Compassion is sometimes confused with empathy, or even sympathy. It is neither, though it includes some aspects of both. Compassion begins when we allow ourselves to really hear and attune to suffering, that of others, as well as ourselves. And hearing and perceiving this anguish, we are moved to do something about it. What takes compassion beyond sympathy or empathy is that it includes action, action that is considered, skillful and beneficial.
Council is a foundational practice that builds our capacity to perceive the experience of others and invites us to pay attention. When we listen differently to someone’s story, without judging, we create the conditions for compassion to arise. Council asks us to lean in, to learn ways we can skillfully attend to the pain we recognize in ourselves and others, and to do something helpful in response. This book is an invitation to build the muscle of compassion, through exercises and practices that enhance our capacity to listen from the heart and, in so doing, take care of ourselves and those around us.
"Where Compassion Begins is exactly what is needed now to bring the essence of compassionate communication more fully into the contemporary world. Jared Seide has woven together the practices of council and meditation in a personal and accessible way that supports tangible life practices along the path of the heart. Where Compassion Begins is an imaginative bridge from the traditional roots of council and meditation to this moment in evolution, with contemporary references to science, medicine and recent understanding of the human condition."
— Jack Zimmerman
former Director of The Ojai Foundation
and author of The Way of Council
About the Author
Jared Seide is the Executive Director of Center for Council (centerforcouncil.org), a nonprofit organization that trains practitioners in mindfulness and council to promote wellness and resiliency, foster compassion and build community. Seide has worked extensively with schools, healthcare organizations, elder care facilities, prisons, law enforcement organizations, community based organizations and businesses to promote individual wellness and resilience and to foster thriving organizations and communities.
Seide has developed and shepherded: Peace Officer Wellness, Empathy & Resiliency Training to promote health, relationality and compassion amongst police and correctional officers; Compassion, Attunement & Resilience Education for Healthcare Professionals, focusing on burnout and dysregulation amongst physicians, nurses and other first responders; Council for Insight, Compassion & Resilience, an award-winning transformational insight and accountability-oriented rehabilitation program for incarcerated populations; the Organizational Wellness Project, to help build positive organizational culture within public and private companies; as well as other council-based programs to support and resource impacted communities and emerging leaders.
Seide has led trainings and retreats focusing on compassion, reconciliation and community-building throughout the U.S., as well as in Poland, Rwanda, France, Colombia and Bosnia-Herzegovina. He has led workshops, presentations and conference seminars around the world and has been a Resident Fellow at the Rockefeller Foundation's Bellagio Center. Seide is a graduate of Brown University and the chaplaincy program of the Upaya Institute.
"Jared Seide provides fail-safe practices which can transform you into a master of compassion. Cherish this book always—it will help to make you the person you have always wanted to be."
—Roshi Wendy Egyoku Nakao
Abbot Emeritus, Zen Center of Los Angeles
"This is mindfulness in practice offering hope across our differences and deep divides, a pathway that could not be more needed or opportune at this point in our communities and nation. This book is truly a gift for our times."
—John Paul Lederach
Author of The Moral Imagination
"Not a week goes by when I am not reminded of Council’s work in the prisons being life-altering… Council has the capacity to do this, and Jared is one of the Soul-Changers."
former Inspector General
of the State of California
"This book is truly a gift to the world that will enable the reader to live a life of compassion in a skillful way that is beneficial to all. How awesome would it be if we included this book in our police academies as a foundation for all other training."
former Chief of Police,
Emeryville Police Department