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.

An Audience with HH the Dalai Lama

dalai2

An Audience with HH the Dalai Lama

dalai2His Holiness The Dalai Lama -
The Embodiment of Compassion

I was fortunate and honoured to be part of the Press group with the Dalai Lama when he visited the UK in 2008, there’s a full conversation with him on the Your Ultimate Resource site, this is a summary of his message.

Listening to the Dalai Lama sharing His experiences and thoughts, one of the aspects which most impressed me was the amount of laughter – both from himself and from His audience.There is warm heartedness, humility and a lightness of spirit which is very apparent in His way of speaking, and His words are aimed directly at the hearts of His listeners. His message of compassion and loving kindness is based on common sense and practical living, and he is clear in asserting His belief that:

“The purpose of life is for happiness, to survive happily”

 

One of His central teachings about the development of compassion is based on the importance of childhood influences, particularly the effects of parenting. He reflects on His own childhood, and says he believes that mothers are the starting point of loving kindness. He describes His own mother’s simplicity, an uneducated village woman from a farming background, and immensely warm hearted. Contrasting her love and gentleness with the more disciplinarian approach of His father, he concludes that had he spent more time in His early years with His father he would probably not have been the same person.

“I believe that my altruistic mind and my compassion – the very seeds of that mind I got from my birth and the next few months and years with my mother – that was the real starting point to raise my model of loving kindness.”

He goes on to say to parents:

“What I say is this – give maximum affection to your children.
That is very essential to bring us a happier humanity.
The main hope for humanity relies on our future generations.
So families with children have a special role –
to give maximum affection to your children.
And parents – particularly mothers – spend more time with your children.”


Read More Here (Registration required)
© Christine Miller All Rights Reserved

The Goddess Paradigm – beauty, peace and transformation

TARA-10-FULL

Heart-Tree2Knowing you just have to be somewhere

Last weekend I was invited to a workshop which gave me a big calendar challenge, in that I was already booked for other activities, and initially I declined. But the event kept nibbling away in my mind, that little voice got louder and the whisper became a shout – and I knew I just had to go. So I re-arranged and went off to London’s Docklands to the Orassy Kendron at Westferry.
Partially it was the thought of spending time with Romio Shrestha, who is an artist of extraordinary talent. He has a fascinating history of working with people such as HH the Dalai Lama, which is how I discovered Romio’s incredible paintings. In fact, two of his poster-sized books insisted on accompanying me home from my sojourn in Nottingham with the Dalai, and have had pride of place on my sitting room coffee table ever since.

But there was something else…

I couldn’t quite work out what – after all, I could interview Romio another time, and that would be just fine.

The surprise came from the collection of amazing women who were there – people I had met years before, and not seen for ages – where it felt like we had been together only moments beforehand. People I had never met before, but it felt like I’d known them for many years. The camaraderie and community were a huge pleasure to join.

And the sheer joy of a peaceful, calm and inspiring atmosphere which nurtured us all, connections made, spirits re-kindled and the delight of Romio’s powerful yet playful talk and his explanations of the meanings and qualities of the goddesses he depicts in his paintings. In all, it was a refreshing experience that nourished the soul and spirit, and long may the goddesses flourish.

Just think, if I hadn’t followed that intuition, that gut feeling, I might have missed a superb treat and a re-union with some fabulous soul sisters!

When have you followed you instincts and found it has paid off hugely? 
I’d love to know…please leave a comment below. 

About Romio

“In this lifetime, my Monastery will have no walls.”
- Romio Shrestha -

 

 

Romio Bahadur Shrestha was born into a Newar family in Katmandu in Nepal. When he was five years old, two Tibetan Buddhist monks arrived at the door. Romio, they said, was the seventeenth reincarnation of the master Tibetan Thangka painter Arniko and they gave to him a stock of valuable art materials, explaining that he would, one day, form his own school of painting.

An example of one of Romio’s works.

 

 

 

My Video of the Taras – Buddhist Goddesses

The Taras

Click the link in the title above for a short video I made about the Tara goddesses Romio Shrestha represents in his wonderful art.

This was inspired by the five days I spent with the Dalai Lama in Nottingham in 2008.