by Sara Schairer
“Compassion Cultivation Training (CCT) helped me create more ‘space’ with myself and when dealing with others. Space = patience, acceptance, better listening and more awareness.” -Recent CCT student
What is CCT? According to the course creators at Stanford University’s Center for Compassion and Altruism Research and Education:
“Compassion Cultivation Training is an eight-week educational program designed to help you improve your resilience and feel more connected to others—ultimately providing an overall sense of well-being. CCT combines traditional contemplative practices with contemporary psychology and scientific research to help you lead a more compassionate life. Through instruction, daily meditation, mindfulness, and in-class interaction, you can strengthen the qualities of compassion, empathy, and kindness.”
Becoming a certified teacher of CCT was not a walk in the park. It took well over a year for me to complete the teacher-training program. My classmates and I attended retreats each quarter, and on top of that we learned about compassion through quarter-long classes at Stanford (Science of Compassion, Philosophical Perspectives of Compassion and Perspectives on the Practice of Teaching). I taught the full eight-week CCT course under supervision as my final task this past fall.
My heart swells with joy as I reflect back on leading my first group of students through the CCT journey. Individuals from all walks of life came together, because they were curious about cultivating compassion for themselves and for others. We explored how to view the world through a compassionate lens that doesn’t discriminate or judge, and we talked about why sometimes that seems like an impossible feat.
At the end of the eight weeks, I truly felt like my students learned valuable tools that helped them to be present with suffering. Because we’re human, we often run away when see someone suffering, or we put up imaginary walls and pretend it doesn’t exist. This is especially the case when we, personally, experience suffering. Thanks to CCT, my students and I are better-equipped to stay put with suffering and offer compassion to ourselves and others.
Below are two of the many positive comments I received from my Compassion Cultivation Training students.
“The common humanity experience helped me so much. I’m changing the way I see my life, the world and all people – they are ‘just like me.’”
“The bottom line is that when I feel irritated or judgmental of myself or another, I invite myself to practice lovingkindness toward myself and then the other. Powerful!”
Because compassion is my passion, I try my best to lead my classes with energy, warmth and compassion (with some humor thrown in there, too). I truly hope to teach CCT to as many people as possible, because I believe my students are able to lead by example and share their own compassionate wisdom with others. This ripple effect could be tremendous for our world.
Sara Schairer is the founder and CEO of COMPASSION IT, a start-up nonprofit organization and global social movement whose mission is to inspire daily compassionate actions. She invented the one-of-a-kind reversible COMPASSION IT bracelet that is now creating compassionate actions on six continents, 40+ countries and nearly all 50 states. As a public speaker, Sara encourages her audiences to “compassion it” in their daily lives and pursue their passions. Sara teaches Compassion Cultivation Training (CCT) at the UCSD Center for Mindfulness