Loading Events
  • This event has passed.

July 30, 2022

Virtual Forum: The Power of Imagination: Activating the Inner Relational Field with Barnaby Willett

Join Garrison Institute Fellow Barnaby Willett for this virtual workshop via Zoom on Saturday, July 30 at 12:00 p.m. noon ET. Barnaby will be joined by co-presenters, Carol Burbank, Susan Cooper, Michael Silverstein-Bode, and a community of co-practitioners.

“All of existence is imagination within imagination.” —Ibn’ Arabi

Through personal inquiry, collective conversation, and storyweaving practices, we’ll explore an understanding of the faculty of the imagination, and share a foundational overview of the practice of ally work — with influence and inspiration from the work of Dr. Jeffrey Raff, Henry Corbin, Ibn ‘Arabi, and Avicenna.

Participants will learn:

  • How the imagination is essential to spiritual practice
  • How the heart is the doorway to the imaginal field
  • How the imaginal field can be a powerful source of insight and guidance
  • How the imagination can help us fulfill our individual and collective possibility.

Every person has the potential to connect with their inner guide — the ally. The ally has been central to the spiritual journey across traditions and time. In this workshop, we’ll learn about the ally — and the transformative practice of ally work — through themes of compassion, relationality, and imagination.

To understand that the imagination is a faculty of the human being — based in the heart — is to open the door to a transformative view.

Just as the Buddhist identification of thought as a sense faculty offers a paradigm shift in relationship to thought, the Islamic identification of imagination as a perceptual faculty enables a paradigm shift by granting entry to the imaginal world.

As described by the profound 12th century Islamic teacher, Ibn ‘Arabi, the imaginal world, the Vast Earth, is exponentially larger in scope than the sensory field.

We find analogues to Ibn ‘Arabi’s understanding of the imaginal world in Dr. Dan Siegel’s model of the plane of possibility, and the modeling of a multidimensional reality in quantum physics and string theory.

The portal to the imaginal world, concealed in the heart, allows for corollary practices. One such practice, the practice of ally work, offers the opportunity to meet and build relationship with the ally, the personal image of the Divine.

Herein lies another meaning of “the faculty of the imagination.” The ally serves as guide and teacher for the anima humana, the human soul, offering a pedagogy of the imaginal, of light, and of love.

Barnaby Willett is a Garrison Institute Fellow, contemplative educator, futurist, and mindfulness teacher. He helped grow the nonprofit Peace in Schools to be a national leader in mindfulness education. He is one of the most experienced school-based mindfulness teachers in the U.S., and is a teacher for iBme teen retreats. Barnaby has collaborated with leaders in the health sciences, education, and politics to advance adolescent well-being through evidence-based research and practice — including a groundbreaking research study on mindfulness and childhood trauma with Johns Hopkins University. He is a speaker at educational and contemplative conferences and has offered practice for adults through Presence Collective in Portland, Oregon. Originally from the UK, his polymathic studies include Buddhist practice, Islamic mysticism, Indigneous epistemologies, and Chinese tea, Barnaby began contemplative practice in 1994 and has a BA in English from Pomona College. For more on his work, visit barnabywillett.com.

Carol Burbank is a writer, teacher, researcher, and coach whose Storyweaving work focuses on the stories people live and nurture. She is a specialist in leadership and spirituality, personal development through archetypes, and the power of the imaginal for creative resilience. She is a writing coach, editor and educator/facilitator. She is a researcher and equity trainer for the National Alliance for Partnerships in Equity, a regular columnist for Science of Mind Magazine and adjunct faculty member of the Pacifica Graduate Institute in Santa Barbara, CA. The questions that fuel her work include: What is the nature of freedom? How can we integrate the grounding and shapeshifting gifts that paradoxically rise from imaginal transformation? And what is the relationship between healthy cultural change and the vital personal shifts that keep us resilient? Her website is: www.storyweaving.com.

Susan Cooper is an explorer of wildernesses, both inner and outer, devoted to the personal and collective potential of the spiritual Impulse she comes into contact with therein. A natural contemplative, she has been a writer, artist, naturalist, and wanderer of mountains her whole life. Susan spent twenty years of her career in publishing; then worked with the United Church of Canada where she established and for 15 years developed the first contemplative / spiritual direction ministry in that denomination, serving also as consultant to others as the contemplative movement took hold and spread. She is a long-time student of the work of Eugene Gendlin, Michele Cassou, and Cynthia Bourgeault amongst others, currently providing leadership through Wisdom Waypoints and the Center for Action and Contemplation. She offers spiritual direction through private practice.

Michael Silverstein-Bode is a wilderness guide, mindfulness instructor, and ceremonialist. Wild lands are his most revered sanctuaries and his heart serves as his wisest teacher. Michael created and guides for the project Heartland, which nurtures sacred relationship between humans and nature through wilderness ceremony and intentional time with land. Michael has a strong background in mindfulness and contemplative studies, having taught teens and adults through Peace in Schools, Presence Collective, and Inward Bound Mindfulness Education. He has facilitated for men’s groups challenging internalized patriarchy and white supremacy, and is passionate about rites of passage ceremony, plant medicine, and decentralized spirituality. He is heart-led, community-oriented, and a believer in human potential. Michael has been a contemplative practitioner since 2010 and holds a BS in Civil Engineering from Oregon State University.

This virtual workshop will be conducted via Zoom on Saturday, July 30 at 12:00 p.m. noon. The virtual workshop link will be emailed to participants within twenty-four hours of your registration. Please email us at events@garrisoninstitute.org with questions.

Your support matters. Our vision for a more just, compassionate world has never felt more urgent. While we cannot share physical space together, we remain committed to a shared practice of social and spiritual care. We are thankful for the support to create a virtual sanctuary during this time. Your donations help to expand the Fellowship’s program offerings. If you feel called to support our work, we welcome your tax-deductible contribution towards our efforts. Please consider registering at the donor rate below.


Registration Options

1 - Participant
2 - Participant + Donation (Donation)