Compassion at the Edge with Joan Halifax

Are you hard on yourself when remembering past mistakes and hurts?

Do you have a strong inner critic who judges and doubts your thoughts, choices, and self-worth?

Do you compare yourself to others and feel disappointed with who you are versus who you “should” be?

Do you feel stuck repeating old, unhealthy patterns?

Do you experience feelings of shame and unworthiness, as if there is something fundamentally wrong with you?

Do you sometimes feel like you don’t even know who you are?

If you answered yes to any of the above questions, then this course is for you.

Course Summary

This course was designed with your needs in mind and contains all of the following:

10 video lessons, each 20-50 minutes in length

Downloadable Transcripts and MP3s

Selected readings from The Zen of You and Me by Diane Musho Hamilton

Practice Assignments 


Lesson 1: What Is Compassion?

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11 Video Lessons

 11 talks, ranging from 5–15 minutes in length (over 7 hours of content!)—with transcripts and audio-only versions available

Downloadable Transcripts and Selected Readings

Downloadable transcripts of all video sessions

Selected readings for further inquiry

Contemplations and Practices

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

Downloadable Workbook

A PDF workbook outlining all the content in the course, with helpful notes and graphics for you to easily review the teachings

50% Discount on Books

50% discount on the following books by Michael: The Inner Tradition of Yoga, Awake in the World, and Yoga for a World Out of Balance

Unlimited Access

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

3 Bonus Videos

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

“Truly, this course was an embarrassment of riches. . . . I have taken other courses but this has truly been life-altering. The only way I could be more satisfied is if I knew there would be another course!  Thank you . . . thank you . . . thank you.”

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3-month payment plan option available

One-Time Payment of $139


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.

100% 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.

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.


with Roshi Joan Halifax

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3-month payment plan option available

One-Time Payment of $139


Lesson 1: Unity Consciousness and Awareness of Diversity

Our true home is our spiritual nature, a place of safety and ultimate equality. From this original source, we have so much in common. At the same time, our capacity to acknowledge our differences, to be willing to explore them, and to include diversity of opinions and styles within our relationships and communities is a sign of health and vitality. In this lesson, we’ll explore our own embodied experiences of sameness and difference.

Lesson 2: Sameness and Difference

Studies in human development reveal that our focus on our similarities or differences changes throughout the course of our lives. In other words, we are caught in the tension between the comfort of the status quo and the exciting encounter with difference. In this lesson, we’ll explore this contrast, which is a constant on the path toward greater awareness and growth.

Lesson 3: Mindfulness Practice: Engaging Safety and Excitement

The practice of mindfulness improves our concentration and enables us to be more open and mentally flexible. We learn to stay present to difficult emotions and feeling states, and over time, having cultivated nonjudgmental awareness, we can simply observe our interior landscape without incessant self-criticism. In this lesson, we’ll explore ways in which we can begin to develop this ability to approach situations in our life with openness and clarity.

Lesson 4: How the Ego Divides Us

We are groomed by evolution to focus on protecting ourselves whenever we sense a threat to our well-being. In our modern context, we may not be physically threatened. But in our highly social and emotionally complex world, threats to our ego or self-concept can feel every bit as perilous. Our strategies for self-protection range from avoidance to fighting to sarcastic humor to drug addiction. In this lesson, we’ll explore how we can cultivate greater openness and flexibility in the face of intense feelings of threat.

Lesson 5: Listening as a Unity Skill

Listening is the powerful, soothing agent of all communication. Listening is the best tool there is to lower anxiety, diminish division, and open into sameness, into togetherness. Listening will help almost anyone who is triggered to calm down. In this lesson, we’ll learn how to improve our listening skills.

Lesson 6: Expressing Our Uniqueness

If listening opens up the wide territory of sameness, expressing difference catalyzes conversations. Self-expression stimulates and energizes. Our differences distinguish us from everything else, giving shape to our uniqueness and setting us apart. In this lesson, we’ll learn ways we can become more skilled at honest, open verbal expression and sharing our unique perspective.

Lesson 7: Feelings as a Form of Diversity

Every emotion is a state of consciousness, an experience composed of thought, mood, and bodily sensations. We refer to them as “states” because they come and go. They are not permanent, but rather pass through the body and awareness like a blustery storm in winter or a light breeze on a spring day. The problem with our emotions is that we often don’t relate to them as states. We hold onto them if they feel good, or we chase them away if they feel painful. In this lesson, we’ll learn some tools for both harnessing the intelligence of our emotions and releasing them when they no longer serve us.

Lesson 8: Becoming Wholehearted

Compassion is a natural outcome of waking up. As our awareness opens to include more, our heart naturally expands. We feel deeply for the challenges and suffering of others—those who are like us and those who are different than we are. In this lesson, we’ll learn how we can be present to the suffering of others without undue stress or anxiety coursing through our system.

Lesson 9: You and Me, Us and Them

Our desire to understand different perspectives, to listen, to question, and to doubt ourselves varies at different levels of adult development. As our ability to take perspectives changes, our view of the world changes, and so does our way of communicating about it. Using an adult developmental framework to look at differences can show us real possibilities, and also limits, in relationships. In this lesson, we’ll learn about this framework and consider how it affects the way we interact with others.

