2022 brings a rich variety of optional talks and workshops. Examples listed below:
‘Emotional & Psychological Resilience’ by Simon Maryan
Simon Maryan is a former Royal Marine and Human Intelligence specialist, who, now as an International Speaker, author, coach & trainer, specialises in Emotional & Psychological Resilience and behavioural change not just in high pressure environments but for coping with life in general.
In this workshop speaker and author, Simon Maryan will describe the practices he has devised to inhibit the left side of the brain for emotional and psychological regulation, stress reduction and how it can be used both reactively and proactively.
His talk is based around a set 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.
He designed The Immediate Care Process and this year published the book to enable more people to access these incredibly simple and powerful techniques. He has been using his process for the last 12 years and utilised it to help thousands of people. He is working on a research study to dive deeper into the process and enable further research to be carried out.
‘The Music of the Hemispheres’ by 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, educator 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, even when it purports not to be, and, as such, deprives us of many of the transcendental 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!
Paul Cavaciuti is an internationally renowned performer, composer, music teacher and therapist. He is a graduate of the Berklee College of Music in Boston, and of the Institute for Music and Health in New York. As a jazz drummer and percussionist, he has played, toured and recorded with some of the top names in British and American music, including Jim Mullen, David Gordon, Roland Perrin’s Blue Planet Orchestra, Chris Garrick, Nick Meier, Nigel Price, Tina May, Jacqui Dankworth, Christie Hennessy, Donovan, Lew Soloff, Sheryl Bailey, The New York Festival of Song (NYFOS), and the London Chamber Orchestra, among many others.
Paul is an active music educator. He was chairman of the percussion department at the Musician’s Institute (MI) in London, Head of Music at Dutchess Day School in Millbrook, New York and has lectured extensively on music education and creativity. He has given numerous workshops on jazz improvisation, including at the Royal Academy of Music and the Purcell School, and is a workshop leader for the London Chamber Orchestra’s Music Junction programme. He is an Artist-in-Residence on the Inspired by Berklee international musical development programme run by Berklee College of Music. He also teaches at the Centre for Applied Music Research at Roehampton University, and at Linden Lodge School where he works with students with autism, visual impairment and learning difficulties.
‘How did Psychology get Dehumanised?’ by John F. Miller
I decided at school that I wanted to study psychology in order to understand myself and other people but over the next 20 years, every form of psychology I tried seemed to have left out the human factor. Human Resources was mainly about employment issues, psychiatry seemed to be medication and labels, my psychology degree at Oxford was all about animal behaviour and educational psychology seemed to be about administering tests. Even when I trained as a Jungian analyst, human development and emotions seemed to take second place to archetypes and abstractions.
Finally I started attending the seminars of a unique psychoanalyst, Donald Meltzer, who showed me how to discover the heart of the human experience and for the best part of 40 years I have been in psychoanalytic practice. Nevertheless, it was not until I encountered Iain McGilchrist’s work that I felt I had stumbled upon the crucial, missing piece of the jigsaw. At last, I had the key to why the personal, human element always got left out. Reviewing my quest in search of the missing human element, what I discovered without knowing the significance of the split brain and how Iain’s work subsequently put everything in context at a deeper level, would, I believe, join the dots for many people.
John is a psychoanalyst and psychotherapist specialising in education and children’s learning and behavioural problems. He read Psychology and Philosophy at Saint Catherine’s College, Oxford, and did his post-graduate training in Educational Psychology at the Tavistock Clinic. He worked as a county psychologist in Oxfordshire for a number of years before going into private practice and completing analytical training. Previously a consultant to numerous schools and organisations for deprived and troubled children in different parts of Britain, as well as Norway, Belgium and France, he has been a member of the International Association for Analytical psychology for over 40 years, and training analyst.
His practice mainly involves long-term analysis of adults, but also includes child, couple and family consultations. His book The Triumphant Victim, on the psychopathology and treatment of sadomasochism, was published in 2013 and Do You Read Me? on dyslexia and the issue of Society pathologising children instead of trying to understand them, in 2015. He lives in Oxford where he has his analytical practice.
‘Viniyoga – Special Application’ by Rachel Done
Rachel specialises in the ‘Viniyoga’ approach inspired by the teachings of T. Krishnamaacharya and T.K.V Desikachar. The Term `viniyoga` is found in the yoga sutras of Patanjali, one of the key texts on yoga written 2000 years ago. `Viniyoga` relates to the appropriate application of yoga techniques.
