How To Become A Compassionate Citizen For Groups

Support for your Compassionate Community Group—the chance to take this online course as a group 
How to Become a Compassionate Citizen


What is the online course about?

This online course goes to the heart of what it means to live in a modern city and contribute to the greater good. It has been designed to support people in integrating compassion into all aspects of their lives as city dwellers—and to see what can get in the way. Each of us has the possibility to work with our habits and conditioning to find ways of becoming a truly compassionate citizen.

This course will take you through the steps we need to take to learn how to realise our own potential and be of benefit in our city. The methods introduced are backed up by scientific research and are a sustainable way of working with compassion.

The background

This online course ran for the first time in the Autumn of 2017.  It quickly became clear that it was a course that could be useful for people working on compassionate community projects.

Here are a few suggestions:

  • an opportunity for your group to go deeper into the meaning and application of compassion
  • the possibility of learning to apply compassion to the organisational work that you want to accomplish
  • a chance to strengthen the connections within your group
  • a starting point for on-going compassionate activities such as book clubs, study groups

At the same time, this course is a resource that you can share with stakeholders and institutions that you need to meet with in order to get things done. The materials covered in the course provide a way for people you need to reach to experience for themselves the power of what you are trying to achieve.

People we talked to

We consulted with a few experienced people in the US and Europe—such as Charles Barker of Compassionate Dallas/Fort Worth; Lesa Walker of Compassionate Austin, Tam Martin Fowles working on Compassionate Plymouth in the UK and Gerthe Lamers in the Netherlands.

Out of those conversations grew this plan to enable groups of people to take the course together.

You can check the link to the compassionate communities page on the Charter website here

How does it work?

  • howdoesitworkEach person in the group can access the course on their own device
  • In addition, the group can meet together and follow the course using access from one person’s registration
  • It is highly recommended that you meet once a week to study, discuss and look at applying the online learning as a group.
  • To support you to fully integrate these ideas and get you on the road to becoming a compassionate community, or work on a project I have created a 60-page manual [see appendix 1 below for a list of contents] to download and print for each person in the group. It gives guidance on how to follow the course together as a group, and how to do homework assignments in between sessions.
  • The online course is 6-sessions long, but your group can access all the content in one go. This means you can decide at what pace you want to go through the materials.
  • The group has on-going access to Maureen Cooper, the course designer, to discuss and share anything that comes up.

What will you learn as a community group and as an individual?

As a community group

You are people working on the front line of helping to make compassion our first response to what life puts in our way. Your goals are amazing, ambitious and challenging to bring to fruition. It is all too easy for people to get worn out, and for groups to struggle and become fractured.

Perhaps you would like to start your work by considering these questions:

Do you want to start a compassionate community/city group but don’t know where to begin?

Is your group having a difficult time being cohesive and needs to define compassion in order to get into action?

Is your group looking for strategies to get going as a compassionate city?

If you are dealing with questions like these, then this course will certainly add value to the process you are going through.

  • The process of working through this course will provide your group with a way of building trust and confidence.
  • Members of your group will learn how to work with their own resistance and stress, which will add to the overall strength and harmony of the group.
  • With a hands-on way of addressing challenges as they arise, it will be easier to keep the group focused on what they want to achieve.
  • An introduction to the Charter Tool Box: a framework for getting started is embedded in the course. Grounded in the concepts of the Charter for Compassion this model is intended to guide your process, and to provide a place to begin. It can and should be adapted to the unique circumstances of any community that seeks to become a Compassionate Community.  Each of the four broad phases includes more specific steps along with stories and examples that you may find helpful and even inspiring.This course will give you and your group an opportunity to explore the four phases of creating a compassionate project or community.”

 Phase 1: Discover and Assess

 Phase 2: Focus and Commit

 Phase 3: Build and Launch

 Phase 4: Evaluate and Sustain

As individuals:               

  • understand what is meant by being a compassionate citizen
  • explore their potential to develop as one
  • investigate their habits that can get in the way
  • understand the need for a compassionate society
  • experience the importance of meditation and how it is the basis for compassion
  • discover some of the current scientific research into meditation and compassion
  • connect with the idea of building their own self-compassion as a basis for being a compassionate citizen
  • experiment with a range of compassion techniques that will help them develop their own compassionate potential
  • build a tool kit that they can immediately apply to their own life in the city

(Go to Appendix 2 to see what people have said about the course)

What is the cost?

  • Group cost: $25 per person

How do groups enroll?

To enroll for the course please send an email to:

Olivia Mcivor This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., or

Maureen Cooper This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

You will be sent a link for each person to enroll.

prioritize your peace

Your guide on the course


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 workshops and training programs in Europe and the USA.

Her book, The Compassionate Mind Guide to Reducing Stress  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.

Maureen lives in Amsterdam, The Netherlands with her husband.

