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Talks and Workshops – Exploring the Divided Brain



Samantha Field

Samantha Field is the CEO and Creative Director of Field & Field and the brains and force behind these Annual Conference Retreats. Her introductory talk will explain the aim and structure of the event, together with information on how to get the most from this amazing experience. For more information about Samantha, her philosophies, experience and drivers, see her bio at the end of the list of speakers below.

Click here to find out more about the event and to register interest


Dr Iain McGilchrist

Iain McGilchrist’s book “The Master and his Emissary: The Divided Brain and the Making of the Western World” is regarded by many as the most important writing of our time. This and in particular his hemisphere hypothesis is a central theme to this Annual Cotswold Retreat. 

Iain puts forward the idea that the mind and brain can be understood only by seeing them in the broadest possible context. Our whole physical and spiritual existence, and that of the wider human culture helps to mould, and in turn is moulded by, our minds and brains. By showing an undeniable shift towards a more left hemisphere way of being, at the expense of the right, he illustrates only too clearly the inevitable resulting problems. These problems are witnessed in all our lives, personally, culturally and globally. As Iain explains, ultimately this issue is so great that, without wishing to sound alarmist, we are actually talking about the potential extinction of humanity itself. The last remaining hope is that the fight for survival will kick in and the human race will find a way to claw its way back. The way back is by utilising the right-hemisphere’s way of knowing. 

We are privileged to have Iain as our keynote speaker, streaming live from his home on Skye to open proceedings.

Following that you will then be able to enjoy rich academic content through the premiere screenings of 15 lectures from Iain McGilchrist. As always they will be followed by facilitated, lively discussion groups on each lecture and fascinating, live talks from our guest speakers. Added to this, and central to the event, we have an exciting, extended programme of experiential, right-hemisphere based workshops. Altogether, it is an experience that will move us collectively one step towards the necessary shifts of consciousness. Together, we form a creative space to explore possible solutions to some of the problems that Iain has identified. 


Roz Savage – ‘A Paradigm Shift’


Roz Savage OBE is the first (and so far only) woman to row solo across the world’s “Big Three” oceans: Atlantic, Pacific, and Indian. She holds four Guinness World Records, and was appointed a Member of the Order of the British Empire for services to fundraising and the environment.

As a proactive environmentalist Roz says:

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/ocean rower, 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 inter-being, from a paradigm of domination to a paradigm of partnership, can we create a truly thriving civilisation.


Charles O’Malley – Systemic Constellations

As Senior Advisor to the United Nations, Charles O’Malley has worked for most of his life in a predominantly left-hemisphere world but is very aware of the problems that bias produces. He is trained in systemic approaches to organisational change and strongly believes that a more right-hemisphere, holistic approach is needed to navigate our way through the mess that the world is now in.

Charles also has extensive experience of the power of the right-hemisphere practice of Systemic Constellation work. He argues that to find better creative solutions to our personal, organisational, societal and world issues we need to come at them in a different way. By incorporating alternative perspectives and ways of knowing in the decision making processes we get a broader understanding of the issue and greater understanding of the problem to be solved. Moving beyond traditional Family Systemic Constellation work Charles uses the technique to reveal influences and give more information around any particular issue – be it about a specific person, problem, organisation, society or humanity at large. 

On day three of the Conference Retreat Charles and Liz Sleeper will be guiding us through a felt exploration of the past, present and future aspects of the divided brain from a range of different perspectives.

Charles’ is by nature a big picture, intuitive and 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, a decade in venture capital, investment banking and audit with an understanding that everything is connected.

As an environmentalist, 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 fundraising. 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’.

Charles’ 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.


