Experience of the Spirit

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    Spiritual Practices for Every Day

    How do you make space in your day to be spiritually present? What spiritual practices resonate with you? This course is an opportunity to explore what we mean by ‘spiritual practice’ and why it is important. You will be offered a variety of spiritual practices to work with, in your own time. We will all share our experiences together as an online community using forums. The course will include a live Quiet Day on Saturday 27th October 2018 (10:00 – 16:00 GMT), that you can take part in wherever you are.
    This course can be completed in your own time. We encourage you to spend a short time each day engaging with a spiritual practice.
    There will be video, audio and written materials for you to engage with, and forums for you to share reflections and ask questions.
    The spiritual practices will be drawn mainly from the Christian tradition and offered in a way that makes the course open to all.

    Exploring Quaker Spirituality

    In this series of six *purely online* webinars running from 7.00pm to 8.30pm every Thursday evening from 8 November to 13 December, we will explore what Quaker spirituality is all about and how it speaks to us today.
    This webinar series will introduce you to central elements of Quaker spirituality, including: silence, worship and vocal ministry; experiencing all of life as sacred; the inward teacher; the contemplative and the prophetic; queries and uncertainty; discipline, discernment and leadings. All the webinars will be recorded and can be viewed later.
    Only basic computer skills are needed for this course, together with access to e-mail and the internet. The course takes place in Woodbrooke's online learning website, for which easy registration details will be provided. Full guidance will be given on how to access the course's material, and help is available if you get stuck at any point.
    This online course is based on six live ninety-minute webinars.
    Each webinar is recorded so you can follow the course using the recordings if you wish.
    Downloadable resources and a discussion forum will be available to help you explore the webinar material further.
    We recommend that you set aside about 2-3 hours per week to follow this course.
    The course will not assume any prior knowledge, although some awareness of Quakerism and its history would be an advantage.

    A Spiritual Anthology: A Toolkit for Silence from Quakers and Others

    Is Quaker experience of the Divine unique, or have similar insights bubbled up in other contexts? This retreat blends silent time alone with tutor-led offerings on the experience of silence. We will use writings and practices from a range of spiritual and secular sources, offering an “anthology” of wisdom to draw upon. Meals will be silent. Individual spiritual accompaniment is not a formal part of this retreat but can be offered if required.

    Answering that of God

    What do we mean when, as Quakers, we speak of ‘that of God’? What would be the implications if we held an awareness of the Divine in everyone all of the time? How can we live out this belief in our relationships and encounters with other people?
    This retreat will provide an opportunity to explore these questions through a combination of facilitator input, small-group activities and time for sharing and listening. There will be space for individual reflection.

    Cinema and Spirituality: Finding the Sacred on the Silver Screen

    We will explore how cinema can offer us a unique spiritual experience. We will look at how biblical stories have been interpreted by film makers and examine how Christianity has influenced other cultural narratives; asking how its theology and symbolism have been incorporated into popular culture. Finally, we will consider cinema as a uniquely spiritual experience in its own right. We will reflect on how film language can guide us in our encounters with the divine via experiences of both transcendence and immanence.

    Silence in Circles: Meditating to Create Mandalas

    Across cultures and ages, the ‘sacred circle’ can open a window into our human dreams and aspirations. Jung adopted the term ‘mandalas’ from his work on the collective unconscious. In exploring our own circles, no art skills or meditation experience are required. Various examples, different templates and open-ended options for mandalas will enable all to participate. We will all explore the colours, shapes and silence of the circles we choose or create.

    How to Teach and Lead Meditation and Mindfulness

    Enjoy a practical and reflective oasis in which you deepen your own meditation practice and learn the core concepts and strategies for teaching and leading meditation. Includes: • Contemplative preparation • Physical and mental health benefits • Different traditions - Vippasana, Zen, Christian, TM, Raja and Agni Yoga, guided visualizations, mantras, inner dialogue, healing and prayer. • Core skills of embodiment and compassionate witnessing. • Appropriate language and closure. There will also be time for the practical preparation of sessions you might lead.