This yoga workshop will demonstrate a mixture of dynamic and static postures with a strong emphasis on the breath and matching movements with breath making it a truly meditative experience. As the right and left hemispheres control sensory and motor skills of the opposite side of the body it is traditionally believed that moving both sides of the body at once in a rhythmical fashion can facilitate brain integration.
The practice includes seated breathing techniques `pranayama` to help facilitate this brain integration, one such being Nadi Shodhana (alternate nostril breathing). From the yogic perspective the purpose of this technique is to purify the nadis (energy channels) and facilitate better balance between the right (hot and active) and the left (cool and calm) sides of the body. The nasal cycle would appear to be linked to the opposite hemisphere dominance, which may indicate that alternate nostril breathing helps balance activity in the two hemispheres. D.Shannahoff Khalsa believes that “alternate nostril yoga breathing positively influences cognitive processes and aids sustained attention at different scalp sites (frontal, vertex and parietal), whereas breath awareness can bring about changes at the vertex alone.”
Having completed over a 1000 hours of Teacher Training with Dave Charlton
and Ranju Roy of Sadhana Mala. Rachel has been running her own Viniyoga business comprising both group classes and individual tuition since 2015. In addition, Rachel also specialises in antenatal and postnatal yoga, “Yoga for 12 Step Recovery” and has several years’ experience working with teenagers supporting mental health and wellbeing.
No experience is necessary. If possible, bring a mat and blanket, otherwise sanitised mats can be supplied. Phones should be on silent, and please arrive on time so as not to disturb the practice once started. Namaste!
‘Being in the body-sound bridge’ by Anne L Ryan
Body, movement, breath and sound – a meditative workshop that helps to balance mind and body.
This is a 75 minute introduction to my body-sound 2-day (12 hours) workshops. In this creative safe space we will explore vocal sound in the body. By improvising with body-sound, tensions and holding patterns in the body ease, and the mind becomes rested.
Being with the body, encouraging slow movement, and focusing gently on the breath, the body becomes relaxed. Taking time to tune to our own rhythm, our body slows to motionlessness. From a deep quiet space, we tune to the impulse to resonate sound. As our sound connects with our body, this resonance opens the body’s sound portal. From this place, we work with resonance to shape our inner-landscape into body-sound movement, replenishing the body, and expressing our unique way of being.
Workshop: limited to 12 participants
Wear loose warm clothing
Bring a yoga mat or rug to lie on, and a blanket for warmth
About Anne L Ryan
My career began as a singer, performance artist and vocal coach. Working with performers, I am drawn to how lyricism and intonation portray emotion, and how physical movement also plays a role in affecting vocal expression. In my work I use creative arts, body work, music, breath and voice to explore this intricate relationship to bring about the unique sense of well-being open to us all.
Anne L Ryan is a Body Psychotherapist working towards accreditation with UKCP and Cambridge Body Psychotherapy Centre, Ditton Walk, Cambridge. Her consulting room is in the Practice Rooms, Oxford, where she holds workshops to explore vocal sound in the body-mind relationship.
For the last twenty years I’ve been obsessed with how change happens – or why it fails to. As a species, we generally agree that we want health, happiness, and prosperity for all, but we struggle to bridge the gap between where we are and where we want to be.
Drawing on my experiences in corporate life (Accenture, UBS), as an adventurer (four Guinness World Records for ocean rowing, including first – and so far only – woman to row solo across the world’s “Big Three” oceans: Atlantic, Pacific, and Indian), and during my doctorate (dissertation on A Narrative of Reintegration for an Era of Disintegration), I’ve explored how we can navigate the uncharted waters of the future with courage and clarity, guided by a vision of the future we wish to create.
I now use my books, podcasts, weekly articles, and corporate speaking engagements to share my insights on how we create a better future for people and planet.
– How do we create organisations in which people can bring their best selves, their creativity, courage, and resourcefulness?
– How do we identify a clear purpose, individually and collectively, that contributes to the creation of the future we want?
– How do we find the resilience to keep going when the going gets tough?
– How do we navigate uncertainty, volatility, and waves of change?
– How do we break down seemingly daunting challenges and overwhelming odds to bring our dreams into reality?
