Course Information

Compassion: International Mindfulness Based Compassionate Living Foundation Course with Erik van den Brink

When: 11 Oct 2022 - 1 Nov 2022
Where: Online Event
Tutors: Erik Van den Brink, Barbara Hussong


11, 14, 18th, 25th and 28th October;

1st November 2022.


Times: 3pm to 6.30pm UK time. Please arrive online a few minutes before 3pm.

All times are UK. If you are attending from a different time zone, please check equivalent timings in your time zone.

Please note, UK time will change from BST (British Summer Time) to GMT (Greenwich Mean Time) on October 30th 2022.

What is Compassion?

Compassion is the capacity to be sensitive to the suffering of ourselves and others and the willingness to relieve and prevent it (Paul Gilbert, 2014). It is a capacity inherent in all of us but for many reasons does not always come to flourish. Fortunately, it can be trained, developed and deepened through practice.  Compassion is characterised by kindness and receptivity as well as courage and responsibility. Many believe compassion should be directed towards others rather than ourselves but self-compassion is not selfish. Research increasingly shows that self-compassion is – like mindfulness – key to mental health and goes hand in hand with greater openness and empathy towards others.

What is Mindfulness-Based Compassionate Living (MBCL)?

MBCL is a mindfulness-based eight-session course that supports the development and training of (self-)compassion to enhance physical, emotional and relational health and well-being. MBCL is recognised as a follow-on course following foundational mindfulness-based programmes (MBSR, MBCT or equivalent) by BAMBA and VMBN (the Netherlands based mindfulness teaching network).

Developed since 2008 by Erik van den Brink and Frits Koster, MBCL is grounded in science and in the decades-long experience of its two founders.  Erik van den Brink brings to MBCL his experience as a psychiatrist and psychotherapist, expert on mindfulness in mental health settings and long-time meditator. Frits Koster integrates his work as a Vipassana teacher, a trainer in MBSR & MBCT, his expertise in Buddhist psychology and his work as a mindfulness trainer for mental health professionals.                                                

MBCL incorporates scientific insights, exercises and teachings gleaned from other compassion training methods as well as contemplative practices.  It was originally developed in the ambulant mental health setting for clients who benefited from MBSR/MBCT and needed more support, particularly those with tendencies to be harsh with themselves, finding it difficult to receive kindness. MBCL is not aimed at specific diagnostic groups but - like MBSR - addressing unhealthy reactions and patterns contributing to suffering in general. So, clients vulnerable to depression, anxiety, burnout, chronic pain or fatigue, and various emotional and relational difficulties can all benefit. It soon turned out that the MBCL programme is also very helpful to professional care givers, being vulnerable to symptoms of burnout. In recent years, MBCL has rapidly expanded beyond the mental health sector and is found to be helpful for anyone, professionals and non-professionals, having to live in a frantic world and wishing to deepen mindfulness with ‘heartfulness’.

What does the online MBCL programme offer?

This course offers in six sessions of 3.5 hours an online alternative to the three-day foundation course or the standard eight-session MBCL course. Participants will experience all key features of the MBCL curriculum, including the main themes and practices.

Themes include: the evolutionary perspective and multi-layered brain; the three basic emotion regulation systems and the value of training our soothing system; expanding the stress theory with the psychological equivalents of fight, flight, freeze and their antidotes self-kindness, common humanity and mindfulness of suffering; tend and befriend; cultivating a compassionate mind and an inner helper rather than an inner bully; overidentifying and disidentifying; Four Friends for Life: loving kindness, compassion, sympathetic joy and equanimity. 

Exercises include: soothing breathing rhythm, compassionate imagery (safe place, compassionate companion, embodying compassion); dealing compassionately with resistance, desire and unhelpful patterns; loving kindness towards ourselves and others; compassionate breathing; a compassionate bodyscan; walking and moving with kindness; compassionate letter

During the online course, relevant scientific insights underpinning compassion training will be interwoven in the teaching.

