Where Compassion Begins

Introducing a new book by Jared Seide, Executive Director of Center for Council:

Where Compassion Begins: Foundational Practices to Enhance Mindfulness Attention and Listening from the Heart (2021).



Where Compassion Begins 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. 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. When we truly listen to someone’s story, without analyzing or judging, we create the conditions for compassion to arise.

The practice of council, described and explored in this book, provides a means by which we can skillfully attend to the pain we recognize in ourselves and others, and do something helpful in response. In some ways, this is an expression of the Three Tenets: council invites us to set aside all we think we know and open our hearts to what is offered in the circle, suspending judgment, analysis, and agenda; as we enter with not-knowing and truly bear witness to what is offered in council, we are moved in unexpected ways to set new intentions to embody compassion intentionally and actively. This practice is the foundation for all of the programs Center for Council has created to support health and wellness, rehabilitation, relationality, community cohesion, and self-regulation.

Where Compassion Begins was initially envisioned as a resource for participants in Center for Council’s prison programming called “Council for Insight, Compassion, and Resilience,” a rehabilitative program now offered in 27 California prisons that teaches the fundamentals of council practice and facilitation to incarcerated individuals. This program has been very successful in supporting the transformative journey of thousands of individuals through the California penal system and was acknowledged with the 2020 “Innovations in Corrections Award” by the American Correctional Association. Center for Council has adopted the program and curriculum to support community-based organizations (Organizational Wellness Project), healthcare workers (Compassion, Attunement, Resilience Education – or CARE), and even law enforcement officers (Peace Officer Wellness, Empathy, and Resilience – or POWER – Training); seven cohorts of LAPD officers are currently engaged in this six-month POWER training program.

Where Compassion Begins was written to provide a resource for anyone who has had an opportunity to sit in a council circle, or whose curiosity has been ignited by what the practice of council may have to offer. It offers explanations, definitions, and distinctions that are part of the Center for Council’s Introduction to the Way of Council Workshop and that have been culled from many years of council practice in many settings. It also includes practical activities and material created to encourage and support the extension of the teachings of council into one’s life, outside of the council circle. The core intentions of listening and speaking from the heart can unfold in every facet of one’s life, well beyond the experience of the council circle. This book provides a roadmap for the journey of discovery along this rich path.

Where Compassion Begins is available in paperback, ebook, and audiobook, as well as a version for incarcerated individuals, in English and Spanish. Proceeds from the sale of the book support Center for Council’s programs. More information and ordering links can be found HERE.


“Jared Seide provides fail-safe practices which can transform you into a master of compassion. He speaks directly to the deep yearning of the human heart to connect with others and to join with their joys and suffering in ways that are helpful and life-giving. 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
International Peacebuilder,
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.”
Robert Barton
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.”
Jennifer Tejada
former Chief of Police,
Emeryville Police Department


Jared Seide is the Executive Director of Center for Council. He has designed, piloted and coordinated council-based programs in prisons, assisted living facilities, youth groups, and a variety of non-profit, faith-based organizations, social service, and law enforcement agencies, including the “Co-Mentoring Project,” for emancipated foster youth, the “Organizational Wellness Project,” for the staff of scores of community-based organizations, the “Council for Insight, Compassion & Resilience” active in more than twenty prisons throughout California and winner of the American Correctional Association’s Innovations in Corrections award, the “Trainer Leadership Initiative,” supporting emerging council leaders serving impacted communities, and the council-based “Peace Officer Wellness, Empathy & Resilience” (POWER) Training Program for law enforcement and correctional officers. “Compassion, Attunement & Resilience Education” (CARE) for Healthcare Professionals is a program he developed with Dr. Ann Philips Seide that focuses on burnout and dysregulation amongst physicians, nurses, and other first responders and utilizes innovations mindfulness science and compassionate communication techniques like council to support a culture of professional wellness in healthcare.

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Where Compassion Begins

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