I was born in 1957 in the Netherlands. Instead of studying at university, I lived as a Buddhist monk for six years in South East Asia. During this period, I studied Buddhist psychology, practised meditation intensively and learned to teach meditation to others. I have written several books on this subject, some of which have been translated into English.
After returning to the Netherlands, I trained as a nurse in psychiatric settings. I started to get interested in a more secular way of practising and teaching mindfulness, and studied to become an MBSR/MBCT teacher at the Institute for Mindfulness (IvM) in the Netherlands. I am now affiliated as a trainer at various training institutes across Europe. My wife and I have set up a private practice from which we organise retreats and training in mindfulness and compassion.
As a trainer and author, I collaborate closely with psychiatrist/psychotherapist Erik van den Brink, with whom I developed a follow-up programme for participants who have already followed a mindfulness-based training (e.g. MBSR or MBCT). This programme is called Mindfulness-based Compassionate Living (MBCL). We teach workshops and a Teacher Training Programme on MBCL throughout Europe. Together we wrote several books on compassion training, which were published in the Netherlands and later translated into German, English and Spanish.
- 1982-1988 – living as a Buddhist monk
- 1994 – qualified as a nurse in psychiatry, the Netherlands.
- 2007 – as a teacher MBSR/MBCT in the Institute for Mindfulness (IvM), the Netherlands (VMBN, category 1)
- Completed postgraduate training in Mindfulness-based Approaches including: Mindfulness-based Supervision (Alison Evans); Deep Listening (Rosamund Oliver); Mindful Communication (Susan Gillis Chapman, Edel Maex); Interpersonal Mindfulness Teacher Training (Florence Meleo-Meyer & Phillis Hicks); Mindful Self-Compassion (Kristin Neff, Chris Germer); and Breathworks (Vidyamala Burch).
- Completed postgraduate training in psychotherapy: Compassion Focused Therapy (Paul Gilbert, Chris Irons)
Teaching Training Specialisms
- Mindfulness-based Compassionate Living (MBCL)
- MBSR, MBCT, Interpersonal Mindfulness
- Working with mindfulness and compassion in clinical settings
- Mindfulness meditation
Retreat Lead Experience
- Four to five intensive vipassana meditation retreats a year (lasting four to 30 days) since 1994
- Three to four secular mindfulness retreats on a yearly basis since 2010 for MBSR Teacher Training Institutes in Europe (MBSR)
- Several secular compassion retreats of three to seven days since 2008, first with Erik van den Brink and the last two years with Jetty Heynekamp
- Since 2016, I have taught a four-day Interpersonal Mindfulness workshop with Erik van den Brink and/or Jetty Heynekamp
- Interpersonal Mindfulness
Since 1979, I have attended many retreats (vipassana + metta), first in the Netherlands and then, from 1982-1988, in South East Asia, with many teachers. From 1988, I have still attended a yearly retreat of five or six weeks, in Wat Vivek Asom (Thailand), Saddhammaransi Yeiktha (Burma) and in Swe Oo Min Yeiktha (Burma – 2008). The last ten years I have attended a yearly retreat of five or six weeks in Wat Bhaddanta Asabharam, Thailand.
I have also attended retreats on Mindful Communication with Gregory Kremer and with Florence Meleo Meijer and have attended workshops on Mindful Communication by Susan Gillis Chapman and Rosamund Oliver. I practise mindfulness and compassion on a daily base, formally and informally.
Research Activities and Interests
I was involved with and co-authored several articles (see below) on studies into mindfulness and compassion training for psychiatric out-patients, health professionals and psychiatric trainees. I am particularly interested in how mindfulness and compassion can be presented in a non-religious way.
Books in English:
- Van den Brink, E. & Koster, F. with Norton, V. (expected 2018): A practical guide to Mindfulness-Based Compassionate Living: Living with Heart. London: Routledge.
- Van den Brink, E. & Koster, F. (expected 2018). Mindfulness-Based Compassionate Living – A deepening programme for those with basic mindfulness skills. In I. Ivtzan (Ed.), The Handbook of Mindfulness-Based Programs: Every Established Intervention, from Medicine to Education. London: Routledge.
- Van den Brink, E. & Koster, F. (2015). Mindfulness-Based Compassionate Living: A new training programme to deepen mindfulness with heartfulness. London: Routledge.
- Koster, F. (2014). The Web of Buddhist Wisdom. Chiang Mai, Silkworm Books.
- Koster, F. (2007). Buddhist Meditation as Stress Management. Chiang Mai, Silkworm books.
- Koster, F. (2004). Liberating Insight. Chiang Mai, Silkworm books.
Papers in peer-reviewed journals
- Schuling, S., Huijbers, M., Jansen, H., Metzemaekers, R., Van den Brink, E., Koster, F., Van Ravesteijn, H., & Speckens, A. (2017). Mindfulness Based Compassionate Living in recurrent depression: the co-creation of a post-graduate intervention to Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy. Mindfulness. doi:10.1007/s12671-017-0783-1
- Bartels-Velthuis, A. A., Van der Ploeg, K., Koster, F., Fleer, J., Schroevers, M. J., & Van den Brink, E. (2016). A Mindfulness-Based Compassionate Living training in a heterogeneous sample of psychiatric outpatients: a feasibility study. Mindfulness, 7, 809–818.
Frits’ website is at www.compassionateliving.info.