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December 4, 2019

Love, Power & Purpose: A Conversation with Christiane Seuhs-Schoeller

I recently had an opportunity to connect with Christiane Seuhs-Schoeller about Love, Power & Purpose, a 8-month program launching in January 2020 at the Whidbey Institute. The program, offered by Evolution at Work, invites an international cohort to explore concepts of love, power and purpose and co-create narratives of a world where human endeavors serve both people and planet. 

After having experienced Christiane’s facilitation in last year’s Language of Spaces Coach Certification program, I was eager to learn about and sign up for this new offering. Here’s our conversation about what I and other registrants can expect to experience. —Marnie Jackson


Marnie: Christiane, what can I expect to experience in this program? 

Christiane: We are going to look at how we perceive the world today through questions about what matters to each of us, personally. I deeply hope we are going to get more specific than “the climate crisis.” Yes—and what specifically compels you? That’s where we start. 

Then, we’ll explore love and power. What is love for you? How do you express love in your life? How do you experience love in your life? Likewise, what is power for you? How are you connected to power? How does it play out for you? 

Then, we’ll dive into correlating new narratives. Just imagine love and power united—if we are fully powerful and connected to love, and can use those two drives in all aspects of our lives, what becomes possible? We’ll imagine this reality, for humanity. What does that world look like? Another way to look at this is to ask, “what do we have, and where do we want to go?” We’ll be exploring what becomes possible when love and power are connected to serve people, planet, and the greater whole.


Can you tell me more about the arc from Module 1 in January through Module 2 in May and Module 3 in September? 

What becomes possible when love and power are connected to serve people, planet, and the greater whole?

In the three sessions, we’ll go on a hero’s journey,  an archetypal journey. After exploring what love and power mean to you, you’ll be asked to consider what’s holding you back from tapping into your full power. What must shift in order for you to connect with your maximum capacity to love  and to be powerful at the same time? To express love and power fully in the world? You’ll dive deeply into what is holding you back—what blocks are standing in the way of your really, truly stepping into your authentic power.  

On this journey, you’ll reach that point where you step over the threshold. This is the pivotal point, from which you can say, “now I know how to move forward.” From here, you’ll be ready to explore ways to express your power more fully and embody wholeness—united love and power—in all aspects of your life. You’ll discover, specifically, what that looks like for you. 

After going through this exploration, we’ll collectively revisit the new narratives we co-created in the first module. Have they become more specific or more concrete? Can we envision the world we want to co-create even better now? And, translating our experience into practice: how can we organize to start co-creating this world? 

Looking at the bigger picture of the program, you will travel through three major phases: starting with co-creating new narratives, then experiencing the individuation process, then starting to making it real through coordinated action.


Whom do you expect to serve through this program? 

Express your power more fully and embody wholeness—united love and power—in all aspects of your life. You’ll discover, specifically, what that looks like for you.

Have you ever wondered, “what is my purpose, and how can I be of service in the world? Have you looked for ways to contribute to causes you care about, or sought like-minded communities of change-makers? If so, this program is for you. This program will primarily be of service to those seeking a deeply transformational experience, and people interested in evolving themselves in service to something greater than themselves. 

This program can be of service to individuals or groups working in purpose-driven enterprises. Five people are coming from Japan because they want to take this work into a new enterprise they’re starting. You might participate because you want to bring love, power and purpose forward more in your work, or because you want to uplift a personal project, any aspect of a world where love and power are united in service of purpose. 


Who will be facilitating the program? 

My colleague Peter Kessels and I will be facilitating the in-person sessions, and we plan online sessions with guest presenters from a variety of backgrounds. We’ll be cultivating a very co-creative space, in the sense that our outputs and outcomes will emerge individually and collectively. 


What’s the “big picture” story here? What need does this program meet in the world?

Just imagine the shift that becomes possible when our understanding of power evolves.

The power hierarchy has been a successful and useful tool, but it has created a world that overtook its own usefulness. We live in an incredibly complex, speedy society that was created because of successful corporate structures, but at the same time it has created enormous problems – ecologically, economically, socially and spiritually. This requires us to create alternatives. This program is about creating clear alternatives and not giving in to the seduction of what “used to be.”

The program is addressing systems at a much higher level than the organization. What in our world can shift?  Education, health, politics, business, agriculture, our relationships, including with animals and nature? Anything! Just imagine the shift that becomes possible when our understanding of power evolves. We need to be powerful together, in love, caring for the greater whole. 

