Empathy and Compassion in Society Conference

Christine

Christine Miller

Christine Miller

Those of you who know about my long-term research project into Love –  Love in the Boardroom and Love in Organisations via www.Loveworks.co  – will understand exactly why I was attracted to the ‘Empathy and Compassion in Society’ conference which took place in London’s South Bank on October 24th as  the subject matter fits perfectly with many aspects of my work in the field of human potential for ReSource magazine.

This piece is a quick snapshot of the event; every part of the day was valuable, and all will be included in  fuller pieces to follow. There was a stellar line up of 20 speakers including guest of honour, Karen Armstrong (Charter for Compassion), Daniel Goleman (of Emotional Intelligence fame), Adam Grant (leading US business school Wharton’s youngest tenured professor and highest rated teacher) and Jo Berry, Founder of Building Bridges for Peace.

The conference offered a rich and varied feast of ideas and practical suggestions for increasing compassion in society, from schools to workplaces, in healthcare and homes, from the individual to the collective, with great sign posts to research from Stanford’s Emma Seppala and enthusiasm shining throughout.

The day began with a message, courtesy of David Rand, Executive Director of The Tenzin Gyatso Institute, from HH the Dalai Lama, who said there should be many more conferences dedicated to compassion, as loving kindness is such an important quality and way of being. This was  followed by a moving talk from Karen Armstrong about the great need for compassion in our world. Karen is currently working with TED on a major international project to propagate the Charter for Compassion, which was crafted by leading thinkers in six of the world’s religions.

Engagingly com-passionate Associate Professor of the University of Texas, Kristin Neff treated us to a range of techniques for being compassionate to ourselves as well as to others, so that we gave ourselves permission for self-compassion, Kristin’s area of interest and outstanding expertise.  Kristin is author of the internationally acclaimed book Self-Compassion (2011) and is also featured in the bestselling book and award-winning documentary The Horse Boy, which chronicles her family’s journey to Mongolia where they trekked on horseback to find healing for her autistic son.

A round table discussion gave us great insights from some active advocates and practitioners of compassion including Richard Barrett, an author, speaker and social commentator on the evolution of human values in business and society. He is the Founder and Chairman of the Barrett Values Centre, a values-based leadership programme used in 60 countries to support more than 4,000 organisations. His recent publications include The Values-Driven Organisation: Unleashing Human Potential for Performance and Profit(2013) and Love, Fear and the Destiny of Nations (2011).

Another panelist was Maureen Cooper,  the author of ‘The Compassionate Mind Approach to Reducing Stress’, which is due to be published in the UK in September 2013.

Maureen is also founder of Awareness in Action, a consultancy dedicated to the secular application of mindfulness, meditation and compassion in the workplace.

 

Also on the panel was inspirational and entertaining Kevin Jones, headmaster of St John’s College School in Cambridge, who was awarded the 2013 Tatler Prize for Best Headmaster. One of the school’s many strengths is its mindfulness programme, part of the school’s emotions for learning project designed to strengthen children’s emotional resilience.

Paul Ekman, who is a leading clinical psychologist and pioneer in the study of emotions, came to us by video message and discussed whether compassion is an emotion and whether it can be cultivated. His 1970s research shows that emotions are universal and the facial expressions associated with some emotions are common to all humans.

The afternoon brought us a selection of valuable workshops, followed by examples of ways in which compassion is being encouraged in a number of organisations from Tesco, through The Reader Organisation and Jane Davis MBE  to hospitals in Australia, via Liz Lobb and Alexandra Yuille,  insight into the concept of  ‘Give and Take’ from Adam Grant, and Daniel Goleman’s wonderful speech about leadership and compassion, about which more to follow.

 

This conference offered such a packed and powerful schedule, it will take me a while to process the individual elements and report further, but in the meantime if you have some time this weekend, do register and go along to the workshops, you will be doing a great kindness to yourself by learning more. Do visit the link below and find out more. 