Liz Sleeper – Family Constellations

Liz Sleeper is an extremely skilled and experienced facilitator with a gift for ‘holding the space’. As such, she has been working as a systemic constellation facilitator since 2011, running a monthly, experiential, constellation days for over 10 years. She trained in family constellations at the Centre for Systemic Constellations and continued her “apprenticeship” for many years by transcribing workshops led by leading international facilitator Judith Hemming. The systemic constellation approach relies on using the embodied experience of group participants, and is led by systemic ordering principles about love and belonging. These principles can be applied to all human systems to enable movement where feelings, thought processes and/or general ways of being or doing things have become stuck. It is particularly useful where a left-hemisphere dominant approach is not working as the process allows for a much more embodied, right-hemisphere way of knowing via our senses. Indeed the whole process is a very right-hemisphere technique as it moves towards seeing the whole. The problem in context and tuning into our senses to access ways of knowing that we have forgotten how to trust.

Alongside this, Liz has had a lifetime of working and political campaigning to tackle climate change, with 15+ years of creating events and growth across the UK renewable sector in the transition to a net zero economy. Linked to this, Liz is also interested in using constellations to find the spaces where individuals, communities and organisations can build resilience within our rapidly changing and transforming systems. Her interest is not only in how we build new systems, but how we attend to the ending of old ones, so that we do not create our new systems as unconscious models of the ones we wish to leave behind. Constellation practice is about how/where we find the best energy for change that serves the whole system. Again, a very right-hemisphere way of seeing the world. Liz is also very aware of the connection between the personal and the wider world. Indeed, Liz’s life experience of raising 3 daughters and supporting her ex husband during his career as a Member of Parliament and government minister, informs her approach to the place where systemic meets
personal experience.

Her current research revolves around the interactions between love and power & where one finds possibility in a system for creating natural and life affirming change.



Pooran Desai – Panelist Speaker for our Q&A session

Pooran Desai OBE has worked in sustainability for over three decades. He will be leading our Question Time session alongside a number of our specialists and keynote speakers. 

As co-founder of the environmental organisation Bioregional in 1994, he has set up enterprises in sustainable forestry, organic farming, recycling and real estate development. Bioregional was one of the first to offer consultancy services to help companies and governments create sustainability strategies. The key was resolving conflicts between different departments and stakeholders and his approach recognises that sustainability is about helping people see the connections and focus on the goals they shared. 

Harnessing digital technology makes this exponentially easier. Hence Pooran  founded Bioregional’s ‘One Planet Living’ – a vision for sustainability which he led for 18 years. He headed teams that created sustainability strategies for $30bn of real estate development working in over 30 countries. One Planet Living® principles serve as an inspiration for United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

In 2009, he was commissioned by publishers John Wiley & Sons to write One Planet Communities: ‘A Real-Life Guide For Sustainable Living. 

Pooran studied at Oxford and Cambridge Universities prior to working in the sustainable forestry industry and is an Honorary Fellow, Royal Institute of British Architects. His work there led to the development of the BioRegional Charcoal Company, one of the first sustainability companies. In 1997, Pooran co-initiated the UK’s first large-scale, mixed-use sustainable eco-village project, BedZed, which was completed in 2002. He coined the term One Planet Living and has led teams writing sustainability strategies for over $30 billion of green real estate in over 20 countries. He has also worked with cities to co-create One Planet Action Plans. Pooran is a serial entrepreneur in green real estate, sustainable forestry and organic farming. He is the Author or Co-Author of three books and the recipient of awards including the Officer of the Order of the British Empire.


Paul Cavaciuti – ‘Balancing the Hemispheres’

Paul Cavaciuti at Iain McGilchrist Field & Field eventPaul Cavaciuti is an internationally renowned performer, composer, music teacher and therapist.

The Master and his Emissary demonstrated very clearly some of the ways in which Left-Hemisphere thinking has gained undue prominence in the development of human affairs, and outlined some of the problems to which this gives rise. This has given the Left Hemisphere something of a bad reputation, but, as Iain McGilchrist himself has remarked, a world constructed entirely by the Right-Hemisphere would be a very strange place indeed! We have two cerebral hemispheres for a reason; it is an arrangement that has resulted in a unique manifestation of consciousness (as far as we know) and led to some extraordinary achievements, philosophically, culturally, intellectually and technologically. Without both hemispheres, none of this would have been possible, and yet, at this point in our history, something seems to have gone terribly wrong. The human race finds itself on the brink of multiple possible catastrophes and perhaps even annihilation.

