Additional Optional Sessions


Over the 4 days, in addition to Iain McGilchrist’s 14 talks, there are 6 optional sessions in the schedule where there are a variety of things to choose from. These sessions are designed to give guests the chance to assimilate the content of Iain’s talks and/or explore possible implications. Everyone has different ways in which they like to do this. Some like to talk, others like to have some introverted time and others just like to do something a bit different for a while. The choice is yours and you can just see how you feel on the day. These sessions include optional practical workshops, illustrated talks, lively discussion groups and quiet reflection time. In all cases, you choose whatever you prefer to do in the way that suits you best. For more information about the options see below.

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Activities and options between Iain McGilchrist’s fourteen lectures, over the 4 days, include:

  • For those of you who seek stimulating conversation, and want to talk with like-minded people, you can join in with the organised discussion groups.  As with the chats over meals, it is amazing to hear all the different ways in which individuals have come to (and are looking to apply) the learning from Iain’s work.


  • Or if you prefer to simply have some time to yourself there is the option of relaxing in the comfortable coffee lounges, on the terraces, in the hotel grounds or of course, for those who are full-board, the peace and quiet of your own room. The hotel also has a lovely spa and you will have free use of the gym, outdoor jacuzzi, sauna, steam room, and a heated swimming pool, squash and tennis courts. You may also pop into nearby Historic Tewkesbury, visit the magnificent Abbey and enjoy the beautiful riverside walks.


  • A wide range of optional Illustrated Talks tba. See below for more information and keep a check on the website for updates.
  • Last but not least are the optional practical workshops exploring Visual, Auditory and Kinaesthetic sensory experiences and practising forms of mindfulness and meditation through seeing, hearing and moving. There will also be space for artists to work, and musicians are encouraged to bring their instruments.


2020 Talks/workshops already confirmed including ones from: Duncan Austin, Janine Brooks and Daniel Mulhern.

More information to follow but here is a taster…

‘The Music of the Hemispheres’ with Paul Cavaciuti

Most people would acknowledge that music has a “spiritual” dimension, that it has
the power to awaken strong emotions within us, even that it has healing properties.
Sadly, this is not most people’s experience of actually making music, or, more often
than not, even of listening to it. Musician, teacher and music therapist, Paul
Cavaciuti argues that the reasons for this lie in the hemispheric imbalance that
characterises European thought and culture. The musical education that most of us
experience is almost entirely left-brain in emphasis, and, as such, deprives us of
many of the transcendent and therapeutic qualities of music.
Iain McGilchrist’s work has deepened enormously our understanding of what the
hemispheres actually do, and of the vital importance of achieving balance between
them. As he points out, the creative arts are one of the principle means of engaging
with the right hemisphere, with music being, perhaps, the most direct of them all.
As a teacher who specialises in working with children and young people with autism
and learning difficulties, Paul has been dealing with the relationship of music and the
hemispheres for almost 30 years. In this workshop, he will explore some of the ways
in which music can be used to balance the hemispheres, helping to reduce stress,
awaken creativity and, most importantly, make playing music fun again! No previous
musical knowledge or experience is required, nor is an instrument, (although you
can bring one if you want to), but you will need a hair-brush!

Below are the talks and workshops from the 2019 programme. These are subject to change for 2020, although many of the favorites will feature again by popular demand for the last one of these retreats with Iain McGilchrist. 

Communicating without words’ with Samantha Field

‘Communicating without words’ is an illustrated talk and experiential workshop with successful Artist and Photographer, Samantha Field.
Using examples, Samantha will demonstrate the different ways in which  we interpret and understand visual language. Based on her lifelong studies, Samantha demonstrates how the formal elements of line, tone, colour, shape and form come together as a whole, to create a powerful message. Samantha will then demonstrate how increasing our visual awareness and our noticing skills can be used to aid mental health and our general well-being.

This is not a practical painting workshop but there are materials and equipment available at the back of the hall, should you in a quiet moment feel the urge to put line or paint to paper.

Feeling the Music and Connecting with your Body’ with Samantha Field

Samantha’s second workshop looks at Gabriel Roth and Andrea Juhan’s work around Conscious Dance, 5-Rhythms and mind/body connection. It is a gentle, non-threatening introduction to free-form dancing and is very much about dancing to learn rather than learning to dance. Absolutely no previous dance experience required. No assessment, no judgement, and no-one is watching. No worries about what you look like because this is just about you and your physical and emotional response to music. Much of the time we will have our eyes shut.