Empathy and Compassion in Society

 

Thanks to Sophie & Olivia at TPR-Media for your cooperation – much appreciated.

Living Wholeheartedly – A Retreat for People Affected by Cancer

Benn Abdy Collins

Benn Abdy Collins

Guest Post by Benn Abdy Collins

Anyone whose life is affected by an incident or trauma has something in common with anyone else who’s going through the same thing.

My mum had cancer. I saw what she went through and I wanted to both understand how that affected both her and me and, I wanted to make a difference in the lives of people affected by cancer.

As a result, I’ve worked as a volunteer in a hospice and I’ve worked driving ambulance patients to and from cancer treatments. Now I help design and deliver inside-out activities, either as one-day events or three-day retreats, for people affected by cancer, so they may explore the benefit of spiritual tools in their lives.

Living Wholeheartedly is our next retreat being held over the weekend of 1st to 3rd November 2013.

I include the invitation and informational flyer for the retreat, below.

With blessings,
Benn

Please pass on details of this empowering retreat to anyone who has cancer, or is caring for a relative or friend who has cancer, and is interested in exploring meditation and other ‘inside- out’ approaches to support them in the challenges they face.

For more information and an application form please contact:

John McConnel at lwc@uk.bkwsu.org by Friday 11 October 2013, if possible.
(Registration extended until October 18th) 

There is no charge for the weekend but donations are welcome.

Thank you.

Living Wholeheartedly

 

Celebrating Poetry – And she brought me Snowdrops…

And she brought me snowdrops...

And she brought me snowdrops...

 

And she brought me Snowdrops…

Sharp strands slicing,
Stinging swallows:
Tiny throat cut,
No mercy.

Crisp cold whiteness
Thin flat sheets
Hard steel
Metal, framed.

Voice silenced;
No sound emits.
No signal -
No response.

The vast space
Echoes briskly
Attendants bustle
No relief.

Trickle of tears,
Lonely tracks
Tracing patterns,
Still, alone.

Plucked from home,
Separated,
Before three springs,
Untimely rift.

Sudden sense,
Familiar tone,
Eternal smile,
Soft arms enfold.

And She, salvation,
Maternal, golden,
Of radiant warmth,
Brought me snowdrops.

© Christine Miller

 

This poem arose from seeing a film on the BBC’s ‘The Great British Year’ of a February woodland garden in Gloucestershire, filled with snowdrops in bloom, their delicacy and beauty carpeting the ground with that fabulous first sign of winter’s end approaching.

Tears sprang to my eyes as I recalled with great clarity the time when I was about two and a half years old when I had my tonsils out. I still have strong memories of this. I can see clearly the area pre-theatre where gas cylinders and bottles of blood were stored, I feel the cold crisp linen of the hospital bed and the hard metal bars that kept me imprisoned there. I recall not being able to call out to the nurses for help. I remember the pain of my raw throat, and, acutely, the loneliness.

My beautiful Mother, Jane

My beautiful Mother, Jane

In those distant days when I was little, parents weren’t allowed into hospital with their children, and visiting hours were very strictly enforced. I was desolate, in pain,  and afraid, and when my mother did arrive with a beautiful bunch of snowdrops, and a pretty little silver hair slide, which I treasured for years, I was filled with joy and relief.

The image of those snowdrops is still fresh in my mind, all these years later, and as I watched the scene in the film, these words, ‘And she brought me snowdrops’, erupted superbly into my consciousness and demanded to be expanded, expressed and offered as a token of gratitude and Love to my dearly departed mother, whose healing, radiant presence is still with me every day.

And it also just happens to be National Poets Day today, so I dedicate this to all poets, everyone, everywhere, may your creativity flow with abundance.

