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2024 Conference
Keynote Speakers &
Retreat Leaders

The 2024 conference offers a very special, woven tapestry of performances, facilitated conversations, keynote talks and contemplative practices throughout our 3-day event, to enable a deep, insightful and transformative experience.

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Meet Our Keynote Speakers & Retreat Leaders

 Keynote Conversations, Addresses & Daylong Retreat

New to our conference this year, KEYNOTE CONVERSATIONS are a fresh way of manifesting the key issues of the Conference through experiential presentations and dialogue. 

THURSDAY, FEB. 29, 1:00-2:00 PM.  KEYNOTE CONVERSATION – Apples into Doves: The Alchemy of Narrative

Featuring Laura Simms & Bobbi Patterson, Moderated by Lance Brunner

In this conversation, we will weave Deep listening, Mindfulness and Imaginative response. All are efficacious means through which the mind is made more flexible, resilient, compassionate and responsive.  A scholar of resilience and a storyteller will collaborate in a provocative dialogue about the urgent and enriching benefits of contemplative practices in higher education.  Be prepared to participate in uncovering essential creative presence as the missing link in our education system. 

THURSDAY, FEB. 29, 5:00-6:00 PM. DINNER, FEATURING SPECIAL GUEST APPEARANCE & POETRY READING  by Frank X. Walker – Poetry of Loss & Healing

THURSDAY, FEB. 29, 6:15-8:00 PM.  KEYNOTE ADDRESS by Erica Gabriel, Healing the Healers: Music as Contemplative Practice, an Artist’s Perspective

“We are the music makers, And we are the dreamers of dreams, Wandering by lone sea-breakers, And sitting by desolate streams; —World-losers and world-forsakers, On whom the pale moon gleams: Yet we are the movers and shakers Of the world for ever, it seems.” This beginning of the Arthur O’Shaughnessy poem “Ode” captures the polarizing plight of the musician. Art is frequently born of introspection and isolation. Yet, what is created is poured out onto the world around it, watering an often emotionally starved culture and society. Much as doctors need medical care and nurture to restore their health and balance, musicians need restorative practices so they can continue to create and serve others. In this presentation, Erica will discuss this wellness gap in the field of music, along with the journey to optimal health through artistic expression and contemplative practices that can also apply broadly to students and people in any field of endeavor. 

FRIDAY, MARCH 1, 1:00-2:00 PM.  KEYNOTE CONVERSATION – Rivers That Repair the Tyranny of Disconnection

Featuring Laura Simms & Carine Gibert

A conversation about the potency of contemplative practices and immersive learning as a means to restore an authentic ecology of being. Rivers are a source of life. Rivers, as the 'heartmind,' nourish us and the earth. The pace of environmental degradation, mirrored in our increasing disconnection from a sense of interdependence, calls us to a spiritual and cultural transformation. It demands that we enhance our skills as educators, activists, and citizens. In this session we will engage in a participatory event bringing together the experience of music, story and presence that regenerates the fabric of relationship, as it renders mind flexible and open to participating in life beyond the intellect. This is the actuality of contemplative practice and the missing link in our education systems.

FRIDAY, MARCH 1, 4:45-6:15 PM.  KEYNOTE ADDRESS by Bobbi Patterson, Edgy Resilience: How We Flourish through Change

Resilience flourishes via change – when we’re on edge. Tools and skills offered in this session teach how to engage resilience-bearing edges: from ‘listening aware’ to ‘choosing which hindrances we can face without looking away’ to ‘flopping’. Discover practices that reduce our reactivity to edges in teaching, learning, and beyond!

SATURDAY, MARCH 2, 9:00 AM-4:30 PM.  DAYLONG RETREAT – The One Who Is Not Busy: A Contemplative Arts Retreat
Facilitated by Laura Simms, Lance Brunner & Carine Gibert

A day-long immersion in the personal and community potency, creativity and benefit of mindfulness-awareness practice in our lives.  We will explore fundamental contemplative arts practices including meditation.  Starting with a breath and a blank piece of paper we will explore the art of being present, making a simple stroke, a single sound, a single gesture, and a narrative poem.  Contemplative art practices are in service of finding and sharing wisdom, interdependence and compassion in a more and more uncertain world.

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