Samantha has continued develop her successful career as an artist and photographer since she graduated in Fine Art in her early 20’s.
As with art, dancing and moment have also always been a big part of Samantha’s life. She has been practising 5-Rhythms dancing for over 10 years. Whilst her teaching of art it is about helping people to really ‘see’, and the connection between the subject and themselves, her dancing is about really ‘hearing’, ‘feeling’ and connecting with our bodies.

Both practices help Samantha to balance the mental demands of running her Personal and Professional Development business, managing property and putting together events like this.

It’s all about balance…


‘The Left Hemisphere and the Holocaust’ by Robert Franklin

In the 1990s a number of books appeared that emphasised the links between the Holocaust and Modernity. More recently this approach has fallen out of fashion with Holocaust historians. However, Robert Franklin believes that if one applies Ian’s insights about the Left Hemisphere more generally, one can see the Holocaust is an extreme case of Left Hemisphere dominance, incorporating both central aspects of Modernity and other pre-Modern Left Hemisphere traits, vindicating the link between Modernity and the Holocaust, but providing a richer context for it. At the very least the Holocaust provides a terrible and arresting metaphor for what the unrestrained Left Hemisphere is capable of doing.

Robert has undergraduate and postgraduate degrees in History and having first encountered Ian’s work more than seven years ago, he has spent the intervening period applying a McGilchristian integrated worldview to everything he encounters and reads. In real life Robert is the Company Secretary of a very Left Hemisphere organisation in the City of London. He is also a qualified executive coach and has a diploma in Business Psychology.

Robert will be delivering two separate, stand alone, talks on the theme of the Holocaust:

  1. The Left Hemisphere and the Holocaust – The Holocaust by bullets
  2. The Left Hemisphere and the Holocaust – Golden Harvest


‘What changes in education might we need to prevent left brain dominance?’ with Jenny Mackness

Iain McGilchrist’s book, tells us that there are two ways of attending; being and knowing; the left hemisphere’s way and the right hemisphere’s way. He argues that the left hemisphere’s view of the world is becoming increasingly dominant. This immediately suggests questions for education (primary, secondary and tertiary), pedagogy and the curriculum, such as: What are the advantages and disadvantages, with respect to education, of the left hemisphere’s view of the world? What could the right hemisphere’s view of the world contribute to education? What changes in education might we need to make to prevent left hemisphere dominance and reflect a more balanced view of the world?

As the educationalist, Jenny Mackness, reaches her eighth decade she remains interested in and open to new learning opportunities; these currently lie in philosophical subjects such as epistemology, ethics and philosophical literature. She closely follows the work of Iain McGilchrist and Stephen Downes, both of whom have influenced her thinking. She has come to realise that art, music, the natural world and interpersonal relationships are all becoming increasingly important to her. This is what Iain McGilchrist refers to as the need for an embodied life


‘Musical Circulating’ with Tywi Roberts

“When we pass a note, we are passing everything that we are.”

In this workshop, composer and guitarist Tywi Roberts will introduce a beautifully simple yet incredibly deep musical device which was discovered, and later highly developed, in the context of Robert Fripp’s Guitar Craft courses.

No prior experience with the guitar is required. This open and accessible approach places more emphasis on presence, and awareness of one’s surroundings, than on technique or knowledge of theory.

If we can be available in the circle, music is often not far away.

Tywi is currently researching for his Composition PhD at the Royal Northern College of Music in Manchester, and has frequently worked in the Guitar Craft context since 2005, performing with the League of Crafty Guitarists and related ensembles on a number of occasions.

Please bring your own musical instrument for this workshop;

  • A steel-strung acoustic guitar in New Standard Tuning (C-G-D-A-E-g) is the idealbut standard tuning (E-A-D-G-B-e) is also fine.
  • A nylon strung guitar or ukulele would also function well.


‘Renaissance Art a Harmony of the Hemispheres’ with Mary Attwood

In this experiential talk Mary Attwood will reveal how the interconnectedness of knowledge and understanding, of intuition with skill are innately embodied in Renaissance art. Yet these wonder- filled images which blossomed out of 15th century Florence, are frequently rationalised and over intellectualised. Such a distanced approach is expressive of the deeper split in thought McGilchrist has highlighted throughout his work. Treating art in this way keeps both us and image bound by literalism, creating density rather than depth and deadens the image and us, an amputation between feeling and image. 

