Braziers Experience Retreats 2022
The Braziers Experience retreats are a rare opportunity to live life in a whole new way. Starting either April 22nd or July 5th of this year, Braziers Park School of Integrative Social Research invites you to grow and create with others in a unique environment for a period of 2 to 3 weeks.
A Holistic Programme
The schedule will include optional workshops touching each dimension of life – from our relationship with nature (permaculture, medicine walks, bushcraft, horticulture, etc.), to our relationships with ourselves and each other (communal cooking, conflict resolution, meditation, health, etc.). The experience starting May 22nd will feature both a Utopian Visioning workshop facilitated by Nicole Pohl, Professor of Early Modern Literature and Critical Theory in Oxford Brookes University, as well as feature a Beltane Herbal Medicine Workshop held by qualified medical herbalist Rasheeqa Ahmad. The Braziers Experience beginning July 5th will feature the UK Communities Conference which contains many sessions on alternative living and intentional community.
A Dynamic Retreat
Each group of participants will be unique with its own set of goals, visions and needs. The Braziers Experience is dynamic in that the group itself will determine much of the shape of the retreat. The first few days will be focused on community building and on discovering the collective vision for the group’s way forward. Participants will have the chance to share their individual goals for what they want or need from their time on our beautiful estate (whether it is time alone in nature or time doing social activities, all is welcome!). Some participants will be continuing to do their work online for part of each day, while others will want to integrate more of their time with the Braziers intentional community. Some may want to offer workshops or lectures for the group and others may want to lead a yoga, meditation or jam session. The Brazies experience aims to make space for you to connect and co-create at the level that best meets the group’s needs and desires.
Learning by Living
Braziers’ mission statement, written in 1950, is “to make conscious in ourselves the shape of the process of which we are a part, so that we may facilitate its development more efficiently.” A core aim of the Braziers Experience event is to discover truths about ourselves and about how we relate to the world. “What needs to happen in order for me to trust?” “What brings me the most joy in life and how can I share it with others?” “How can I be more vibrant and my best self around others?” “How much of my life do I want to share?” We can find answers to many questions like these by bringing awareness to our everyday lives. By placing points of reflection and contemplation, the Braziers Experience event facilitates the organic education of processes such as the development of group decision making and authority, interpersonal communication and acceptance, the discovery of individual callings and talents and more. Both moments of conflict and harmony can be the gateway to becoming more conscious of ourselves and objective reality.
Although this retreat is quite flexible, there are still a few expectations. Every week, participants are expected to contribute a minimum of two hours of garden work, two hours of house cleaning and two hours of either community cooking or washing up. Participants are also expected to attend each community building meeting held by the event convenor until the group has found their collective vision, defined their own level of commitment to one another and agreed to their decision-making method. Should the Braziers intentional community or the mini pilot community that this event forms change their expectations/requirements at any time throughout the retreat, participants are expected to respect these decisions. In other words, you are required to engage with the process that develops the decision-making method of your group and then to respect the decisions that this method produces as well as those decisions of the larger intentional community in which you will be semi-integrated. Participants are also expected to eat with the community and engage with the weekly Sensory meeting.
Conflict Inside Out & From Conflict to Cooperation – Two workshops w/ Melvin Lyons -Conflict can be complicated, and it can make us feel unhappy, confused, defensive, undervalued or isolated. These workshops are designed to encourage participants to explore and understand the nature of conflict, its effect on relationships, and steps to securing positive outcomes. The sessions will discuss and discern key approaches for planning and practice in interpersonal and organisational conflict.
Melvin Lyons is a conflict analyst and adviser. He trained in conflict resolution and mediation before working in good relations and reconciliation in North Ireland, and has also worked in conflict coaching and disputes resolution in several sectors. Melvin is currently developing a project on the ACRE programme at Braziers Park.
Beltane Herbal Medicine w/ Rasheeqa Ahmed – May 2nd’s workshop explores the folklore and practices of the Beltane time of new life, looking into fertility and the rising of the light, with a focus on seasonal plant energy, the fire, sun and air elements of the Elder and Hawthorn flowers and weaving plant medicine into our lives at this exciting season on the wheel of the year. The facilitator Rasheeqa Ahmad is a qualified medical herbalist based in Walthamstow, east London. She trained at the Scottish School of Herbal Medicine in Glasgow and at Middlesex University (Archway Herbal Clinic) in London, gaining a 1st-class Honours degree and the Ellis Snitcher Memorial Prize for Integrative Medicine in 2012.
