Saturday Workshops (G)

April 24, 2021

11:00 - 13:00 PDT

Registrations are now closed.

Renaissance 2021 Attendees:
If you are trying to access the conference, please check your e-mail for the link and access instructions, or click the "Chat" button in the lower-right corner for assistance.

Begin each morning with uplifting contemplative practices offered from 06:00 – 07:00 PDT.


Coming Down to Earth: Making Sanctuary as Spiritual Companionship

What happens when the inner sanctums of contemplative reflection spill through the gates that have divided mind from matter, and touch the outward wilds of action and engagement? What if thought itself were a matter of ecologies and an enfolded earth, not pristine human minds separate from the embodied flow of things around us? What happens to spiritual companionship if the very nature of the spiritual (and the ‘material world’ it is supposedly superior to) is called into question?

The sacred has changed address. Our halos are broken. Movements and flows in the world at large are now inviting us to re-notice, re-member and re-visit the world we once assumed ourselves lords over. With this annulment of our suzerainty over the planet comes an urgent intuition to hold space for a collective descent – an emancipatory demise that allows us rekindle our connections with the more-than-human world. In this workshop, Bayo Akomolafe speaks of this dying, this collapse, as “postactivism” and as a “making sanctuary”, and reads the practices of spiritual companionship through emerging new arts that help us live on a damaged planet. Presenting this collapse – this catabasis – as an opportunity, Bayo presents a creative social cartography that inspires deep inquiry, and may help us find other places of power. Coming down to earth is the messianic rupture in the fabric of power, allowing us to glimpse the face of god – as if for the first time.

Bayo Akomolafe

Bayo Akomolafe (PhD) is a father, husband, diaper changer and lover of words and rich conversations. An author, speaker, public intellectual and teacher, Bayo also serves as Chief Curator of The Emergence Network – an organization that is committed to unsettling habitual modes of perception and practitioner engagements around challenges and issues of our time. Inspired by Yoruba epistemologies and the decolonial trickster work of figures like Esu, Bayo teaches in multiple universities around the world, speaking in public arenas, facilitating community and stitching collective practices that might help us live well in the ruins of modernity.


Forgiveness and the Dying Process: A Passage to Wholeness

Forgiveness confronts us as individuals, our families, our spiritual companions and our communities. Forgiveness is one of the most difficult issues of our lives and it becomes especially meaningful at the end of life. As spiritual companions we will often be with companions through the dying process, holding space for this sacred time. It is a time of deep listening, connecting to the infinite and often will involve issues of forgiveness which Ira Byok, one of the major figures in the hospice and palliative care movement, says is one of the four things that matter most at the end of life. Roshi Joan Halifax says, “If we attend to forgiveness, we can more easily be with the good events of a person’s life.” Forgiveness can be an intensely poignant experience, calling for trust and presence. As spiritual companions we may be the bridge between long-separated brokenness and help for its mending awakened with the anticipated loss.

This workshop will be experiential, involving participants in contemplative forgiveness meditations; “ telling their stories,” confronting issues of forgiveness, practicing as Spiritual Companions and learning a forgiveness process to use with companions. Participants will have a greater ease in talking about death and dying , being with the dying and discussing forgiveness. During the workshop, participants will learn what is and isn’t forgiveness and some of the questionable assumptions about forgiveness; understand dysfunctional forgiveness (cheap or pseudo forgiveness); and learn two options of a forgiveness process: acceptance and healthy forgiveness.

Frank Williams

Frank R. Williams, PhD, has written about and presented on dying and death and other end of life topics for over 50 years. Recently retired, having served 11 years as Director of Social Services for Casa de la Luz Hospice, Tucson, Arizona, he presently is Community Educator with Casa de la Luz Hospice and the Arizona End of Life Care Partnership, a collaboration of agencies working in the field. He is Director of Tacheria Interfaith School of Spiritual Direction and a spiritual director. Previous to coming to Casa de la Luz, he was Executive Director of Family Counseling Agency, Tucson; served 20 years as Family Studies Professor at the University of Arizona and is a United Methodist minister, having served churches in California and Arizona. A graduate of the University of Arizona, his Master of Sacred Theology and Doctorate were received from Boston University.


The Body Compass- Inner, Outer, One

Drop into the body. Ground your energy. Open your heart. What do you know here? On our awakening journey our inner wisdom and guidance become increasingly the center point and fuel for outer action. This workshop will tune us to the information our bodies hold as a bridge between inner and outer and a guide for inspired action. We will experience biospiritual focusing. We will chant. We will practice hand breathing. In our bodies we can sense our alignment with or invitation towards Love, experience what it feels like to operate from our center source, and navigate a reliable pathway home to love from a perspective of separation, upset, or fear. To be whole, Spiritual Direction today must take into account our embodied nature and skillfully use it in service of conscious awakened living. We will practice these embodied tools to invite all areas of life into a more congruous reflection of our inner connection with specific focus in this workshop on our companioning practice and activism in the public square. The workshop will include a gentle pace of experiential practice moving into reflection with each other and the large group and back to practice again. What space can you create in harmony with your body? What world can we create when we come into harmony with the larger body of activists yearning to bring justice, love and compassion into embodied reality?

