Photo credit  Susan Mezzullo

Photo credit Susan Mezzullo

Hello. I’m glad that you stopped by. Here’s a bit about me and why I love this compassion stuff.

Living well and helping others live well are what I most want to understand and what I’ve tried to practice from teaching yoga to raising a family around the world. Along the way I have realized that while many people live great lives without ever touching their toes or leaving their hometown, no one gets to opt out of pain, disappointment, or sorrow. I have also learned that responding to our own and others’ suffering with compassion somehow makes things less difficult and is something everyone can cultivate and learn to choose.

As far as my memory reaches, life has taught me that hard things can get better – especially when people show up with kindness. A childhood crash at the bottom of a hill while trying out new roller skates was infused with compassion. Neighbors rushed to help and carry me home. My parents took me to the hospital and stayed close by. A gentle doctor stitched up the wounded knee. My body transformed the bleeding gash into a silvery, scarab-shaped scar. Comforted and curious, I began looking for compassion's fingerprints in other places. Watching life unfold in unexpected ways, I observed how people responded and noticed the impact of my own and others' choices.

I studied literature, languages, folklore, and philosophy to explore expressions of human experience across time. I traveled around the world to see, hear, smell, taste, and touch life in its countless forms. Joys and sorrows, life and death crossed my path. Again and again, I saw how fear and anger could complicate and magnify pain. But I also witnessed people choosing compassion for themselves and others – meeting anguish with loving presence – and spinning the straw of suffering into the gold of connection, healing, and wisdom. This was what I wanted.

Recent discoveries in neuroscience confirm what wisdom traditions have taught for ages: compassion can be deliberately learned, practiced, and strengthened. Compassion Cultivation Training© (CCT) was developed at Stanford's Center for Compassion and Altruism Research and Education (CCARE) as one way to nurture the capacity and courage to meet suffering with presence, acceptance, and compassion. Developing these qualities has been shown to offer a wide range of benefits from improving personal and professional relationships to reducing stress and anxiety. Learning to face the universal challenges of life with strength and grace reduces suffering and can transform the very things that we thought would break us into the most resilient and beautiful parts of who we are. That said, compassion is not acquiescence – sometimes the most compassionate choice is to stop ourselves or others from causing harm. One of the greatest gifts of cultivating compassion is awakening to our common humanity and an understanding that our struggles do not isolate us from others but are part of the human experience to which we all belong. Choosing to show up and stay present with kindness when life gets hard is not easy but it is possible and living with compassion is at the heart of a life lived well.

I am honored to be certified by the Compassion Institute and Stanford University’s Center for Compassion and Altruism Research and Education (CCARE) as a Certified Compassion Cultivation Training© (CCT) Instructor and look forward to joining you in cultivating compassion for ourselves, others, and the world.