What is MBCL?

MBCL is a mindfulness-based programm in the form of an 8-week course that supports the development and training of compassion to enhance mental and physical health. MBCL supports individuals to cultivate a friendly and compassionate attitude toward themselves and others. MBCL exercises also help individuals to experience key aspects of emotional wellbeing including warmth, security, acceptance and connectedness with oneself and others.

Being with vulnerability has touched a deeper layer of self-acceptance. Participant

During the course, individuals are also introduced to some of the background information underlying compassion training, as well as the ways in which it can be anchored in everyday life. A further theme is nurturing compassion with oneself and others in the face of difficult emotions and challenging living situations. MBCL can be particularly supportive for clients living with depression, anxiety, illness, chronic pain and traumatic experience. The MBCL course is suitable as a follow-up course to an MBSR or MBCT programm. It consists of eight weekly sessions of 2.5 to 3 hours and a silent, all-day practice session.

What is Compassion?

A beautiful deepening/continuing of the mindfulness training I teach already. Participant

Compassion is the capacity to feel concern with the pain and suffering of ourselves and others, accompanied by the wish to offer relief. Compassion is a human potential in every individual but may, for various reasons, not have come to blossom. Fortunately, by means of compassion training, compassion can be developed and deepened. This is the aim of MBCL.


Learning Objectives of Module 1

  • To experience the main exercises of MBCL in more depth beyond the foundation course level.
  • To thoroughly review the content of the 8 sessions of an MBCL course.
  • To have a basic understanding of the scientific foundation of compassion training and the theoretical background in western and Buddhist psychology.
  • To review and develop the basic attitudes necessary for working with compassion-focused methods.
  • To have an understanding for which clients compassion training can be helpful.
  • To deepen the practice of mindfulness and clarify its relationship to compassion training.

Content of Module 1

  • The validation of pain and suffering.
  • How our brain has evolved to help us survive and how compassion is a necessity (not a luxury), for our wellbeing and survival.
  • ‘What we did not choose is not our fault.’
  • Insight into the three basic emotion-regulation systems: the threat, drive and soothing systems.
  • The psychological expressions of fight, flight & freeze: self-hatred, self-isolation and over-identification; and their antidotes: self-kindness, common humanity & mindfulness.
  • ‘Tend & befriend’ as a fourth reaction to stress in addition to fight, flight & freeze.
  • How mental images and self-conscious emotions affect the emotion-regulation systems and how compassionate imagery can restore the balance.
  • The inner critic and the inner helper.
  • Developing the compassion mode with its attributes of care for wellbeing and relief of suffering, sensitivity to needs, sympathy, empathy, tolerance of distress and non-judgmental awareness.
  • The balanced cultivation of the four limitless qualities: compassion, loving kindness, joy and equanimity.

Learning Objectives of Module 2

  • Deepening the understanding of the structure and content of MBCL.
  • Learning how to teach the curriculum and how to guide MBCL exercises.
  • Introduction to leading inquiry following exercises.
  • Developing skills of how to present the background theory on compassion training.
  • Deepening one’s personal experience of compassion exercises.

Content of Module 2

  • The structure of MBCL’s 8 sessions will be presented in detail from the teaching perspective.
  • The content and structure of compassion-focused exercises will be reviewed and practiced.
  • Participants will have more practice guiding MBCL exercises as well as leading compassionate inquiry sessions.
  • Background knowledge and meta-perspectives for MBCL trainers, including:
    • Evolutionary perspectives
    • High and low routes toward compassion
    • The plasticity of the brain
    • The physiology of the breath
    • Individual and gender differences
    • Different attachment styles
    • Content and attitude in communication
    • The differences and common ground between psychotherapy and MBCL training.

    Further reading

    • Erik van den Brink & Frits Koster (2015): Mindfulness-Based Compassionate Living – A new training programm to deepen mindfulness with heartfulness. London/New York: Routledge.
    • Erik van den Brink & Frits Koster (2018). A Practical Guide to Mindfulness-Based Compassionate Living – Living with heart. London/New York: Routledge.

    For whom

    Participation Requirements for the MBCL Teacher-Training (TT) Programm:

    • The MBCL TT Programme is currently taking place in various countries in Europe and offered as postgraduate education for professionals already familiar with mindfulness practice and mindfulness-based work. ALL Applicants are required to have followed a 3-day MBCL Foundation Course OR eight-week MBCL training as a participant. Click here for information about a 3-day MBCL Foundation Course with Frits Koster (21-23 June 2019 in Amsterdam)
      In either case they should have familiarised themselves with the MBCL themes and practices of the eight sessions described in A Practical Guide to Mindfulness-Based Compassionate Living (Routledge, 2018) or Part 2 of Mindfulness-Based Compassionate Living (Routledge, 2015).

    Applicants have...

    • Either qualified as a mindfulness teacher (MBSR or MBCT, or equivalent, e.g. Breathworks) from a recognized training institute. On successful completion of the MBCL TT Programme, and following a minimum of 3 hours of supervision during teaching MBCL to groups, one can obtain A-registration as an MBCL-teacher and offer the formal MBCL-programme as an advanced course to participants who completed a basic mindfulness course (MBSR/MBCT/Breathworks). This is in line with the Good Practice Guidelines for Mindfulness-Based teaching in the UK. As this is a postgraduate education one is expected to have the professional integrity and responsibility to judge when one is ready to offer MBCL independently. Those who do not feel confident to do so as yet after the TT, are advised to seek further schooling and supervision and/or obtain experience as a co-teacher. Those who have almost completed their mindfulness teacher training and have an aspirant registration can also apply for the MBCL TT programme. However, they only obtain their A-registration following completion of their training and full professional registration as a mindfulness teacher.
    • Or qualified in a (mental) health or other helping profession without MBSR/MBCT teacher qualification. They should have followed basic training and gained experience in mindfulness-based interventions (e.g. ACT, DBT, MBCT) and/or wish to do the training to deepen their own practice and their therapeutic or counseling skills with mindfulness-based and compassion-focussed interventions. For this group the minimum requirements are that one has followed an eight-week MBSR/MBCT course and has at least one year regular practice in mindfulness meditation. Those belonging to this group can obtain B-registration as a professional being trained in guiding exercises and working with material from the MBCL programme and applying this in their own professional setting within the ethical guidelines of their profession, individually or in groups. Please note, one can only register as a formal MBCL-teacher and offer the full MBCL-programme under its name, when one is also a formal MBSR or MBCT teacher.

    NB: If you are not sure whether this teacher training is right for you, please contact us. to discuss your interest and experience.

Starting dates

New dates will be published soon.
Registration will be possible when new dates are published.