Sarah Cledwyn

Sarah Cledwyn, MA, is a spiritual director, energy healer, and Director of Inquiry and Discernment for Sacred Ground Center for Spirituality. Sarah uses energy work and BioSpiritual focusing as tools in her personal and professional work and has found using the body as a compass a potent technique for expanding awareness. Sarah specializes in working with people whose primary desire is to live in deepening alignment in all areas of their life including business, service, activism and spiritual seeking. Sarah’s current learnings are bringing total trust in guidance to the fore in her entrepreneurship, food and racial justice activism, and parenting as well as taking particular guided action that wells up from stillness. She has been known to put a sign out on a coffee shop table and offer guerrilla spiritual direction in her hometown of St. Paul, MN USA.


A Four Worlds Approach to Spiritual Direction: Companioning Spiritual Journeys Internally, Externally, Beyond and Between

Integrating Body, Heart, Mind and Spirit (four worlds) are core to the equanimity, challenge and nurturance we offer our directees. The inner life and outer work for transformation co-arise in their own unique balance when we are able to embrace both the tensions and the emerging clarity that are expressed in the work of spiritual direction. This workshop explores the continuum of contemplative and activist approaches to spiritual direction, offering insight into working with directees as they journey internally in their soul lives and/or externally with family systems, friends, workplaces, social justice and ecological needs in our world today.

Participants in this workshop will be invited to engage with the four worlds approach to both contemplative and activist expressions of their life with Spirit, exploring the ideas presented through dyad exercises and sharing, fishbowl sessions and large group discussion. We will gain greater awareness of the information, gateways and approaches to deeper spiritual guidance for ourselves and our directees as we hone our skills in working with various spiritual typologies.

Shawn Israel Zevit

Shawn Israel Zevit, (RRC/ALEPH) serves as rabbi at Mishkan Shalom in Philadelphia, PA and is a member of the ALEPH Ordination Council and Faculty. Shawn is co-founder/director of the Davennen Leader’s Training Institute and, with Rabbi Nadya Gross, is the Associate Director for the ALEPH Hashpa’ah (Spiritual Direction) Training Program. Shawn has been offering spiritual direction for over 20 years, working with people of all faith backgrounds. He is an active leader in faith and justice work, co-chair of the clergy caucus of POWER Faith in Action in Philadelphia and is a liturgical recording and performing artist. Shawn is co-editor of Brother Keepers: New Perspectives in Jewish Masculinity; and author of Offerings of the Heart: Money and Values in Faith Community.

Nadya Gross

Rabbi Nadya Gross is the Director of Hashpa’ah, a Training Program for Jewish Spiritual Directors in the ALEPH Ordination Program. She and her husband, Rabbi Victor Gross, share a pulpit at Pardes Levavot: Jewish Renewal Congregation in Boulder, CO, and recently founded Yerusha, an organization dedicated to furthering the legacy of Rabbi Zalman Schachter-Shalomi. Nadya transmits the mystical teachings passed down from her grandmother in a two-year wisdom school: Secrets My Grandmother Told Me. She has trained End-of-Life Doulas, is a co-Director of the Sage-ing® Legacy Program, and serves on the faculty of the Anamcara Project of the Sacred Art of Living, Center for Spiritual Formation. She is co-author, with Rabbi Malka Drucker, of the recently published book, Embracing Wisdom: Soaring in the Second Half of Life.


Creating Sacred Companionship and Self-Care Through the Arts

As spiritual companions serving in the world, we need time for self nourishment and self care. Art-making is a illuminating healing tool, creating a pathway, a means and access to the language of the heart, sensitizing us to the “still small voice within”. Staying open, embracing a calming, contemplative mode of being, we can engage our imagination in ways which can surprise and gift us with subtle joy, and new insights. Art can offer creative solutions to support our conscious being and doing in the world. It is important that we continually nurture the creative dimensions of our being to allow surprise, delight and awe to be our experience in the world, both individually and in community. This wholly interactive workshop employs art, poetry, and music to create spiritually inspired images to release one’s natural creativity and imagination. Participants are given the opportunity to experience adult play, to be intuitively creative in a facilitated, safe uncritical space where all shades of ability are unconditionally welcome. Inclusivity, non-judgmental creativity, free self-expression, and communal celebration in a spirit of quiet love, is nurtured and embodied.

