Residential Summer Retreats
Charney Manor (Oxfordshire)
Approaching New Paradigms
By Francesca Hector
The fourth Alef Trust residential retreat from the 26th – 30th August 2017 was attended by alumni, students and faculty of the Master’s in Professional Development: Consciousness, Spirituality and Transpersonal Psychology, who ventured to explore the theme of “New paradigms in psychology and spiritual practice”.
A circular oil lamp sits on a triangular base as the group gathers in the Solar Room of Quaker retreat centre Charney Manor in rural Oxfordshire. It is late summer and the sunshine streams in through the windows. Names, faces and voices of colleagues and faculty leap beyond the online infrastructure of webinars and forums, including Shamanistic Psychology tutor Steven Schmitz from California and Course Directors Jessica Bockler and Les Lancaster. Les lights the lamp and the first sacred space is created.
Facilitating this residential is both challenging and extremely interesting, Jessica shares. There are so many elements to bring together and balance; expectations and possibilities woven along threads of shared intention. As an online learning community, the opportunity for face-to-face connection is deeply appreciated, as is the chance to play together with embodied games and rituals, share practices and socialise through informal chats and walks in nature. The presence and participation of Jessica and Les’ brilliant seven year old daughter Amelia also adds to the warmth, joy and sense of community. The venue itself is a charming English country house with well-kept gardens, comfortable rooms and delicious vegetarian meals.
Each day begins by coming together for a meditation. This includs a non-dual Advaita experience guided by John, a Shamanic prayer circle under the morning sky with Steven and a video of spiritual teacher Mooji’s satsang, sharing dialogue on male-female relationship dynamics followed by silent reflection facilitated by Ruth.
What happens after I am accepted into the programme?
What kinds of people sign up to our programmes?
Our approach appeals to many people from all walks of life. Most are professionals working in areas including coaching, therapy, counselling, education, health, sustainability, new technologies, ecology, business and management, as well as research and consulting. Many wish to enhance their professional practice and life, whilst others study with us for personal enrichment.
The real commonality across all in our learning community lies in the overarching reasons for joining our programmes, which include:
And a last word from our graduates…
“I can’t express enough in words how this programme has been important for my personal and professional transformation. The CSTP programme was for me a stepping stone on my path to building a stronger professional position in my community and supporting my leadership in the professional area of therapy and personal development in my country.”
“To embark on this MSc programme is to embark on a journey of exploration …. The course leaders are excellent and foster a supportive, friendly, relaxed on-line community.”
“I absolutely loved the richness and multidimensional perspective of the intellectually stimulating content, and I look forward to applying the principles and practices of transpersonal psychology and consciousness studies to my life coaching practice, expanding professionally and personally. A big THANK YOU to the Programme’s creators who are not only great mentors and teachers, but also luminaries in the field of Consciousness Studies and Transpersonal Psychology.”