Pre-requisites for participation

  • Participants are familiar with basic mindfulness practice, through having followed an eight-week mindfulness training (MBSR, MBCT or equivalent).
  • Participants have a personal and professional interest in the applications of mindfulness and (self-) compassion.
  • Participants are responsible for their own physical and mental health and willing to deepen their self-inquiry by engaging in experiential exercises, sharing experiences and engaging in mindful dialogue with the teacher and each other; all in an invitational and respectful way.
  • The programme will be taught in English so an ability to communicate in English is needed.
  • Participants need to be familiar with using the online ZOOM video platform and willing to engage in mindful inquiry into their experiences by online sharing in larger and smaller groups. This includes interpersonal work in two’s or three’s in breakout rooms. Participants are responsible for ensuring a good internet connection and a suitable PC, laptop or other device with adequate video and sound systems. Use of a smart phone is not recommended.
  • Participants commit themselves to formal home practice of 30-45 minutes daily. They can make use of the downloadable audios and worksheets. In addition, participants are expected to read the chapters on the relevant sessions during the course week by week (around 1,5 hours of reading time per week).
  • Participants are required to purchase one of the following books in advance:
  • Required Reading: A Practical Guide to Mindfulness-Based Compassionate Living - Living with Heart by Erik van den Brink & Frits Koster, with Victoria Norton (Routledge, 2018). A self-help guide and workbook to be used by participants of a standard MBCL course.
  • Optional Reading: Mindfulness-Based Compassionate Living – A New Training Programme to Deepen Mindfulness with Heartfulness by Erik van den Brink & Frits Koster (Routledge, 2015). A textbook for professionals that includes a middle section with practical guidance that takes the reader through the course experientially.

Both books come with downloadable audios and worksheets.

Learning Objectives

  • Participants will have experienced the main exercises of the MBCL programme as a first step to understand their meaning for their personal and professional lives.
  • Participants will have a basic understanding of the content, the main themes and relevant scientific background of the MBCL programme.
  • Participants will have a basis to further cultivate and deepen (self-) compassion practice for personal and professional benefit and – if they wish so and meet the requirements – to continue with an MBCL Teacher Training.

MBCL Teacher Training

MBCL Teacher Training (TT), seminars are regularly offered, either in two non-residential modules of 3-3,5 days, or in one residential retreat of 6-7 days, or in an international online format, organized by the Mindfulness Network, (e.g. closely after this experiential course November 5th – 11th, 2022).

To become an MBCL teacher one should be a certified mindfulness (MBSR or MBCT) teacher. However, many professionals who are not certified mindfulness teachers can benefit from the seminars to deepen mindfulness-based and compassion-focused interventions and enhance their therapeutic skills in individual or group work.


Participants need to buy the MBCL workbook:  A practical guide to Mindfulness-Based Compassionate Living - Living with Heart by Erik van den Brink & Frits Koster, with Victoria Norton, 2018. London/New York: Routledge.


The training will be delivered via Zoom.

A Zoom link will be sent nearer to the start date. Participants will receive information about how to join online meetings via Zoom. Use of a laptop or equivalent well-functioning device is recommended.

What to bring/wear

A mat, cushions and a blanket would be helpful to support your meditation space at home. 

Fee options

Standard rate is £389

Bursary-assisted places are available on this event until 3 months before the event starts. Bursary applications need to be submitted and decided prior to booking onto the event. To find out more about our bursary schemes and to apply, please first visit our website here:

Employer's rate - Recognising the large administrative overhead of dealing with employers, we will be adding a £50 surcharge if the employer is paying directly; where possible we would advise applicants to pay themselves and reclaim on expenses to avoid the charge. 

The application and payment process

Our application and payment process involves the following steps:

  1. We receive your application form and assess it to ensure this event is suitable for you. We endeavour to make assessments within a week but if the event leader is on annual leave or on retreat then this can take a little bit longer.
  2. Upon offering you a place we will then invoice you.
  3. Your place is fully confirmed once we receive your full payment.
  4. We will email you the joining instructions in advance of the course.

Payment and Cancellation Policy

Please read our Terms and Conditions for information regarding payments and cancellations.

For more information

Please email us at

Click here to sign up to this event.