An Open-Hearted Life: Transformative Methods for Compassionate Living from a Clinical Psychologist and a Buddhist Nun
ISBN 10: 1611802113
ISBN 13: 978-1611802115
A beloved Buddhist teacher and a psychologist specializing in Compassion-Focused Therapy (CFT) provide practical methods for living a life filled with compassion.
A life overflowing with compassion. It sounds wonderful in theory, but how do you do it? This guide provides practical methods to living with this wonderful quality, based on traditional Buddhist teachings and on methods from modern psychology--particularly a technique called Compassion-Focused Therapy (CFT). The methods presented by the two authors--a psychotherapist and a Tibetan Buddhist nun--turn out to have a good deal in common. In fact, they complement each other in wonderful ways. Each of the 64 short chapters ends with a reflection or exercise for putting compassion into practice in various life situations.
"A collection of reflections on the practice of compassion in everyday life that provides a recipe for a deeper life and a better world. It is written with minds and hearts wide open."―Daniel Gilbert, Harvard University, author of Stumbling on Happiness
"An Open-Hearted Life offers a powerful synergy of wisdom and practical instruction drawn from Russell Kolts' deep experience with Compassion Focused Therapy and from Ven. Thubten Chodron's lifetime committed to Tibetan Buddhist practice."―Sharon Salzberg, author of Real Happiness and Lovingkindness
"This wonderful book is easy and enjoyable to read, consisting of deep insights into the meaning of compassion and straightforward practices designed to help cultivate an open heart.”―Kristin Neff, PhD, Professor of Educational Psychology, University of Texas at Austin
"With beautifully clear language and examples, the authors show how to make compassion an easy and central part of our lives. Allow this book to work on you, reading it slowly and gently practicing what you learn. It will heal your heart."―Christopher Germer, PhD, author of The Mindful Path to Self-Compassion and clinical instructor at Harvard Medical School
"Bringing Buddhist teachings into partnership with the techniques and insights of contemporary psychotherapy, the authors offer valuable guidelines to living a life with a truly open heart."―Thupten Jinpa, PhD, author of Essential Mind Training
About the Author
RUSSELL KOLTS, PhD, is a licensed clinical psychologist and Professor of Psychology at Eastern Washington University near Spokane, Washington. He is the author of The Compassionate-Mind Guide to Managing Your Anger and and numerous scholarly publications in psychology. Dr. Kolts is an internationally recognized trainer in Compassion-Focused Therapy (CFT) and has pioneered the application of CFT for working with problematic anger.
Venerable THUBTEN CHODRON taught in Los Angeles city schools before she became a Tibetan Buddhist nun in 1977. She has studied closely under the Dalai Lama and many other illustrious teachers in India and Nepal. She is founder and abbess of Sravasti Abbey in Newport, Washington, one of the few Buddhist monasteries in the United States. Active in interfaith dialogue and prison work, she is the author of numerous books.
Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.
4 : Genuine Compassion
Compassion is a quality of mind that can be deliberately cultivated. Unlike mental states that are caused by distorted perceptions and misconceptions, such as anger and greed, compassion is developed with a more rational state of mind that does not exaggerate either the positive or negative aspects of a person, object, idea or situation. Moreover, compassion influences our other thoughts and emotions. Anger, jealousy and contempt can be eliminated through compassion, while mind-states such as love can be purposefully cultivated and deepened.
Compassion is not like a well that will one day run dry. Rather, the more we open our hearts with compassion, the more compassion increases. It is not the case that if we have compassion for one group, there won’t be enough to share with another group. Compassion spreads; the more there is, the more there will be.
Compassion is an internal attitude that may manifest in our behavior. However, compassion is not the behavior itself, for one behavior can be done with different motivations. For example, we may take care of a sick relative because we have genuine affection for him. Conversely, we may care for him because we want to inherit his estate. The action is the same, but the motivations differ. The first motivation is prompted by genuine compassion, the second by self-concern.
Acting with compassion entails being creative and knowing that one behavior is not suitable for all occasions. In some circumstances, we may be compassionate by sharing our possessions; while in others, we may show it by saying, “no’. In this way, compassion must be combined with good judgement to be effective.
As you go through the day, try to be creative in bringing a compassionate intention to the situations you face. For example, when washing dishes, consider that you are doing so that others may eat without contracting disease. When interacting with others, do so with the intention to make their day a bit brighter. Pick a few situations you regularly encounter during the day, and experiment with how you could bring a compassionate intention to the situation and see how it affects your experience of the situation.