Schedule Vallombrosa 2016

Sensory Awareness:  Embracing Your True Nature
May 13 – 15, 2016

The whole community will attend the opening session with Lee Klinger Lesser and the closing session with Stefan Laeng Gilliatt. The rest of the sessions are offered two at a time. Participants choose one or the other.
Both silent and guided meditation sessions are offered on Saturday and Sunday mornings 7 – 7:45 a.m. During lunch on Saturday, there is a special opportunity to explore Sensory Awareness and eating, guided by Sara Bragin.

Friday, May 13, 2016: Starts Friday at 6 pm (Check in 4 – 6). Ends Sunday at 3.

Beginning Right Where We Are, Right Now
Opening 7:15 – 9:00 p.m.

Lee Klinger Lesser, MA
As we begin this conference together, let’s slow down, pause and open to the natural responsiveness waiting right here for us. We don’t have to do anything, or be any certain way. This weekend is an opportunity to offer attention and curiosity to our experience from one moment to the next, and discover how we meet what is needed within ourselves and in connection to those around us.  So, we will come together to begin this journey, exploring how we allow ourselves to be embraced by our true nature, or how we hinder it, reflecting on how this affects our daily lives.

Saturday, May 14, 2016

7 – 7:45 a.m.
Eugene Tashima

Guided Meditation

Silent Meditation (Leader TBA)

Our Natural Responsiveness
9:15 – 11:15 a.m.

Richard Lowe, MA, LMFT
What is it to be moved or touched or relieved by something? Our natural organic responsiveness is an essential aspect of our sensory functioning and our life. In this experiential session we’ll explore sensing the inner flow of changes in ourselves as we encounter the world around us. Since in this exploration we may discover (or rediscover) some old habits of resistance. We will also investigate how we might then meet such habits with acceptance and love.

Jill Harris, MA, CMT
Our capacity for sensing is innate. In the process of “growing up” however, the sensory nature of direct experience is often overshadowed by the effects of training, expectations and habit.  In this session, we will explore aspects of sensory experience individually and in relation to another, including a sense of oneself as a whole. There will also be opportunities for questions and observations arising from the weekend, as well as from our ongoing daily lives.

11:15 – 11:45: Meet under the Gingko Tree for a group photo

Nourishing Body and Soul

11:45 – 1:00 
Sara Bragin, MA, LMFT

Join us in the library at 11:30 for a short sensing session to fire up our taste buds. But true eating is so much more — the red of a radish, the crunch of a carrot, the smell of garlic — or a strawberry, sensing hunger, feeling fulfillment. Touching on all this, we’re now ready to enter the dining room and eat lunch together in silence if you so choose. It could be the most delicious meal of your life. 1.0 CE

1:00-3:00 pm: On your own: Explore the grounds, take a walk, journal, nap, spend time with a new or an old friend.  It’s your choice.

The Art of Pausing
3:15 p.m. – 5:15 p.m.

Connie Smith-Siegel, MFA
All the elements of the natural world are contained within us.  Through a combination of Sensory Awareness, drawing, and movement we can discover the rich diversity of our inner nature as it changes, moment to moment.  Through spontaneous improvisations with shape, line and color we not only become aware of our own creative uniqueness, but we can connect more deeply with what we see and feel around us

Penny Smith
Allowing time between one activity and another, gives us the space to experience what is happening within; deepening our inner sense of when we are ready to meet the next activity.  Being aware of our Breathing and how we are connected to the support of the Earth renews our ability to energetically meet the experiences of living. Experimenting with Standing, Walking, Lying with the support of the floor, and various experiments with weight and gravity will awaken possibilities for renewed awareness.


Saturday Night
7:00 – 8:00 p.m.

Wondering Together
Leaders and workshop participants will explore questions about Sensory Awareness.  Topics will come from those in the room.  What is the history of this work?  How does it relate to other mindfulness approaches?  What impact does it have on our lives?

Sensory Awareness and Psychotherapy
Richard Lowe, LMFT
An exploration of the practice of Sensory Awareness as it relates to psychotherapy and wellness. Some experiential work will be included. Recommended for those seeking CEs, others are welcome to attend.


8:15 – 10:00 p.m.
Leader TBA
In the Library, sensing movement exploration to music.  Art materials will also be available. A ‘café’’ (or should we say SAFé) will be available for socializing in the dining hall.

Sunday, May 15, 2016

7 – 7:45 a.m.
Eugene Tashima

Guided Meditation

Silent Meditation (Leader TBA)

Finding Support in Our Own Nature

9:45 – 11:45 a.m.

Ray Fowler, MS
While exploring the nature of breath, you will be invited to notice how habitual conditioning affects this fundamental life function. Breathing provides a powerful link to hidden ways in which we control behavior. As you practice noticing the breath, you will begin to feel how breathing has its own path, its own way. Noticing breath’s own way will gradually allow you to let go of behaviors and habits which no longer serve you. Embracing your own nature comes simply by itself, since it is already there!

Patricia Baxter, MA, CMT
In listening to breath and our natural responses to life’s demands we come to know ourselves. We will explore concepts of inspiration, enthusiasm, response-ability and the tendency to “should” ourselves. These concepts will be explored through sensing experiments that help distinguish between what we sense and what we emote and how the two lead us through life. 


Closing: Stepping Into Life
1 – 2:30 p.m.
Stefan Laeng Gilliatt
When we leave the supportive atmosphere of the workshop to step back into everyday life, we quickly realize that life’s fast pace and unpredictability challenges our newly gained insights. How can we integrate Sensory Awareness into our lives so that the practice supports us in our many activities and encounters? We’ll explore this question in playful and in quiet ways, interacting with other people and with everyday things to rediscover the new and fresh in the ordinary.