Promoting Caring: Mindfulness- and Compassion-Based Contemplative Training for Educators and Students

  • Brooke D. Lavelle HeinebergEmail author
Part of the Mindfulness in Behavioral Health book series (MIBH)


There is a growing need to develop and deliver programs in educational settings that support the social, emotional, and prosocial development of teachers and students. In recent years, researchers, educators, and contemplatives have worked to develop and adapt mindfulness- and compassion-based interventions for use in school settings. This chapter provides a theoretical overview of three such programs—Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR), Cognitively Based Compassion Training (CBCT), and Sustainable Compassion Training (SCT)—which have been implemented in educational contexts. It also provides a brief overview of the development and status of these programs to date as well as suggestions for further research and application.


Sustainable Compassion Training (SCT) Cognitively Based Compassion Training (CBCT) Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) Compassion and education Mindfulness education Contemplative education 


  1. Broderick, P. C., & Metz, S. (2009). Learning to BREATHE: A pilot trial of a mindfulness curriculum for adolescents. Advances in School Mental Health Promotion, 2(1), 35–46.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Cacioppo, J. T., & Hawkley, L. C. (2009). Perceived social isolation and cognition. Trends in Cognitive Sciences, 13, 447–454.PubMedCentralCrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  3. Condon, P., Desbordes, G., Miller, W. B., & DeSteno, D. (2013). Meditation increases compassionate responses to suffering. Psychological Science, 24, 2125–2127.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  4. D. Lavelle Heineberg, B., Makransky, J., & Seigle, P. (2015). A call to care: Professional development guide (Unpublished manual).Google Scholar
  5. Durlak, J. A., & DuPre, E. P. (2008). Implementation matters: A review of research on the influence of implementation on program outcomes and the factors affecting implementation. American Journal of Community Psychology, 41, 327–350.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  6. Emmons, R. A., & McCullough, M. E. (2003). Counting blessings versus burdens: An experimental investigation of gratitude and subjective well-being in daily life. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 84, 377–389.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  7. Farb, N. A. S., Segal, Z. V., Mayberg, H., Bean, J., McKeon, D., Fatima, Z., & Anderson, A. K. (2007). Attending to the present: Mindfulness meditation reveals distinct neural modes of self-reference. Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience, 2, 313–322.Google Scholar
  8. Flook, L., Goldberg, S. B., Pinger, L., Bonus, K., & Davidson, R. J. (2013). Mindfulness for teachers: A pilot study to assess effects on stress, burnout and teaching efficacy. Mind, Brain, and Education, 7, 182–195. doi: 10.1111/mbe.12026.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Flook, L., Smalley, S. L., Kitil, M. J., Galla, B. M., Kaiser-Greenland, S., Locke, J, … Kasari, C. (2010). Effects of mindful awareness practices on executive functions in elementary school children. Journal of Applied School Psychology, 26, 70–95. doi: 10.1080/15377900903379125.Google Scholar
  10. Grossman, P., Niemann, L., Schmidt, S., & Walach, H. (2004). Mindfulness-based stress reduction and health benefits: A meta-analysis. Journal of Psychosomatic Research, 57, 35–43.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  11. Jennings, P. A., Frank, J. L., Snowberg, K. E., Coccia, M. A., & Greenberg, M. (2013). Improving classroom learning environments by Cultivating Awareness and Resilience in Education (CARE): Results of a randomized controlled trial. School Psychology Quarterly, 28, 374–390.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  12. Kabat-Zinn, J. (1994). Mindfulness meditation for everyday life. New York, NY: Hyperion.Google Scholar
  13. Kabat-Zinn, J. (2000). Full catastrophe living: Using the wisdom of your body and mind to face stress, pain, and illness. New York, NY: Bantam Dell.Google Scholar
