Compassion Can Be Expanded and Developed
CBCT® Cognitively-Based Compassion Training is a system of contemplative exercises designed to strengthen and sustain compassion. Practices include training in attentional stability and increased emotional awareness, as well as targeted analytical reflections to understand better one’s relationship with self and others. The reflective exercises seek critical insights into the way one’s mindsets and attitudes can be shifted to support personal resiliency, to foster an inclusive and more accurate understanding of others, and ultimately to intensify altruistic motivation. With practice, informed compassion can become a spontaneous response that permeates one’s life.
An overview of CBCT presented by its founder, Executive Director Lobsang Tenzin Negi, PhD, and Timothy Harrison, Associate Director for CBCT. The presentation was part of the Omega Institute’s “Compassion in Connection” symposium in November 2018 and covers CBCT’s history, theoretical basis, research programs, and an introductory practice.
About the Instructor
Lisa DuPont, M.S. ( Gyalten Chime) has over 25 years of experience as a psychologist, providing counseling, psycho-educational assessments and consultation for children and families and professionals in schools. She has been ordained in the Tibetan Buddhism tradition for many years. Lisa ( or “Chimey” as she is known in the local Buddhist community) has a background in the application of modern psychology/neuroscience and in Buddhist study and meditation, including Lojong practice, from which CBCT® draws its contemplative exercises.
Lisa has a passion for secular training & uses CBCT® as a tool in universal education for anyone of any walk of life who wants to learn how to draw forth their natural capacity to develop more kindness and compassionate toward oneself and others. She teaches CBCT® in Santa Cruz, California.
How it Works
CBCT®- Cognitively Based Compassion Training
CBCT® is an evidence-based program used in various clinical, medical and educational settings that helps people develop the important life skill of compassion~ toward self and others.
CBCT consists of a series of classes that address:
1) learning theory & research on compassion,
2) guided practice of attentional stability meditations, and then
gradually adding structured contemplative exercises that are designed to deliberately and systematically cultivate genuine compassion for oneself and others.
3) A blend of an ancient eastern meditation tradition (lojong) which has interfaced with solid scientific research.
Studies show its multiple biomarker and social benefits including higher personal resiliency, more satisfaction and contentment and a greater capacity for empathy and compassion.
CBCT® is a secular ethics training that has roots in Buddhist psychology yet is not religious. It’s applicable to anyone of any walk of life. The program was developed at Emory University and is used in various medical and educational institutions.
One engages in progressive contemplative exercises that help the participant gain insight and awareness of how one’s attitudes and behaviors are either supporting or hindering a compassionate response toward oneself and others in relation to life’s ups and downs.
The program ( taught over 8 weeks) consists of 6 modules:
Modules 1 & 11: Attentional Stability and Awareness of the Mind- one learns how to stabilize attention on the breath in Module I and in Module II develop moment to moment awareness of one’s inner life ( thoughts, feeling, memories, sensations). This practice improves calmness of mind and provides insight into habitual mental patterns.
Module III: Self compassion is taught over a few weeks and is based on insights from each previous class. This form of self-care teaches internal ways to create more sustaining self care. In these weeks, we examine the basis of distress and dissatisfaction in our lives and how to cultivates realistic and positive approaches toward ourselves. With a kind approach to oneself, one exchanges unhelpful attitudes and behaviors with ones that foster increasing self care, well being and satisfaction.
Module IV: Cultivating Impartiality Humans are social beings and biologically rely on relationships for our well-being. This practice examines habitual ways of thinking about others that can keep us stuck in patterned ways of relating. Through contemplative exercises, we expand our capacity to see others as similar to one self on the most basic level, thus opening the door to a more inclusive kind of compassion.
Module V: Appreciation and Affection for Others This practice starts by examining our interconnections with others for even our most basic needs, and expands from there, thus cultivating deeper appreciation for the many forms of this basic
kindness, whether intended or not that others provide us. We consider the drawbacks of an unrealistic, overly independent, sometimes isolated sense of self in the world. We spend time reflecting on the daily and long-term gifts of the broader society, and a natural, more expansive affection for others tends to come forth.
Module VI: Empathy and Engaged Compassion Based on insights fostered in earlier contemplative practices, we start to see others in a broader sense, as we further value others’ pursuit of happiness, allowing a genuine wish for them as we have for ourselves. CBCT practitioners cultivate a deep empathy for the distress and difficulties experienced by so many yet we learn to remain on a firm foundation of calm and insight. Only by the support of our own inner strength from the earlier practices of CBCT, we can then begin to engage in a healthy form of empathy that engenders true endearment. We can focus our attention onto powerful constructive attitudes and prepare ourselves to engage when possible, in the alleviation of the pain and suffering of others.
What to Expect
What to Expect from CBCT® Classes:
This 8-week class combines neuroscience, Western & Buddhist psychology and meditation with an emphasis on the step-by-step contemplative exercises that anyone can learn in order to further develop empathy and compassion for oneself and others.
Three entire weeks are dedicated to self-compassion as it is a vital step to expanding compassion out toward others.
There are group activities, discussions and slide show presentations in addition to meditations.
It takes time to develop the skills you’ll learn in this program. The eight weeks are barely enough time to learn the concepts and the contemplative meditations in a step-by-step process, therefore a commitment to the class is required. It is not a drop-in class. Attendants are also asked to commit to 10- 15 minutes a day of practice at home.
If you feel you cannot commit that time to the class, it is better to wait and take it when you can devote the time because each week builds on skills learned from the previous week, plus consistent attendance is important for group cohesion and support.