My two favourite quotes are:
– “We can’t solve problems from the level of consciousness that created them.” (Einstein)
– “You never change things by fighting the existing reality. To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete.” (Buckminster Fuller)
In other words, I believe that we need to address our challenges not at the superficial level, but by reviewing and redesigning the economic, political, and social structures that underpin society. Even more than that, we need to redesign them from a different level of consciousness – a consciousness that recognises the deep interconnection of everything and everybody within the closed system of Planet Earth.
Only when we move from a story of separation to a story of interbeing, from a paradigm of domination to a paradigm of partnership, can we create a truly thriving civilisation.
Charles O’Malley is a highly versatile strategist, networker and change agent whose work focuses on catalysing positive social and environmental change in business and wider society. He combines twenty years of sustainability experience as a social entrepreneur and sustainability consultant with a decade in venture capital, investment banking and audit.
He has advised some of the world’s leading companies on corporate responsibility and sustainability strategy, stakeholder engagement and reporting. He designed and launched Big Issue Invest, one of the UK’s leading social impact funds. He designed and launched an online community for addressing social and environmental challenges through ‘crowdsourced innovation’. He has also run his own corporate finance firm, advising numerous early stage ventures in the ‘green’ and ‘social impact’ markets on business strategy and fund raising.
In 2008 he was named as one of ‘London’s Most Influential People’ in the environmental sector and in 2009 was featured by CNBC as one of 30 ‘Green Heroes’. He was a 2011 ‘London Leader’, appointed by the London Sustainable Development Commission and is a contributing author to the book ‘Leadership for Sustainability’.
His undergraduate education was at Oxford University, post-graduate at the Harvard Kennedy School plus a Masters in Responsibility and Business Practice from Bath University School of Management. He has trained in systemic approaches to organisational change.
‘Spirituality in Research, Professional Practice and Education’ by Annalisa Burello
There is a growing consensus between on one hand artists, art and spiritual practitioners, curators and art scholars, and on the other transpersonal scholars, spirituality scholars and a few other disciplines’ representatives, that art can indeed be a spiritual practice, express a kind of spirituality and engender spiritual experiences in both the artist and the art goer. The biggest obstacles to further this paradigm of art as a spiritual mode and medium beyond the realms of Spirituality Studies and Transpersonal Psychology are ontological, epistemological and methodological. Adopting a phenomenological approach, by textual comparison I attempt to extend the definition of spiritual experience to aesthetic and nature-based experiences via comparing William James’s definition of mystical experiences, Peter Ashley’s definition of Wilderness Spirituality and Bjarne Sode Funch’s conceptualisation of Aesthetic Experience. Transpersonal psychologist Steve Taylor’s research about extraordinary experiences permits to place all these experiences along his expanded range of awakening experiences.
Differently from Funch, however, I believe that works of art can indeed possess identifiable material and imaginal characteristics – as Ashley has identified for nature – to facilitate a spiritual experience in the viewer, regardless of her personal history, by applying McGilchrist’s Right Hemisphere theory.
This talk focuses on the viewer’s aesthetic experience rather than the artist’s creative one, which requires a different approach. I am not going to consider art as psycho spiritual therapy or art as a meditative practice, which are two other big subjects worthy of further examination. Naturally these themes further and strengthen the argument that Art and Spirituality are profoundly intertwined. We could expand this theme during the Q&A.
After 15 years in investment banking, I retrained as a painter and photographer, achieving a Photography BA (Hons) at Westminster University in 2019. My work explored the role of art in spirituality, as during my artistic training, I realized that creativity was deeply connected to spirituality and that art was not merely a mental health practice, as it is often portrayed, but a spiritual practice itself. Since that realization, I spent the last three years researching spirituality, applying Iain McGilchrist’s divided brain theory as a neurological foundation to the topic. My newfound interest in spirituality led me to my current MSc in Anthropology of Religion in the Contemporary World at LSE. I have also joined the International Network for the Studies of Spirituality in 2019 and presented my article ‘Why Funch’s Aesthetic Experience should be recategorized as an awakening experience: expanding the ontology of spirituality’ at the 2021 INSS conference.
‘Conscious Somatic Dance’ with Samantha Field
This is a form of dance in which the dancers, without the need to follow steps, abandon themselves to the rhythm and move freely as the music takes them, leading to a form of meditation. Many use it as a way of coping with stress, restoring serenity and as a spiritual practice. It is a place where Meditation meets the dance floor.
