The Compassion Year program provides a comprehensive foundation for integrating the social psychology, compassion practice, and transformational approach of Buddhist social psychology with contemporary relational, intersubjective and systems approaches, somatic, polyvagal and gestalt therapies.
This year’s guest faculty may include Robert Thurman, Jan Willis, Jangchub Choden, Seiso Paul Cooper, Jasmine Syedullah, Moustafa Abdelrahman, Diana Fosha, Ethan Nichtern and many others.
What Will I Learn?
We believe all people today need a kind of learning that goes beyond knowledge and skills to liberate and transform us as individuals and community members, so that we can authentically help liberate and transform others and the world we share.
To that end, we weave the transformational approach to learning refined at Nalanda University in ancient India together with those of contemporary psychotherapy, therapeutic group process, and social justice work. This program provides the contemplative learning community we all need to embody a more mindful, compassionate and transformative way of being in our life and work.
The Compassion Year 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 onEmbodying 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
Opening Retreat: September 2 – 4, 2022
The year will begin with a retreat at Menla Retreat Center (Phoenicia, NY) 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. (Retreat will have virtual access for those who cannot attend in person. This retreat will be held online if the cohort is not able to meet in person due to restrictions in place because of COVID-19).
Weekly Class: Thursdays 6:00 – 8:30pm ET
For each of the 30 weeks throughout the year, students gather on Thursdays for a live online class that includes meditation, whole group discussion, meditation teach-backs and small group breakouts, followed by a lecture-discussion led by our core or visiting faculty. These classes are facilitated by Joe Loizzo, Director of Programming Geri Loizzo and CPP Director Rahshaana Green.
Spring Retreat: March 31 – April 2, 2023
There is a live online spring retreat 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.
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
Outside of class, students are expected to maintain a daily meditation practice based on the Compassion Year curriculum, and read required texts.
Students work on a capstone project throughout the year.
Dates: September 2 – May 18
Tuition: $4,500 per year. Tuition does not include accommodations for retreats. Financial aid available for those who qualify (see application)
Joe Loizzo, MD, PhDis 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, 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.
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 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
What are the main differences between the Live Learning and the Blended Learning programs?
• The Live Learning program meets online weekly from September 2 – May 18 on Thursdays between 6:00 – 8:30pm ET and includes live lectures via zoom with visiting faculty members. The tuition for this program is $4,500 (tuition does not include accommodations for retreats).
• The Blended Learning program meets online every other week from October 28 – May 2 on Tuesdays between 6:00 – 7:30pm CET; 9:00 – 10:30am PT; 12:00 –1:30pm ET. Students watch and discuss recordings of the visiting faculty lectures. The tuition for the program is $3,400 (tuition does not include accommodations for in-person retreats).
I see that enrollment is now beginning for the “Compassion Year.” Do I also need to take the “Mindfulness Year”? No, you do not have to take both years. Certificates are awarded each year, so participants are welcome to complete one or both years. Of course, we encourage you to take both years.
Is it best to start with the Mindfulness Year or the Compassion Year? The two years 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 years are differentiated other than the subject matter? The years are differentiated by subject matter, meditation practices, as well as faculty. The structure of the classes is the same in both years.
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.