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Living in Authentic Connection Weekend Focusing Retreat

6th October 2017 - 8th October 2017 Near Petersfield, Hampshire, South East


Living in Authentic Connection Weekend Retreat
An interconnected felt-sensing retreat for experienced focusers

This is an approach I've been exploring in shorter forms for a very long time and I finally ran my first weekend this June. It was a great success and there has been interest in more so I'm putting it on again.

I will still offer it at pretty low cost (mostly for the accommodation) with a sliding scale for those who can afford to make a bigger contribution.

I welcome anyone with basic Focusing skills who is interested in exploring this together.

What We Will Explore:
(In Interconnected felt-sensing circles and in Focusing partnerships)

  • Being ourselves together - being authentically present, connected to ourselves, yet open and responsive to each other, our shared field and the wider reality beyond.
  • Being open to 'The Tragic Gap'* between how the world is and how we sense/know it could be - allowing room for our authentic feelings and responses (Staying with, yet not becoming lost in denial, panic, overwhelm and hopelessness - Letting all be present and given space).
  • Deepening our sense of our true contribution - open to what might be our right next step in offering our contribution - grounded in our authentic strengths and honest limitations.

*'The Tragic Gap' is a term coined by Parker Palmer a Quaker inspired educator who formed the Centre For Courage and Renewal in the USA - he has written a number of books including 'Healing the Heart of Democracy' and 'A Hidden Wholeness'

Interconnected Felt-Sensing
This is a group process centred in focusing that I've been developing for several years. Each time I have tried it has been unique, encouraging and I've been learning more each time. (I also tried a day with non focusers and it was very disappointing - which confirmed that knowing Focusing is an essential starting point!)

Essentially the process involves us sitting together in a circle and listening in a Focusing way to 3 levels to:-

  • what's there inside
  • what is spoken in the group
  • the vast emergent intelligence beyond
    (this last comes from the radical physicist David Bohm's work and crosses readily with Gendlin's philosophy of process and environment.)

And there are a few simple guidelines to help us choose when and how to speak.

My experience has been profoundly moving and left me with a uniquely wide sense of connection and belonging. That's why I want to do more!

The structure of the weekend

Arrival - we can arrive from mid afternoon, settle and have a simple meal together (or it's fine to arrive just in time for the evening circle)

Friday evening - We will gather and have a first evening circle together with an introductory overview of the weekend and the approach and some time to introduce ourselves and get started in the group together.

On Saturday we will have 2 circles one in the morning and one in the afternoon, time for Focusing and rest time which could happily be spent on a walk in the lovely nearby woods. The evening will be more unstructured offerings around the fire if it's fine this can be round an outdoor fire (I'll ask you to bring a contribution - music, a poem, a story)

On Sunday we will again have some time for Focusing, have a final morning circle and finish after lunch.

(The format and structure are provisional and I'm open to suggestions, improvements and adjustments)

The Venue
Old Litten Cottage is a lovely large thatched roof cottage in the Hampshire Countryside, near Petersfield, It's modernised with central heating, an open fire in the lounge and a large kitchen/dining area. There are 6 bedrooms so the opportunity for a private bedroom each if 6 of us - or 4 private 4 sharing if there's 8. Outside there is a lovely garden with a small patch of woodland and a view of open fields and very close by are lovely old growth woodland walks (you'll need walking boots and wet weather gear)

The venue is self catering so we will need to bring our own food and arrange food preparation, cleaning and washing up between us. I'll offer some guideline suggestions for what is needed and what we could each do and bring (we'll keep it simple) but there'll be some flexibility to work with what people feel moved to contribute.

Low Cost
Because this is still a fairly new venture for me and I gain a lot myself from running it - I'm offering on a sliding scale from £70 which just covers the venue to £120 - whatever you can afford. Plus a contribution towards the food (probabaly £20 or less).

My Background Experience & The Inspiration For This

I've always been drawn to groups and group work. I started teaching and facilitating in my 20s. I did a teaching qualification and have sought out and trained in many facilitation approaches. In my time I've taught Re-evaluation Co-counselling, Assertiveness and Self-Empowerment, Protective Behaviours (an Anti-Victimisation Process based on trusting your feelings) and Focusing. And I've facilitated many types of groups including identity liberation groups, Community Building Groups, Project Development groups, Work Practice Development groups and Open Space sessions for diverse and large interest groups.

The vision of this particular approach has been forming in me over the last 6 years. It's been most inspired of course by Focusing itself :-

  • that extraordinary resonance and sense of shared field many of us experience with our Focusing partners;

but also Focusing group work:-

  • Rob Foxcroft's Open Listening Circles
  • Bruce Nayowith's online Resonant Sensing for Peace circles
  • Shared Field groups

I've crossed this with a combination of;-

  • Scott Peck's Community Building approach (particularly my experience of a smaller ongoing group over several years)
  • David Bohm's Dialogue work (as introduced to me by Gill Wyatt, a Person Centred group work practitioner extending the work into the eco/synergy field)
  • Person Centred monthly community meetings (which in some ways are like a more psychological version of Quaker meetings. I had the privilege of attended a great one in my strong local Brighton Person Centred community for many years)


Contact Sandy -

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