Certificate Program in Wise Compassion

A transformational journey into the science and practice of wise compassion

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Certificate Program in Wise Compassion

A transformational journey into the science and practice of wise compassion


In an age of ever-increasing complexity, fragmentation and trauma, one of the most promising new developments has been the surprising convergence of cutting edge science and therapies with humanity’s timeless wisdom and healing arts of compassion. The Certificate Program in Wise Compassion, part of Nalanda Institute's three-year Contemplative Psychotherapy Program, is the leading program internationally for learning the science and practice behind cultivating, embodying and applying the wise compassion we need now more than ever. 

Featuring a team of world-renowned scholars, researchers and practitioners, the program offers participants a deep understanding and lived experience of the psychology, neuroscience and social impact of compassion, informed by the growing confluence of Buddhist contemplative science, current research, contemporary psychotherapy and social psychology. Participants leave the program with the foundation, experience, and skills to bring the medicine of wise compassion into their daily practice, lives, and work.

12 Continuing Education Credits (CEs) are available per retreat (fall and spring).

Who is this program for?

If you’re concerned about the divisive impact of implicit bias, psychosocial stress, systemic oppression and intergenerational trauma on our individual and collective future, this program will give you the guidance, maps, and tools you need to set your own life and the lives of all those you touch on a course towards deeper healing and transformation. Many that take the program are caregiving professionals in mental health, healing arts, teaching, and coaching fields. We also have graduate students, lawyers, businesspeople, artists, folks in career transition or retirement, among many others. The commonality uniting our students is a sincere desire to deepen their personal growth and be a benefit to those around them. 


You will learn from some of the leading scholars, researchers, and practitioners in the rapidly growing field of compassion science and practice. The program is led by Joe Loizzo, MD, PhD, Nalanda Institute’s Founder and Academic Director. Joe is a Harvard-trained psychiatrist and Columbia-trained Buddhist scholar with over forty years’ experience studying the beneficial effects of contemplative practices on healing, learning and positive individual and collective human development.

The program features live instruction and recorded lectures from world-renowned guest faculty such as Robert Thurman, Jan Willis, Lama Rod Owens, Diane Fosha, and others.


Hear about the program from some alumni.


The course trains professionals in 4 core modules:

  • Module 1 focuses on the Foundations of Buddhist Social Psychology.
  • Module 2 focuses on Transforming the Mind Through Developing Wise Compassion.
  • Module 3 focuses on Embodying Compassion through Awakening the Spirit of Altruism.
  • Module 4 focuses on Deepening and Expanding the Transformational Field.

Areas of study include:

  • Transforming the mind for compassionate social engagement
  • The neuropsychology of attachment trauma, implicit bias, and social stress-reactivity
  • Fourfold compassion practice, self-transcendent insight practice, and the practice of embodied self-world transformation
  • Transforming the unconscious mind and nervous system for embodied social engagement
  • The neuropsychology of social stress and trauma, transformational affects, polyvagal theory, and positive psychosocial development
  • Meditation practicum: instruction with Bob Thurman  

Program Schedule


September 2024 – May 2025

Program Schedule

Opening Retreat: September 13 – 15, 2024

The year will begin with a live online retreat with Drs. Joe Loizzo and Pilar Jennings. The opening retreat will introduce the social psychology and compassion practice of the Nalanda tradition, laying the foundation for the art and science of transforming the mind for social engagement.

Bi-weekly Class: Every other Tuesday 12:00 – 1:30pm ET or Thursday 6:00 – 7:30pm ET (students pick one of these times)

For each of the 30 weeks throughout the year, students receive recorded lectures and meditations. Every other week we gather for a live online meeting that includes meditation, whole group discussion, meditation teach-backs and small group breakouts. These meetings are facilitated by our core teaching team, including: Academic Director Joe Loizzo, Contemplative Psychotherapy Program Director Rahshaana Green, Director Diego Hangartner and Director of Programs Geri Loizzo and Facilitator, Michael Perez Sosa.

