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What is MBCL?

MBCL is a mindfulness-based compassion training in the form of an 8-week course that supports the development and experience of compassion and thus promotes mental and physical health.

MBCL helps participants do develop a kind and compassionate attitude toward themselves and others. Special MBCL exercises help participants to experience key aspects of emotional well-being, such as safeness, acceptance and connectedness with themselves and others.

MBCL was developed in 2007 by the Dutch psychiatrist and psychotherapist Dr. Erik van den Brink and the meditation teacher and psychiatric nurse Frits Koster. Both are MBSR / MBCT and IMP (Interpersonal Mindfulness Practice Programme) teachers and have many years of experience in the application of mindfulness and compassion in health care and psychiatry.

In their development of MBCL the Dutch founders were inspired by the work of Christopher Germer, Kristin Neff and Paul Gilbert (the pioneers of Western compassionpractice and its application in health care), neuroscientist and mindfulness teacher Rick Hanson, the work of the American psychologist and researcher Dr. Barbara Fredrickson and the work of the psychologist and meditation teacher Tara Brach.


What is compassion?

Compassion is a human quality that enables us to be sensitive towards our own and others‘ pain and suffering. It is accompanied by the wish to relieve and prevent this suffering and pain and involves cultivating a willingness to take responsibility for that.

Every human being has the ability to be compassionate. However, for many reasons, this quality can often not be fully realised. Through training and regular practice, compassion can be developed and deepened, which is the aim of the MBCL program.

What effects does MBCL have?

Being compassionate – and in particular being compassionate with oneself – is a key factor in supporting mental health. This fact has been underlined in recent scientific studies. Practical exercises like those taught in MBCL support to develop and deepen ones capacity for compassion.

The 8-week MBCL program involves learning and practicing mindfulness-based exercises to cultivate compassion and self-acceptance. It also teaches participants how to be better able to better handle the tendency to be self-critical and to feel ashamed and guilty. MBCL is also a stress management and burn-out prevention program.


MBCL Course Description

The MBCL course is a mindfulness-based 8-week program that helps participants develop and experience compassion for themselves and others. Recent studies have offered evidence, that the development of compassion and self-compassion plays a key role in supporting mental and physical health.

MBCL exercises help participants to experience feelings of warmth, safety, acceptance and connection with themselves and others. Moreover, the MBCL course teaches helpful theory behind the compassion training and shows ways in which you can take the quality of compassion into your everyday life. Another important focus is how to compassionately deal with difficult feelings and challenging life situations.

The MBCL program is recommended as a continuation or deepening course for all those, who have already participated in an MBSR/MBCT or Breathworks course or have sufficient experience in mindfulness practice. It can be particularly supportive for people living with depression, anxiety, illness, chronic pain and traumatic experience. It consists of 8 weekly units of 2.5 - 3 hours each and a half or full silent practice day.


In the following publications you can find detailed information about the MBCL program:

Erik van den Brink & Frits Koster (2015):
„Mindfulness-Based Compassionate Living. A new training programme to deepen mindfulness with heartfulness.“

This book contains a detailed description of the MBCL course, the different exercises, theoretical background and an overview of the state of research in the field of compassion training.


Erik van den Brink, Frits Koster & Victoria Norton (2018):
„A Practical Guide to Mindfulness-Based Compassionate Living – Living with heart.“

This book is an accompanying handbook for participants. It explores the science of compassion in a comprehensive manner appealing to anyone, who wishes to deepen their mindfulness practice with ´heartfulness´.