Compassion is a quality that can be cultivated as a response to suffering. It is a process that starts with the recognition of suffering, which gives rise to thoughts and feelings of empathy and concern, then a desire to see the relief of that suffering, and finally a willingness to help relieve that suffering when possible.

As humans, we have a natural capacity for compassion – and most of us notice at times that we experience limits to our compassion. Stress, life experiences, and social pressures can suppress our access to our natural compassion, making it hard at times to find compassion for others, and especially for ourselves.

Research is showing that we can train ourselves to develop more access and expression of healthy and sustainable compassion. Compassion is a mindset that can be trained, given patience, care, the proper tools and a supportive environment. Fortunately, many of the tools and the components to a conducive environment have been figured out and made available to us through the work at CCARE at Stanford University on Compassion Cultivation Training (CCT). The 8 week CCT class series provides this environment and a set of tools to help you get started to develop a daily practice and bring a compassionate perspective to your life and relationships.

Compassion training is a process of training our minds, using scientifically researched exercises and practices to develop specific skills in how we relate to ourselves, others and how to consciously cultivate compassionate feelings, thoughts, and ultimately actions. Developing a compassionate attitude can greatly reduce the distress we may feel in difficult situations, and can become a profound personal resource in times of stress. This practice can support many aspects of our lives, including personal and professional relationships, and our general sense of health, happiness and well being.