The story of Compassion Field
The idea for Compassion Field arose out of the simple question……
‘What could be possible if like-minded people came together to meditate with an intention to
create positive change in the world?’
An invitation to good friends to come together and sit in a safe and nourishing environment led to many days of reflective practice, meditation and discussion over the past 5 years. Hearts and minds have unfolded and the process has been a gentle and organic one. Many skins have been shed in support of the emergence of a mother and daughter team as we weave together threads from the truth of lived experience with academic qualification and years of professional service.
With friendship and family as the ground of our work we aim to offer services that are built on support and collaboration with individuals, families, groups and organisations. With a wider view of health that includes promoting health and balance through diet and lifestyle behaviours our work will move in the direction of healing, acceptance and prevention of health problems in society.
Perhaps my own healing journey really has no clear beginning as I recall many incidences of listening to intuition beyond medical reassurance. All new parents will relate to concerns about their babies. After the birth of my second daughter, somehow intuitively, I knew that there was something seriously wrong. This meant that I pursued Doctors regularly risking rebuttal and wearing the label of ‘neurotic mother’ until a congenital heart defect was diagnosed and treated successfully. I am grateful to the willingness of those health professionals who really listened to me and who were willing to collaborate with me beyond their lack of initial findings.
Later, at the age of 34, in the general hospital where I worked as a nurse in an operating theatre in N. Ireland, the death of my father came after failed attempts at resuscitation during which I performed CPR. Finding that I was pregnant at that time and soon afterward that I had miscarried was more than I could bear. Burnout was mixed with post- traumatic stress. To begin to seek help as a human being with mental suffering was the start of my true training as a psychotherapist.
Soon after this time I had an experience as if a bell had just rang out the message ‘I have cancer in the left breast.’ I consulted with doctors who I worked with and trusted. I persisted once more despite 5 good doctors telling me that there was no reason to believe that I had cancer. Once more my ‘neurotic’ badge was produced. A mammogram was interpreted by a consultant radiologist who insisted that there was nothing abnormal. However, I insisted he was wrong ……and he listened saying that maybe if someone had listened to his wife who had died recently from cancer, she might still be alive. Eventually, 18 months after that first insight, in 1995 at the age of 36 years old, 3 grade 3 tumours were surgically removed. Once more I was grateful to find a surgeon who was willing to be collaborative and to allow me to participate in the choice of my treatment. Surgery was followed by radiotherapy which burned my heart and the lining of the left lung. My energy levels were severely impacted and I was faced with a choice whether to become a regular attender in a cardiologist’s waiting room with a long-term condition, fatigue and pain or find a way to turn toward this situation with all the fears and grief it brought with it, toward getting well again.
I recall one day while washing up thinking quite pragmatically that I had better learn how to die. I knew what I didn’t believe anymore but I wasn’t so sure what I did believe about human existence. When I asked my GP to refer me to a psychologist who could help me explore dying, she asked if I was being masochistic. This was the first time I realised that this is a service that we need before we feel our lives are threatened, a way to explore dying. Returning home, I decided to sit on a chair for one hour, three times a day to investigate my mind, to feel the fear and to explore dying. I didn’t realise then that this was the start of my meditation practice or of discovering that life and death exist together in every breath. It was what I came to call living from the inside out. I had no teacher formally at that time. Immersed in fear I learned to sit steady and accept that this human form is impermanent and that finding a way for the mind to stabilise in the presence of uncertainty was the most important task of my entire life. This willingness to face my own mortality opened a deep grief process which, when allowed to pass through without suppression, was experienced as liberating and enlivening. An unforgettable life changing experience in meditation of realising that we are all connected to everything through a field of the deepest compassionate love and peace was, for the first time, a real coming home to the truth and the gift of impermanence. This experience fuelled a curiosity to explore eastern philosophies, meditation and natural healing and to live life deeply.
Studying natural nutrition formally included studying the very radical Gerson therapy. What I learned supported the intuitive changes I had already made toward an entirely organic vegan diet. My lifestyle began increasingly to incorporate eastern practices such as yoga, Buddhist meditation and practice as well as Chinese approaches including training in reflexology. Integration of these approaches enabled deep healing from chronic illness and the penetrating pain of radiotherapy burns. The influence of these painful circumstances has greatly contributed to this wonderful opportunity of working as a mother & daughter team today. I recall Anna return from a successful interview to study Veterinary Medicine at Cambridge University to say soon after that she was going to study physiology followed by Traditional Chinese Medicine. Her thesis in physiology focussed on energy metabolism in the fallopian tubes with a view to supporting assisted reproductive techniques (ART) & her thesis in TCM focussed on an integrated east-west approach for breast cancer.
Looking back I have always been aware of a healing energy being available for myself and others within my roles as a nurse, a midwife and a mother. Usui Reiki attunements came as a generous offer from a good friend I met on the path while we were both recovering from cancer. I have no doubt that it has also contributed to my healing and it is from a position of appreciation of this gift and this privilege that I pass it on to others including, initially, my daughters.
Deeply listening to my own body and to my intention for my life, once clear, preceded the arrival of invitations from others who would support a truly integrative path to wellness. Investigation into the place of illness in the context of the whole life has been followed by professional training in integrative psychotherapies and redirected my return to a professional path of service with an interest in mind-body medicine. Completion of a Master’s degree in Mindfulness-Based Interventions in Healthcare at Bangor University, N. Wales enabled me to present a thesis on ‘Mindfulness in Psychotherapy and the interpersonal space’. It has been, at core, this lived experience that ignites a passion to be involved in a more open field of healthcare that goes beyond the cynicism and fear of systems to the commitment to provide a safe and confidential space where individuals may be supported in identifying and choosing the treatments that empower and heal their lives against all odds.