Come and dance like you are a 4 year old before anyone told you you can’t or that it is something to learn. This is just about moving to music in whatever way you want to. No steps, no right or wrong – just dancing from the heart. Let the music inspire you, let yourself be surprised and leave expectations behind. My hints as leader are just invitations. You don’t have to follow them
‘Finding Blake: Reimagining William Blake for the 21st century’ by James Murray-White
In this session, award-winning multi-media creative, James Murray-White will be discussing and screening his film project entitled ‘Finding Blake’. The film, rather than creating a definitive comprehensive account of Blake, his life, times and work, instead looks to discover some of the multiple ways in which human imaginations today resonate with Blake’s. James is deeply interested in what we can discover from these encounters with Blake, with each other and ourselves.
James believes that this current age of global ecological catastrophe, political austerity and cultural stagnation is exactly the point at which Blake’s vision of a golden age is needed. Again, we desperately need a humanist, spiritual utopia beyond where we are now.
190 years after Blake’s death his prophecies and single-minded spiritual vision should continue and ripen into fruition. Blake was a master articulator of this, connecting humanity to the divine through word and heavenly image.
James has previously made films on poet John Clare, the Bedouin of the Negev Desert; a play about artist Eric Gill; worked with artist Richard Long, and been filmmaker in residence within the Cambridge University/NHS dementia research Network. A recent trilogy of poem-films produced with poet George Szirtes has been selected for the Venice Biennale.
‘An Emerging World View’ by Gary Goldberg MD
Gary’s talk will explain a new and exciting, emerging worldview, that differs radically from the assumption that our reality is that which we presume to be presented to us by our physical senses and which is powerfully reinforced by our Nominalistic secular culture: Synthesising recent breakthroughs in Physics, Neuroscience, Philosophy and linking to correspondences with enduring indigenous cultures, and to the abiding wisdom of the mysticisms of the world’s faith traditions, he will present an ancient–but mostly forgotten, newly updated and rediscovered understanding: a realisation that everything has a degree of consciousness and that what we falsely term “Reality” by cultural consensus is not our true reality at all but just one negotiated outcome from a “a vast oceanic continuum of possibility” to which we are led by the elaborate abstractions that thought produces for us–‘things’ and ‘events’ distributed in a space-time ‘container’–out of the perceptions that occur in the concrete connection to time in the momentary present–the moment of the ‘Eternal Now.’ The currently accepted cultural ‘actuality’ of modernity–that calls us to the impossibility of building a lasting world from a place of trauma and pain, and that assumes that these abstractions are our concrete reality, is no longer viable, and is bringing our species and our natural world to the brink of destruction. It is in need of fundamental revision and reconstruction in order to bring our understanding of physical actuality back into congruence with the underlying hidden reality of relationality through which a world may be built from a place of transaction, cooperativity, communication, love and joy–through a transition to a narrative of ‘inter-being and abundance’ from one of ‘separation and scarcity.’
This worldview draws on an interpretation of quantum mechanics brought forward by Ruth E Kastner, breakthroughs in the divided-brain thought of Iain McGilchrist, the revival of Panpsychism in secular philosophy, and the Ying-Yang corresponding principles requiring a context-dependent balancing of opposing forces present in many ancient belief systems.
In alignment with Iain McGilchrist’s warnings about the domination of modern culture by an excessive lean into left-brain modes of thinking, Gary explores the implications of a Yang-dominated perspective and, most importantly, presents a possible alternative vision going forward conveyed through convergence in multiple channels of conceptual as well as scientific thinking.
‘Evolution or Extinction a Buddhist’s view of current world problems’ by Jayaraja
Iain McGilchrist presents spirit as one of the areas which can help to free us from the tyranny of the left hemisphere. Are the teachings of the Buddha relevant to the problems we face in this left hemisphere dominated world? What would the Buddha say?
Jayaraja read the Master and his Emissary on a one-year retreat in the mountains of Spain in 2013 with the time and space to absorb its significance. On his return from the mountains he bought numerous copies for friends and senior teachers in the Triratna Order. He describes it as the most important book he has read in the last 25 years.