If Iain’s characterisation of the hemispheres is correct, much of the responsibility for this would seem to lie with the Left-Hemisphere, which leads to a number of questions; how and why has the Left-Hemisphere gained such prominence, and what can we do about it? How do we restore the Emissary to its position as the faithful ambassador of the Master? In a series of three talks, musician and educator Paul Cavaciuti argues that, rather than rejecting the Left-Hemisphere, we need to bring it back into balance with the Right. He looks at an example of what a more hemispherically-balanced life might look like (William Blake); some ways in which music can be used to balance your hemispheres; and, finally, at some possible reasons why Left-Hemisphere thinking seems to be ever more pervasive.

Balancing the Hemispheres, Part 1: Without Contraries is no progression; William Blake and the Unification of the Hemispheres.

William Blake (1757-1827) was an English poet, painter and engraver, largely overlooked during his lifetime, but now revered as one of the greatest artists and visionaries the world has ever seen. Blake came from a fairly humble background and though he was trained in drawing and engraving, as a poet and philosopher he was entirely self-taught. Perhaps because of this, he appears to have remained much more in touch with his Right-Hemisphere than many of his contemporaries. Moreover, much of his writing deals with what might be interpreted as Right- and Left-Hemisphere modes of thinking Contraries and the tensions between them. In this talk, Paul will be looking at Blake’s life and work, (in particular, his illustrated philosophical tract, Heaven and Hell), and what they can teach us about balancing our hemispheres.

Balancing the Hemispheres, Part 2: The Music of the Hemispheres

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 learning, playing, or even listening to, music. The musical education that most of us experience is almost entirely Left-Brain in emphasis, even when it purports not to be, and so deprives us of many of the transcendental and therapeutic qualities of music. 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 cerebral hemispheres for over 30 years. In this talk/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! This will be (partly) a practical workshop, but no previous musical knowledge or experience is required, nor is an instrument. You will, however, need a hair-brush!

Balancing the Hemispheres, Part 3: Music, Digital and the Un-Making of the World
Anything that can be used to heal can also cause harm. This is true of drugs, herbs, foods, exercise; therapy of almost any sort can have deleterious effects if used incorrectly. We know that exercise is highly beneficial, but if you exercise too hard or train badly, something that was intended to help your bad back may end up making it worse. Sometimes these effects are immediate and obvious, but what about modalities where the negative consequences are either invisible or cumulative over the long-term, or where we mistake a negative impact for a positive one? Most people acknowledge that the creative arts have healing powers, but we seldom, if ever, consider that they might be doing the opposite. Drawing on his many years of work and study with psychiatrist and arts-health pioneer, John Diamond MD, in this talk, Paul will look at some of the ways in which music can actually unbalance the hemispheres and, as a consequence, its possible role in the rise of Left-Hemisphere dominance.


Paul Cavaciuti at Iain McGilchrist Field & Field event

Paul Cavaciuti is a graduate of the Berklee College of Music in Boston, and of theInstitute 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. Paul is an extremely 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 was a workshop leader for the London Chamber Orchestra’s Music Junction Special Needs music education programme. He is an Artist-in-Residence on the Inspired by Berklee international musical development programme. He also teaches at the Centre for Applied Music Research at Roehampton University, where he works with children and young people with autism, and at Linden Lodge School, working with students with visual impairment and learning difficulties.


John F. Miller – ‘How did Psychology get Dehumanised?’

John has been in psychoanalysis and psychotherapy for over 40 years. His practice mainly involves long-term analysis of adults, couple and family consultations and children’s learning and behavioural problems. Having trained as a Jungian analyst, he was frustrated that human development and emotions seemed to take second place to archetypes and abstractions. It was when he encountered Iain McGilchrist’s work that he felt he had stumbled upon the crucial, missing piece of the jigsaw. At last, there was 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 the author of: 

The ‘Triumphant Victim: A Psychoanalytical Perspective on Sadomasochism and Perverse Thinking’ which deals with the psychopathology and treatment of sadomasochism and 

‘Do You Read Me?’ on dyslexia and the issue of Society pathologising children instead of trying to understand them. 