Christine – for National Poet’s Day 2013

Find more of Christine’s poetry here: Soul Poet

For the Love of Art

Marilène Oliver, Dreamcatcher, laser-cut acrylic fishing wire and ostrich feathers Beaux Arts

Strarta: London’s Newest Art Fair

Marilène Oliver, Dreamcatcher, laser-cut acrylic fishing wire and ostrich feathers Beaux Arts

Marilène Oliver, Dreamcatcher, laser-cut acrylic fishing wire and ostrich feathers Beaux Arts

It’s a real honour to be speaking at the inaugural Strarta Art Fair in the prestigious Saatchi Gallery in London’s Kings Road next week, and the topic of The Love of Art is, of course, particularly relevant and resonant with my research and writing for the Love at Work and Love in the Boardroom projects which currently fill my life and engage my attention.

Developing material for this talk is a rather delicious experience, combining some of my favourite interests and passions, and sending me on colourful, poetic and richly rewarding journeys into imagination, creativity, connection, inspiration – and Love.

Yes, Love, of course. Love as energy, Love as inspiration, Love as – well, a fount of great excitement and impulses to create.

I was asked to write a few paragraphs for publicity about what I’ll be talking about on October 11th, and when my words were greeted by the team with great enthusiasm, the suggestion was to share with my readers here.

For those of you who are coming along, here is a foretaste, for those who aren’t, here’s a little snippet of what I’m sure will be developing as a theme over the next few months.

Enjoy!

The Love of Art

Christine Miller asks: What do we talk about, when we talk about Love?

Some think of Love as a fluffy, soft thing, based on romance, muddied by weakness and scandal, dismissed as an irrelevance, and relegated solely to close relationships and family. Love can be taboo, and not for discussion at our work, in business, or in places where serious decisions are made.  But the kind of love of which Christine Miller speaks, which she has researched for three years, and observed as present throughout organisations and activities across the globe, evident in courageous, creative individuals, is not a weak and feeble thing. It is a strong, powerful, demanding love, inspiring, creative – a love that insists on courage, on dedication, on honesty, trust and openness. This is a tough, even fierce, kind of love, which needs much more determination, awareness and thought than the options of fear, indifference and apathy; and being truly loving is much more challenging than being closed, cold and remote.

So what do we really mean by Love?
And more particularly, what do we mean by ‘The Love of Art’?
Who are the people who have a Love of Art?
For ‘Art Lover’ is a common term used to describe a wide range of people from the dilettante to the committed expert.

When we consider the ‘Love of Art’, we can speak of those who love art and express their love by dealing in, buying, displaying and collecting art, who demonstrate their Love by supporting both artists and art. These are people whose Love expresses itself for the finished piece, and its value, in service to the creation of the finished work of art.

We can speak of the artist, the initiator and ‘imagineer’, and their consuming Love of Art. These are the essential creators, demonstrating their Love and passion for their own artistic expressions, the power of imagination, their skills, struggles, determination, their dedication, vocation and valuable gifts.

We can also speak of the critic, whose love of art drives them to seek perfection and provoke improvement. We can ask – is a critic who tears apart an artist’s work still expressing their Love of Art? This is the ‘Tough Love’ of Art, also requiring strength and courage to express.

The Love that Christine Miller will speak of at Strarta encompasses all these aspects, and propels us even further to explore the power and fuel that is Love.

For we are talking here of an energy and connection which pervades the entire universe, and is one of the strongest forces available to us, which whilst it is often carelessly, casually mentioned, is little understood and definitely under employed.

Come and explore the Love of Art expressed in the powerful relationships between the artist, their work and the many stakeholders in their artistic expression.

Christine Miller October 2013 

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Strarta Art Fair

Christine Miller MA FRSA will speak about ‘The Love of Art’ at the Strarta Art Fair at the Saatchi Gallery, Duke of York’s HQ, Kings Road, London SW3 on Friday October 11th 2013 at 15.00

Christine is available for interview – please contact Tina Fotherby  tinafotherby@famouspublicity.com

To find out more about the venue, tickets for the exhibition and events please visit www.strarta.com