness.

Research on Compassion training

Research shows that Compassion training can enhance and sustain mental and physical health.

1) A systemic review by Shonin et al. from 2015 shows that compassion interventions may be effective in treating mental health issues. The authors concluded that the interventions showed effect in:

  • improvement in psychological distress,
  • improvement in levels of positive and negative affect
  • improvement in the frequency and intensity of positive thoughts and emotions
  • improvement in empathetic accuracy and interpersonal skills.

2) In a systematic review from 2011 by Hoffman et al., authors found that Compassion training was associated with:

  • reduction in stress and subjective distress
  • increased immune response
  • improvements in the activation of brain areas involved in processing emotions and empathy.

3) Studies on Compassion training has found positive effects on:

  • heart rate variability
  • cortisol reactivity
  • blood pressure
  • positive affect and social connection
  • emotion regulation skills
  • interpersonal and social relationships.