Bring all materials to a space where you can work with good lighting and a table surface. 

Recommended art materials:

  • watercolor paper, (large)
  • watercolors,
  • watercolor brushes, (small size for detail, medium or large brushes for bigger sweeps of color)
  • black ink drawing pens,
  • colored pencils,
  • any other art materials you would like to use.

Andre van Zijl

Zimbabwe born Rev. Andre van Zijl is co-founder of ALL PATHS Divinity School, an online non-denominational inter-spiritual seminary. He is an award winning artist, mystic poet, published author and non-dual philosophy teacher. Andre’s teaching includes All Paths, University of Cape Town, the Los Angeles Cultural Affairs Department, LA County Museum of Art and LA Folk Art Museum. Andre is an elder of “The Mankind Project” and founder and director of Van Zijl Art and Design Studios. His most recent exhibition was: “I AM”: an Archeology of the Future” at the 2018 Toronto Parliament of World’s Religions in Toronto.

Debrah Friedland-van Zyl

Interfaith Minister, Rev. Debrah Friedland-van Zyl is Co-founder, Co-director of All Paths Divinity School, an online interfaith seminary. Programs include Interfaith Ordination, Master of Divinity/Theology degrees, Spiritual Counselling & Spiritual Development. She is co-chair of the Southern California Committee for a Parliament of the World’s Religions (SCCPWR). For nearly 40 years, she has designed and facilitated many interfaith and spiritual events, workshops and retreats, both in the US and internationally. In 2013, 2015 and 2017, she was Co-Producer, Co-Chair and event manager of the SCCPWR Seeds of Peace events in Los Angeles and is co-creator of the Conversations on Pluralism Series. Debrah is L.A.-based and South African born and is a certified Death Doula.

Registrations are now closed.

Renaissance 2021 Attendees:
If you are trying to access the conference, please check your e-mail for the link and access instructions, or click the "Chat" button in the lower-right corner for assistance.

Saturday Workshops (H)

April 24, 2021

15:00 - 17:00 PDT


Transformation and Risk in Spiritual Guidance: An Advanced Practice Training

What depth of fierce, prayerful courage is needed to take a long loving look at the real in our uncertain world right now? As spiritual companions, we are uniquely equipped for this holy healing work. Traditional spiritual direction models have created a spacious foundation for deepening one’s inner life and discerning the outer work. Building on this legacy, this advanced experiential workshop will offer embodied, creative practices that build on the contemplative foundation of spiritual direction, and cultivate the tools to deepen our capacity to embrace risk, courage and transformation. While this workshop is designed as an advanced experiential practice seminar for seasoned spiritual guides, everyone is welcome.

Karen Erlichman

Karen Erlichman provides psychotherapy, spiritual direction, supervision and So(U)L coaching in San Francisco. Most recently Karen has been exploring embodied leadership and transformation,and has been especially inspired by her trainings with the Strozzi Institute, Jewish Studio Project and the Center for Courage and Renewal. Karen’s writing has been published in numerous journals, blogs and anthologies, including RitualWell, Presencia: Una Publicación Internacional sobre la Dirección Espiritual, Tikkun, Feminist Studies in Religion and the interfaith anthology Spiritual Guidance Across Religions. She is passionate about creating diverse and welcoming spaces for liberation, embodied spirituality and community.


Mindsight: How Interpersonal Neurobiology Can Change the Brain, Help Resolve Trauma and Improve Relationships

Interpersonal Neurobiology is an emerging interdisciplinary field drawing on findings from neuroscience, psychology, systems theory, anthropology, and sociology to create a truly integrative framework for understanding the brain, mind, and relationships. This workshop applies IPNB to spiritual companionship with a particular lens for trauma; it will explore IPNB as a theory of intrapersonal and interpersonal health and flourishing while simultaneously shedding light on its important practical applications, grounding the theory in the real world of pain and joy, desolation and consolation, brokenness and thriving. We will look at what it means to have an integrated brain, mind, and body and why this matters for the sacred work in which we are engaged as spiritual companions.

Participants will experience how the individual mind/nervous system (inward) interacts with the mind/nervous system of others (outward) and how these influence one another in relationship (together). You will leave with a new set of unique practices to, for example, change the brain’s neural pathways; utilize “mindsight” to connect brain, mind, and relationships; manage states of dysregulation in oneself and in clients/directees; and help clients/directees change their brains to promote flourishing and greater connection with self, others, and the divine.”

Ryan Kuja

Ryan Kuja (MA, The Seattle School of Theology & Psychology / 2016 SDI New Contemplative) is a trauma-informed spiritual director, author, teacher, retreat leader, and practical theologian. With a background in international relief and development, he is a global citizen who has lived in fifteen cities on five continents. His writing has been published in the Journal of Feminist Theology, Presencia, Sojourners, Red Letter Christians & Missio Alliance. Ryan’s book, From the Inside Out, is a clarion call for the integration of action & contemplation through engaging memory, mysticism, mutuality, and imagination toward the flourishing of self and world.


