2014 Pre-Conference Workshops

brochurecoverSix pre-conference workshops on Friday, July 11, provide a way for participants to deepen their experience at the Downeast Spiritual Life Conference.

Workshop 1: 9:30 – 11:30 a.m.
Hands to Work and Hearts to God: Working Our Hands into the Mystery 
with Rev. Kate Braestrup
Human hands and brains co-evolved, and their relationship is integral to what it means to be human. In this workshop, the Rev. Kate Braestrup will combine intervals of thought-provoking discussion with simple creativity, both individual and group. Together, participants will learn ways to enhance spiritual practice through creative handwork.  Participants are encouraged to bring their own small projects with them (e.g., knitting crocheting, embroidery, hooking).

Workshop 2: 9:30 – 11:30 a.m.
Walking a Labyrinth as Spiritual Practice with Chris Farrow-Noble
labyrinth2-162x162As a certified Veriditas labyrinth facilitator, Chris Farrow-Noble introduces labyrinths from around the world, explains their historic and contemporary uses, and discusses how walking a labyrinth is a meaningful tool for personal and community spiritual practice today. In this session, participants will lay out a 3-, 5- or 7-circuit classic labyrinth using the seed pattern and creating the “walls” with natural materials brought by participants. Chris will provide guidelines for walking a labyrinth and participants will have the opportunity to walk their labyrinth as a community, with reflection time following. Handouts will be available, including a paper finger labyrinth.  All conference participants will be able to experience walking the labyrinth created at the workshop as an optional activity on Saturday afternoon.

Workshop 3: 9:30 – 11:30 a.m.
The Art of Zentangle® with Jenny Perruzzi
zentangleimage001_thumbZentangle is a method for creating beautiful images using structured, repetitive patterns. Often described as “meditation on paper,” Zentangle patterns utilize only five elemental strokes – dot, dash, circle, curve and “s”. Founders Rick Roberts and Maria Thomas refer to Zentangle as an easy-to-learn and relaxing art form that increases focus, creativity and inspiration, relaxation, confidence, and a sense of well being. They call the act of creating these tangles a “zen activity,” or “yoga for the mind.” Taught worldwide, Zentangle is both meditative and therapeutic, and has been found to be beneficial for individuals experiencing emotional hardship or anxiety. No art experience is necessary to “tangle” and materials are provided. Zentangle kits will be available for purchase in the conference bookstore for those interested in continuing to practice the art form after the workshop.

Workshop 4: 1:30 – 3:30 p.m.
Touching the Void: Reconnecting with the Ground of Being
 with Prof. Dana Sawyer
Meister Eckhart called it the Divine Ground of Being. Ralph Waldo Emerson called it the Oversoul. Buddhists call it the Dharmakaya and Hindus term it the Brahman. Aldous Huxley, Huston Smith and other perennial philosophers see connection with it as the most essential and fundamental of all spiritual experiences. In this workshop, Dana Sawyer, a professor of world religions at the Maine College of Art and the author of biographies of both Aldous Huxley and Huston Smith, provides the opportunity to explore the experience that Huxley termed the “unitive knowledge,” to connect with the source of all things.  Sawyer will use sound and guided meditation in this lively and enjoyable workshop.

Workshop 5: 1:30 – 3:30 p.m.
Kicking & Screaming: How Tragedy and Grief Can Drag Us Closer to God 
with Rev. Kate Braestrup
As a chaplain, a wife and a mother, the Rev. Kate Braestrup has had more experience with death and tragedy than most people. Without sentimentalizing or romanticizing grief and pain, Rev. Braestrup will discuss the ways that these inevitable, if unwelcome, experiences can serve to strengthen consciousness and empathy, and provide openings to communion with our neighbors and with the God that is Love.

Workshop 6: 1:30 – 3:30 p.m.
Wisdom of the Body: The Body as the Temple of the Living Spirit
 with Sally Clinton
yoga245x245The body is both the vehicle through which we experience Life and the embodiment of Spirit itself. Yet, most of us are not taught how to connect with, support or cultivate a conscious relationship with the Divine intelligence of the body. In this experiential and interactive workshop, participants will delve into the multi-dimensional nature of living as spiritual beings in physical form. Looking to Eastern philosophy and the ancient systems of Yoga and Ayurveda―the Science of Life―they will learn about this fascinating framework of self-care, self-awareness and self-healing. Elemental to these teachings are living in alignment with Nature, understanding our unique constitution, and anchoring our life in daily practices that support health, healing and spiritual connection. Through these ancient systems we can more finely tune the body as the Temple of the Living Spirit and live in more conscious relationship with the Divine within.