Spring Retreat: TBD, 2025

There is a Spring retreat to be held at Menla Mountain House (Phoenicia, NY) led by Joe Loizzo, Pilar Jennings and Robert Thurman. The Spring retreat will introduce the transformational depth-psychology and embodied compassion practice of the Nalanda tradition, including the practice of self-transcendent wisdom and the embodiment of unconditional compassion.

Student Website

Outside of class students will access all recordings, audio meditations and readings via the student website.

Extracurricular Offerings

  • Optional weekly practice field, peer-led meditation and group sharing
  • Optional weekly process field, peer-led study and discussion group 
  • Office hours with Program Director, Rahshaana Green 
  • Group supervision hours with Dr. Joe Loizzo

Program Requirements

Outside of class, students are expected to maintain a daily meditation practice based on the curriculum, and read required texts. Students work on a capstone project throughout the year.

Continuing Education Credits

24 Continuing Education Credits (CEs) are available. See below for more Information.


$3,400 per year. Tuition does not include accommodations for retreats. 
Financial aid available for those who qualify (see application)


Deadline: Admissions are rolling

Continuing Education Credits

12 Continuing Education Credits (CEs) are available per retreat (fall and spring) for The Certificate Program in Wise Compassion 2024–2025.

Information on Continuing Education Credit for Health Professionals:

  • CE credits for psychologists are provided by the Spiritual Competency Academy (SCA) which is co-sponsoring this program. The Spiritual Competency Academy is approved by the American Psychological Association to sponsor continuing education for psychologists. Spiritual Competency Academy maintains responsibility for this program and its content.
  • The California Board of Behavioral Sciences accepts CE credits for LCSW, LPCC, LEP, and LMFT license renewal for programs offered by approved sponsors of CE by the American Psychological Association.
  • LCSW, LPCC, LEP, and LMFTs, and other mental health professionals from states other than California need to check with their state licensing board as to whether or not they accept programs offered by approved sponsors of CE by the American Psychological Association.
  • SCA is approved by the California Board of Registered Nursing (BRN Provider CEP16887) for licensed nurses in California. RNs must retain their certificate of attendance for 4 years after the course concludes.

Learning Objectives for fall retreat

At the end of the program, participants will be better able to:

  • Understand and explain the difference between the Theravada vehicle of personal liberation and the Mahayana vehicle of collective liberation 
  • Define the two realities of relative and ultimate and their links with emotional and cognitive compassion 
  • Define the ultimate wisdom of emptiness and its role in cultivating “great” compassion
  • Understand and explain Shantideva’s four step cognitive method of cultivating compassion
  • Understand the benefits and be able to practice equalizing empathy for removing implict bias
  • Understand the benefits and be able to practice self-compassion for treating the traumatic self
  • Understand the benefits and be able to practice giving and taking for building prosocial emotions
  • Understand and be able to practice emulating mentors for embodying love, compassion and altruism 

Learning Objectives for spring retreat

At the end of the program, participants will be better able to:

  • Understand and explain Asanga’s seven step method of cultivating emotional compassion
  • Define the path of integrating cognitive and emotional compassion to embody mature altruism
  • Understand and explain the role of gratitude practice in cultivating mature love and compassion
  • Understand and explain the role of altruistic resolve in embodying mature altruism
  • Describe the positive psychology of cultivating and embodying the six transcendent virtues
  • Describe how the psychology of altruism is linked to the transformation of a social field  
  • Understand the benefits and be able to practice altruistic resolve for embodying altruism
  • Understand the benefits and be able to practice embodying altruism to model it for others

Core Faculty

Joe Loizzo

Joe Loizzo, MD, PhD is a Harvard-trained contemplative psychotherapist, Buddhist scholar, and author with over four decades experience integrating Indo-Tibetan mind science and healing arts into modern neuropsychology, psychotherapy, and clinical research. He is founder and academic director of the Nalanda Institute, an assistant professor of psychiatry at Weill Cornell Medical College, and a clinician in private practice in Manhattan. Joe is the author of numerous scholarly review articles on contemplative neuropsychiatry and psychotherapy. He is the author of the comprehensive textbook, Sustainable Happiness: The Mind Science Of Well-Being, Altruism, and Inspiration. He is executive editor of Advances in Contemplative Psychotherapy: Accelerating Healing and Transformation, a groundbreaking collection of essays by pioneers of the fast-emerging and highly promising new field of contemplative psychotherapy.