He lives in Oxford where he has his analytical practice

Anne L Ryan – ‘Bee-ing in the body-sound bridge’ – a vocal sound workshop

Anne L Ryan, body psychotherapist, performance artist, sound healer will be offering a 2 hr. long workshop. Come with an open mind and heart, and leave feeling resourced within yourself and those you meet on your path. Working with the body, encouraging slow movement, and focusing gently on the breath, the body becomes deeply relaxed.

By connecting in this way with the body, the whole system slows and time is taken to be with your own body’s rhythm. From this space we work with sound. The impulse to make sound comes from a very deep silent place. As we connect and work with this, we create a body sound bridge. By working with this soft gentle sound, it creates an emotional healing bridge resonating between our body and mind. This sound replenishes and revivifies our body’s whole system.

Have you noticed how easily your mood is uplifted when in the company of those you enjoy being with? You feel connected, inspired by life’s joie de vivre. This becomes motivating and, like a magnet, similar minded people are drawn in. Imagine the lyrical tone of this hubbub of delighted voices, resonating together in communication – this has been Anne’s inspiration to work with vocal sound in this workshop.

What you need to bring with you:

– a yoga mat

– a yoga head pillow

– wear loose trousers and top

– a blanket in case you feel cold

– water to drink- leave your shoes at the door

A lawyer, specialising in environmental law, she has been championing the need to change our relationship with the earth for 30 years, so that we treat its sacred resonance sustainably in the way our ancestors did and as indigenous communities do today.

Anne’s current writing explores how we embody sound, and understand the inner nature of its effect on our personal embodied life journey as it emerges into being.

Anne works with the body and vocal sound as a psychotherapist, performance artist, singer-songwriter, poet, healer, and lover of the spoken word. Her body psychotherapy practice is in Oxford and she meets people online for sound healing sessions. She is a professional member of the ABMT , UKCP , IHUK and NVN .

Calling all vocalists for an evening of song on Sunday evening after Supper

In her work as a performance artist Anne uses sound to explore a myriad of ways to express emotion and the way of being human. From her earliest influences in singing the Irish sean nós, an unaccompanied form of decorated singing deeply rooted in her ancient Irish ancestral heritage of Kildare, she has worked solo and with performance groups to create sound works. Wherever she goes, Anne seeks out a local voice singing session of unaccompanied singers.


Samantha Field – ‘Conscious Somatic Dance’

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, relieving pain, restoring serenity and as a spiritual practice.  Iain McGilchrist believes that our salvation is through the arts and practises like mindfulness and meditation.  Conscious Somatic Dance combines both and is a place where meditation meets the dance floor.

Samantha invites you to switch off your left-hemisphere thinking for a while and come and dance like you are a 4 year old before anyone told you you can’t or that it is something that you need 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. Your body knows what it needs and how to move, it always has. we have just been taught not to.

Samantha Field has been practising Trance, Ecstatic and 5Rhythms dancing for over 15 years and will explain and gently guide you through the process. Her facilitation draws from indigenous and world traditions using tenets of shamanistic, ecstatic, tantric, mystical and eastern philosophy. It also draws from Gestalt therapy, the human potential movement and transpersonal psychology.

Dr. Paul M Pulé – ‘Awakening the Ecological Self:

Resolving the fractured human mind and body to address Planetary Crises’

In this seminar, Paul explores the tensions between the “masculinised logos” of the left hemisphere of the human mind, body, spirit, and the “feminised eros” of the right.

The two have been caught in conflict for millennia. And here we are, in the throes of overt and accelerating social and ecological demise of life as we have known it.