September 9, 2019

The Magic of Saying Yes: An interview with Bethany Bylsma

Tender Wild is coming up October 18 through 20 at the Whidbey Institute. This workshop is described as a chance to explore the wild parts of writing, the tender stories that must be told, and ways to engage yourself and others in writing practices that bring life back. To understand more about the opportunity, I connected with facilitator Bethany Bylsma. Here’s our conversation. —Marnie Jackson

Learn more about the program and register here.



Marnie: What do you hope a participant will get out of this program?

Bethany: I hope participants in this writing retreat will collect much more than word counts on a page by the end of our weekend. Really Tyler and I want to create a place for creativity to flourish. Yes, there will be writing . . . but we hope those who join us will get to know the land of the Whidbey Institute, we hope they will walk, and listen, and tell stories to themselves and to each other. We want great rest and rejuvenation to be a piece of the process as well. It is a retreat about being well, with ourselves, with our stories, and with each other.

Read More →

August 27, 2019

Getting connected: Cynthia Price on Mindful Awareness Body-Oriented Therapy

This December, the Whidbey Institute will welcome a five-day intensive on Mindful Awareness in Body-oriented Therapy (MABT), hosted by Cynthia Price, Elizabeth Chaison, and Carla Wiechman of the Center for Mindful Body Awareness (CMBA). I connected with Cynthia, CMBA Director, about the program last week. Here’s that conversation. —Marnie Jackson


Marnie: Who is your audience for this program?

Cynthia: Our audience is primarily therapists who want more strategies to promote clients’ capacity to attend to their somatic experience. We typically have both bodyworkers who are interested in working more in the emotional realm and mental health therapists who are interested in working more in the somatic realm. We often have people come who are dually trained, both in mental health and in somatically-based work, and are looking for a structured approach that helps them bring these realms together. MABT is focused on developing interoceptive awareness, or awareness of internal body sensory experience—physical and emotional. Being familiar or experienced with mindfulness and the development of internal presence is important for learning MABT, as it is a mindfulness-based approach. 


What style of teaching can participants can expect? 

We’ll spend the majority of the program time experientially learning the different components of the MABT approach, practicing in dyads. The program also includes didactic elements, Q & A, and discussion relative to what comes up during experiential practice. 

There will be three instructors at this course as it is critical to provide a lot of individual support in the learning process. Carla and Elizabeth have been teaching with me for many years, and have also worked with me on multiple research studies. Together we’re very experienced in delivering this approach with people from all walks of life, including people with serious and co-occurring mental and physical health issues. 


What’s the ultimate purpose of this intensive, beyond providing education to the practitioners who participate? 

This is ultimately in service to clients. Through MABT, we teach people to bring their awareness into their bodies, which some people can do very easily but which many cannot. We help the therapist develop the ability to promote presence and mindful attention to the body in their clients.

For the client, whether they’re in therapy with a body worker, a mental health provider, or a physical therapist, we hope that MABT skills will give them a new set of tools in their toolbox—tools that let them become more aware of how they feel on the inside.

For the client, whether they’re in therapy with a body worker, a mental health provider, or a physical therapist, we hope that MABT skills will give them a new set of tools in their toolbox—tools that let them become more aware of how they feel on the inside.

Sensory awareness, emotional awareness, and an understanding of the link between emotions and other physical sensations can be highly useful for people dealing with chronic discomfort or pain. They can also be deeply supportive of symptom management for clients dealing with chronic health issues.

In my research, we find that people in recovery from sexual and physical abuse and substance use are often very disconnected from their bodies. MABT is highly supportive for their emotion regulation, and for helping people reduce their risk for substance use relapse. These skills can also reduce the likelihood of someone being triggered around trauma histories. This approach can change the way people understand their bodies and develop new ways of relating to themselves and to others, as they become more aware and embodied. 

Ideally there’s a next step outcome, besides the obvious training of practitioners to facilitate clients’ learning these skills for enhanced awareness and better self-care. This next step is to move this kind of work more into the mainstream. I’m interested in ways that this work can be integrated into more conventional health services and the services provided on a larger institutional level. As an example, MABT research in service to people with substance use disorders has been implemented within conventional community programs, primarily serving low-income and underserved populations. We are currently implementing a NIH-funded clinical trial of MABT in primary care settings for individuals receiving medication-assisted treatment for opioid use disorder. These studies indicate the feasibility and benefits of MABT as an integral component of care.

