UPDATE January 2017
Jung says that if we do not attend to the gods they will appear in our lives as symptoms. At this time of the year, it makes sense to give due attention to the two-faced God Janus, and to make tome for looking back and looking forward with some seriousness.
Janus is often depicted with an aged face looking back, and a youthful face looking forward. For me looking forward into my seventy-seventh year, it is easier to emulate him looking back than looking forward. Sill there are new possibilities in 2017 that quicken my pulse.
When merely middle-aged, I used to say that "when I grow up, I want to be a Wise Old Man." I can now claim to have accomplished this in some degree. I am certainly old. As for wisdom, it is more than sixty years since I learned from reading Socrates' speech in defence of his life, for Greek A Level, that “wisdom consists in knowing that one does not know.” I feel I may have made some progress in this also. But then again, what do I know?
Last year in January I had in mind a sabbatical period of three, perhaps six months. I intended to be at ease, without demands or pressures from without or within. I cannot say that I succeeded. Even though I had given up my supervision practice, and felt some relief at not having to be available at regular and pre-set times to others, I have not yet found the way to free myself from inner demands and challenges, nor external invitations and expectations: there too many interesting things to learn and too many projects to be attempted.
No doubt there is a balance to be sought, but who knows whether it is to be found this side of the grave:
we must be still and still moving
Into another intensity
For a further union, a deeper communion...
I at least can look back over 2016 with satisfaction:
-on a refreshing and challenging couple of weeks in Spain last February that included two life enhancing poems by Rilke and a tyre blow-out on the motorway on the way back to the airport (without a functioning mobile phone) and the (divine?) intervention of a Spanish highway man (in the best sense);
-on a nourishing and enlightening Champernowne Trust Summer Course in Windsor Great Park in August: The Ice and the Fire, Empowering Heart and Mind;
- on a series of ever-surprising and profoundly enlivening New Forest Radix workshops in collaboration with Michael Randolph;
-on the development of the EveryBodyKnows programme with Brian Stirner, where we introduced the first five-day residential workshop that took the work to new and unexpected depths, and launched an autonomous study group from amongst the participants; (Lao Tse: When the best leader’s work is done, the people say: We did it ourselves.”
- an innovative Self-Directed Learning Residential week in July, which fulfilled a long held ambition, and was well received with expectations either “exceeded” or “fully met” according to the feedback.
-a hearty week on an canal boat, with three generations of family, that climbing included the 30 locks of the Tardebigge flight (the UK's longest) and evening of bacchanalian dancing at a rock disco outside canal-side pub near Stoke;
So much for Looking Back.
To stay in touch with new developments in 2017: Join
As, in a solemn Janus moment, I contemplated the past and the coming year, these watchwords or guidelines emerged:
• a calm joyful centre,
• a readiness for passionate, intense engagement,
• a firmly but gently held space for creative tensions to play themselves out into something that surprises, renews, invigorates,
• time for fun and companionship
• embodied self-remembering
These are things that I value for myself, and that form the basis for the things I want to do and the contributions that I am seeking to make.
Here are the projects that I am undertaking in 2017.
1 Creating the imprint Not So Common Publishing in order to republish the book "Able and Equal, a Gentle Path to Peace" by Denton L Roberts and Frances Thronson, with a planned launch at the UK Transactional Analysis Association Conference in Brighton in April, and creating an online course based on its principles and techniques.
2 London Radix Workshops: four residential weekends in April, June, October and December.
3 EveryBodyKnows: two one-day workshops, two five-day residential workshops, and one or two two-day workshops.
4 A Self-Directed Learning Workshop for a week in Greece, on the island of Lesbos in September.
5 Champernowne Trust: the development of the Champernowne Trust website, and community, through social media; and planning for a Summer Course in 2018.
On a personal level, I plan to deepen my practice of Qi Gong, ride my bike a lot more, work out on a Concept2 rowing machine, and write.
A newish realisation for me, is that in my years as a teacher, a head teacher, a therapist and even as a supervisor, I have not felt free to express my opinions with energy and conviction on social, economic, and political matters. The obligation to hold a neutral space seemed paramount.
While as I mentioned earlier, I have believed throughout my life, that wisdom consists in knowing that one does not know, and that those who profess to know are rarely convincing, and often obnoxious, I do hold some beliefs that I am moved to advocate. Among these is that almost everybody is wrong about almost everything. I do not except myself from this, but I look forward to the prospect of engaging in lively, even combative, debate.
W B Yeats describes a time when
the best lack all direction, while the worst are full of passionate intensity.
We live in such a time. I want to discover how to bring passionate intensity to the advocacy of reason, respect, mutuality and justice.
I think I see some congruence between the watchwords that came to me, and the projects to which I am committed.
