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

Compassion Labs at GVH

Compassion Labs

21st September

28th September

5th October

2.00pm  – 4.30pm each day

In  this zoom room //

“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.”

These Compassion Labs have been 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

Compassion Labs at GVH.

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

These weekly Zoom workshops have been designed for you.  We will bring you 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 program that brings warmth to these ideas.

At this workshop we will ensure that 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 committed to developing compassion, coming together to learn. Plenty of time to experience new ideas, no ringing phones, no meetings and no interruptions.

The three sessions are based on contemporary research and evidence about the science and nature of compassion. We will draw on studies, examples and learning from around the healthcare eco-system. In preparation for your workshop we have consulted with thought leaders around the world, many of whom have contributed to the Oxford Handbook of Compassion Science (published in 2018).

The Facilitators

Your  Lab  facilitator  is Mary Freer. You can read about Mary 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. Mary is now leading Compassion Revolution .

What can I expect?

You can anticipate that over the three sessions 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 be supported to build the complex skills required to do the emotional labour of leading in complex environments.

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.” This workshop was designed for people, like you, who want to develop a deeper understanding of the way their inner experience impacts on everything they do. You 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 my best self”; 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, this workshop is designed just for you.


Our commitment to you – we will create a dynamic, contemporary, evidence based workshop and bring it to you each week for three weeks. Your facilitator will give you her undivided attention, take your questions and ideas and do her best to mold each session to fit with your needs.

Your commitment to the work: We ask that you take a moment to prepare yourself before the session starts. Settle your mind and body.

We also request that you give the group your undivided attention. Please check that your video and mic are working and that you are able to be fully present. Turn off your emails and join us wholeheartedly.


How Does it Work?

We will work with GVH to make sure the workshop addresses the particular issues that you are working with in your organisation . 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 each participant.


This workshop held on Zoom once a week for three weeks. This gives us enough time to gain real momentum and gives you, our participants enough time to practice new skills.

We understand that the demands of busy leaders and we thank you for clearing your calendar and turning your mobile phone off while you immerse yourself in this learning opportunity.


Over the coming weeks we will be loading a selection of resources onto this web page.

The full suite of readings and recordings will be available below at Resources.


If for any reason you would like to make contact with Mary  please email or phone her and she will be in touch promptly.

Mary Freer: or call 0438 845200

Compassion Labs at GVH

Micro Habits

Each week I will post a PDF with a few ideas to practice.

Week One

Micro Habits week 1

Week One

Micro Habits week 2


Compassion Labs at GVH


A Care Package for Caregivers 2020

A collection of poetry and writing curated especially for healthcare workers from the team at OnBeing.

Gender and Touch – Dacher Keltner


Pandemic Kindness Movement

The Pandemic Kindness Movement was created by clinicians across Australia, working together to support all health workers during the COVID-19 pandemic. We have curated respected, evidence-informed resources and links to valuable services to support the wellbeing of the health workforce.

Caring to Change (2017) Kings Fund, UK

This paper looks at compassion – which involves attending, understanding, empathising and helping – as a core cultural value of the NHS and how compassionate leadership results in a working environment that encourages people to find new and improved ways of doing things.  Download pdf at the link below.



The AMA Report

The AMA Survey Report on Junior Doctor Health and Wellbeing



Dr Jim Doty –  OnBeing Podcast

James Doty — The Magic Shop of the Brain

Innovation Starts with the Heart not the Head, Gary Hamel HBR (2015)


Patient Safety Put at Risk by Negative Workplace Culture


Great Things Happen to Your Brain and Your Life When You Look Up.


Infographic Healing Power of Kindness CCARE for Dignity Health


Self Compassion in Daily Life Centre for Mindful Self Compassion


Self Compassion Break – short exercise


The Development and Validation of a Scale to Measure Self-Compassion Kristin Neff


The Compassion Revolution Podcast on iTunes


Compassion Labs at GVH

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.