Developed at Emory University in 2004 by Geshe Lobsang Tenzin Negi, PhD, CBCT® (Cognitively-Based Compassion Training) is taught over 8 weeks, within 6 "modules," and is based on centuries-old techniques from the Indo-Tibetan tradition. Negi drew from the lojong tradition, a set of meditative practices designed to bring about ‘thought transformation,’ to create this contemporary and secular method. CBCT® is independent from—and in many ways supportive of—any faith or belief system.
CBCT® offers tools to expand compassion toward a wider and wider circles. The practices support the growth of a number of mental states and behaviors valued across cultures, such as kindness, gratitude, generosity, and warm-heartedness, while avoiding related distress from empathic fatigue.
The fundamental premise is that compassion is a trait that can be developed and expanded. This view is supported by contemporary science as well as by most spiritual traditions. Emory Studies have shown that CBCT® can significantly increase the ability to interpret other people's facial expressions, leading to increased empathy, which plays a vital role in resilience.
Stability and Clarity
This initial practice trains attentional stability in order to improve mental stability and clarity; typically this is done by placing and retaining focus on the unfolding sensations of the breath and by learning to notice and release distractions as they arise.
Into the Nature of
Still rooted in the present moment, the focus shifts to how mental experiences unfold from moment to moment, neither pushing away such experiences or becoming overly involved in them. This practice improves calmness of mind and provides insight into habitual mental patterns.
Using insights from Module II, this self-care practice examines the basic nature of distress and dissatisfaction and cultivates more realistic and positive approaches to difficult life circumstances. When done with kindness, these practices strengthen the determination to replace unhelpful attitudes with constructive ones, leading to realistic optimism and greater self-determination.
As humans are innately social creatures, relationships are central to well-being. This practice examines habitual ways of thinking about others. Seeing that all people, despite apparent differences, shares a fundamental desire to seek well-being and to avoid distress and dissatisfaction, this practice leads to a greater capacity to see others as similar to one's self on the most basic level, opening the door to a more inclusive compassion..
Appreciation and Affection
By examining how all things that are beneficial depend upon others, this module cultivates an appreciation for this basic kindness, intended or unintended. considering the drawbacks of an unrealistic attitude of independence and isolation, the practitioner reflects on the daily and long-term gifts of the broader society, and a deepening affection is cultivated for others.
Empathy and Engaged Compassion
With the perspectives of seeing each person as equally deserving of happiness and as having great value in their own right, practitioners focus on the difficulties and distress experienced by so many, which naturally invokes an empathic response. When supported by the inner strength developed in earlier modules, this empathy leads to the strong wish to see others free of difficulties and distress and to orient one's core motivation toward the alleviation of the suffering of others.
This course is open to any adult interested in deepening their understanding of the psychology of compassion and the methods for cultivating it. CBCT® training has been found to be beneficial by educators, social workers, medical and mental health professionals, chaplains, and others wishing to build resiliency, improve relationships, enhance interpersonal skills, and/or simply cultivate this universal human value. Appropriate for beginners as well as more experienced contemplative practitioners, no previous meditation experience is necessary.