Mary teaches and writes about the power of art – not only its history but our responses and approaches to it.  Her emphasis focuses on awakening ourselves to its potency and potential through transformative seeing and learning, engaging the senses, the intellect and the soul.

Loyal to both the academic and alternative, her work and research spans Western art history, Western and Eastern philosophies and practices around consciousness and meditation. She holds a BA honours degree in the History of Art and is currently undertaking a Masters. 


Talk/workshop with Trauma and Post Traumatic Stress Specialist, Speaker and Author, Simon Maryan

I this workshop Simon Maryan will describe the practices he has devised to inhibit the left side of the brain for stress reduction, especially those at crisis point.

Simon set up the organisation, Icarus, to enable current and ex-military personnel with post-traumatic stress disorder to access help more quickly and easily.  This was stimulated in part due to the increasingly public numbers of veteran suicides in 2018, and an obvious failing in the existing systems. A Veteran-to-Veteran service it combines a hybrid of Psychological and Psychotherapeutic techniques which provide simple and highly effective self-regulating tools for mental health crisis intervention. The purpose of the process is to interrupt negative thought patterns and disconnect the negative feelings associated to those thoughts; inducing a state of mental and physical relaxation thereby dulling down the limbic system, reigniting executive functioning and balancing left brain, right brain activity to allow rational, logical functioning and thinking.  Allowing individuals to self-regulate and anchor themselves.

Simon Maryan is a former Royal Marine and Human Intelligence specialist, who, now as a psychological therapist and trainer, specialises in Military Trauma and Post Traumatic Stress, behavioural change and mental strength/resilience in high pressure environments.

Simon is Co-founder of ICARUS, an innovative and unique online treatment service for serving military and veterans who are struggling with their mental health.


‘Mindfulness – Noticing our Everyday Behaviours and Ideas and Practices to Take Home’ by Georgina Cahill

Georgina Cahill is currently leading nationwide energy projects in the UK. Her working resume includes senior roles with the Post Office, Zurich Insurance, energy suppliers EDF and nPower, the Bank of Ireland.  During the past 18 months, she’s worked closely with the Kalapa Academy in Germany and Holland to become a Certified Mindfulness Trainer for Corporate Leadership.

Mindfulness – morning session “Noticing our Everyday Behaviours”

  • Mindfulness definition (John Kabat Zinn) and “being present”
  • Breathing meditation
  • The perpetual dynamics of the wandering mind
  • Focus and multi-tasking exercises
  • Appreciation meditation

Mindfulness – afternoon session “Ideas and practices to take home”

  • The Dan Siegel hand model of the brain
  • The Body Scan meditation
  • 4 step process for embracing difficult emotions
  • One-minute pause meditation
  • Invitation to go “mindful wandering”


‘The Seven Day Soul: Finding Meaning Beneath the Noise’ by Susannah Healy

In this workshop, Susannah will discuss the main points of her most recent book “The Seven Day Soul: Finding Meaning Beneath the Noise”, Susannah will describe how she originally intended to call the book “Catching the Baby” – a reference to our society’s slide away from a more unifying, gestalt perspective so beautifully described in “The Master and His Emissary”.  An understanding of life’s meaning and purpose, which was in the past provided through religious membership, is being replaced by new phenomena such as “spiritual distress”, “purpose anxiety” and “learned meaninglessness”.  Where will our collective eagerness to promote STEM subjects for young people take us?  Susannah argues that for too long we have assumed spirituality to be a private matter.  But if spirituality includes personal meaning, a sense of relatedness and our membership in nature, then it is a matter of individual as well as global well-being.  As such, spirituality is deeply personal, but it is not a private matter.

Susannah Healy is a Psychologist, Professional Speaker, Management Consultant and Trainer, Hypnotherapist and Mindfulness Meditation teacher in Ireland and the UK. She is also author of “Fabulous Jelly: Use Your Brain to Lose Weight” and ‘The Seven Day Soul’: Finding meaning beneath the noise.


For more titles and headings, and to see the format, please Return to Iain McGilchrist Schedule

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