Compassion Beads

Compassion Beads were inspired by the “Alphabet of the Heart” mnemonic created by Dr. Doty for his lecture to incoming medical students at the Tulane University School of Medicine White Coat Ceremony in 2011 and memorialized in the last chapter of Into the Magic Shop: A Neurosurgeon’s Quest to Discover the Mysteries of the Brain and the Secrets of the Heart.

His lecture was later heard by the Rev. Ann Helmke, the Spiritual Director at the Haven for Hope Homeless Shelter and the Co-founder and Director of the San Antonio peaceCenter, who found it profoundly moving. Rev. Helmke shared Dr. Doty’s mnemonic widely, inspiring then 9-year-old Jenny Wren to create the first set of “compassion beads”. Jenny added an eleventh “golden bead” to symbolize the Golden Rule. Ultimately, Rev. Helmke created an inspiring YouTube video based on the mnemonic.

The beads start with Compassion and end with Love: The order of the beads is: Compassion, Dignity, Equanimity, Forgiveness, Gratitude, Humility, Integrity, Justice, Kindness and Love, and the bead string ends with a golden bead symbolizing the Golden Rule: "Treat Others as you wish to be treated yourself.” 

The Compassion beads are made from humble materials. 10mm Wooden beads stained a deep walnut are strung with a single 8mm brass bead on red hemp cord and tied at the end. The beads are sized to slip over one or two fingers, and measure approximately 1.75 – 2 inches in diameter (sizes will vary slightly). 

All profits go to the San Antonio peaceCENTER.

Order the Beads

The Alphabet of the Heart and Compassion Beads

Dr Doty created a mnemonic called, "The Alphabet of the Heart", to be used as a meditation exercise. He then wrote about the exercise in his book, Into the Magic Shop. The Alphabet of the Heart includes Compassion, Dignity, Equanimity, Forgiveness, Gratitude, Humility, Integrity, Justice, Kindness and Love.

In a podcast series, Dr. Doty discusses each letter of the mnemonic with Dr James Kirby, Clinical Psychologist and Visiting Scholar at CCARE. Each episode features Dr Doty and Dr Kirby discussing  In each episode we provide personal reflections, research on the attribute, as well as practical tips to cultivate that specific attribute.

Listen to the podcast.

The Alphabet of the Heart inspired Compassion Beads, which were designed by the San Antonio peaceCENTER. The beading is done by 11-year-old Jen of JennyWren. The beads start with Compassion and end with Love: The bead string ends with a golden bead symbolizing the Golden Rule: "Treat Others as you wish to be treated yourself."