Lesson 10: Endless Practice

Meditation takes practice. Relationships take practice. Whenever we are consciously aware of whatever we are doing right now, we are practicing. When we lose here-and-now awareness, we are practicing getting lost and then regrouping. But as the old adages say, you cannot get off the path. In this final lesson, we’ll contemplate what our path of practice is as we conclude the course.


“We begin practicing yoga postures in an effort to relieve suffering and find a way to meet life with less effort and more flexibility. Yoga is a path out of suffering. But what we find after our initial foray or honeymoon period is a matrix of psychological and physical holding patterns that have captured our minds and bodies within tightly conditioned parameters.” 

Michael Stone


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.

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Join the Course

Sign up today and experience the profound effect of these teachings on your own life!

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Connect with Yourself and Others

Connect with yourself and others through compassion and mindful practice

Stay Grounded 

Stay grounded in yourself as you work with and serve others

Avoid Burnout

Use practical interventions when you begin to experience empathic distress or overwhelm

Cultivate Compassion

Cultivate the elements of compassion to build compassion as you would any other skill

 Live Your Values

Recognize common obstacles to living your values and prioritize your intention to serve others

Course Summary

This course was designed with your needs in mind and contains all of the following:

11 Video Teachings

3 Bonus Videos

Downloadable Transcripts

 Contemplations and Practices

Unlimited Access


Bonus #1: Recordings of Two Q&A Sessions with Pema

Bonus #2: Shamatha Meditation Instructional Video with Hope Martin

Bonus #3: Open Presence Instructional Video with Rebecca Eldridge

Bonus #4: This Moment Is the Perfect Teacher Audio Program 

Lesson 3: Attitudes and Qualities of Heart

Attitudes that empower the heart—such as self-kindness, acceptance, and equanimity—are grounded in present-moment awareness. They put the brakes on our tendency to spin out into negative beliefs when we’re faced with hardship. This frees up our thinking and allows our creativity to shine forth. Resting in and trusting the inherent OK-ness of here-and-now awareness allows us to access deeper levels of intuition and wisdom related to our illness, our life, and our relationships. The benefits are vast.  






Chapter 3: From Self-Blame to Self Kindness

Chapter 4: Equanimity: The Strength Hidden in Openness

Practice & Explore

Lesson Three: Contemplations

Guided Meditations



Free Preview: Introduction to the Course

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The most unique aspect of this course is its flexible design—short, standalone talks and meditations are available on-demand as your time and energy allow while the overall structure supports a deeper exploration.

The Difference between Empathy and Compassion

When faced with the suffering of a person we care for, a whole range of feelings might arise: sadness, overwhelm, apathy, and more.

In this clip, Roshi Joan Halifax explains that understanding the difference between empathy and compassion is one of the first steps in learning how we can meet the challenge of helping others with an open heart and mind.    

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 Enjoyed the Excerpt?

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.

A Revolutionary Approach to Benefitting Others without Burning Out


Al is the coauthor or editor of seven books, including the three-volume Toward a Science of Consciousness (MIT Press), and Emotions, Qualia, and Consciousness (World Scientific). His research, published in over 160 journal articles and scholarly book chapters, has been supported by grants from the U.S. National Institute on Aging, National Institute of Mental Health, and National Science Foundation, as well as several private foundations and institutes.  His work has focused on the neuropsychology of Alzheimer’s disease and other age-related neurological disorders, cognition and emotion in healthy aging, consciousness, memory self-monitoring, emotion, the psychophysiology of long-term and short-term meditation, and contemplative pedagogy.



Cynda Hylton Rushton is the Anne and George L. Bunting Professor of Clinical Ethics in the Johns Hopkins Berman Institute of Bioethics and the School of Nursing, with a joint appointment in the School of Medicine’s Department of Pediatrics. A founding member of the Berman Institute of Bioethics, Dr. Rushton cochairs the Johns Hopkins Hospital’s Ethics Committee and Consultation Service. Dr. Rushton is currently designing, implementing, and evaluating the Mindful Ethical Practice and Resilience Academy (MEPRA) to build moral resilience in novice nurses. Her forthcoming book, Moral Resilience: Transforming Moral Suffering in Health Care, to be published by Oxford University Press, aims to transform current approaches for addressing moral distress by focusing on innovative methods to cultivate moral resilience and designing a culture in health care that supports ethical practice.


Anthony Back, MD, is professor at the University of Washington and Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center and codirects the UW Center for Excellence in Palliative Care with Randy Curtis. He studies patient-clinician communication and interventions to make clinicians more effective. He was the principal investigator for the Oncotalk interventions, wrote Mastering Communication with Seriously Ill Patients with Bob Arnold and James Tulsky, released the first iPhone app for clinician communication skills and is a 2013-2014 Contemplative Studies Fellow of the Mind and Life Institute.

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 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 first learn how to attune 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.

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.