    Dances of Universal Peace: Dancing Into the New Year with Faith and Joy

    “Come into your heart”, holding hands, honouring various religions / spiritual traditions, moving and chanting in a circle. Simple words and simple movements are taught, attuning to love, harmony and beauty: dancing inter-faith. A joyful and powerful experience of oneness, freeing the voice. We move, breathe and sing together, holding hands - like one organism, like a cell in the body, remembering being part of something much bigger than the small self. No singing or dancing experience is required.

    Standing in the light and sitting in the dark

    Are you looking to live a spirit led life? Join us to make space for unhurried, open hearted attention to your inner life and the depths that call us. Together we will explore and create models for navigating from these depths to tangible ways of being and acting; to lives that realise the spirit's yearning for love and justice.

    Meredith Freeman ventures, hosts, holds, maps and prays. She is currently practicing allowing action to flow from answers. Meredith's website is http://undoing.me

    Katie Evans is a Quaker who loves making breathing space for the Spirit. Katie's website is https://katie.element42.org


    Time set aside: an individually guided retreat

    For this retreat, twelve people will join Timothy Ashworth and Frances Henley Lock in a silent retreat which will utilise spaces set apart from the busyness of the main Woodbrooke building. Meals will be shared in silence in our own quiet space. Participants will be able to use the Art Room and join Meeting for Worship and Epilogue. Each day will include one short talk and one-to-one time with Tim or Frances.

    Exploring the Quaker practice of waiting in the Light

    William Penn said Quaker Spiritual practice was an ‘experiment on the soul’. We will look at the writings of early Friends and put their words to the test to see if the practice of waiting in the Light they describe can be a reality for us. The experience can be searching and powerful. We will do the meditation twice during the weekend. This course is suitable for those who are familiar with, or new to, the Experiment with Light practice.

    T.S. Eliot: The heavy burden of the growing soul

    This course will track the remarkable evolution of Eliot’s poetry – from his early modernist forays, culminating in The Waste Land, via the intensifying spiritual preoccupations of subsequent years, leading to his crowning contemplative masterpiece, Four Quartets. We shall focus especially on the poet’s intensifying quest for meaning against the often hostile background of the modern world, and consider how these challenging – but intensely human, subtle and honest – works stimulate insights into our own quandaries and aspirations.

    In Humility of Heart

    One of the foundations of the spirit-led life, humility is at the heart of our witness. However, in this age of individualism, status and celebrity to turn oneself over to a life of faithful service is a radical act. Together we’ll explore how we can let go of the need to judge and be judged, and learn to accept, forgive and be content. It will be a space in which to be encouraged by those who have faced the troubles of life with grace-filled hope.

    Nurturing Authentic Spirituality: a rule to live by

    How are we to live an authentic spirituality? What spiritual principles do we apply in our daily lives and how can we be accountable to our faith community in our quest for spiritual authenticity? This course will give us a chance to share our spiritual aspirations, histories and practices and to identify those areas where we feel we need help. Building community through worship and creative listening, we will define personal strategies for daily faithfulness and explore how we might challenge and support one another along the way.

    Icon Painting as a spiritual practice

    Practicing icon painting helps us to look into ourselves, make time to be in the silence of our hearts and learn who we are. How can we then after knowing more about what we are develop a connection and relationship with the Divine. Learning technique will be a very important part of the course. Feeling confident in creating an image helps to forget about all distractions, things we can’t achieve, things that we don’t understand and simply let our hand be an extension of our souls. Participants will learn all stages of icon painting and principles of the technique but will focus on meditative aspect of the process. Each session will start with short guided meditation to help us reconnect with our bodies.

    The search the Deep Self

    The course will help people discover their deeper selves and what gives them meaning and purpose. It is based on stories of people finding insight into who they are and what their life is about. Stories are drawn from the well known and the not so well known eureka moments and slow dawnings. All, however, are liberating and life-giving. By exploring these often intimate and moving stories, participants reflect on themselves – and are empowered to take further steps in their own lives.