Where Compassion Begins: Foundational Practices to Enhance Mindfulness, Attention and Listening from the Heart

by Jared Seide, Executive Director of Beyond Us & Them

where compassion begins book cover - written by Jared seide

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 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.

This book is intended 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 Introduction to the Way of Council Workshop and that have been culled from many years of council practice in many settings.

It also includes material created to encourage and support extending 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.

Available to purchase in English & Spanish and audiobook, and available in a special edition for incarcerated persons.

what fans are saying about Where Compassion Begins

"This is mindfulness in practice offering hope across our differences and deep divides, a pathway which 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

“Jared’s remarkable expertise in bringing the practice of council to organizations, particularly those in the law enforcement arena, is, in my experience as a police chief, a key component in healing the rift between police and the communities they serve. How awesome would it be if we included this book in our police academies as a foundation for all other training.”

Jennifer Tejada, Former Police Chief
Emeryville Police Department

“Where Compassion Begins launches each of us on a journey to truly be there for ourselves, so that we can truly prepare to be there for others.”

Rabbi Yechiel Hoffman
US Director, Jewish Interactive

"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

"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 resource will act as a great supplement to the current curriculum... Jared Seide’s work with Center for Council inside California’s prisons has changed the lives of many.”

Dr. Brant Choate, Director of Rehabilitative Services
​California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitations

become a recurring donor and receive a free copy

Sign up to be a regular monthly donor and you'll receive a free copy of Where Compassion Begins by Jared Seide.

special editions

Where Compassion Begins is available in a special edition for incarcerated persons, as well as Spanish-language versions and as an audiobook.

author bio

Jared Seide is the Executive Director of Beyond Us & Them. He is an author, speaker and recipient of the 2023 Marcia Slater Johnston Award for Outstanding Leadership in Community-Based Efforts to Reduce Social Isolation and Loneliness conferred by the Foundation for Social Connection for "exemplifying exceptional leadership and dedication in reducing social isolation and loneliness and promoting connection in his community.".

To find out more about Jared, read guest articles and listen to podcasts he has featured. Visit Jared's page.

Jared Seide_Executive Director_Team_Beyond Us and Them


ordering information

Where Compassion Begins is available as a gift when you become a recurring donor.

You can also purchase a paperback, audio or ebook version via Amazon, ​or at select independent bookstores.

For bulk orders, please reach out to

Order the special edition for incarcerated persons on Amazon

where compassion begins book cover - written by Jared seide


Leaving Prison Behind book

Leaving Prison Behind: A Council Before I Go is a beautiful and powerful illustrated novella that was created to be a resource for individuals facing the challenges of incarceration, rehabilitation and the path to freedom. It weaves the words, stories and insights of system-impacted individuals and those who support them.

Leaving prison behind book_jared seide_beyond us and them