June 2014

Last Thursday I had the pleasure of presenting at the Heart of Healthcare Conference at Dillington House.

It was a 1-day conference for healthcare professionals hosted by doctors Andrew Tressider and Patricia Saintey of Heartfelt Consulting.

My session was entitled ‘Incorporating the Spiritual Element’.

At the conference it was lovely finally to meet Dr Rosy Daniel who was medical director at the Bristol Cancer Help Centre and now of the Health Creation educational consultancy. Our paths have almost crossed over decades.

I enjoyed my morning there and it was great to be in the company of so many good hearted carers.

I was concerned though about the intellectualisation of compassion. The discussion around compassion and mindfulness always seemed to lift people out of their hearts and bodies and up into their intelligent heads.

I wonder if this is happening all around the country. Intelligent and good hearted people, who are instinctively compassionate and caring, lose their warmth once they start to discuss how to teach compassion and integrate it into good practice.  IE They can practise compassion but they don’t have the faintest notion how to teach it.

I think the problem here is that in the first place they have not been taught to recognise the embodied and kinaesthetic sensations of compassion. A physical state that is at ease and earthed. They do it of course but without self-awareness of the feelings.

My own solution to this challenge is to teach a very accessible version of the Inner Smile, compassion to the self. The basic form of this exercise is in the handout I gave out at the conference:

— Sink into yourself as if having a contented rest

— Guide yourself into an attitude of kindness like the one you might give a small hurt child or injured bird

— Give that same kindness to yourself, to your own body

— Then share that kindness with the world