‘Mindful Communication – a Language of the Heart’ by Jayaraja
Jayaraja trained with Marshall Rosenberg, the founder of Nonviolent Communication. He has studied Gestalt psychotherapy and has a keen interest in neuroscience and trauma. He was one of the management team for the 2020 Embodiment conference. He continues to travel and teach communication skills, particularly supporting communities. His workshops are renowned for their playful, inspiring, and unpredictable nature sharing his skills drawing on the immediate experience of what is alive.
Jayaraja has been a practicing Buddhist, meditation, and mindfulness teacher for nearly 30 years. Aside from studying with Marshall Rosenberg, he has also served as chair of Buddhafield 2014 – 2019 and is now leading a team renovating Alfoxton Park House, a former home of William Wordsworth where he is creating a Buddhist eco, arts and cultural retreat centre. Other diverse interests include poetry, developmental psychology, Brazilian jiu jitsu and football.
‘Connecting with the Feminine in us all’ by Paul M Pulé
“all men are born good and have an infinite capacity to care… ”
During my talk I will be discussing my life’s work which seeks to strengthen the synergy between people and place. Taking a right-hemisphere view I am dedicated to bridging the gap between men and nature through my personal and professional endeavours in support of a sustainable world. I am deeply interested in Iain McGilchrist’s hypothesis of the hemispheres and see many links with the work that I do.
After completing my Bachelor of Science in Field Ecology at Curtin University of Technology in Perth, Western Australia, I commenced my career as a Naturalist and Outdoor Educator, working with young people. Through this work, I developed a keen interest in the ideological underpinnings of the human/nature relationship, which led me to complete a Master’s in Holistic Science at Schumacher College in Devon, U.K. There, I explored Western humanity’s exchanges with wider nature, writing a thesis that encouraged an embodied and holistic understanding of our way of being in the world. This work is titled: ‘Us and Them: Primate Science and the Union of the Rational Self with the Intuitive Self’.
In pondering the reasons why it is difficult for Western humanity to show care for self, society and environment, a specific interest in the intersection between modern Western masculine identities and nature emerged. My current dissertation is titled: ‘A Declaration of Caring: Towards an ecological masculinism’, and posits an ecologised masculinities theory and praxis that reawakens an ethics of caring to counter the ethics of daring that currently dominate Western malestreams. This work aims to dispel the male/nature oxymoron by aligning men with sustainability through primatological, paleoanthropological, historical, sociological, psychological and philosophical themes that are both theoretical and practical. Through this multidisciplinary approach to the research, I have constructed ecological masculinism as a new conversation in eco-philosophy that encourages Western men and masculine identities to show care for human and other-than-human Others – as the ultimate gesture of caring for the self.
‘The experience of time passing: Time Line’ by Jane Turner
Time flows, passing more or less rapidly, except when it stands still or stops altogether. That’s how we say it feels and the words we use to describe it. Iain McGilchrist’s work helps us appreciate how the two very fundamental ways of conceptualising time – as flowing or fixed – reflect the specific ways in which the two hemispheres make sense of temporal experience. The right prefers to think of time as an on-going process, giving way to the notion of duration, whereas for the left, with its preference for order and sequence, time is a series of “points”, a succession of distinct, discernible units.
“In time” and “through time”, terms taken from the Time Line model to evoke our experience of time, overlap quite adequately the notions of duration and fixity. In this talk, we’ll explore the “Time Line”, how time and space are interconnected, how metaphors of time use space and those of space, time.
A clinical psychologist, I am quite conscious of how the awareness of time and space as an embodied experience is essential to the development of psychological health and well-being, as well as how experience of time differs in mental suffering – frozen in trauma, speed in mania; slow, sluggish in depression.
As a professional I have written several books, one on the subject of this talk came out in the 3rd edition in 2019 under the French title “Bien diriger sa vie avec la Ligne du Temps” (Take charge of your life with Time Line). An American, I Iive and work in Paris as a trainer, coach, psychotherapist and hypnotherapist and supervisor.
‘The Holocaust: Connection and Rupture – a Hemispheric Approach’ 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 his talk demonstrates that 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.
‘Coming to our Senses, naturally’ by Alistair Duncan
I am a trainer, eco-psychologist and coach/therapist helping people explore ways of living their lives well with an evolving approach that I call “a way of natural being”. I offer workshops and other nature-based experiences that span multiple fields including mental health, deep nature connection, life coaching and relating meaningfully to our troubled civilisation. I am a Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP) Master Practitioner and Trainer and Myers Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) accredited. I have a Degree in Botany and a Masters in Philosophy (focussing on eco-phenomenology and especially the work of Martin Heidegger). I am endlessly drawn to the dance between meaningful, embodied, lived experience and academic/scientific rigour in the context of our place in the more-than-human world. I am based in Lewes, East Sussex.
