2017 Mt Madonna Workshop



Sensory Awareness: An Embodied Response to Unsettling Times

We live in a fractured world. We have conflicts within ourselves and between ourselves and others. How can we reclaim ease and vitality? How can we find peace? How can we foster trust in our relationships, in the world?

Sensory Awareness cultivates mindfulness through movement and perception within, and in interactions with our surroundings. Direct experience brings us to our senses, allows for a less tainted view of ourselves, of other people, of the world. When we see, hear, and taste more clearly, our responses can come from a place of connection rather than separation, from a felt understanding rather than ideology.
The varied sessions in this workshop offer opportunities to discover alternative ways of being with ourselves and with others, ways that are grounded in the experience of being a part of rather than apart from the natural world.
In this challenging time, we at the Sensory Awareness Foundation would like to offer you a special workshop, one which, we sincerely hope, will water the seeds of wisdom and compassion in all of us.
We hope you will join us for this special weekend.
Stefan Laeng-Gilliatt
for the SAF Board of Directors

Register Now 
and join us at the Beautiful Mount Madonna Center, nestled among the redwood groves on top of the Santa Cruz Mountains. There are still some tuition scholarships available. Call Sara Gordon to find out if you qualify: 415-507-0996! Sara can also assist you in connecting with other attendees to share a shuttle from the airport to Mt. Madonna and back.

Overview of the sessions offered during the weekend

The days will begin with Silent Meditation Sessions led by Eugene Tashima.
On Saturday, leading into dinner, Sara Bragin will guide us in Eating with Our Senses Wide Open.

The workshop begins on Friday evening with dinner at 5:30 pm. Check-in between 3 and 5:30 pm.

See the detailed schedule

About the workshop leaders


We’re All In This Together

Opening Session

Stefan Laeng-Gilliatt
To be present is to be part of life in its ever-evolving process of call and response. As we come together for this weekend we let ourselves wake up to our interconnectedness with each other and everything that is. All of this is possible only through the generosity of the environment in which we exist. From the earth beneath our feet, to the air that we breathe; to the feel of anything we might touch, or smell, or see. From the simplicity of holding a stone to the complex encounters with our fellow human beings, everything we come in contact with, invites us to collaborate, and reminds us that we are not separate but participants of life’s unfolding. Whatever the next step may be, we never take it alone.


Experiencing Deep Stability

Eugene Tashima
Sitting in meditation is cultivating a wakeful attitude of equanimity toward whatever life presents. With his sometimes surprising questions, Eugene guides us toward an unflinching presence by inviting us to be a living, breathing, responsive being, rather than freezing in the perfect position. 

“Can you allow breath to come to you, letting it go to where it is most needed?”
“Are there stirrings around your hips and abdomen?”
“Notice how you are in your eyes. Are you giving space for what wants to be behind your eyelids?”
“Can you notice what expectations you have? And can you give them space to be?”

This ‘optional’ early morning class is an invitation set the tone for the day, not just for the workshop – but for everyday life.


Cultivating Resilience through Embodied Presence 

Parallel Sessions: Two options to choose from.   

Richard Lowe
Life is full of change and challenge. How we perceive and respond to what is happening makes all the difference. In this session we’ll explore how the gift of our senses can be an important wellspring of inner flexibility, strength, and renewal. With a more awakened embodied presence and a deeper capacity for connection we can enhance our resilience for all that life may throw our way.

Pat Baxter
What is the source of well-being?  Sensory Awareness brings us into clear, direct contact with a rich vitality that lives in our cells.  Realizing our own inner multiplicity, and seeing it in others as well, we naturally become compassionate and forgiving.  And creative!  We can bring something beautiful out of the ordinary stuff of life, to inspire us in difficult times.


Finding Our Ground – Standing Our Ground

Parallel Sessions: Two options to choose from.   
Vanessa Meade
How do we find the ground on which to stand, while we meet the difficult person or situation in our midst?  Can we explore our resistance to what we may not like, and find how this opens a pathway to engaging with all moments, likable or not?   In this workshop, we’ll explore ways in which Sensory Awareness helps us to trust our own nature in meeting the difficult terrain of our lives in a new way.

Michael Atkinson
To explore the act of standing can bring new clarity and vigor to our whole lives.  What do we stand for? What do we stand up to? Where do we stand – and why?   Simply standing, we can draw upon the support of the whole earth, in which we bury the remains of our loved ones, and in which we plant our seeds. Through standing with sensitivity, we foster a change within ourselves that we can extend out to the rest of our world.




Vitality and Ease in Everyday Life

Parallel Sessions: Two options to choose from.

Jill Harris
Vitality and ease often elude us, and there are no guarantees in life. Nevertheless, we have this opportunity to cultivate our innate capacity of sensory perception, an invaluable dimension of our being. Everyday life offers – sometime imposes – many different possibilities of interaction: Do we react or do we respond? Are we going through the motions of something, or are we in touch with it? Direct experience will give us clues. 

Penny Smith
Through quiet explorations in sitting, standing and lying, we discover an internal source of energy to be balanced and centered. Having a sense of our core in relation to the ground, allows our creative nature to emerge and helps us meet challenging circumstances. Our awareness of how we inhabit space and our breath helps create well-being and vigor for our everyday life experiences. 


Eating With Our Senses Wide Open

Sara Bragin
Pausing, we let ourselves be filled with the crunch of a carrot; the purple of a beet; the smell of a soup simmering; the burn of black pepper on our tongue (ah, but where on our tongue?). We may be struck with how our teeth and lips and the magic of saliva are all working in concert to keep us alive; how many people have made this meal possible. No matter how separate we may feel when we begin, bringing the practice of Sensory Awareness to the table can help us discover what we’re truly hungry for.





Coming Home to Ourselves and Stepping into the World

Closing Session

Lee Klinger-Lesser
Every moment is an opportunity for connection and authentic meeting. The quality of our presence influences those around us and is the best gift we can offer. No matter what is happening, the more present we are, the more capable we become to respond effectively to what is needed.

Our sensations are vital allies that help us come home to ourselves in each moment. As we transition from this weekend into our daily lives, we can open to the strength and resilience these allies can provide to us. Even in the midst of pain and difficulty, great joy and gratitude can arise, when we step whole-heartedly into what is needed and give the best we can give, one step at a time.




Registration Form

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Directions to Mount Madonna Center.

Earn up to 12 CEUs for Nurses, Massage Therapists and other Bodyworkers.*

There are still some tuition scholarships available! Call Sara Gordon at 415-507-0996 to see if you qualify!


Lodging rates are for the whole weekend and include both housing and meals.  Both vegan and nonvegan choices will be provided.  Accommodations will be available on a first come first served basis.  Space is limited, so please reserve early.          

Cancellation Policy

Refund minus $20 administrative fee when cancelling prior to fourteen days before the workshop. No refund within fourteen days of the event.

*Continuing Education
Meets the requirement of 12 hours of continuing education for: Massage Therapists and other bodyworkers (NCMTMB), Provider #: 451512-10; Nursing professionals (CA Board of Registered Nursing), Provider #: CEP 16427.

*The recently sent email states wrongly that we offer CEs for Behavioral Health professioals. We no longer do. We’re sorry for the mistake.