  14. Kabat-Zinn, J. (2005). Coming to our senses. New York, NY: Bantam Dell.Google Scholar
  15. Kabat-Zinn, J. (2011). Some reflections on the origins of MBSR, skillful means, and the trouble with maps. Contemporary Buddhism, 12, 281–306. Scholar
  16. Kemeny, M. E., Foltz, C., Cavanagh, J. F., Cullen, M., Giese-Davis, J., Jennings, P., & Ekman, P. (2012). Contemplative/emotion training reduces negative emotional behavior and promotes prosocial responses. Emotion, 12, 338–350.Google Scholar
  17. Leiberg, S., Klimecki, O., & Singer, T. (2011). Short-term compassion training increases prosocial behavior in a newly developed prosocial game. PLoS One, 6, e17798. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0017798.PubMedCentralCrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  18. Lutz, A., Brefczynski-Lewis, J., Johnstone, T., & Davidson, R. J. (2008). Regulation of the neural circuitry of emotion by compassion meditation: Effects of meditative expertise. PLoS One, 3, e1897. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0001897.PubMedCentralCrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  19. Makransky, J. (2007). Awakening through love: Unveiling your deepest goodness. Boston, MA: Wisdom.Google Scholar
  20. Makransky, J. (2011). Compassion beyond fatigue: Contemplative training for people who serve others. In J. Simmer-Brown & F. Grace (Eds.), Meditation and the classroom (pp. 85–94). New York, NY: SUNY Press.Google Scholar
  21. Mascaro, J. S., Rilling, J. K., Negi, L. T., & Raison, C. L. (2012). Compassion meditation enhances empathic accuracy and related neural activity. Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience, 8, 48–55. doi: 10.1093/scan/nss095.PubMedCentralCrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  22. Meiklejohn, J., Phillips, C., Freedman, M. L., Griffin, M. L., Beigel, G., Roach, A., … Saltzman, A. (2012). Integrating mindfulness training into K-12 education: Fostering the resilience of teachers and students. Mindfulness, 3, 291–307. doi: 10.1007/s12671-012-0094-5.Google Scholar
  23. Noddings, N. (1984). Caring: A feminist approach to ethics and education: University of California Press: Berkeley CA.Google Scholar
  24. Napoli, M., Krech, P. R., & Holley, L. C. (2005). Mindfulness training for elementary school students: The attention academy. Journal of Applied School Psychology, 21, 99–125.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Negi, L.T. (n.d.) Cognitively-Based Compassion Training: A Manual. Unpublished manuscript.Google Scholar
  26. Ortner, C. N. M., Kilner, S. J., & Zelazo, P. D. (2007). Mindfulness meditation and reduced emotional interference on a cognitive task. Motivation and Emotion, 31, 271–283.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Otake, K., Shimai, S., Tanaka-Matsumi, J., & Otsui, K. (2006). Happy people become happier through kindness: A counting kindnesses intervention. Journal of Happiness Studies, 7, 361–375.PubMedCentralCrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  28. Ozawa-de Silva, B., & Dodson-Lavelle, B. (2011). An education of heart and mind: Practical and theoretical issues in teaching cognitively-based compassion training to children. Practical Matters, 4, 1–28.Google Scholar
  29. Ozawa-de Silva, B., Dodson-Lavelle, B., Raison, C. L., & Negi, L. T. (2011). Compassion and ethics: Scientific and practical approaches to the cultivation of compassion as a foundation for ethical subjectivity and well-being. Journal of Healthcare, Science and the Humanities, 2, 145–161.Google Scholar
  30. Ozawa-de Silva, B., & Negi, L. T. (2013). Cognitively-based compassion training: Protocol and key concepts. In T. Singer & M. Bolz (Eds.), Compassion: Bridging theory and practice (pp. 416–437). Leipzig, Germany: Max Planck Institute for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences.Google Scholar
  31. Pace, T. W. W., Negi, L. T., Adame, D. D., Cole, S. P., Sivili, T. I., Brown, T. D., … Raison, C. L. (2009). Effect of compassion meditation on neuroendocrine, innate immune and behavioral responses to psychosocial stress. Psychoneuroendocrinology, 34, 87–98.Google Scholar
