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Archived CEI

How to be Compassionate in Urban Society

Modern city life is often fast and crazy, full of stress and seduction. We find ourselves juggling work, friends, family and relationships. We might even wonder: is there any time left for me just to be happy?

This course aims to meet participants where they are in their lives—to explore all aspects of city life and to examine how by working with our attitudes and habits we can find countless ways to transform whatever we meet into an opportunity to become more free, happy and compassionate.

Participants will have opportunities to share their own challenging areas, and experiment with techniques to work with them. We will also examine the current scientific research into the neurological effects of training in meditation and compassion, and look at some remarkable results.

This course aims to provide each participant with a tool kit of methods to apply straight away to their city lives and so begin to experience the possibilities for peace of mind and compassion within the challenges.

If you are someone who is involved in working on a compassionate cities campaign this course could be a useful starting point for you before you delve into the toolbox on the website.


How to be Compassionate in Urban Society

Start date: 5 November 2017

Duration of the course: the course is six sessions long + an introduction

This course is based on a series of highly successful workshops that were held over the course of two years. It is a wonderful development to be able to offer this course as part of the Charter Education Institute’s programme.

In designing this course, the idea was to make it as practical and easy to implement as possible. It is made up of a combination of text, videos, photos, slides and written exercises, with lots of different meditations to try out along the way.


Topics covered in How to be Compassionate in Urban Society

Introduction: Getting started with the course

  • How the course works
  • My city – Amsterdam
  • Something to inspire us as to what is possible


Session 1: Wellbeing in an urban environment

  • Advantages and disadvantages of urban society
  • The habits that we have
  • Bhutan and gross national happiness
  • Open, curious and accepting


Session 2: The benefits of meditation in city life

  • Overview
  • Reduce stress and anxiety
  • Meditation reduces impulsivity, cravings and addictions
  • Meditation increases resilience in hard times
  • Increases happiness and optimism
  • Produces a deep state of peace and wellbeing


Session 3: How do we begin with compassion?

  • Making the bridge from meditation to compassion
  • Try not to cause harm
  • Random acts of kindness
  • Enhancing gratitude
  • Equanimity and its relationship to compassion
  • The things that can block our compassion


Session 4: Understanding that we are all in the same boat

  • Everybody wants to be happy and to avoid pain and suffering
  • Seeing people as just like you
  • Learning to put yourself in another person’s shoes
  • Tonglen meditation: giving and receiving using the breath
  • The change we are trying to make
  • When you think one person cannot make a difference


Session 5: How to work with emotions in urban society

  • Introduction to emotions in the city
  • Analyzing emotion
  • Some habits of emotion
  • Managing our emotions


Session 6: Your compassionate citizen toolkit

  • Neuroplasticity and how habits work
  • Research into the benefits of meditation
  • Looking at the benefits of compassion
  • The methods that we learnt
  • Making these techniques part of your life
  • An exciting perspective
  • Some useful materials
  • Some resources from Awareness in Action


What people have said about the course

I thought I knew quite a lot about compassion but my understanding of compassion expanded into a new dimension after taking this course. I am now able to see myself, and others in a different way. I'm certainly more confident and relaxed about myself, and more tolerant and accepting of others. The quotes and videos from scientists/academics were quite amazing and thought provoking.

~ Mary Duffy, Scotland


My day job is both very macho and confrontational. Ding this course showed me how I could use difficult moments to benefit both myself and my customers; very practical and easily applied. I was pleasantly surprised by the combination of scientific and spiritual information, which combined beautifully to give you confidence in yourself. The wide range of authoritative advice from different sources was so reassuring. The techniques I learned are so relevant to this time; I just wish they could spread worldwide.

~ John Bald, Edinburgh


An excellent course - vibrant, relevant, engaging, challenging and extremely worthwhile. I loved how experiential it was and so relevant to one's daily life. I learned a lot about myself, and how I relate to others - often not how I would really wish! It gave many examples and techniques for opening one's heart and mind, and changing one's narrow-minded, judgemental attitudes and perception of others.

~ Susan Burrows, UK

Enrolment and cost

Cost: $95 USD


What are the special features of this course?

  • The 6 sessions of How to be compassionate in urban society are all online with easily downloadable reflections, exercises and quotes.
  • If you have an internet connection you can access the content anywhere and at any time.
  • Lessons will be made available on the Monday of each week giving you plenty of time to work with each one.
  • We recommend something between one hour and one and a half hours on each lesson.
  • This is self-paced course, so you can catch up and review past materials at any time.
  • You still have access to the course materials even when the course has concluded.
  • You can add comments and ask questions as you go through the materials.
  • As your facilitator, I will read all your comments and answer your questions and perhaps add some of my own.


Your course facilitator: Maureen Cooper

Maureen Cooper is the founding director of Awareness in Action, an organization dedicated to showing people how to combine well-being and excellence in the work environment. Drawing on more than twenty years of experience as a professional educator, senior manager in a non-profit organization, an entrepreneur and as an accomplished practitioner of Buddhist meditation, she leads the in-demand Awareness in Action workshops and training programs all over the United States and Europe.

Her acclaimed book, The Compassionate Mind Guide to Reducing Stress is a ground-breaking effort that brings together the best of modern science and the wisdom of the world’s ancient contemplative traditions into a practical manual for thriving in today’s insanely fast-paced world.

When she’s able to take a break from rigours of the road, Maureen lives stress-free in Amsterdam, The Netherlands with her husband.



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