ESRI 2018 – TRACKS & SPACE

A track is a series of 4 short skill-building sessions held every day with the same sub-group of 10-20 to allow for a deeper exploration of a specific topic over the week. Please register via the link in the email for your ‘Track Top 3’. The following 5 tracks will take place:

 A. Cultivating Presence – Hanneli Ågotsdatter 

Insights from contemplative science indicate that the ‘mind’ is not limited to experience in the ‘head” but is embodied in our total physical experience and presence in the world.

In this track – led by an accomplished teacher in contemplative practice and yoga - we will explore basic contemplative practices and mindful movement to explore what embodied experience really is. The emphasis will be on the exploration of coming to our senses and cultivating embodied presence. Basic exercises are introduced and within this group we will have the opportunity to share experiences we may have had with the exercises and discuss the issues that emerge from our practice together.

 B. The Transformative Power of Contemplative Practice – Charles Hastings and Elizabeth Mattis Namgyel

The Buddhist tradition deconstructs the basic assumptions concerning “self and other” which are the starting point of conflict. Looking deeply into the nature of interdependence leads to a vast and quite different understanding of reality.

In this group Charles Hastings and Elizabeth Mattis Namgyel will introduce some of the Buddhist “mind training slogans” that emerged in 12th Century Tibet. These pithy instructions offer practical, humorous, and often radical methods for working with inner and outer conflicts and developing a genuinely altruistic mind. Focusing on the relationship of self and other they use the situations of everyday life to challenge our self-centered habits and assumptions and foster an instinctive reflex of kindness and compassion.

Charles and Elizabeth invite you to join them in some experiential meditative investigations of several of these slogans, and share your thoughts on their relevance and applicability in today’s world.

C. Contemplative Collaboration & Conflict Resolution - Sander Tideman, Heather Grabbe and Sabina Čehajić-Clancy

Collaboration among different people is challenging. While it is natural to cooperate, it is also natural to have conflict. Often conflicts lead to poor outcomes and ill-feelings, which can overshadow relationships for a long time. It requires skillful action to deal with and overcome conflict, especially in a context of a competitive environment. In this track participants will explore concepts and practices aimed at developing effective and meaningful collaboration, facing and dealing with conflict, based on their own experience. This includes the abilities of mindful listening, suspending judgments, opening the heart, engaging the whole being, sensing the field, pre-sensing and transforming tensions into creative solutions. In the track we will “play” with these practices to digest and deepen the insights gained at ESRI and transform them into collaborative action with fellow participants.

Sander, Heather and Sabine will lead the track while drawing upon their extensive experience in dealing with conflicts in relationships, organizations, social & ethnic groups and (international) politics.

D. Transdisciplinary Contemplative Research - John Dunne and Andreas Olsson

Research conducted on contemplative practices and contemplation-based interventions presents unique challenges because it requires expertise in multiple and disparate domains. In a series of dialogs and brainstorming sessions, this workshop will explore the best practices for research in a field that some call “Contemplative Science.” Topics include the composition of a research team, the interdisciplinary and collaborative processes for developing a research agenda, and questions concerning hypothesis generation and experimental design. Most importantly, we will also discuss the challenges of integrating first-person experiential and third-person methods in a scientific world mostly focusing on objective measurements. And finally, we will also discuss how the institutional design and structures in the field of empirical sciences would need to change to be in line with the intentions of contemplative practice.

E. Intercultural Encounters – How to Become Safe in our own “Skin” - Anca Minescu

In these sessions we will explore the range of emotions (anxiety versus excitement) and attitudes (curiosity versus prejudice) that come to play when we encounter people from other cultures. Our personal experience with “foreign” others is filtered via our embodied reactions (emotions) as well as the sense we make of these reactions (cognitions/attitudes). By becoming more aware of our own reactions and understandings of difference, we can become more comfortable and prepared to cope with future interactions across cultural boundaries. By knowing what is “normal” in these situations, and why we react and think the way we do, we also learn to accept or expand our comfort zone to become more interculturally sensitive and competent. Feeling comfortable within our own identities (both body and mind) is a pre-requisite for social interactions without anticipated tension or conflicts. Being “safe in our own skin” in a multicultural environment is a skill that can be cultivated and taught, through reflection and understanding of our own reactions and identities.

In addition to the tracks a space/time slot will be offered to the ESRI participants. You do not have to register for it on the forehand, but you can mention your interest if you like.

Collaborative Space - Nathalie Legros and Wolfgang Lukas

In parallel to the tracks, we will support participants to explore innovative and unexpected collaboration within the ESRI community. A specific space will be dedicated to help shape collaborative projects around topics that will be brought by the participants themselves. We encourage everyone to join that space during the week if they feel inspired to develop or join a collaborative project. It is exceptionally allowed to mve into this space from any other track, or to move back to one’s selected track at any time.

That ‘collaborative space’ will be held by the CBC (community building committee) during ESRI and may be extended afterwards. Depending on the needs, various practical resources will be shared, such as facilitation and hosting skills, participative project design, deep individual and collective inquiry, conflicts circles, steps for wise action, … This will allow the ESRI community to explore together how the energy arising from the new knowledge can be transformed into skillful action in the world.