From the philosophy that underlies Qi Gong, I have learned about the importance of a calm centre:
The words focus on the centre are most sublime. The centre is omnipresent; the whole universe is within it. This indicates the mechanism of creation; you focus on this to enter the gate, that is all.
It is through Radix that I came to embrace intensity and passion, which earlier in my life I either feared and shunned, or else I surrendered to them. In EveryBodyKnows we practice the grounding and centring that builds a support for engagement at higher levels of intensity.
In Denton Roberts' approach to peacemaking, confrontation – especially self-confrontation – is the key. This is a confrontation based on mutual esteem.
It was in my Jungian work, not least at many a Champernowne Trust Summer Course over 30 years, that I experienced with intensity the self-confrontation that comes with Active Imagination: the encounter in dialogue and creative activity with figures of dream and fantasy that unfolds the challenge to development issued by deeper Self.
Here too I learn that the the tension of opposites is unavoidable, and to be welcomed and endured as the precursor of development and creativity, through which arises "the new thing," which without the struggle could not have been predicted, let alone allowed emerge...
I am still guided by T S Eliot's dictum:
Old men ought to be explorers.
Here and there does not matter
We must be still and still moving
Into another intensity
For a further union, a deeper communion
Through the dark cold and empty desolation,
The wave cry, the wind cry, the vast waters
Of the petrel and the porpoise. In my end is my beginning.
I do not yet foresee inactivity for the coming year.
I shall be sending out emails on these projects soon. If you are on more than one of my mailing lists, you my receive more than one email. I hope that does not annoy you.
If you are not on my mailing list, sign up here.
I also hope you will want to join me on these adventures in 2017, and that they may hold the same intrigue, challenge and satisfaction for you as I a looking for myself.
Let me know if you have any suggestions or requests about content, format and means of of these projects delivery.
To stay informed of these developments and to join the conversation: sign up to my mailing list here.
Or watch for more emails if your are already signed up.
With every good wish
26.1.17 STOP PRESS
A place just available
Radix Residential Workshop
April 7 - 10
Workshop + Learning Days £645
These are scarce - first come first served
(We guarantee a full refund if you are too late.)
THE WISDOM OF THE BODY
for Counsellors and Therapists
- I have noticed I am physically more alive and present to my own sensations and those of others around me..
- I just loved it. I felt contacted on all ego states and very safe to be myself. I enjoyed learning and want to learn more!
Residential week - New Forest - May 29 - June 2 2017
Building on the rich and enlivening experience of the one day workshop towards an immersive week-long experience of embodied awareness and and interaction.
Located in sixty-five acres of beautiful grounds in the New Forest National Park, Avon Tyrrell is a centre for outdoor activity with a lake and a mixture of woodland and open spaces.
Accommodation is self-catering, in twin rooms.
Able and Equal: I have been able to contact Frances Thronson, the surviving co-author of Denton Roberts' lovely little book, and am engaged in getting it reissued in print and as an e-book, and in creating an on-line course around the concepts of "Capable, Powerful, Valuable, Lovable, Equal " foundations of "Human Esteem" and elements of the "Gentle Path to Peace."
-The book is now being scanned ready for republishing.
-I am discussing a launch at the UK Transactional Analysis Association Conference in Brighton on April 22nd.
""Engagement in this work ... poses some risk to the therapist's own psychological health.
The therapist's adverse reactions, unless understood and contained, also predictably lead to disruptions in the therapeutic alliance with patients and to conflict with professional colleagues.
Therapists who work with traumatised people require an ongoing support system to deal with these intense reactions. Just as no survivor can recover alone, no therapist can work with trauma alone."
Judith Herman, Trauma and Recovery (1996)." Judith Herman, Trauma and Recovery (1996)
As a trauma practitioner, you know from experience how challenging this work can be. People tell you stories of unbearable experience, and you have to listen. The many dilemmas you face can seem impossible to resolve:
You are right to be aware of the risks to clients in trauma work: retraumatisation, breaches in the therapeutic relationship, decompensation and dangerous acting out - including substance abuse, violence towards others, self-harm and even suicide.
You also need to recognise the risks that you may face, as a trauma practitioner, to your quality of life and to your mental and physical well-being:
- reductions in vitality, libido and in your capacity for creativity, imagination and fun
- lowered self-esteem, confidence, and therapeutic potency
- serious conditions like compassion fatigue, vicarious traumatisation and burnout.
Through training that I offer, I aim to help provide you with the remedies that make trauma therapy as safe and effective as it can possibly be both for you and for your clients or patients.
Certified Somatic Trauma Therapist
External Supervisor, London Underground Counselling and Trauma Service (2007-15)
Approved Supervisor, Somatic Trauma Training Programme
Author: The Body Remembers, The Neurophysiology Of Trauma And Trauma Treatment
says:"Michael Gavin has been my closest UK colleague since 1992.… There is no one I have more confidence in as a therapist, teacher, consultant, and supervisor."