MABT can be helpful for preventive care—promoting stress reduction, self-care, and symptom management—as well as for treatment of multiple physical and mental health conditions. At this point, this type of approach is only accessible for people with more resources who can afford to see a private practitioner. We hope to develop programs that can be instituted and integrated into care so that they are accessible for anyone. 


Why did you choose the Whidbey Institute as a home for this intensive?

There is tremendous power in bringing attention into the body and staying with sensation; clients develop a sense of freedom and empowerment. The enhanced ability to stay in brings a sense of peace.

This will be our second Intensive at the Whidbey Institute. We’re coming back because of the supportive environment that the Whidbey Institute provides —the beautiful space and wonderful food. We appreciate how easy it is to be there. The context supports intense work as well as replenishment through relaxed time together over meals, during walks on the land, and in the quiet of the woods. We also appreciate the graceful, experienced staff who hold space for these experiences. 


Is there anything else you’d like our readers to know about? 

I’d like to share some comments from my co-facilitator, Elizabeth. She said, “through learning MABT, I gained new skills for guiding clients into their bodies and staying with sensation in a rich and in-depth way—and how to meld a somatic focus with emotionally-based work. MABT supports clients in forming a connection with their inner world. Through this process, clients develop tools for self-care based on their own journey of self-discovery. . . . Clients learn mindfulness skills and develop body awareness practices that they can incorporate into their daily lives and that are specific to their individual needs. The hands-on approach of MABT helps to deepen clients’ physical and emotional relationship to self, facilitating a safe way to explore. There is tremendous power in bringing attention into the body and staying with sensation; clients develop a sense of freedom and empowerment. The enhanced ability to stay in brings a sense of peace.”

August 14, 2019

The Commons | July/August 2019 Newsletter

This issue includes content from Jeremy Lent, Sarah Goettsch, and more! Click here to view the issue and read on.


“In the traditional sense of the commons, the basic practice of life together is the practice of dialogue . . . talking through the things that are most essential.” —Sharon Daloz Parks

Read More →

August 7, 2019

Grounded Gratitude: An interview with volunteer Sarah Goettsch

I  recently connected with Sarah Goettsch, a Whidbey Institute program alumni and volunteer who comes up from Seattle whenever she gets the chance. Here’s our conversation. —Marnie Jackson


What got you interested in volunteering with the Whidbey Institute?

I came to know the Whidbey Institute through Powers of Leadership (POL) in 2017. That came at a time of pretty big upheaval in my life, personally and professionally. Looking back, I see that I knew at the time, “this is the place that’s going to help rework who I am becoming.” I don’t know what would have happened if I didn’t have the grounding of the Whidbey Institute and Powers of Leadership at that time in my life. One of the things I’ve found about the Whidbey Institute is that all of you—staff, participants, volunteers—are filled with generosity and care. It’s a certain way of being in the world that allows individuals to shine. I’ve felt so cared for, and without a lot of funds it made sense to consider volunteering as a way to stay involved. Read More →

June 10, 2019

A Guiding Question | June 2019 Newsletter

“What if your every action was guided by the question, ‘does this support the conditions for life to flourish?'”

—Heather Johnson
This issue includes news about the book Intrinsic Hope; an interview with Karen Schwisow of Mindfulness Northwest; photos of our June Volunteer Days volunteers and our new garden gate; and a call to action on behalf of orcas.

Click here to view the issue and read on.

From Our Community

These resources are offered by Senior Fellows of the Whidbey Institute or other close members of our community, and are not produced by the Whidbey Institute.

Photo © Tim Snell

Conversations with the curious, compassionate, and courageous co-creators of our desired and emerging future, inspired in part by encounters and inquiries at the Whidbey Institute.

On iTunes On Soundcloud

Walking through nature with a neuroscientist who loves plants and ponders big questions.

Nature’s Depths


Leadership Can Be Taught  “A doorway into the classroom of Harvard’s leadership virtuoso Ronald Heifetz and his colleagues—and an approach to adaptive leadership that responds to the challenges of our more complex and changing world.”

Common Fire  “Revealing how we become committed, and sustain our commitment, to the common good in the face of moral ambiguity, daunting complexity, and frequent discouragement.”

Big Questions, Worthy Dreams  “How mentors and mentoring environments will play a vital role in the potential transformations of thinking, feeling, and networks of belonging that are harbored within emerging adults.”

Mentor  “A practical, engaging exploration of mentoring in adult higher education and its power to transform learning.”

Leadership for the New Commons