Here at Compassionate Resolutions, we believe that…
- Even your most difficult experiences hold the key to a deeper, richer, more-fulfilling life
- It is possible to shift your perspective about your personal past, your family’s past, or our collective past. In doing so, you can fully realize great compassion for yourself, others, and the world at large
- It is totally possible to move through dark emotions such as fear, grief, and despair to arrive at courage, compassion, and personal empowerment
- Your efforts to heal and transform yourself have far-reaching benefits and in healing yourself, you truly transform the whole world
- That, in truth, we are not alone: we are all profoundly connected to other people and to the Earth itself and it is possible to have an embodied realization of this fact
- People are inherently compassionate by nature and this can be uncovered, rediscovered, and affirmed
- We find common ground and deep respect with one another when we connect at the level of our needs and values
- We are all intertwined in a vast system of relationships within our respective ancestry, culture, and place. Acknowledging this has the power to heal the past, present, and future generations on an individual and collective basis
- Peace is possible, both inner and outer
- This is all very good news! In spite of some very disturbing times in the present and recent past, there is much reason to be uplifted, engaged, and empowered.
Compassionate Resolutions Counselling & Education
Matthew Ramsay, M.Sc., RTC
Registered Therapeutic Counsellor (RTC) with the Association of Cooperative Counselling Therapists of Canada (ACCT); Certified NVC Trainer with the Center for Nonviolent Communication; and Systemic Constellations Facilitator.
With like-minded collaborators
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attuned to the suffering of others and motivated to act to relieve suffering;
syn: empathy, understanding, care, concern, sensitivity, tender-hearted, warm-hearted, warmth, love, tenderness, gentleness, mercy, consideration, kindness, humaneness, kind-heartedness, benevolence
(1) the quality of being determined or resolute;
syn. intention, resolve, aspiration, purpose, commitment, vow, determination, single-mindedness, perseverance, boldness, courage
(2) solving a problem, dispute, or contentious matter;
syn. settling, solving, unraveling, disentangling, clarification, rectifying, working out, conclusion.
These beliefs were shaped by my own healing journey, as well as through witnessing firsthand the healing and growth of countless people. Through these experiences, I can attest to the capacity of the human soul to transform traumatic losses, life-transitions, and collective crises into greater levels of joy, appreciation, love, trust, belonging and compassion.
Here’s how I came to this perspective:
My parents instilled in me a passion for spirituality, philosophy, ecology, and service from a young age. My father was formerly a priest involved in the Liberation Theology movement in Latin America. He later left the Church institution and raised me on the teachings of Zen Buddhism and perennial philosophy. My mother was a contemplative Catholic influenced by Christian mysticism, the spiritual activism of the Catholic Worker Community, and the Buddhist:Christian synthesis of Thomas Merton and Br. David Steindl Rast. I was born near Walden Pond, the site of Henry David Thoreau’s famous ‘experiment in living deliberately’ and center of the Transcendentalism movement. We spent time at the Catholic Worker Farm in upstate New York which included meeting the ecological-theologian, Thomas Berry, and practices in Jacob Moreno’s psychodrama and sociometry within community. All of these early experiences would ultimately figure into my healing journey and vocation over the next four decades.
Despite these beginnings, through my extended family and school atmosphere, I also experienced the fear and trauma of violence, drug and alcohol abuse, and family instability.
In my first year of university studies, I was overcome by grief, fear, guilt, and despair learning about the enormity of human suffering throughout world history and the profound extent of environmental degradation on our planet.
Just a few years later, when I was 21 years old, my father died quite suddenly and tragically.
These events propelled me on a spiritual quest seeking to understand such existential dilemmas as:
- Why is there so much human suffering on Earth? and What am I to do about it?
- How and when did the dominant culture that I was raised in become so alienated from nature?
- Is it even possible for humanity to learn to live in harmony with one another and with the Earth? and if so, What’s my part in it?
I spent the next 25 years seeking potential answers to these questions, along the way discovering and developing ways of healing myself, my family, and our communities (both locally and globally).
Read more about my story...
During five years of monastic training in Zen Buddhist centers in North America, I experienced the profoundly healing potential of the Buddhadharma and the ‘miracle of mindfulness.’ I continue to be sustained by this practice and its forms and ceremonies even now, after more than 25 years.
In the course of Zen training, I met numerous Engaged Buddhists and Deep Ecologists working for peace and environmental justice. In “The Work that Reconnects” developed by Joanna Macy, I found a way to contend with the feelings of despair that I had felt about the state of the world and a comprehensive way to move from ‘despair to empowerment,’ together, in community with others.
Outside of my time spent at Zen centers, wilderness experience has always been great balm to my soul. Through solo expeditions, years leading Outward Bound courses, and facilitating rites of passage, I was both inspired and well-humbled by living simply, surrounded by the predominance of elemental nature. This love led me to pursue my initial graduate studies in ecosystem science and subsequent profession as a restoration ecologist.
Years later, when I became a parent, those same-old existential dilemmas seemed more poignant than ever as I held a member of the next generation in my arms.
What’s worse, conflict in my marriage was running high and my worst fears of childhood appeared to be repeating themselves. I worried that I was failing to provide my son a different experience than mine. Global news indicated war, violence, oppression and environmental degradation were as pressing concerns as ever. It was imperative that I help create a different set of circumstances for my child and his generation…but how, I wondered?
Around this same time, (in my mid-thirties), my mother also died quite suddenly and tragically.
While seeking solace and the capacity to respond to this round of difficulties, I found that training in Nonviolent Communication (NVC) provided a way to understand and work with our thoughts and feelings that led to greater empathy, understanding, and compassion for oneself and others. Here was a pragmatic yet profound means of peacemaking at all levels that was totally consistent with what I had learned to-date and my perspectives on spirituality.
Additionally, couples counselling based on the John & Julie Gottman method, as well as counselling and training in the attachment-based developmental approach to parenting by Gordon Neufeld helped us immensely.
Training in NVC led me to a healthy respect for the powerful emotions and core beliefs people commonly carry. I longed to develop even more understanding and ways to work skillfully with such powerful energies, which led to the completion of a three-year training and practicum in Transpersonal Counselling Psychology at the Clearmind International Institute.
During this training, we learned to apply a family systems perspective, which helped me understand how people in the present (myself included) can sometimes carry the results of trauma that occurred in previous generations, and that our mental/emotional well being is inseparable from our collective history and context. It further shifted my perception of the difficulties I had experienced up to this point, which contributed to an even more compassionate view of self, others, and the world.
When I subsequently encountered Family Systems Constellations (aka Systemic Constellations work), I found that it integrated elements of Zen Buddhist philosophy and psychology; Indigenous People’s wisdom and world view; NVC; ecosystem ecology; and transpersonal psychology, in a coherent and profound healing process with individuals or groups.
Through training in facilitating this work, I found a way to constructively and effectively address personal difficulties, transgenerational trauma, and larger-collective traumas and past wounding; both ecological as well as social.
What’s more, this form is a viable means to experience the kind of whole body/mind/spirit experience of our actual interdependence with our fellow humans and the living Earth herself that I had come to through years of Zen practice (and this experience is totally accessible to anyone!)
From the start, these things have remained constant for me: a reverence for life, and a deep curiosity about nature, consciousness, spirit, and quest to determine how to contribute to a more socially- and ecologically-just world.
My soul has led me to this calling, sometimes sweetly, sublimely, and at other times through truly wrenching passages. As a result of all of it, I can offer you courageous compassionate guidance and support for your journey of learning, healing, and growth.