  32. Pace, T. W. W., Negi, L. T., Sivili, T. I., Issa, M. J., Cole, S. P., Adame, D. D., & Raison, C. L. (2010). Innate immune neuroendocrine and behavioral responses to psychosocial stress do not predict subsequent compassion meditation practice time. Psychoneuroendocrinology, 35, 310–315.Google Scholar
  33. Ransford, C. R., Greenberg, M. T., Domitrovich, C. E., Small, M., & Jacobson, L. (2009). The role of teachers’ psychological experiences and perceptions of curriculum supports on the implementation of a social and emotional learning curriculum. School Psychology Review, 38, 510–532.Google Scholar
  34. Reddy, S. D., Negi, L. T., Dodson-Lavelle, B., Ozawa-de Silva, B., Pace, T. W. W., Cole, S. P., … Craighead, L. W. (2013). Cognitive-based compassion training: A promising prevention strategy for at-risk adolescents. Journal of Child and Family Studies, 22, 219–230.Google Scholar
  35. Reyes, M. R., Brackett, M. A., Rivers, S. E., Elbertson, N. A., & Salovey, P. (2012). The interaction effects of program training, dosage, and implementation quality on targeted student outcomes for the RULER approach to social and emotional learning. School Psychology Review, 41, 82–99.Google Scholar
  36. Roeser, R. W., Schonert-Reichl, K. A., Jha, A., Cullen, M., Wallace, L., Wilensky, R., … Harrison, J. (2013). Mindfulness training and reductions in teacher stress and burnout: Results from two randomized, waitlist-control field trials. Journal of Educational Psychology, 105, 787–804. doi: 10.1037/a0032093.Google Scholar
  37. Roeser, R. W., Skinner, E., Beers, J., & Jennings, P. A. (2012). Mindfulness training and teachers’ professional development: An emerging area of research and practice. Child Development Perspectives, 6, 167–173.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Schonert-Reichl, K. A., & Lawlor, M. S. (2010). The effects of a mindfulness-based education program on pre-and early adolescents’ well-being and social and emotional competence. Mindfulness, 1(3), 137–151.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Shapiro, S. L., Carlson, L. E., Astin, J. A., & Freedman, B. (2006). Mechanisms of mindfulness. Journal of Clinical Psychology, 62, 373–386.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  40. Shapiro, S. L., Schwartz, G. E., & Bonner, G. (1998). Effects of mindfulness-based stress reduction on medical and premedical students. Journal of Behavioral Medicine, 21, 581–599.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  41. Singer, T., & Lamm, C. (2009). The social neuroscience of empathy (The year in cognitive neuroscience 2009). Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, 1156, 81–96.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  42. Warneken, F. (2013). The development of altruistic behavior: Helping in children and chimpanzees. Social Research, 80, 431–442.Google Scholar
  43. Weng, H. Y., Fox, A. S., Shackman, A. J., Stodola, D. E., Caldwell, J. Z. K., Olson, M. C., … Davidson, R. J. (2013). Compassion training alters altruism and neural responses to suffering. Psychological Science, 24, 1171–1180.Google Scholar
  44. Wentzel, K. R., Battle, A., Russell, S., & Looney, L. (2010). Social supports from teachers and peers as predictors of academic and social motivation. Contemporary Educational Psychology, 35, 193–202.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Williams, M. (2010). Mindfulness and psychological stress. Emotion, 10, 1–7.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  46. Zenner, C., Herrnleben-Kurz, S., & Walach, H. (2014). Mindfulness-based interventions in schools—A systematic review and meta-analysis. Frontiers in Psychology, 5, 1–20. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2014.00603.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Zoogman, S., Goldberg, S. B., Hoyt, W. T., & Miller, L. (2015). Mindfulness interventions with youth: A meta-analysis. Mindfulness, 6(2), 290–302. doi: 10.1007/s12671-013-0260-4.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag New York 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Mind and Life InstituteHadleyUSA

Personalised recommendations