You can read her LinkedIn profile here

Some of Maureen’s blogs on the CEI website that you might find interesting:

3 Simple Ways to Handle Difficult Emotions in City Life

7 Ways to Cope with Feeling Overwhelmed in the City

Can Your Local Supermarket Help to Inspire Compassion?

APPENDIX 1: How the contents of the course are covered in the manual



  • How to work with this manual
  • Setting up your group
  • Getting started with the course

Session 1: City life as an inspiration to become a compassionate citizen

  • Welcome to the session
  • What are we working with?
  • Happiness and suffering as part of city life
  • Chasing happiness
  • How stress works
  • The need for a compassionate society
  • Homework

Session 2: Everyone has the raw materials to be a compassionate citizen

  • Welcome to the session
  • We are all in the same boat
  • We have enormous capacity
  • We are built to be kind
  • Helping others helps you
  • Homework
  • Using the Charter toolbox

Session 3: What gets in the way

  • Welcome to the session
  • The speed, noise and intensity of city life
  • Our wandering mind
  • Our old brain habits
  • Starring in our own movie
  • Homework
  • Using the Charter toolbox

Session 4: How we can work with our habits

  • Welcome to the session
  • How neuroplasticity helps with habits
  • Getting down to meditation
  • Meditation anytime, anywhere
  • The benefits of meditation
  • The bridge from meditation to compassion
  • The Golden Rule
  • A simple exercise that could end your suffering
  • Homework
  • Using the Charter toolbox

Session 5: Making compassion our natural resource

  • Welcome to the session
  • An overview of self-compassion
  • Practicing kindness in the city
  • Loving Kindness Meditation
  • The Kindness Formula
  • What scientific research tells us about kindness
  • Empathy
  • The benefits of forgiveness
  • Homework
  • Using the Charter toolbox

Session 6: Your compassionate citizen toolkit

  • Welcome to the session
  • Training our minds
  • Scientific research and building our confidence
  • Research into the heart-brain connection
  • Review of the exercises we have covered
  • Making these techniques part of your life
  • Using the Charter toolbox


APPENDIX 2 What people have said about the course

I enjoyed this course very much. It presented a thorough introduction to the skills needed to develop a compassionate mindset to our busy modern lifestyles. Although I had encountered many of these ideas before, the class brought them together in a meaningful way. The weekly exercises have helped move me from basic knowledge and good intentions to daily practice and implementation. I also appreciated being part of an online cohort. I enjoyed the participation of the other students and the support and encouragement from the instructor.

Eric Spencer

Thank you so much for this wonderful course. There was a lot of information - I have to go back and read the notes again to let it go deeper. It was a good combination between reflections and practical exercises and very clear. Although I already know a lot of the scientific research you made it very clear and structured it well. I found it very inspiring. Thank you for all the input of my fellow students, too and especially your answers.

Christine Brandt-Leeb

One thing that came to me in working through this course is that it is important to always try to step back and see our daily experiences like we are seeing them for the first time.  The daily routine tends to desensitize us.  I have always noticed how much more "awake" I am when traveling to a new city.  Everything is new and unfamiliar, so I am much more aware; my encounters with others more spontaneous.  The city photos and videos in the course and the exercises helped me to see my daily experiences in a fresh way.  This is the first step to employing the meditations and formulas in a spontaneous way as needed.  I would like to try to keep this going every day.

Lennine Occhino USA

This course highlighted a more positive way of living in the city - developing compassion, appreciation, love and forgiveness for other beings. I gradually realised that even the most difficult situations and emotions can be turned into ways of increasing kindness and compassion.  I've adopted many of these practices on a regular basis, and feel I'm definitely developing a more positive and altruistic outlook as a result.

Susan Burrows, London. UK

I very much enjoyed, How to Become a Compassionate Citizen.  Maureen presents the materials with so much warmth and dynamism, she really brings the topic alive. Through personal reflections, state of the art videos and meditation techniques, we discovered the logic and sanity of compassion. I realized the practice of compassion is so vital for everyone, especially in our hectic busy lives. So, I highly recommend this course to everyone, you never knew compassion could be so much fun!

Jeroen Slieker, Amsterdam. Netherlands

This course made me realize that everybody, like me, just wants to be happy and everyone, like me does not want to suffer. And therefore, we all have the same right to be happy and to avoid suffering. This was a big change in my perception of others, opening myself to do something for their happiness and do something to prevent their suffering.

Throughout the course, I discovered that the more I did this, and the more I forgot to spoil myself, my own pain and suffering were easing.

I recommend this course for its authenticity, its practical sense and wise, and loving guidance of Maureen. This course embodies qualities of love, compassion and wisdom.

Juan Broullhet. Valencia, Spain


About Us

  • charter brand transp blue mediumCharter for Compassion provides an umbrella for people to engage in collaborative partnerships worldwide. Our mission is to bring to life the principles articulated in the Charter for Compassion through concrete, practical action in a myriad of sectors.


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