As of 2012, I have been working with Edwin Rutsch of the Center for Building a Culture of Empathy to build a hands on, walking the talk, empathy practice. We designed the Empathy Circles as one way of practising empathy.
The circles are based in science from many different disciplines such as psychology, neuroscience, biology, philosophy and arts (i.e. dance and literature). One of the side effects of having so many disciplines studying empathy is that each discipline comes up with its own working definition of what empathy is. In general, three components can be distinguished: an emotional component, a cognitive component and an action-oriented component. We feel what others are experiencing, we imagine what others are experiencing and we become prone to act upon the experience of others.