A solution – indeed a resolution – might be to reconcile this tension between the logos and eros of the self; a de-polarising of the human mind, body, spirit as an essential ingredient in minimising suffering as we go through the transitions that are upon us. This (re)unifying of the fractured and conflictual self is a

micro version of the macro problems we face – a way to “go to the dojo, get on the mat, and train,” so to speak, for the benefit of the planet, all other life on it, and ourselves. Healing on both levels may benefit from, perhaps even REQUIRE, the (re)awakening of the unified or Ecological Self.

Together, we will explore these ideas, and then spend time engaging each other in some practical exercises to embody the topics raised.


This seminar draws on Paul’s musings on the notion of ecologising masculinities. He is an Australian Gender and Environment scholar and activist specialising in men, masculinities, and their impacts on Earth, others and self. His research and community activism is dedicated to creating a healthier planet for all. He works to build a conceptually sound and pedagogically internationalised movement for gender justice and Earth-care. His recent publications include a monograph that initiated this discourse titled Ecological Masculinities: Theoretical Foundations and Practical Guidance, complemented by an anthology that captures the growing reach of these topics throughout Academia and civil society, titled Men, Masculinities and Earth: Contending with the (m)Anthropocene. He is currently ecoqueering ecological masculinities and working on an accompanying documentary that explores the relationship between the Earth and the inner masculine that dwells in us all.

Paul is also co-founder of a transformative education consultancy called the Starfish Collective that takes these concepts into practice from the highest levels of international governance to the localised grit of social and environmental justice activism; the team is available for mentoring, professional development, and customised trainings on these topics.


Jane Turner – ‘The experience of time passing: Time Line’

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.


Robert Franklin – ‘The Holocaust: Connection and Rupture – a Hemispheric Approach’

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 Iain’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.


Alistair Duncan – ‘David Bohm,

the Holoflux and the more-than-human world

Alistair is a trainer, eco-psychologist and coach/therapist helping people explore ways of living their lives well with an approach he calls “a way of natural being”. He offers workshops and other nature-based experiences that span multiple fields including mental health, deep nature connection, life coaching and geo-poetics.

The two workshops below, which explore our relationship with the natural world, were chosen for their clear links with the work of Iain McGilchrist. By shifting our everyday perception Alistair opens up a world with a heightened sense of presence, alters our awareness of all that there is to notice, and takes us on a journey of a more  right-hemisphere way of being.

If you are interested in the material it will work well for you to do both, as they are linked explorations of the same theme. The first sets a context in Iain’s work overlaid with the ideas of David Bohm ; the second is highly experiential – out in nature. But if you choose to attend just one that is fine too!

Talk – A Potential “Bohmian” journey of return to the right hemisphere

Iain’s work has strong resonances with the ideas of quantum physicist David Bohm. This session will outline some of the key ideas and proposals in Bohm’s work. It will offer some tentative thoughts on how Bohm might help us move forward practically with the implications of Iain’s work, even in the context of the four days of the conference. Bohm argued that we must become sensitive to the fact that “Thought is a System” whose influence happens in a manner outside our conscious awareness. He suggests that we actually have very little understanding of how it runs our world and creates the problems we face. Thought, in his language, encompasses a single system “thinking, emotion, physiological processes, behaviours, and the artefacts of human activity – buildings, technology, nations, etc.). It drives our world both at the personal and societal level. For Bohm, we must learn awareness of the workings of this system with its fragmentation and objectification, and open ourselves to the possibility of the Holoflux, the quantum field, which bears remarkable similarities to the world of the right hemisphere! And do this as individuals, in community and in our relationship with nature and the cosmos. Drawing on proposals that Bohm made on to change our relationship with this left-hemispherically generated system, we will explore some ways forward into ahemispherically balanced way of being, including the consideration how our relationship with the natural world may be foundational in this.

Workshop – Take your right hemisphere out into the woods

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”.

