Compassion is one of the great human virtues, and has long been central to Naropa University’s distinct approach to contemplative education. Increasingly, modern scientific research is providing strong support for the value of secular compassion training, both to enhance personal well-being and to benefit others. Compassion has long been a centerpiece in Naropa’s graduate and undergraduate curriculum, with over 90 courses including modules on compassion. In recognition of these time-tested methods and insights to share about compassion, its cultivation, and its potential for transforming individuals and society, the Compassion Initiative was founded in 2014, a collaboration between Naropa core faculty compassion trainers and compassion researchers.
The Compassion Initiative is a three part training and research initiative to share compassion practices, teachings, and science with our community and world:
Our foundational compassion training program, offers an introduction to compassion and its cultivation for individuals from all walks of life.
The 8-week WELCOME program was developed by a seasoned team of contemplative professors at Naropa University, and draws from both ancient knowledge of diverse wisdom traditions and new scientific evidence. Consistent with traditional understanding and emerging scientific perspectives, the program places a strong emphasis on training both mindfulness and loving-kindness (metta) meditations, including their synergistic interplay.
This training program builds on WELCOME, a training focused primarily on building capacity to care for ourselves, for loved ones, for strangers, and for difficult people. ENGAGE extends this care to the most difficult situations of our lives and of the planet, seeking out trouble spots, pain and trauma, learning to open our hearts to it through “sending and receiving” tonglen meditation, and to build resilience in working with suffering in specific areas our lives..
Our compassion blog, The Soft Spot, takes its name from Naropa University’s founder, Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche, who spoke of the compassion instinct inherent in our humanity as “the soft spot.” We could be “covered with cast-iron shields, but some sore spot always exists in us, which is fantastic. That sore spot is known as embryonic compassion, potential compassion.” The Soft Spot serves as a central resource for sharing new and exciting knowledge about compassion, relevant events, and compassion science.
“At its best, one's educational journey isn't just about oneself. Naropa fosters engaging one's education with a bigger vision.”
— Jordan Quaglia, PhD
Assistant Professor of Contemplative Psychology
Jordan Quaglia, PhD, is Assistant Professor of Contemplative Psychology at Naropa University. During doctoral training in Experimental Psychology at Virginia Commonwealth University, he was awarded Mind and Life Institute’s Francisco J. Varela Award for his dissertation research on the effects of mindfulness training on social emotion regulation. Now at Naropa, he directs the Cognitive and Affective Science Lab, relying on a range of methods, from neuroscientific measures to smartphone-based surveys. Quaglia’s research, focused primarily on topics of meditative cognition, emotion regulation, and social functioning, has been featured in leading scientific journals and scholarly books. In January 2017, he joined the Center for the Advancement of Contemplative Education as Research Director for the Compassion Initiative.