Pilar Jennings

Pilar Jennings, PhD, is a psychoanalyst focused on the clinical applications of Buddhist meditation who has been working with patients and their families through the Harlem Family Institute since 2004. She was awarded her PhD in Psychiatry and Religion from Union Theological Seminary, a Masters in medical anthropology from Columbia University, and a Bachelors in interdisciplinary writing from Barnard College of Columbia University. Dr. Jennings is the author of Mixing Minds: The Power of Relationship in Psychoanalysis and Buddhism and To Heal a Wounded Heart: The Transformative Power of Buddhism and Psychotherapy in Action. Currently, she is a researcher at the Columbia University Center for Study of Science and Religion and Co-chair of the Columbia Faculty Seminar on the Memory and Savery, where she explores the intergenerational transmission of trauma.

Diego Hangartner, PhD, PCC, is a clinical pharmacologist and certified coach (PCC), using neuroscientific, performance and clinical scientific insights, combining them to strengthen mental fitness and wellbeing. He spent many years at the Institute of Buddhist Dialectics in India, studying, translating and publishing several Tibetan works, and organized many large events with His Holiness the Dalai Lama in Asia, Europe and the USA. Diego was COO of Mind and Life Institute in the US and co-founder and director of Mind and Life Institute in Europe until 2015. Today, he continues his research and teaching with the Max Planck Institute, The Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, Zürich University of Applied Sciences, and is a lecturer at the Business School of the University St.Gallen.

Michael Perez Sosa, PhD, is a clinical psychologist, contemplative psychotherapist, and musician. He is currently completing a postdoctoral fellowship at Counseling and Psychological Services of Columbia Health at Columbia University where he provides psychotherapy, teaches Compassion-Based Resilience Training (CBRT), and is a member of their Trauma Support Team. Prior to joining CPS, he completed his predoctoral internship at NYC Health + Hospitals | North Central Bronx. He received his doctorate from the City College at the City University of New York (CUNY). His dissertation investigated CBRT as an intervention for front-line healthcare workers in contact with COVID-19 patients. He received his bachelor’s in psychology and religion focusing on Indo-Tibetan Buddhism from Columbia University where he graduated summa cum laude and phi beta kappa. Michael is also a graduate of Nalanda Institute’s Four-Year Program in Sustainable Happiness and is a Certified Teacher of CBRT. Before transitioning to a career in mental health, he attended Berklee College of Music and composed, recorded, produced, and performed music for guitar and voice.

Rahshaana Green

Rahshaana Green, MBA, PMP, RYT, is the Director of the Live Learning Contemplative Psychotherapy Program. She is a coach and business consultant with expertise in Business Development, Marketing, and Strategy in Healthcare and Science. She is also a yoga/meditation teacher specialized in working with injured, aging, and perinatal clients. Green received her BA in Biophysical Chemistry from Dartmouth College, her MBA from University of Texas-Austin, and her foundational yoga training with Ana Forrest. She teaches mindfulness and compassion through meditation and yoga to corporate, group, and private clients and is passionate about empowering others to cultivate well-being and resilience.

Geri Loizzo

Geri Loizzo is Nalanda Institute’s Director of Programming. She is also a meditation faculty member and has served on the Institute’s board of directors since 2007. She’s had a regular practice of Hatha Yoga since 1982 and since 2006 has studied with Nalanda Institute Yoga Faculty, Mary Reilly Nichols. In addition, Loizzo has been studying and practicing Tibetan meditation since 1999, and has been leading weekly morning meditations at the Institute since 2011. Her mentors include Khyabje Gelek Rimpoche, Venerable Robina Courtin, and Kathleen McDonald.

