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Charter Education Institute

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How to Realize the Power of Vulnerability and Open Your Heart to Joy


The last year and a half has been a challenging time. So many of us have found that the threat of Covid-19 enhances our feelings of vulnerability and leaves us feeling exposed.

With this is mind, here is a photo I took of part of one of the window boxes on the balcony of my apartment in Amsterdam on a rainy November morning. These winter pansies are buffeted by the wind and rain and yet they stand beautiful and courageous against the backdrop of the city street. They are a perfect symbol of the power of vulnerability—strong yet tender, exposed yet invincible. Whenever I see them my heart is filled with joy and I feel more ready to face the challenges of the day.

This is how the power of vulnerability can work for us in everyday life. Rather than a weakness, vulnerability is a source of strength and courage but all too often we hesitate to embrace it. We turn away from uncomfortable feelings and armour ourselves against disappointment, joy and trust. In fact, it is this armour that causes us harm, that blocks our creativity and ability to show love. However, when we explore our vulnerability and come to understand its potential, we can learn to stand firm in the face of whatever life brings. This is what this 6-week online course will explore.

Start Date: February 21, 2022
Duration: 6 weeks
Cost: $50 US
Facilitator: Maureen Cooper

Zoom: Two optional zoom sessions:
7 March 2022 09.00 PT/12.00 EST/18.00 CET
18 March 2022 09.00PT/12.00 EST/18.00 CET
Use this date/time converter to check for local times.

Registration: Now Closed

Take this 6 week instructor-led course at your convenience according to your schedule. Each of the 6 week lessons becomes available on Mondays beginning February 21. The course materials will be available for an additional 6 months as a self-directed course. 


Course Method of Deliver
The content is uploaded to the class once a week and you can access it anytime, any day at your convenience. There will be prompts for discussion with each activity. Students can post comments and engage on the discussion board which will be accessible and active for the duration of the course and an additional period after the course is complete. As your guide, Maureen will be on hand to answer questions and engage in the conversations.

The two scheduled Zoom sessions are optional.

ZOOM 1: to meet each other in the group and share how we are working with the course materials.

ZOOM 2: to discuss some of the key points from the course and support participants to see how to continue what they have started once the course ends.

Both zoom sessions will contain some additional materials. They will be recorded and can be watched afterwards.


Course Outline
Lesson 1: Understanding what vulnerability is and what it is not

The impact of the pandemic

  •   Exploring our feelings of vulnerability during this period

What is vulnerability and how do we experience it?

  •   Understanding what vulnerability actually is and how we experience it

How do we feel about vulnerability?

  •   The first thing we want to see in others and the last thing we want to show in ourselves

Reasons why vulnerability is hard for us

  •   Ways in which we misunderstand what it means to be vulnerable

Allowing ourselves to be vulnerable

  • What do we need to enable ourselves to embrace vulnerability?

Lesson 2: Learning to be comfortable with uncertainty and change

Fear undermines our ability to be comfortable with vulnerability

  •   How we can learn not to armour up.

Accepting that things are changing and impermanent

  •   Taking this on in everyday life will help us to work with the fear that can undermine vulnerability

Look at the Emotional Cycle of Change – work of psychologists Kelly and Connor

  •   Exploring the cycles of change and seeing how understanding them helps with accepting our vulnerability

Learning to be with things as they are, rather than how we wish them to be

  •   Finding the stability to be vulnerable

Lesson 3: The Importance of ecognizing the vulnerability of other people

The benefits of vulnerability

  •   How understanding vulnerability can improve our relationships

Exploring vulnerability in other people

  •   Everyone wants to be happy and to avoid pain and disappointment

How embracing vulnerability and developing compassion go hand-in-hand

  •   Recognizing what we have in common

How developing equanimity enhances our capacity for vulnerability

  •   When we are able to see people without bias our own peace of mind is deepened and we are less likely to armour ourselves against others

Lesson 4: Realizing our choices matter

Taking responsibility for our choices

  •   Learning not to resist what is

Considering how everything we do matters

  •   Accepting the importance of making wholesome choices for ourselves and others

The habits we engage with to try to make things as we want them to be

  •   Habits such as blame, our negativity bias and so on block our ability to embrace vulnerability and enjoy its benefits

How habits develop and how we can change them

  •   Looking at the neuroscience of habits to see which ones we could let go of and which new ones might benefit us

Lesson 5: Why joy can feel inaccessible

Exploring the difference between joy and happiness

  •   Joy is a deeper emotion

Why it’s possible feel joy even when going through hard times

  •   Through acceptance and keeping a big perspective we can still feel joy even when things are difficult

Exploring foreboding joy

  •   Understanding how denying our vulnerability can lead us to hold back from fully acknowledging the joy in our lives

Identifying further obstacles to joy

  •   Finding ways to work with them

Lesson 6: How to enhance the joy in your life

The benefits of joy

  •   Exploring the range of ways joy can sustain us

The Eight Pillars of Joy

  •   Looking at exercises and practices we can do to increase our range for joy

Bringing it all together

  •   Making this part of our lives


About your Facilitator

Maureen CooperMaureen Cooper is the founding director of Awareness in Action, an organization dedicated to helping people accomplish sustainable well-being as part of their personal journey, with their relationships and in the work environment. We can bring this about by developing awareness through integrating meditation and compassion as part of our response to everyday situations.

Drawing on more than twenty-five years of experience as a professional educator, senior manager in a non-profit organization, an entrepreneur and as an experienced practitioner of Buddhist meditation, she leads workshops and training programs in the UK and Europe.

Maureen was born in London, UK but love took her to the Netherlands, where she lives with her partner in Amsterdam.

IMG-3992Her latest book, The Stress Workbook 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 fast-paced world.