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  • Writer's picturelizbutler

Reflections on a Deeply Connecting Conference

Updated: Nov 23, 2022

We are living in a world where disconnection and division are all around, evident in every aspect of society. I have long believed cancer is a reflection of this disconnection; through its physical manifestation – cancer cells cut themselves off from their life-supporting microenvironment in order to ‘go it alone’, and its root causes – these always involve disengagement from natural health-enhancing ways of living and being. I have also long believed that re-connection is the only true route to health, the clue being the literal meaning of the word ‘healing’: wholeness.


Total re-connection requires a holistic approach, addressing the body, mind and also the spirit. But whilst there is now greater understanding that supporting physical and mental health may not only help prevent, but also treat cancer, the spiritual aspect has received less attention. A few years ago, I decided I would like to give it some attention, and together with Robin Daly, Founder of cancer charity, Yes to Life, we decided to make this topic the subject of the charity’s annual conference. Although we had to delay our plans due to Covid and the lockdowns, the conference finally happened in September of this year. Its title was: ‘Finding a Deeper Connection, Exploring the essential, often forgotten, element of healing’.


My vision for the day – to help people realise healing is enhanced when we connect to, and encourage the flow of life force (another term for spirit), was shared by Robin but addressing this issue in an open, sensitive way, for example, making it clear such connection is available to everyone and certainly doesn’t depend on religious beliefs, is not easy. We were also keen to blend the esoteric aspect of this topic with science to ensure we provided a comprehensive, balanced overview. Delivering all of this would require a team of insightful, thoughtful, speakers with plenty of knowledge and experience.


One of the topics I wanted to address on the day was the power of surrender. And surrender was exactly what I needed to do as I went about deciding the agenda and finding speakers. My belief in letting go came in very handy as we discovered many of the best speakers on this topic live abroad and weren’t willing to travel. And my ability to trust was a life saver when a keynote speaker we thought we had secured said no to our invitation late in the planning stage. In the end, letting go of the outcome and sinking into a state of surrender paid off, as it always does, and we found a wonderful mix of speakers including a keynote presenter, Steve Taylor, more perfect for the event than we could have imagined.





The day began with two inspirational ladies, Petrea King and Suzanne Ruggles, telling their powerful stories of rising up from the depths of illness and despair to find a new deeply fulfilling healthy life. They did this through their own courage and willpower, but importantly also with the support of spirit, once they were able to completely surrender to their situation and ask for help. Steve Taylor, senior lecturer in Psychology at Leeds Beckett University, came next with a discussion of how his own and other’s research indicates traumatic experience can lead to transformation through spiritual awakening, a phenomenon actually relatively common. Not just a scientist, but also a poet and musician, Steve concluded his session by reading a poem on Acceptance and leading a meditation with the same theme. From the very start of the planning, Robin and I felt we wanted to give conference delegates a practical experience and not just a day of information, so following lunch we had an hour of workshops during which people could engage with tools to enhance awareness and deepen connection to life force. By mid-afternoon it was time for another inspirational lady to take to the stage. Kirstie Simson, an educator in dance improvisation, had already run a workshop exploring the power of movement and now she told her own story of healing through dance. She ended her talk by performing for us, an absolute treat. The final session of the day was my own and I presented the ideas I have formulated, following several years research, on the role of the heart to connect us – within our bodies, to other living beings, and to spirit. Finally, I led a meditative journey into the heart to connect with our deepest essence and we ended the day truly in touch with who we are.


It took several years to come to fruition, but the conference was everything I could have hoped for and more. There were many highlights but what stood out were the personal connections I made. After far too many months with a lot of us feeling cut-off and isolated, thanks to Covid, this was a day for togetherness and bonding. As we joined together in the presence of our minds, hearts and spirits, I think it struck everyone attending; the answer to true healing has to be deep connection.


Recordings of the conference talks are available to buy here: https://www.yestolifeshop.org/shop

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