Frequently Asked Questions

I see this program is part of the Contemplative Psychotherapy Program (CPP). Can you say more about this program?

CPP is a three year program consisting of three courses: Certificate Program in Mindful Insight and Care, Certificate Program in Wise Compassion, and the Certificate Program in Embodied Wisdom. Participants may take any combination of these courses and certificates are awarded for each course separately. Nalanda Institute alternates offering the Mindful and Compassion course—in 2024 we are offering the Compassion course as highlighted on this page. We are also offering the Certificate Program in Embodied Wisdom.

Is it best to start with the Mindful Insight or the Wise Compassion course? 
The two courses build complementary meditative and philosophical practices, and for some people the best entry is through compassion, for others it’s mindfulness. Entry into the program is determined on an individual basis, based on the applicant’s experience and exposure to meditative traditions. There are benefits to starting in either year. 

Are there ways that the courses are differentiated other than the subject matter? 
The courses are differentiated by subject matter, meditation practices, as well as faculty. The structure of the classes is the same in both. 

What is the practice field? 
The practice field is a weekly online video conference conducted by students, to discuss the integration and application of meditation in one’s daily life. Alumni are also invited to participate in the practice field. This conference was originally created by a program graduate and learning consultant. 

Is there an opportunity for supervision and peer support? 
A supervision group which meets once monthly, provides feedback and peer support for confidential case studies with clients. This group is facilitated by Dr. Loizzo and the program director.

Can you say something about the capstone projects? 
Capstone projects are a vital component of the program allowing students to integrate their coursework in meaningful ways — personal or professional. Guidelines for the projects are deliberately open and students work on their projects throughout the year. The projects reflect the diverse professional backgrounds of our students and take on many forms. They range from the academic to the creative. Past projects have incorporated clinical applications such as anxiety and eating disorders or have focused on specific population groups such as incarcerated youth. Many projects integrate mindfulness and/or compassion practice. We’ve seen theoretical papers, personal integration papers, websites offering information and tools about meditation, recordings for patients, and a variety of creative/artistic presentations of the material.

I understand that video and audio recordings are made of all of the classes and retreats. How are those made available and are they included in my tuition? Will I have access to those recordings after the year is over? 
Audio and video of all the lectures, as well as most of the assigned readings, are posted on our secure and private website. You will have access to the site after the initial retreat and this access continues for one year from the date of graduation from the course. 

Is there homework? What would a typical homework assignment involve?
There are weekly readings—usually around 30 pages-assigned each week. Assignments include submitting a capstone proposal, status report, and summary throughout the year; meditation teach-backs (in which you lead a meditation for one person or a small group), as well as brief reflection papers on the teach-backs (two reflections per year). 

How many hours outside of the classroom should I expect to put in? 
That’s really up to you! Generally, participants spend about 1–2 hours per week with readings/ material, as well as their daily meditation practice commitment-which is individually determined. 

One of the program’s learning modes is “group practice and process.” Can you say a bit more about that? 
Each week our class begins with meditation practice for approximately 20-25 minutes. This is an integral part of the program that enables students to learn the various meditation practices. As a group, we discuss the meditation practices and explore any questions or concerns that come up as a way to deepen our learning and understanding. Additionally, we provide time for smaller breakout groups that provide more time for students to share their experience and engage with the material.

Another of the program’s learning modes is a “daily personal practice of meditation.” Do I need to be an experienced meditator to be in the program? 
Daily meditation practice is a cornerstone of the program that we encourage and support. We recommend that participants have a basic meditation practice upon entering into the program, but one does not have to be highly experienced. The program offers support to those seeking to develop a daily practice. 

Does it matter what meditation tradition that I follow? 
Absolutely not. The diversity of our students’ practices enriches us all. We have participants coming from many different meditation traditions, and strongly encourage students to maintain their practice and tradition while complementing it with the meditation practices of the program.

What is the application process?
Admissions are on a rolling basis. Prospective students are encouraged to apply early as the class does fill up.