Compassion at the Edge

A Revolutionary Method for Benefitting Others without Burning Out

Taught by Joan Halifax

Regular Price: $149.00

Special Price $129.00

 - Online Course

Being compassionate is no easy undertaking in a world so full of suffering. Those of us who are most driven by the motivation to alleviate suffering—who may have even built careers around it as healthcare professionals, educators, social workers, therapists, and more—are confronted daily by obstacles to acting with compassion. We’re often taught that having too much compassion could threaten the boundaries of our professionalism or cause us to become infected by the suffering of others. And all too often, our experience has been one of overwhelm and burnout as we struggle to care for those around us.

But what if the problem is not that we care too much or too little, but that we’ve been going about compassion all wrong? Roshi Joan Halifax, PhD, a Buddhist teacher, Zen priest, anthropologist, and pioneer in the field of end-of-life care, has spent her life in the service of others. With the help of research by colleagues in the fields of social psychology and neuroscience, she has uncovered that compassion is actually composed of multiple non-compassion elements, all of which are trainable and none of which require us to sacrifice our own well-being or the well-being of those we love and support.

In this course, she reveals the basic anatomy of compassion and shares G.R.A.C.E., a practical five-step process for cultivating the qualities and skills that give us the ability to serve others with an open heart. You can be compassionate without burning out and this course from one of today’s preeminent thought leaders and teachers will show you how.

Course Materials

11 talks by Roshi Joan Halifax, ranging from 15 to 30 minutes each, with downloadable transcripts and audio versions available

Contemplations and practices to help you integrate the teachings into your daily life

Assessment questions to test your understanding of the material presented

Three bonus videos of Roshi Joan’s colleagues explaining the neuroscience behind the G.R.A.C.E. method and its practical application in a professional setting

Unlimited access on your computer, mobile device, or tablet—learn at your own pace wherever and whenever works best for you


In this course, you will learn how to:

  • Cultivate the elements of compassion to build compassion as you would any other skill
  • Stay grounded in yourself as you work with and serve others
  • Recognize common obstacles to living your values and prioritize your intention to serve others
  • Use practical interventions when you begin to experience empathic distress or overwhelm
  • Connect with yourself and others through compassion and mindful practice
What You Will Learn in Each Lesson

Lesson 1
What Is Compassion?

A deficit of compassionate activity in the world today inspired Roshi Joan Halifax to ask some important questions: What is compassion? What is required for us to be able to act compassionately? And what gets in the way? Using research from the fields of neuroscience, social psychology, and contemplative traditions, she created G.R.A.C.E., a five-step practice that helps people from all walks of life cultivate compassion in real time. In this first lesson, we’ll receive an overview of the five steps of G.R.A.C.E. and explore the underlying qualities and capacities that make compassion possible. We’ll also review some common obstacles to compassion.

Lesson 2
The Difference between Compassion and Empathy

Empathic concern can lead to compassionate action or to personal distress. Much of the art of compassion, therefore, is found in balance and discernment. By developing an awareness of our own experience, we can self-regulate and learn to trust the person we’re working with, the situation, and ourselves. In this lesson, we’ll look at what happens when we feel empathy and the conditions that cause us to become dysregulated. We’ll also learn another model for understanding the foundational qualities of compassion.

Lesson 3
Gathering Attention

In a culture saturated by media and technology, where most of us experience information overload, moments when we have the space and discipline to focus our attention on one thing have become a rare commodity. But having our attention grounded in the present moment is the very foundation of compassion. In this lesson, we’ll learn the ins and outs of attention training—from how to train our minds to how it affects our brain, our nervous system, and our capacity for helping others.

Lesson 4
Recalling Intention

Many of us who have devoted our lives to helping others find, over time, how easy it is to lose touch with that original inspiration. Amid the stresses of daily life, we may forget our intention to be of benefit as we just try to get the job done and survive another day. The power of staying connected to our intention, though, is that it gives us access to a deep well of energy and inspiration. It keeps us anchored to who we really are. In this lesson, we’ll learn the benefits of recalling our intention and learn a practice for strengthening our connection to our innate kindness.

Lesson 5
Attuning to Self and Other

When we attune to our own mind and body, we are better able to serve others. But what happens when we find ourselves overwhelmed by another’s suffering? In this lesson, we’ll learn how to attune first to our own experience and then to the experience of the person we’re trying to serve. We’ll also consider some interventions to help ground us when we become upregulated. 

Lesson 6
Considering What Will Serve

When confronted with difficult situations, many of us go into a default mode of trying to fix the situation without taking the time to consider what will really serve. Discerning what is helpful requires that we drop into a place of not-knowing—being open to what is in front of us—rather than reacting defensively or out of habit. In this lesson, we’ll strengthen our ability to make helpful calls when we encounter those who need our support.

Lesson 7
Engaging and Ending

Once we have gathered our attention, recalled our intention, and attuned to ourselves and another, we can consider what will really serve. From that basis, we give ourselves the capacity to engage from a ground of embodied integrity. Whether or not we choose to act, we can trust ourselves to be in alignment with who we really are. In this lesson, we’ll discuss how to know when we’re engaging from our values and how to lend a sense of closure when our interactions with the person we’re trying to serve are coming to an end. We’ll also explore how to make the practice of G.R.A.C.E. a part of our daily life.

About the Instructor

Roshi Joan Halifax, PhD, is a Zen priest and anthropologist who has served on the faculty of Columbia University and the University of Miami School of Medicine. For the past thirty years she has worked with dying people and has lectured on the subject of death and dying at Harvard Divinity School, Harvard Medical School, Georgetown Medical School, and many other academic institutions. In 1990, she founded Upaya Zen Center, a Buddhist study and social action center in Santa Fe, New Mexico. In 1994, she founded the Project on Being with Dying, which has trained hundreds of healthcare professionals in the contemplative care of dying people.

30-Day Satisfaction Guarantee

If for any reason you are not completely satisfied with your purchase, please e-mail us within 30 days of registering for the course, and we will promptly refund your purchase price.

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