Keynote: Weathering the Storm from the safety of you

In this opening keynote Mary will share with you what she has come to see about how our deeper than conflict self is our eternal and ever present home within. That this home base is our sanctuary from life's storms. That we may ‘travel’ away from home, but it is always there, waiting for us. It is up to us to get curious about our own way of recognising this safe place within.

Mary’s keynote was offered with a Sesame dramatherapy structure

Warm UpGet involved: What’s your perspective?
Bridge InHear a framework: Who is self and what care is she offering?
Main EventListen to a story: My journey from cynicism to sanctuary
Bridge OutReceive and share some ideas: How I recognise and practice selfcare

At times she invited us to write down small personal reflections on luggage labels.

She also invited us to speak to a partner about our experience of self-care in an age of burnout.

She shared an anecdote about a particularly stressful day when a someone suggested she go home and run herself a nice lavender bath.

bathroom with candles and white water with flower petals
Photo by Monstera on

Mary questioned how a LAVENDER BATH? could possibly be the answer to this particular stressful day. In her work helping people with burnout, Mary stresses that the right solution is often the one that seems right for the person rather than an external answer. For this reason, she never accepts speaking requests where she is asked to go in for 30 minutes and give people some self-care strategies. Instead her work is longer, understanding what is causing the feeling of burnout and helping the organisation and individuals find their own solutions that can lead to the light of mind.

Mary then went out to tell us about her own story “My Journey from Cynicism to Sanctuary

Mary spoke about growing up where her father was a preacher and she saw many people who were having profound religious experiences which she just couldn’t feel herself.

Later at Liverpool John Moores University she really enjoyed studying drama but didn’t really see it the same way as her classmates. When her tutor suggested dramatherapy she was not sure at first but ended up studying Drama and Movement therapy at RCSSD.

Her tutor Mary Smail helped to recreate a moment from the training. Mary S came on the stage and addressed the class, telling them the transformative story where the protagonist accomplishes something and is rewarded with a new name to reflect their new identity. Mary S the teacher invites the students to choose her new dramatherapy name. The class make their suggestions which include qualities, mythology references and aspirations. Mary F’s self-chosen new name is “Mary”

After this Mary is reflecting on feeling like she is on the side of the “something” which is going on, not truly feeling part of it, feeling sceptical. “Is this it” she asks.

After graduating, Mary’s first job is in a prison; working with a client group who mirrors back her scepticism.

A key change for Mary is when she completes some training with Innate Health which looks at people as having three layers: the inner true self, the mess of life around that and the nail polish gloss we cover that up with as we try to present our-self to others. This is a lightbulb revelation for Mary and she spoke passionately about her insights from this training and how the light helps her to re-illuminate her earlier experiences of not quite feeling like she got it.

Mary also spoke about the usefulness of cynicism; she is passionate about finding evidence and proof about her work as a dramatherapist, what we do can sometimes seem almost magical but we have to have ways to measure and explain that to a cynical world.

Self-care comes from within. However shiny the nail polish layer is, however perfectly designed and shaped and coloured, that is not the part which is really important about a person – that is deeper.

When we are focussing on selfcare, we need to start with that diamond part of our inner self, maybe we call it soul, maybe energy, maybe true-self – that deeper identity. If sensory relaxation is what that part needs then a lavender bath could be perfect for selfcare. But if that part actually needs to punch a pillow then any relaxation based suggestions are not going to feel genuine. And maybe neither the bath nor the pillow are actually exploring the burnout message to understand how this situation impacts our spiritual level.

Can we go down into ourselves, can we listen to that small voice inside? Can we give ourself the care that we really need? Burnout is a message from within.

In this keynote Mary shared what she has come to see about how our deeper than conflict self is our eternal and ever present home within. That this home base is our sanctuary from life’s storms. That we may ‘travel’ away from home, but it is always there, waiting for us. It is up to us to get curious about our own way of recognising this safe place within.

Mary’s keynote creatively points towards seeing that we are a creative, flexible, resilient, being of universal love. The keynote was story, theatre and personal revelation. Mary used masks, costume changes and keywords to draw us into the different points of the story.

Mary closed with a video that her tutor Mary Smail had created

Light of Mind

Mary Franklin-Smith is the founder of Light of Mind, a wellbeing company offering therapy, supervision and wellbeing workshops. She has over 17 years’ experience working in Specialist Mental Health service in the NHS. She offers clinical supervisions to various NHS trusts and is a trainer and supervisor for the Maudsley NHS teaching hospital. She offers wellbeing workshops locally, national and globally in various corporate settings.

Mary has been invited to share her work on TV, radio, at various conferences and national and international conferences. Her research has been published in several academic journals and include articles on; MANTRA group therapy, innate health and use of social media for healing. She lives in Yorkshire with her husband, 3 children and 2 dogs!


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