I awake in the dark grey of dawn to the morning chorus of birds and as I rise the golden light of day breaks through the clouds and colours the world in bright spring green. I dare to wear a summer dress although the forecast threatens rain in the afternoon and take a longer walk past the graves of our ancestors on this resurrection day.
Our first event is a swift, yet valuable session of laughter yoga, held lovingly by community member Manda Stretch. She borrows a quote from Oscar Wilde: “We don’t stop laughing because we grow old, we grow old because we stop laughing.” We engage with several short exercises designed to provoke an endorphin release and smiles, laughter and playfulness fill the spaces between us. We are encouraged to keep the smiling feeling going all day. Very good, very good. Yay!
Stephanie Mines, a neuro-psychologist and peaceful revolutionary, takes the presenter’s seat to share her practical self-help tools to heal ourselves from shock. She has named this method, The Tara Approach. Here she has blended the ancient eastern practice of the body maps of the 8 Rivers of Splendour with the western knowledge of neuro-physiology. She claims that emotional and psychological suffering is a physiological condition, a neuro-chemical event, not separate. Thus, for any transformation to occur, it needs to happen through the body, through a direct shift in our neuro-chemicals. Change has to happen in the pathways of our primitive, reptilian brain. “Every human being is exquisite!” In every moment we reveal the truth of who we are. As conscious medicine practitioners we are the truth seekers, the truth see-ers, and it is our task to empower others to take ownership of their health and wellbeing by restoring a sense of self. The Tara Approach is a simple method that can be used by everyone. It is nature based, using the five elements of earth, water, wood, fire and air as a system to identify disharmony. The 8 Rivers of Splendour are intricate networks laid down pre-natally, designed to support us when we are overloaded by shock. This self-help system allows us to access these reservoirs of energy that, once stimulated, allow the nervous system to come into balance. “My body is my truth and my earth. Claim the unlimited potential.”
After a lively teabreak under soft white blossoms, John McGregor, consultant radiologist and shaman, shared his story of integrating the world of conventional medicine with his shaman’s journey. He initially chose to become a conventional medical practitioner because he saw power in it. Once he started practising he found that he enjoyed discovering what was wrong with people and this led him to specialise in radiology to see inside people. He still works as a consultant radiologist two days a week but most of his time is now focused on his shaman journey. He describes his dark night of the soul as seven years of grief and despair, where he was affected by night sweats, insomnia and terror. He sought out methods to help manage and accept the fear, initially training in yoga and body work. He became aware how our individual life patterns are reflected in our bodies. He learnt to shift his awareness from the external world into the subtle internal realms and noticed that when shifts happened within that they were profound and lasting and established a state of well being. He has learnt to befriend this fear. It has become an ally that informs him. As he has learnt to wait and be still, the fear becomes visions. “We need to develop the witness so that we do not personalise the darkness – we need to stay expanded and open to ascend beyond the story of our fear.” Now, when familiar fear rises, it serves as a beacon towards some teaching. It has taken him to unlock the tales of his ancestry and to tell the stories that lay hidden in his genetic and inherited patterning. “We need to tell the story of our trauma to someone who gets it in order to integrate the lessons of it.” Then we are free from reliving the patterns of our historical tragedy. “We are dreaming a new world into being. Let us co-create from an expanded, conscious place. Let us dream what we want the world to be.” And so it is!
The afternoon engages us all in workshops. We have the option of deepening in our investigation of The Tara Approach with Stephanie Miles, Healing the Light Body with Tjitze de Jong or Family Constellations with Illness and Symptoms with Diana Grell.
After dinner we are delighted and heartened by the good work Lesley Quilty and a team of talented performance clown artists are doing with sick children in the hospitals around Scotland. Originally Lesley thought she was being recruited because of her skills and talents, but after her audition she was asked to join the organisation, Hearts and Minds, because of her compassion. Clown Doctors are invited to create an atmosphere where a playful connection can be made for the child-patient, their families and their carers. They act as bridgemakers, facilitators and connectors, not as entertainers. “This work can be heartbreaking in the best possible way because my heart gets broken open.” Through this work she has learned that there is a possibility for beauty and joy no matter how dark the circumstances appear to be.
Finally Nadasree Gadas calls us all onto the floor to dance Biodanza. “When we dance we connect with the beauty of being alive.” As I move past the faces of people I am captivated by the unique light shining from them, how every line on their face, every small gesture, is an expression of a rich life lived. Walking home beneath the stars I find that smile evoked at the start of the day. My heart is broken open by the beautiful spirits of our speakers, pioneers in the emerging field of conscious medicine. It is beating with the stories of faith and miracles and the dreams of goodwill they have shared with us. It is shining with the sparks of light I have witnessed in the eyes of those who share this dance with me. It is a glorious moment to be awakening and alive.