Living What the Heart Knows: Learners' Perspectives on Compassion Cultivation Training
AuthorWaibel, Alison Kathleen
AdvisorAnders, Patricia L.
Committee ChairAnders, Patricia L.
MetadataShow full item record
PublisherThe University of Arizona.
RightsCopyright © is held by the author. Digital access to this material is made possible by the University Libraries, University of Arizona. Further transmission, reproduction or presentation (such as public display or performance) of protected items is prohibited except with permission of the author.
AbstractDefined as an awareness of suffering coupled with a willingness to do something to relieve suffering, compassion has recently received an incredible amount of attention in popular culture, social media, and academic and scientific research (Jinpa, 2015). Qualitative research is needed to investigate the experiences of adults learning to cultivate compassion. The present study adds to the body of research on compassion by investigating compassion cultivation with first person accounts, and by providing examples of somatic learning, or learning through the body. In this qualitative study, I investigate individuals' perceptions of the course Compassion Cultivation Training (CCT), developed at Stanford University's Center for Compassion and Altruism Research and Education (CCARE). I explore three questions: 1) How do participants find CCT and why do they take the course? 2) How do participants describe the CCT course and their learning experiences? 3) How do participants describe the impact of CCT and integrate what they learned into their daily lives? I conducted 1-hour open-ended interviews with 18 CCT alumni and a qualitative analysis of interview transcripts to identify themes across the data. I identified four cases that exemplify elements of cultivating compassion, including: a case of depression relief, a case of increasing the capacity to stay, a case of dealing with self-criticism and a case of reducing empathy fatigue. I then organized findings across the entire data set into three categories according to my research questions; in each finding, I identified four themes and clustered participants' responses according to themes. Findings indicate that the 18 participants' reasons for taking CCT are diverse, including the desire to connect with others, curiosity about compassion and contemplative science, and the need for compassion in their personal and professional lives. All respondents reported CCT as a powerful and meaningful learning experience, describing the value of learning through the body, through meditation practices, and as a group. Participants attributed substantial positive changes to the course, citing improvements in their relationships to themselves and others, and increased awareness of their own mental and emotional states.
Degree ProgramGraduate College
Language, Reading & Culture