Cooking, Foraging and Gut Health Workshop with Ziv Bachar
Join Ziv, founder of FastaNourish, on an adventure from plant to mouth and beyond! In this workshop you will first learn about “wild food”, trying your hand in foraging and then cooking what you have found. Next, you’ll dive into gut health and how to bring more fermented food into your life to improve your health. Lastly, you’ll explore how to observe your body and experience a change of eating habits by bringing presence to what your body needs. April 22nd Date Only.
Communion Circle w/ Chris Gascoigne – Communion is such a powerful word it is unsurprising that religions have wanted to own and use it; however it is a word that belongs to us all. The Latin root is ‘com’ meaning with and ‘unus’ meaning oneness: – ‘With Oneness’. Integrity and wholeness are the foundations of community and of healing, and perhaps the antidote to the chaos of human conflict, a conflict which is rooted in a sense of separation rather than a celebration of difference.
Communion is the finest expression of communication and can be realised through open and honest dialogue between equals; who come together with good intent. Any group, with the aid of an attentive and experienced facilitator, can create a space of Love and coherence by sharing what is important to them and enquiring into the structures of identity and detachment. Experience group facilitator Chris Gascoigne, with the aid of a couple of ground rules and a few hints, will facilitate this process. Happening on July 22nd. April date TBA.
Introduction to Permaculture w/ qualified facilitators Trish Whitham and Phil Pritchard – Braziers Experience participants will have the opportunity to take part in a 2-day course on the Permaculture basics – the ethics, principles and design tools to get you started to re-imagine your life, garden, farm, community or any project for sustainability, regeneration and abundance – it’s not just for gardening! This certified course is happening on May 7-8 and July 16-17.
Change the Story, Change the Future: Utopian Thinking as Courage w/ Nicole Pohl -The future is uncertain. Climate change, pandemics, economic crisis, social exclusion, racism, the oppression of women, inter-generational conflict, and more, shatter the conventional images of the future that we use to plan, to feel secure, to be confident enough to be hopeful about tomorrow.
The 3-4 hours workshop on May 5th uses the methodology of Future Literacy (developed by UNESCO) and Rob Hopkins’ idea of collective imagination (‘From What is to What If’: Unleashing the power of imagination to create the future we want’) to develop different ways to act
toward desirable futures. This is a creative, interactive and critical workshop to make us more resilient and proactive. Facilitated by Nicole Pohl, Professor of Early Modern Literature and Critical Theory in Oxford Brookes University.
Qigong with Alan Haden – July 6th only. Alan’s experiences in Eastern philosophies and holistic health practices began when he attended my first martial arts club as a child. Since then he has trained as a fitness professional focusing on qigong, nutrition, functional fitness and mindfulness. During his travels, he spent time living in a Tibetan monastery practising and exchanging ideas with the monks, and his Qigong training and inspirations have been Ken Cohen, Roger Jahnke and Mimi Duo-Keemer.
Shamanic Dance with Hayley Trezise – 23rd of April Only.
Questions? Email email@example.com
“The Braziers experience was a course of a few weeks, in which the characterful and experienced community members opened their doors with a romantic and spritely experiment, bringing together a variegated group of characters to absorb and reimagine their welcoming environment into an emergent mini-community. It was a wonder to see and experience how total strangers of different ages, backgrounds, and temperaments worked through and with their differences to give new life to each other and lose each other through inventive expression. We worked, problem-solved and organised new activities together in the walled garden and stunning Gothic house. All of this was facilitated with compassion and acceptance by our host Nac and by Braziers as a whole; Who treated us as equal members, gave us lessons in permaculture and provided structure and assistance as it was needed. A life-affirming and unforgettable time.”Past Participant of the Braziers Experience Retreat
“In June 2021 I had the honor of being part of the first pilot community project at Braziers Park. I was already familiar with some of the aspects, context, and culture of Braziers having been many times before on various courses and events, though I had often wondered what it would be like to be submerged in the day-to-day life of the secular community and college. I spent three weeks involved in the pilot. I was provided with a timetable of activities of which most were optional. This was really welcomed by me as it enabled me to continue my paid work remotely and still be part of the community. Working in the garden one afternoon a week was a really peaceful experience for me, as was being able to support the group cookery, for which I was given great support, and found this very enriching. To be honest, I am great with any dish that includes a potato and beyond that, I am lost, so thankfully my once-a-week potato extravagance seemed to blend in well with other people’s less carb-heavy offerings. The consensus decision-making used in meetings, and the participatory nature of the community, taught me some useful ways of working that I found valuable and have applied to the corporate world I work within. I am not aiming to promote a vision of utopia as Braziers is as real as the people, and there are worts and all there as much as anywhere else. Overall it was a calm and enabling experience. A place where the world slowed down and there was time to rest and recover. Meeting new people and appreciating higher levels of acceptance and human connection.”Past Participant of the Braziers Experience Retreat