Seeking Feminine Wisdom from our Muslim Mothers: Poetry, Writing and Whirling as Spiritual Practice

Islam offers a system of guidance that brings into balance and integration the masculine and feminine energies. Never has such integration been more important, given the stark disharmony in which the feminine and the masculine exist in the world today. When energies are balanced, there is healing that takes place not just at an individual level but a societal level. This healing extends to the earth, who is Mother – the ultimate manifestation of the nurturing generosity of the Divine Feminine. When integrated and healed – our soul being at peace, we become beings that reflect the Divine Unity. We can offer others only what we are, in every relationship including that of spiritual companion.

In this workshop, we begin this work of integration. We will start by attuning ourselves with a seated Zikr (chanting remembrance of Allah). Then, one by one, we will welcome these mothers into the circle by singing their name. Aarda (Earth). Hajar (Hagar). Maryam (Mary). Khadija (Wife of Prophet Mohammed). Fatima (Daughter of Prophet Mohammed). Peace and Blessings upon them all. We will share their stories. Some interfaith, some uniquely Muslim. We will share some poetry by Rabia Al- Adhawiya. We will conclude with Sufi whirling and turning. We will each turn in our own space at our own pace. Hard flooring and thick socks work best.

Azra Rahim

Azra Rahim has a BSc in Molecular Biology and holds an MD. She describes herself this way: “Muslim Sufi. Spiritual Quester. Truth seeker. Globe trotter. Lover of food, flowers and all things green. Indiscriminate dispenser of hugs. Kisser of all things beautiful.”


Serving from Within: Reconnecting with Purpose and Meaning through Spiritual Companionship

The most challenging questions of our lives concern our evolving sense of being: Who am I? What do I believe? What is my purpose? How do I connect with others? How do I connect with the unknown/God/Sacred? These are essential spiritual questions which are discerned through the interaction and integration of our interior and exterior lives. People often seek spiritual companionship during extended periods of stress, grief, or trauma that lead to these profound questions which center around purpose and meaning. COVID-19 is just such a time and has brought great change, loss, and transformation to so many of us and those we accompany. To be of service as a spiritual companion, requires an ability to profoundly listen to and connect with others from our deepest sense of self. This workshop will provide an opportunity to reflect on who you are and how that connects with a sense of purpose and meaning in your life and work in the world.

Colleen Sharka

Colleen Sharka, MA, LMHC, is a psychotherapist and spiritual director. She serves as Director of The Cory Johnson Program for Post-Traumatic Healing, Roxbury Presbyterian Church Social Impact Center, Boston, MA; a community trauma healing program that focuses on community companions abiding as peers with those who come through the door seeking accompaniment on their healing journeys. She previously served as the Director of Spiritual Formation & Accompaniment at Still Harbor, a non-profit in the service of accompanying individuals and organizations around the intersection of spirituality and social justice. She previously served as the Chair of SDI’s Spirituality and Health Care Institute.


Indigenous Social Technologies for Spiritual Counsel

This session will be primarily a discussion, with two topics at our center. Indigenous cultures are known across the board for tradition being passed down from generation to generation through “oral tradition.” In this session we will explore how traditions of faith can move intergenerationally, and how “mentorship” moves in the actual practice of faith. The second part would be about the power of allowing, being heard and the technology of the Listening Circle.  

For All My Relations and the Continuing Story of Creation
that we, all of us together, are telling, right now,

Weyakpa Najin Win, Woman Stands Shining
(Pat McCabe)   

Pat McCabe (Weyakpa Najin Win, Woman Stands Shining)

Pat McCabe (Weyakpa Najin Win, Woman Stands Shining) is a Diné (Navajo) mother, grandmother, activist, artist, writer, ceremonial leader, and international speaker. She is a voice for global peace, and her paintings are created as tools for individual, earth and global healing. She draws upon the Indigenous sciences of Thriving Life to reframe questions about sustainability and balance, and she is devoted to supporting the next generations, Women’s Nation and Men’s Nation, in being functional members of the “Hoop of Life” and upholding the honor of being human.

Her primary work at the moment is:

  • The reconciliation between the masculine and feminine, Men’s Nation and Women’s Nation
  • Remembering, recreating or creating anew a narrative for the Sacred Masculine
  • Addressing the Archetypal Wounding that occurred in our misunderstanding and abuse of technology in prayer, ceremony and science

Registrations are now closed.

Renaissance 2021 Attendees:
If you are trying to access the conference, please check your e-mail for the link and access instructions, or click the "Chat" button in the lower-right corner for assistance.

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