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ACT 2020 Featured Capstone:

Deepening Compassion Through Engagement with Art

Nelly Alandou

Painter and Art Workshop Facilitator




Alandou_portrait (2019_05_24 17_48_51 UT

Describe Your Capstone Project.

In ACT with the collaboration with my mentor and capstone team, I designed, developed 3, 3-hour workshops for people with an interest in the notion of “art as a process” that were delivered over 3 weeks to 18 participants. I believe that art holds the keys to accessing compassion. By approaching art from a place of mindfulness, we are approaching ourselves and discovering a space where the artwork, the artist’s suffering and our suffering cohabit. Engaging with art requires vulnerability, awareness, openness to beauty. The importance of the project lies in redefining how we engage with art and inquiring about what would happen if we engaged with one another the way we engaged with an artwork?

Describe Its Impact.

My hope for these workshops is to create a space for the participants to stand in front of themselves and others. The skills activated when seeing/feeling art are the same ones that are present when meeting the other (our self) in their suffering. Through the survey filled out after the workshop, the participants reported that the experience allowed them to deepen compassion for others and themselves. The stories they created and shared during the workshop were very vulnerable, and it was beautiful seeing the shared experience stretched by the willingness of one human to listen to another human.

How has the ACT Program helped you become an Ambassador of Compassion?

Building my ACA Capstone Project helped me be an Ambassador of Applied Compassion by teaching be 3 main lessons. (1) On self-compassion: the process "forced" me into a conversation with my inner critic, and the humility to acknowledge my inner strengths and shortcomings was the only way through. (2) On not knowing: I am left with more questions than answers, on awareness, on how we deepen compassion, and on how to be firm. (3) On the necessity for action: the capstone project concretizes our role as a representative of compassion and teaches us what it means to lead by example.

What advice would you give to someone who's considering registering for the ACT Program?

Participating in the Applied Compassion Training (ACT) shifted the way I approach my interactions with myself and others. I now try to approach all the micro-compassion opportunities with a thought Robert expressed early in the program "Resisting suffering only adds more suffering". I ask myself more questions. I meet the presence of my inner critic with compassion. I pay attention to my breathing more often. I say no, not now. I also say yes.


Be the change!

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