I am doing two workshops exploring our relationship with the natural world in the context of Iain’s work.
If you are interested in my material I would encourage you to do both, as they are linked explorations of the same theme. The first is experiential and right hemispheric; the second more cognitive left hemispheric! But if you choose to attend just one that is fine too.
Workshop 1 – ‘Breathing through the feet’
The feet are the link
between the earth and the body. Begin there.
The lungs are the link between body and air.
The hands, these uprooted feet, are the means
of our shaping and grasping. Clasp them.
The eyes are the hands of the head;
its feet are the ears.“
Sengzhao” – Robert Bringhurst
We will venture out into some nearby woods. Using techniques adapted from the tracking practices of indigenous peoples of North America, we will adjust the way we move and use our senses to explore ways of experiencing and relating to nature, the more-than-human world, in a rich, sensuous, and right hemispheric way. Everyone’s experience may be different but I hope the world will show up for you in meaningful new ways – giving you a greater sense of the presence of everything around you, an altered awareness of your place in the midst of things and some really helpful shifts in your autonomic nervous system!
Practical details will be given ahead of the workshop but you will want to have clothing appropriate to the weather (we move very slowly!) and footwear that has soles as thin as seems sensible for the prevailing conditions.
Workshop 2 – ‘The felt sense of thinking’
In The Matter with Things Vol II, Iain quotes David Abram,
“The world we inhabit … is a sensitive sphere … sustained by the myriad lives and relationships that compose it. We come to know more of this sphere not by detaching ourselves from our felt experience, but by inhabiting our bodily experience all the more richly and wakefully, feeling our way into deeper contact with other experiencing bodies, and hence with the wild, inter-corporeal life of the earth itself”.
In parallel, and I suspect intrinsically connected, with our loss of a right hemispheric attention to our world has come the loss of an embodied, sensuous, non-cognitive awareness of being part of nature. And in moments when there has been a re-balancing, nature has re-appeared in our field of experience, for example, in the Renaissance and Romantic periods.
Drawing on our experiences in the wood in the first workshop, this session will explore our relationship with the non-human world, with creatures, plants and mountains, in the context of Iain’s work. And ask how the loss of a right hemispheric experience of the natural world might be foundational to the challenges we face in our culture today.
I will briefly offer some pointers from my own highly personal journey of engagement with indigenous worldviews, western phenomenological philosophy, Taoism, and the pre-Christian Northern European notion of Wyrd that seem consistent with and illuminating of Iain’s work. I will then open the session for group insights and discussion. It would be terribly left-hemispheric to aspire to any definitive practical solutions, however maybe we can explore some practices and ways of being that take us in the right direction!
‘Group Creativity and Musical Circulating’ by Tywi Roberts
This is a practical session with instruments, in which Tywi Roberts will introduce a simple yet incredibly deep musical device known as circulating. No previous experience with music or the guitar is required in order to participate in this workshop.
Dr Iain McGilchrist has described the process by which one learns a piece of music – first we encounter it and get a sense of the material as a whole. Then we must break it down and study its constitutive elements – timing, rhythm, key, form, phrasing, tone, etc.
Finally: we must put this thinking aside and play the piece as a whole again – returning to the music as we first encountered it. This workshop will give a small taste of this process, and, if we are fortunate, perhaps an encounter with music. The open and accessible approach to music we will apply places emphasis on presence, rather than on musical technique or knowledge of theory. If we can be available in the circle, music is often not far away.
A limited number of guitars will be provided, but participants are highly recommended to bring their own instruments if possible:
- Any acoustic guitar in standard tuning (E-A-D-G-B-e) is ideal.
- Other instruments are also welcome – smaller and mobile being especially suitable (ukulele, flute, recorder, violin, clarinet, etc).
Tywi John Hywel Roberts is a musician in the final year of his PhD in composition at the Royal Northern College of Music in Manchester. He has composed for ensembles large and small, and regularly performed solo and with groups since his teenage years – as a guitarist, singer and electronic artist. He has frequently worked in the context of Robert Fripp’s Guitar Craft courses since 2005, performing with the League of Crafty Guitarists and related ensembles in Europe and the USA.