We will venture out into some nearby woods. Using techniques adapted from the tracking practices of the 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 connected way. Everyone’s experience will be different but the world may show up for you in meaningful new ways, ways that seem consistent with Ian’s description of the world experienced by the right hemisphere, free from the fragmentation and separation brought about by the left. You may experience a deeper 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.



Alistair is a Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP) Master Practitioner and Trainer and Myers Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) accredited. He has a Degree in Botany and a Masters in Philosophy (focussing on eco-phenomenology)



Yoga with 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 experiencing chronic back problems, 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 believes we are on the threshold of an important beginning. ‘Fifty years ago you could barely talk openly about enlightenment, meditation and spiritual awareness,’ she explains, ‘but now the picture is quite different.  People are ready to move on to a wider level of awareness.  We are waking up.

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.”


Workshop led Meditation/Trance 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.


Miriam Orriss – ‘A Practical Exploration in working with the Field – Making the Invisible Visible’

Last year Iain McGilchrist began his series of presentations with the question “Who are we?” He believes this is the oldest question humanity has asked and is perhaps the most important. In Iain’s  seminal work “The Master and His Emissary” Iain explores the two hemispheres of the brain and how they work together. In his recent book “The Matter with Things”, he expands his thinking and considers the question  who  are we, what is consciousness and what creates matter?

Following Iain’s train of thought,  Miriam Orriss will facilitate an innovative workshop which will ground some of the material we will be considering during our time together during this year’s conference. I hope you will find it both interesting and informative.  As science discovers more about the nature of the Universe, we learn that the Universe is made up of energy and that everything is connected.   We experience the impact of energy, and although we cannot physically see it, we are able to dynamically cause changes in the energy field – which is the Universe.

This workshop will be experiential, exploring how our personal energy field interacts with others around us, and also how conscious thought can affect the Field/Universe/Consciousness etc.

If you are interested and want to attend, I’m sure you will find it both fun – and amazing!  We will touch on the significance of our discoveries in this workshop and look at their significance regarding our connections with self and others. We will pay attention to the interconnectedness of all life forms – something which is becoming more obvious in this century. 

Miriam Orriss is the Director and Co-Founder of Coaching Supervision Academy (CSA), founded in 2001. CSA is a leading international provider of coaching supervision training. CSA trains experienced coaches to become coaching supervisors.  At the heart of this training is the understanding that we are all interconnected and that relationship, in all aspects of our work and life, is the centre of everything.  

For many years, Miriam has explored these themes through different lenses and schools of thought. She avidly follows contemporary discussions in quantum physics, neuro-science and biofield science. Miriam combines this preoccupation with more traditional schools of thought from educators, philosophers, poets etc.  In this practical workshop Miriam will share a taster of some of the things she has come to understand from the frontiers of new thinking, amongst whom is, of course Iain McGilchrist.


Susan Holliday – ‘The Importance of Creative Vision in a Time of Emergence’

Susan is a psychotherapist and author committed to the rewilding of human nature, exploring the correlation between despoiling our natural world and the desolation of the human spirit. In both cases, “we are stripping away the potential for resonant encounter through language that labels objectifies and quantifies experience, rather than trusting in a poetic vision that is intimate and embodied. The language of psychopathology, rooted as it is in 19th-century notions of nature as a ‘heart of darkness’, has become instrumental in alienating human experience from its native roots. Increasingly blind to nature within, we are losing faith in the existence of a source of emotional nourishment, connection and intelligence in our depths. We plunder the natural world around us to fill the bottomless pit within. Our myopia is costing us the earth. 

Susan believes that therapy is akin to painting, to playing an instrument, to speaking a poem or performing a play. Like these it has the potential to lift us, both seer and seen, towards a quality of vision which is equivalent to art, in that it opens us up to the richness, vitality and truth of our existence. She will be facilitating our Discussion Panel on the topic:  ‘The Importance of Creative Vision in a Time of Emergence’. 

In her book  of  “Hidden Wonders of the Human Heart: How to See Through your Sorrow” she weaves storytelling from her therapy practice with creative insight from artists, poets and musicians. It stands as a personal testament to the power of creative conversation to unearth the deep nature of the human heart.


