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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. 

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

In this introductory conversation 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.

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)