Residential Summer Course 2015
From 6th -11th July this year we hosted our third annual residential summer course for our student community, exploring ‘Psyche and Sacred Space’.
The theme gave rise to rich experiential and expressive explorations: We intuitively conceptualise and model the psyche by drawing on spatial metaphors. Spatial representations of the mind are deeply embedded in language, and structural principles appear to have universal psychological meaning. The vertical axis represents principles of ascendence and descendence, the transcendent (above) and the immanent (below). It also expresses energetic and emotional ‘ups and downs’. Most spiritual and religious systems have a vertical reference point, such as the Tree of Life in the Kabbalah which connects the human with the divine sphere. In the human body the spine most strongly expresses principles of verticality, connecting physical base functions with the higher intellectual and spiritual dimensions of our being. The horizontal axis manifests in four directions (or two pairs of opposites: forward-backward and left-right) which each have distinctive meaning. The forward-backward dynamic revolves around progressive and regressive principles, our ego ideals versus our unconscious patterning. The left-right dynamic juxtaposes the ordered with the disordered, the rational with the intuitive, the objective with the subjective, and has found expression over recent years in the ways in which we relate to research into the two cerebral hemispheres. The centre point where the three axes intersect represents the core of our being which has been given many names – the higher, essential or authentic Self. Numerous wisdom and martial arts traditions refer to the centre point as the seat of our life energy. We project contents of the psyche onto the physical space which surrounds us. Psychic space and physical space are intimately entwined. Indeed, we might even suggest that conscious recognition of the psyche as manifest in space is the key feature that makes the space sacred or soulful. The ‘sacredness’ arises through the intent: consciousness of the centre, of the boundaries and of how we inhabit the space all contribute to the numinous quality.
We explored ‘Psyche and Sacred Space’ through discussion, as well as through spontaneous movement and expressive artwork, writing, drawing and creating masks. Our work and play were informed by The Watchword technique, a Jungian system of self-study which uses spatial metaphor in the investigation of the dynamics of the psyche.
One of our students, Christine, reflected on her journey through the residential with us:
“This was the second time the event had been held at Trigonos and, although it may not be geographically the most convenient spot, it is without doubt the right place for this gathering. The peace and beauty lend themselves to an opening of spirit and a deepening of soul. It is a shame that more people do not avail themselves of the opportunities presented by the ‘Trigonos experience’ so I am going to wax lyrical in the hope of encouraging rather more people to come along next year!
So, what did I enjoy? Firstly the opportunity to meet with others and to share so many conversations; in taught sessions, over coffee, over tea and cake over the most creative vegan and vegetarian food imaginable. If you want to learn about the possibilities of beans and vegetables Trigonos is the place!
The sessions themselves, led by Jessica and Les, provided an opportunity to engage with the transpersonal through experience and not just the written or spoken word. They challenged us to think, to learn and to explore in new ways. We danced and moved, balanced sticks, connected in pairs and as a group, explored notions of psyche and sacred space, learned about the ‘Watchword’ technique as a method for exploring the dynamics of self and personality and created a moving and beautiful ritual to embody the various elements of our weeks’ experience. There was a strong sense of a shared journey. The destination was open but there was never any doubt about the support along the way.
There was free time to be alone, to swim in the still lake and to walk. On Thursday we set out together into the hills and shared the warmth of the sun and the warmth of each other’s company. On Saturday we said our goodbyes having made new friends. Everyone connected with this programme is involved in something rather special but this residential provides the icing on the cake. A big thank you to Les and Jessica for their commitment and their work.”