Emory University charges more for this program. Santa Cruz Compassion, which is an affiliate of Emory, has reduced the cost significantly to make it available to more people. Sorry, there are no further reductions available.
Some folks have shared that this training has been life changing. It is different for each person. As with any new skill, the more you put into it, the more you get out of it. Thus, it largely depends on you. People often report that they feel more connected to themselves and others. Some say that they now live a more open-hearted life.
Research on CBCT
Some of the Published Research conducted on CBCT- Cognitively Based Compassion Training:
• Thaddeus W. W. Pace, Lobsang Tenzin Negi, Daniel D. Adame, Steven P. Cole,
Teresa I. Sivilli, Timothy D. Brown, Michael J. Issa, Charles L. Raison.
(2009). Effect of compassion meditation on neuroendocrine, innate immune and
behavioral responses to psychosocial stress. Psychoneuroendocrinology, 34:
• Thaddeus W. W. Pace, Lobsang Tenzin Negi, Brooke Dodson-Lavelle, Brendan
Ozawa-de Silva, Sheethal D. Reddy, Steven P. Cole, Andrea Danese, Linda W.
Craighead, Charles L. Raison. (2013). Engagement with Cognitively-Based
Compassion Training is associated with reduced salivary C-reactive protein from
before to after training in foster care program adolescents. Psychoneuroendocrinology, 38: 294–299.
• Sheethal D. Reddy, Lobsang Tenzin Negi, Brooke Dodson-Lavelle, Brendan
Ozawa-de Silva, Thaddeus W. W. Pace, Steve P. Cole, Charles L. Raison, Linda
W. Craighead. (2013). Cognitive-Based Compassion Training: A Promising
Prevention Strategy for At-Risk Adolescents. Journal of Child and Family
Studies, 22: 219–230.
• Gaëlle Desbordes, Lobsang T. Negi, Thaddeus W. W. Pace, B. Alan Wallace,
Charles L. Raison, Eric L. Schwartz. (2012). Effects of mindful-attention and
compassion meditation training on amygdala response to emotional stimuli in an
ordinary, non-meditative state. Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, 6.
• Jennifer S. Mascaro, James K. Rilling, Lobsang Tenzin Negi, and Charles L.
Raison. (2012). Compassion meditation enhances empathic accuracy and
related neural activity. Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience, 8: 48–55.
• Brendan R. Ozawa-de Silva, Brooke Dodson-Lavelle, Charles L. Raison,
Lobsang Tenzin Negi. (2012). Scientific and Practical Approaches to the
Cultivation of Compassion as a Foundation for Ethical Subjectivity and Well-
Being. Journal of Healthcare, Science, and the Humanities, 2:145-161.
• T. Pace, L. Negi, B. Donaldson-Lavelle, B. Ozawa-de Silva, S. Reddy, S. Cole, L.
Craighead, C. Raison. (2012). Cognitively-Based Compassion Training reduces
peripheral inflammation in adolescents in foster care with high rates of early life
adversity. BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine, 12(Suppl 1):175.
• Thaddeus W. W. Pace, Lobsang Tenzin Negi, Teresa I. Sivilli, Michael J. Issa,
Steven P. Cole, Daniel D. Adame, Charles L. Raison. (2010). Innate immune,
neuroendocrine and behavioral responses to psychosocial stress do not predict
subsequent compassion meditation practice time. Psychoneuroendocrinology,
• Sally E. Dodds, Thaddeus W. W. Pace, Melanie L. Bell, Mallorie Fiero, Lobsang
Tenzin Negi, Charles L. Raison, Karen L. Weihs. (2015). Feasibility of
Cognitively-Based Compassion Training (CBCT) for breast cancer survivors: a
randomized, wait list controlled pilot study. Support Care Cancer, 23(12):3599–
608. DOI: 10.1007/s00520-015-2888-1.
• Jennifer S. Mascaro, Sean Kelley, Alana Darcher, Lobsang Tenzin Negi, Carol
Worthman, Andrew Miller & Charles Raison. (2016). Meditation buffers medical
student compassion from the deleterious effects of depression. Journal of
Positive Psychology. DOI: 10.1080/17439760.2016.1233348.
What the Community is Saying About CBCT
Brenda Ochoa, M.S.W
CBCT, facilitated by Lisa DuPont was nothing short of nourishing! Collectively, as community members, we gathered to exercise our mental muscles in a fun & educational way, leading to a deeper & more compassionate understanding of ourselves."
Alex S., Teacher and Parent
"I learned how to stop chasing external things for happiness, stop fixing others and instead care for myself from the inside out. Slowly, I learned how to calm my mind, root out the mental habits that did not help me, become kinder to myself and then I could see was I really ready to , turn all that kindness out toward others. My family and students notice a big change in me. "
Ellen Adams, M.S, LMFT
"As a therapist with a long-standing meditation practice, I decided to learn C.B.C.T. Ms DuPont, Venerable Gyalten Chime, is a confident, caring teacher with a deep connection to both modern Western psychology and traditional Tibetan Buddhist principles, the perfect combination for teaching C.B.C.T. ! Ms DuPont and I had worked in adjunct and clients which I referred to her program came away with less depressive and anxious thoughts and an increased sense of well-being."
Michael J., Horticulturist
"Fabulous! I've taken Chime's classes a few times and continue with a small group of students who meet with her in an advanced class. I live my life now with more delight and full-hearted living! This is an indispensable and precious life skill training!"