“Creative work is serious play.” – Guitar Craft Aphorism
More information to follow
‘Topic TBA’ by Ruth White
“You have the gift of insight, there are no exceptions. What clouds your vision?”
Ruth is a yoga teacher, writer and international speaker of some 40 years across 27 countries and runs the Karuna centre in the Cotswolds where over a thousand students have qualified.
As a teen, Ruth was hospitalised with chronic back problems and spent weeks in plaster but through yoga became pain free. Her Yogi, B.K.S. Iyengar, so inspired her that she followed him to India and trained with him as a teacher. Ruth’s teachings (which includes meditation) are based on the Advaita tradition, as taught by Santinand Saraswati. Advaita, which means non-duality, heeds Patanjali’s eight limbs of yoga including pranayama and meditation.
Ruth has developed a unique style of teaching that unites pupil and teacher in an atmosphere of happiness and well-being. She teaches with enthusiasm and a sense of fun, and brings the same warmth and clarity to her talks and demonstrations. She is well known for her attention to detail, and has the ability to enable people to see through their limitations, achieve their full potential and experience a sense of freedom.
Ruth will be hosting both a talk on [TOPIC] and separately, a practical class in which you are invited to try the postures. You can watch or join in and you don’t have to be fit – just give your body full attention and learn how to lift your spirits, chairs can be provided. By coming back to the present moment, you can experience mindfulness in the postures. No previous knowledge is required, just the ability to look and listen.
In her book “Presence: The Truth of Yoga” Ruth explores the deeper nature of yoga, that which is described as union with the Divine. While giving some reference to asanas (physical postures), the book focuses more on positive change in our mental and emotional attitudes.
“Through the practice of asanas or postures, we bring back our natural state of balance and harmony. By working in a quiet and attentive way, keeping full
attention on the asana we are in, the mind has a chance to fall quiet. This way of working allows us to come back into the present moment, and not to dwell on the past or future. Working in the present moment synchronises mind, body and breathing.”
‘Meditation’ with John White
“Meditation is a healing, calming, quietening, balancing practice, where with the aid of a mantra, we learn to be still in body and mind.”
John will be leading a Transcendental Meditation workshop. This form of meditation uses a mantra which can be a sound or a diagram, anything that holds your attention in the Now – a musician with his instrument; a beautiful scene; in the presence of a loved one; heavenly music.
“We allow the mind to be free, to rest in the stillness, where no movement is sought, no thought is encouraged, no sound is needed – all these normal activities of the mind are left behind and we enter into the deep silence, which feels like a ‘coming home to our True Nature’. Here there is peace and unity; here there are no boundaries between inner and outer; here all is One.” The Study Society
The real meaning of yoga is to quieten the mind, using the body as a tool as when the body is still and balanced, the mind has a chance to fall quiet. Any movement in the mind is reflected in the body. It may be so small that you don’t see it – but it’s there.
Meditation is not something that only a few can do, it’s for everyone whatever their creed or race. We come back into this natural state when we can give our complete attention to the present moment (right brain).
John learned his skill at The Study Society in London of which he has been a member since the early 60’s. It was there that the Maharishi taught this method of meditation. John has been teaching and initiating students since.
By trade John is a shoe maker and manages John Lobbs on St James Street, London. He has been there (and still is) for 67 years.
More information to follow
‘Paradigm Shift In Education? What Can We Learn From Iain McGilchrist?’
Many educators are concerned with the increasing instrumentalism of our education systems, where students are thought of as future economic assets. There are also concerns about the almost exclusive focus on a ‘back-to-basics’, essentialist approach in our schools. Some are happy with the existing system, others call for more progressive, existentialist approaches, and/or the greater integration of values such as integrity, diversity, inclusivity, and compassion.
Iain McGilchrist has said that our current thinking is increasingly dominated by the left hemisphere’s narrowly focussed way of attending to the world. He believes that nothing short of a paradigm shift will bring about the change needed to counter this dominance.
In this session we will discuss some of the key themes that run through The Master and His Emissary, themes such as two ways of knowing, flow, embodiment, depth and breadth. Could these themes be used to bring about a paradigm shift in education, i.e. a shift towards the right hemisphere’s way of attending to the world? In this workshop, we will explore if and how this could happen.