Compassion Lab is a new way for us to learn how to be more resilient and adaptive leaders.

Retreats, workshops and special events

We know that there is good evidence that high levels of staff engagement improve quality of care. Now we need to do the work to make that improvement.

Our Compassion Labs are designed to help you:

  • practice turning your attention inward to develop greater empathy and emotional intelligence;
  • use neuroscience to transform your leadership skills;
  • build new brain;
  • enjoy a little space for creativity, curiosity and connection;
  • practice having critical conversations;
  • create tools for lowering your stress levels and optimising your productivity;
  • find out how to listen with fascination and act with clarity in difficult times;
  • develop more courage and open heartedness;

Inside a Compassion Lab Retreat held at Woodend, Victoria in 2016

Bring Compassion Labs to your Organisation.

You want to work with more compassion, towards yourself, your colleagues, your clients or patients, even in difficult times. Compassion Lab expands what is possible.

Our Lab has been designed for people who work in healthcare, aged care or social services.  We bring people together, create a safe environment and facilitate a deeper learning about compassion. Plenty of time to experience new ideas, no ringing phones, no meetings, no interruptions.

The work is grounded in evidence-based understandings of how we can deliver our best in environments that are characterised by high stress levels, complexity and workload.  Alongside the evidence we have developed a creative program that brings warmth to these ideas.

At the Compassion Lab we ensure that the our participants embody the learning through short mindfulness sessions, body movement and practical discussions about the nature of our work. You can expect plenty of space for laughter and connection.

The Idea

A small group of people (only 34 participants) committed to Compassionate Leadership coming together to learn. Plenty of time to experience new ideas, no ringing phones, no meetings and no interruptions.

The two days are grounded in evidence based understandings of how we can deliver our best in environments that are characterised by high stress levels, complexity and workload and where the possibilities for error are many.

The Facilitator

Your Compassion Lab  facilitator is Mary Freer. You can read about her here. Mary is passionately aware of the need for more Compassionate Leaders. She spent 2 months traveling in Europe and the United States as a Westpac Bicentennial Social Change Fellow in 2016 building Compassion Lab.

What can I expect?

You can anticipate that over the two days you will spend some time in mindful contemplation, you will turn your attention to your inner experience, you will learn more about neuroscience, enjoy a little space for creativity and connection and discover how your body and your brain work to influence each other. You will practice new skills that you can take into your work environment. You will also meet amazing leaders, who like you, are working from their purpose.

What is Compassionate Leadership?

Put simply a Compassionate Leader is anyone who seeing there is a need, steps forward and acts skillfully to alleviate the chaos, the anger and the confusion through a deeply empathic response. The world needs more of them right now and we need them stepping up everywhere. These are the people who will raise their hands to transform our health and social care systems, our public governance and our education systems and our communities. These are the leaders who bring creativity, wisdom and joy to the places where they work.

The Academy of Management Review dedicated an entire issue to the topic of Compassionate Leadership 37 (4 ) 2012.

The Commitment

There is a saying ” the way you do anything is the way you do everything”. Compassion Labs are designed for people who want to develop a deeper understanding of the way their inner experience impacts on everything they do. This is a retreat for people who recognise that heroic leadership is no longer an option and command and control leadership only creates chaos and isolation.

If you’ve ever come home at the end of the day and thought “I have a better version of myself”; if you’ve ever taken your body to a meeting or a conversation and found your mind wandering elsewhere; if you’re wondering how to sustain your joy and purpose, Compassion Lab designed just for you.



How Does it Work?

We will work with your organisation to make sure the Lab addresses the particular issues that you are working with in your organisation or department. While compassion is consistent, the needs of Emergency Teams will often differ from the needs of an Allied Healthcare Team or an Aged Care Memory Team. We will use examples that speak directly to the unique needs of the participants at each Lab.


A Compassion Lab is generally 2 days in length. This gives us enough time to gain real momentum and gives our participants enough time to practice new skills.

We understand that the demands of a busy organisation or the rostering arrangements mean that you might not be able to secure 2 consecutive days. We can facilitate a Lab where the first and second day are 4 weeks apart.

We also offer an abridged One Day version of the Lab with follow up coaching using Zoom.

How many people in each Lab?

To maximise the learning of each Compassion Lab we allow for up to 34 participants in each Lab.

Leadership Teams

Why not make compassion a priority in your organisation and let us take your Leadership Team away for a two day retreat. These are powerful and compelling opportunities to recalibrate the direction of your organisation and to sharply focus on the things that really matter.


To arrange for our team to visit your organisation and deliver your Lab please contact Mary Freer or call 0438 845200.



Compassionate Self - Guided Meditation

Self-Compassion Guided Meditation

This is a short ( 5 min) guided meditation to help us to connect with our kind, wise, compassionate selves. We have access to this self everyday, in every situation.

“Thank you for two inspiring days. You have a tremendous gift for making a good world seem not only possible but likely.”

Dr Kate Bowles
School of Social Sciences, Media and Communications, University of Wollongong.

Listen to this Loving Kindness Meditation

This 8 minute LKM was recorded for one of the recent Compassion Lab workshops to assist participants to practice in between sessions. You might enjoy trying this each day.