Frits Koster

I was born in 1957 in the Netherlands. Instead of studying at university, I lived as a Buddhist monk for six years in South East Asia. During this period, I studied Buddhist psychology, practised meditation intensively and learned to teach meditation to others. I have written several books on this subject, some of which have been translated into English.

After returning to the Netherlands, I trained as a nurse in psychiatric settings. I started to get interested in a more secular way of practising and teaching mindfulness, and studied to become an MBSR/MBCT teacher at the Institute for Mindfulness (IvM) in the Netherlands. I am now affiliated as a trainer at various training institutes across Europe. My wife and I have set up a private practice from which we organise retreats and training in mindfulness and compassion.

As a trainer and author, I collaborate closely with psychiatrist/psychotherapist Erik van den Brink, with whom I developed a follow-up programme for participants who have already followed a mindfulness-based training (e.g. MBSR or MBCT).  This programme is called Mindfulness-based Compassionate Living (MBCL). We teach workshops and a Teacher Training Programme on MBCL throughout Europe. Together we wrote several books on compassion training, which were published in the Netherlands and later translated into German, English and Spanish.


  • 1982-1988 – living as a Buddhist monk
  • 1994 – qualified as a nurse in psychiatry, the Netherlands.
  • 2007 – as a teacher MBSR/MBCT in the Institute for Mindfulness (IvM), the Netherlands (VMBN, category 1)
  • Completed postgraduate training in Mindfulness-based Approaches including: Mindfulness-based Supervision (Alison Evans); Deep Listening (Rosamund Oliver); Mindful Communication (Susan Gillis Chapman, Edel Maex); Interpersonal Mindfulness Teacher Training (Florence Meleo-Meyer & Phillis Hicks); Mindful Self-Compassion (Kristin Neff, Chris Germer); and Breathworks (Vidyamala Burch).
  • Completed postgraduate training in psychotherapy: Compassion Focused Therapy (Paul Gilbert, Chris Irons)

Teaching Training Specialisms

  • Mindfulness-based Compassionate Living (MBCL)
  • MBSR, MBCT, Interpersonal Mindfulness
  • Working with mindfulness and compassion in clinical settings
  • Mindfulness meditation

Retreat Lead Experience

  • Four to five intensive vipassana meditation retreats a year (lasting four to 30 days) since 1994
  • Three to four secular mindfulness retreats on a yearly basis since 2010 for MBSR Teacher Training Institutes in Europe (MBSR)
  • Several secular compassion retreats of three to seven days since 2008, first with Erik van den Brink and the last two years with Jetty Heynekamp
  • Since 2016, I have taught a four-day Interpersonal Mindfulness workshop with Erik van den Brink and/or Jetty Heynekamp

Retreat Specialisms

  • Compassion
  • Mindfulness
  • Interpersonal Mindfulness

Personal Practice

Since 1979, I have attended many retreats (vipassana + metta), first in the Netherlands and then, from 1982-1988, in South East Asia, with many teachers. From 1988, I have still attended a yearly retreat of five or six weeks, in Wat Vivek Asom (Thailand), Saddhammaransi Yeiktha (Burma) and in Swe Oo Min Yeiktha (Burma – 2008). The last ten years I have attended a yearly retreat of five or six weeks in Wat Bhaddanta Asabharam, Thailand.

I have also attended retreats on Mindful Communication with Gregory Kremer and with Florence Meleo Meijer and have attended workshops on Mindful Communication by Susan Gillis Chapman and Rosamund Oliver. I practise mindfulness and compassion on a daily base, formally and informally.

Research Activities and Interests

I was involved with and co-authored several articles (see below) on studies into mindfulness and compassion training for psychiatric out-patients, health professionals and psychiatric trainees. I am particularly interested in how mindfulness and compassion can be presented in a non-religious way.


Books in English:

  • Van den Brink, E. & Koster, F. with Norton, V. (expected 2018): A practical guide to Mindfulness-Based Compassionate Living: Living with Heart. London: Routledge.
  • Van den Brink, E. & Koster, F. (expected 2018). Mindfulness-Based Compassionate Living – A deepening programme for those with basic mindfulness skills. In I. Ivtzan (Ed.), The Handbook of Mindfulness-Based Programs: Every Established Intervention, from Medicine to Education. London: Routledge.
  • Van den Brink, E. & Koster, F. (2015). Mindfulness-Based Compassionate Living: A new training programme to deepen mindfulness with heartfulness. London: Routledge.
  • Koster, F. (2014). The Web of Buddhist Wisdom. Chiang Mai, Silkworm Books.
  • Koster, F. (2007). Buddhist Meditation as Stress Management. Chiang Mai, Silkworm books.
  • Koster, F. (2004). Liberating Insight. Chiang Mai, Silkworm books.

Papers in peer-reviewed journals

  • Schuling, S., Huijbers, M., Jansen, H., Metzemaekers, R., Van den Brink, E., Koster, F., Van Ravesteijn, H., & Speckens, A. (2017). Mindfulness Based Compassionate Living in recurrent depression: the co-creation of a post-graduate intervention to Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy. Mindfulness. doi:10.1007/s12671-017-0783-1
  • Bartels-Velthuis, A. A., Van der Ploeg, K., Koster, F., Fleer, J., Schroevers, M. J., & Van den Brink, E. (2016). A Mindfulness-Based Compassionate Living training in a heterogeneous sample of psychiatric outpatients: a feasibility study. Mindfulness, 7, 809–818.

Further info

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