The cultivation of insight has never been more urgent. We live in a world awash with glances, swipes and clicks. The intimate truth of our hearts is increasingly veiled behind categories and labels that merely codify how we feel. If we are to appreciate the wonders at play in the depths of our human nature, we need to learn how to see ourselves through a more creative vision.


‘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.


Iain McClure – Edvard Munch – A Divided Brain?

Edvard Munch (1863-1944) is one of the greatest painters of both the 19th and twentieth centuries. Best known for his iconic images such as The Kiss, Vampire, Madonna and The Scream (works all completed in the 1890s) Munch also created equally powerful, but less well known, works of art right up to his death at the age of 81. In 1908, aged 45, Munch was admitted into psychiatric hospital in Copenhagen with delerium tremens, due to a previous decade of heavy drinking which almost killed him. He remained a patient there for nine months and, following his discharge and return to Norway in 1909, it is generally agreed that there was a noticeable and permanent change in his artistic approach and output.

In this talk, Iain McClure will explore whether there might be evidence of a left brain / right brain dynamic within Munch, before and after his psychiatric admission, which might explain this change. To set the context, a short film of the first scene of Iain’s play, L’Espace du Vrai Amour, in which Munch is admitted into hospital, will be shown after dinner on the Saturday evening.

Iain is a consultant child and adolescent psychiatrist in NHS Shetland, a Fellow of The Royal College of Psychiatrists, former Lecturer at the Child Study Center, Yale University and Honorary Senior Lecturer at Edinburgh University and Glasgow University. He has led research into autism in various Scottish Government funded projects and chaired the SIGN guideline on autism in children and adults (www.sign.ac.uk). Alongside this, he has been a playwright since he was a university student with
his first professional production being Paint Her Well for the BBC Radio 4, starring David Tennant. Since then, he has written several more plays and will stage his new play, ChildMinder, about a child psychiatrist who meets the ghost of one of his patients, at The Traverse Theatre, Edinburgh (https://www.traverse.co.uk), in April 2023. Iain has also been an artist since his youth and has been a student at Leith School of Art (Painting and Printing) for the past two years. Art and artists are a strong theme in his plays, such as Paint Her Well and L’Espace du Vrai Amour, his play about Edvard Munch, which is currently in development.



Sarah Adhitya – Talk and discussion: Moving Towards more Right-Hemisphere Design Solutions

Sarah Adhitya is an urban designer and Research Fellow based at the Person-Environment-Activity Research Laboratory (PEARL) of University College London.
Her work involves  explores the relationship between people and their environments – from our physical relationships to our neurological interactions – so that we can design healthier, more sustainable and supportive cities at all levels of being. The enormous ‘lab’ that houses PEARL  is designed to simulate real-scale environments under controlled conditions – from their lighting and sound, to smell and physical design. Here  they can get an insight into what this might look, sound and feel like as part of the design process. With the aid of neuroimaging equipment such as EEG and fNIRS, they are able to monitor brain activity relative to these different environmental stimuli.
Sarah is also an artist, musician and trained in yoga and Eastern modalities of healing and has a personal interest in intuition, healing and somatics.

Karen Wilson

Karen Wilson is a theatre practitioner and educator with a particular interest in the power of imagination. After graduating from Dartington College of Arts she was on the original core faculty of Schumacher College in Devon, running arts programmes as an integral part of its ecological programmes.

She has used drama to facilitate mutual exploration and foster deeper communication in a wide range of contexts. including schools, colleges, youth groups, women’s prisons, and diversity conferences. She founded and ran ‘The Ourspace Project’ twinning monocultural schools across north and west Yorkshire on arts based residentials to foster friendship and cultural understanding. In the last 10 years she has taught from inside school as a department leader in secondary, teaching up to A level, in an EBD boarding school and currently in primary as a drama coordinator.  Karen is also an active member and leader in the Buddhist network SGI and has been facilitating group discussion meetings for 30 years. Her greatest ambition is to be part of Sir Ken Robinson’s envisioned revolution in education.


