The Compassion Initiative
“Our task must be to free ourselves... by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature and its beauty” ― Albert Einstein
Compassion is one of the great human virtues, and has long been central to Naropa University’s distinct approach to contemplative education. Increasingly, modern scientific research is providing strong support for the value of secular compassion training, both to enhance personal well-being and to benefit others. Compassion has long been a centerpiece in Naropa’s graduate and undergraduate curriculum, with over 90 courses including modules on compassion. In recognition of these time-tested methods and insights to share about compassion, its cultivation, and its potential for transforming individuals and society, the Compassion Initiative was founded in 2014, a collaboration between Naropa core faculty compassion trainers and compassion researchers.
The Compassion Initiative is a training and research initiative to share compassion practices, teachings, and science with our community and world:
WELCOME: Virtual Mindful Compassion Training (Part I)
Naropa’s WELCOME Training offers a pathway to foster mindfulness alongside loving kindness for yourself, loved ones, and even the difficult people in our lives. Drawing on scientific research findings from neuroscience and psychology, as well as practices and teachings from Buddhism, WELCOME provides a multifaceted view of the power and potential of compassion. Throughout the course, you will be introduced to a series of experiential practices, receive informative suggested readings, and engage in compassionate “fieldwork” to integrate compassion into your personal, social and professional life. Key topics include: Mindfulness · Self-compassion · Loving-kindness · Empathy · Resilient compassion · Embodiment · Burnout · Is compassion always nice?
A Letter of Completion is available to anyone who attends all sessions and completes all practices, readings and fieldwork.
ENGAGE: Advanced Compassion Training for Societal Engagement (Part II)
This training program builds on WELCOME, a training focused primarily on building capacity to care for ourselves, for loved ones, for strangers, and for difficult people. ENGAGE extends this care to the most difficult situations of our lives and of the planet, seeking out trouble spots, pain and trauma, learning to open our hearts to it through “sending and receiving” tonglen meditation, and to build resilience in working with suffering in specific areas our lives.
Pre-requisite: Attendance and completion of the Mindful Compassion Training: WELCOME; a full-semester undergraduate or graduate course at Naropa focused on compassion; or equivalent training (with permission of instructors).
2022 dates to be announced soon.
Mindful Compassion Training offered through Mindful Magazine (self paced)
The Soft Spot: Compassion Blog
Our compassion blog, The Soft Spot, takes its name from Naropa University’s founder, Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche, who spoke of the compassion instinct inherent in our humanity as “the soft spot.” We could be “covered with cast-iron shields, but some sore spot always exists in us, which is fantastic. That sore spot is known as embryonic compassion, potential compassion.” The Soft Spot serves as a central resource for sharing new and exciting knowledge about compassion, relevant events, and compassion science.
“Compassion training not only grows our capacity to offer genuine support for others with greater skillfulness and ease—it also provides us more tools for working with our own challenges, however they may arise.”
Jordan Quaglia, PhD
Jordan Quaglia, PhD, is Associate Professor of Contemplative Psychology, Director of the Cognitive and Affective Science Laboratory, and Research Director of the Center for the Advancement of Contemplative Education at Naropa University. Jordan has served as Panelist for multiple United Nations Day of Vesak conferences, Fellow and Senior Investigator for Mind and Life Summer Research Institute, and Contemplative Social Justice Scholar for Contemplative Mind in Society. His research, supported by funding from the Mind and Life Institute and John Templeton Foundation, has been featured in leading scientific journals and books, and relies on a range of tools, from neuroscientific measures to virtual reality, to study topics such as mindfulness, compassion, and lucidity. For more about Jordan's research: www.CASLaboratory.org