Iain McGilchrist – Talks and Workshops



Iain McGilchrist’s 14 lectures are supplemented by a rich variety of optional talks and workshops as listed below

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

Iain McGilchrist - Talks and Workshop images



Paradigm Shift In Education? What Can We Learn From Iain McGilchrist? by Jenny Mackness

Jenny MacknessMany 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. 

Jenny Mackness at Field & Field Iain McGilchrist event. John Cleese listening in.

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.

Jenny Mackness’ career has included teaching, teacher training, education consultancy and educational research.  She has a PhD and Masters in Education.  Jenny has closely followed the work of Iain McGilchrist since shortly after the initial publication of The Master and his Emissary in 2009, and has attended all the Field and Field courses on The Divided Brain, since 2015.


Group Creativity and Musical Circulating by Tywi Roberts

Tywi RobertsThis 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. 

Field & Field, Iain McGIlchrist event. Music workshop with Tywi Roberts.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 Roberts Orchestra ImageTywi 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


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

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.


Spirituality in Research, Professional Practice and Education by Annalisa Burello

Annalisa Burrelo

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.


Changing Minds – McGilchrist and Ancient Chinese Philosophy by Stephen Lowy

Stephen LowyStephen has an Associate Degree in Logotherapy and is currently working to wards a PhD at The Global Center for Advanced Studies. Since 2017, he has been studying the writings and video lectures of Iain McGilchrist. His doctoral dissertation will examine Dr. McGilchrist’s theory of brain hemisphere lateralization in the context of the Philosophy of Science.

For the Field & Field Cotswolds retreat, Stephen will present a working paper that aligns the two foundational concepts of the Chinese Book of Change (I Ching), The Creative and The Receptive with the right and left brain hemispheres, respectively.

Stephen Lowy - Discussion Group at Field & Field Iain McGilchrist eventCould the wisdom that inheres within this imaginative book of constancy and change help to fully restore to us our wayward and misguided ‘servant’, the left hemisphere? With an open mind towards the I Ching’s exotic teachings and methods, there is good reason to believe it can.

The main source texts for I Ching references are the Richard Wilhelm/Cary F. Baynes translation and the essays of Wilhelm and those of his son, the sinologist, Dr. Hellmut Wilhelm.


The presentation will be 40 minutes followed by 20 minutes of Q&A.


Making Connections with Christianity by Douglas Wren

Douglas WrenIain frequently references the Bible and other religious texts to illustrate his points. So, what might be the connections between the brain’s two distinctive ‘takes’ on reality and the developing practice and experience of Christianity, the dominant religion of the culture of the West?

Douglas Wren

In this interactive workshop Douglas will attempt to make those connections as he presents the full sweep of Christian theology, the entire contents of the Bible and the last two thousand years of history, all without the aid of a safety net. There will also be opportunities to explore some texts in a variety of ways, including through our imagination.

No prior knowledge or religious affiliation will be required or expected.

Although Douglas has degrees in philosophy and theology he is not an academic theologian. He is more of a practitioner, being an ordained minister in the Church of England (the equivalent of the Episcopal Church of The United States). He is the Rector (a.k.a. Vicar) of a parish just outside Tunbridge Wells, Kent, UK.


Improvised Dance by Anthony Gimpel

Welcome to the dance. Find yourself, there is no wrong way, no right way either. Let the music inspire you. Let yourself be surprised. Leave expectations behind, they are rarely fulfilled anyway.

My hints as leader are just invitations. You don’t have to follow them.

You’re a beginner? Well, everyone was a beginner once, forget what the others are doing, they aren’t thinking about you anyway. Even so, you might like to mirror, to make a connection, to compose a group.

Movement, letting my body move, allows my active mind to become an observer. If I try to determine, to decide in my mind, how to move, to think I’ll do this, or I’ll move like this, invariably I become clumsy, awkward. The flow stops, jolts. It doesn’t work – whatever that might mean. Of course, my mind doesn’t stop thinking, that’s not possible. But I notice, I observe. There may be insights, understanding, appreciation. Being creative is not something I can decide. I move and look and say it is good.

Follow your body, you need no words. When the music ends we’ll have time to share how it was. To be practical:

  • Please leave your phone outside, switched off – interruptions aren’t helpful.
  • Wear clothes that allow you to move easily, without restriction, high, low, fast, slow.
  • Barefoot is good.
Anthony Gimpel

About me

When I was in my thirties I was sunk deep in depression. Even when a good friend reminded me “mens sana in corpore sano” I couldn’t hear him. Much later I understood. Now it is part of my common practice.

I’m a Quaker and I’m Jewish. I’ve been a civil engineer and a land surveyor. I’ve worked creatively with people with learning difficulties. I’ve worked in the Borough Council looking after listed buildings. I’m a painter, writer, actor, dancer. I’m married to Ann. We live in Loughborough.


The Music of the Hemispheres by Paul Cavaciuti

Paul Cavaciuti at Iain McGilchrist Field & Field eventMost 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 Cavaciuti at Iain McGilchrist Field & Field event

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.


Emotional & Psychological Resilience by Simon Maryan

Simon MaryanSimon 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.


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.


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!


Kabbalah & the Divided Brain.  Maintaining Equanimity & Integration in Encountering the Stress of Fragmentation by Gary Goldberg MD

Gary received an undergraduate degree in Engineering Science from the University of Toronto and then a Medical Degree from McMaster University.  He completed residency training in Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation with subspecialty certification in Brain Injury Medicine.  In 2020, he retired from clinical practice after over 35 years working in the field of brain injury rehabilitation at academic medical centers in Philadelphia, Pittsburgh and Richmond in the USA.  He now is focused on drawing on this work experience to seek a means of conjoining faith and science into a coherent conceptual framework of holistic inquiry. 

The anticipated goal is to fully integrate a relational understanding of what it means to be a dynamically functioning ‘person’ as a living conscious agent embedded in a ‘web of meaning’, unified with a rational understanding of the body and the universe understood as physical ‘mechanism.’  

In this talk, insights drawn from the mystical faith tradition of Judaism, known as the Kabbalah will be juxtaposed and interwoven with Iain McGilchrist’s Divided Brain Theory around a theme of the tension and complementarity encountered in ‘coincidentia oppositorum’ at the heart of human existence, and the search for equanimity and coherence in the face of paradoxical confrontation between fragmentation and integration.  

Stress-precipitating fragmentation is associated with the dominance of Nominalism in modernity. It is inherent in the context of human ‘meta-consciousness’ mediated by languaged thought linked to the operation of the left hemisphere which sees motion cinematographically as ordered sequences of separated events.  This realm emerges out of the deeper realm of an underlying hidden relational reality of potentiality that is linked to the operation of the ‘Master’ right hemisphere which recognizes the dynamical as a vibrational flow unfolding on a temporal continuum.  Kabbalah proposes panentheistic panpsychism as a way of re-framing this dynamic theologically.


‘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.