Samantha Field – CEO and Creative Director of Field & Field, bringing you ‘Exploring the Divided Brain’ Conference Retreat

Samantha Field is the CEO and Creative Director of Field & Field and the brains and force behind these Annual Conference Retreats. As a creative and big picture intuitive, she is focussed on change and driven by a desire to connect and contribute to a world paradigm shift towards a more right-hemisphere way of being. Having worked with, promoted and hosted Iain McGilchrist for nearly 10 years, Samantha is well versed in his hemisphere hypothesis. Additionally, she is a scholar of not just Iain’s work, but also of similar teachings from history and other cultures from around the world. Samantha believes that this shift comes from us consciously adopting more right-hemisphere practices into our lives, from the arts and meditation, through to our everyday choices and decision-making processes. She is also painfully aware of the urgency of this if we are to shift from the devastating, self-destroying trajectory that we are currently on. Yes, she is an environmentalist but also sees all the world’s problems as interconnected.

Samantha is known for hosting and working with some of the most influential thinkers and practitioners in the world who are top of their field. With an honours degree in Fine Art and a background as a successful professional artist, she comes from a world that is actively living a more right-hemisphere way of being and connecting with our senses. Additionally, Samantha’s work, for the last 15 years, outside creating and organising these Conference Retreats, is primarily that of helping to facilitate shifts in people’s ways of thinking and being, that makes them (and the people around them) happier. She does that by using reframing and experiential tools to help with things like understanding their communication with themselves and others. Having trained with some of the best practitioners in the world, her Post Grad Diploma work, NLP Masters, Coaching, Trance/Meditation and MBTI step 2 practitioner qualifications help her to work somatically with inner conflicts, state changes, blocks, past trauma, values and limiting beliefs.  These sessions are described as “life changing” and “transformational” and work because people are given time, a safe space and a structure that comes at their issue with a variety of different ways of seeing, feeling and hearing it. This results in a different way of knowing and different problem-solving methods. 

As a result of all this, her Annual Conference Retreats embrace a wonderful mix of left and right hemisphere experiences and ways of being and knowing. Without doubt they rightly deserve the amazing testimonials given from those who have experienced them. 

More recently, Samantha has taken this approach into working with groups of people who are asking the question: how can I best serve and ‘be’ the change that I want to see in the world? Samantha says, “people are often clear about what they ‘don’t’ want but are unsure about what they want instead.” Her work helps to create a more ‘towards’ strategy and a clearer sense of what the goal looks, sounds and feels like. Samantha says: “we need to know where we are going and be able to state it in the positive so that we can form a ‘towards’ rather than an ‘away-from’ strategy.  From that point we can start to get more of a feeling of it and it’s much more likely to happen. Defining that, of course, is part of the journey.”

Samantha’s working life has been diverse and varied. She started out teaching in schools but was quickly promoted to senior management as Director of Development and Marketing. Moving on from this she is now an accomplished entrepreneur in her own right and has founded and directs a diverse range of businesses from running workshops that help people through transition, being a successful, professional artist​,​ to property development. A clear, defining characteristic that runs through everything Samantha does is her ‘can-do’ approach and her belief that where there is a will there’s a way. Stamina and organisational skills ​as a self-made businesswoman ​are paramount​. Particularly when you consider that most was done whilst being a single mother to two, now grown, happy and confident young men. ​Hard work, focus and determination are very evident. It is therefore no surprise that​, in order to make the things she does happen,​ ‘life balance’, access to creative thinking and the effective use of different energies have always been of great importance to ​her​​.​ By way of a balance, Samantha walks her talk and finds time to enjoy her painting, nature, growing food, cooking, and meditating through ‘Conscious Dance’.

She also very minded of the notion that usually the most important thing to do when faced with a crisis, whether personal or global, is to stop for a moment and slow down. To this end, she is very much looking forward to this 4-day Conference Retreat…