Avenue Q – a Road to Inner Freedom

By Steven Libowitz   |   March 15, 2018

Nearly all the spiritual traditional and psychological systems suggest that suffering comes from how we interpret our experiences. Life is always going to have painful moments – but it’s what we make them mean that determines our level of inner happiness on anguish. There are many paths that aim to help humans alleviate the symptoms of suffering. For the reverend Denese Schellink, who is married to Unity of Santa Barbara’s popular reverend Larry Schellink, it’s the Q Process that’s most resonant.

A relatively new entry into the field of personal growth, the Q Process (or Q Effect) is a 21-day transformational practice that weaves together techniques and research from the fields of neurobiology, developmental psychology, family systems theory, attachment theory, quantum science, HeartMath, Nonviolent Communication, shadow work, and more, with a solid foundation in spiritual wisdom. All those parts coming together appeal to Schellenk.

“For me, it’s the greatest tool for creating spiritual awakening and emotional liberation from the mind,” she said. “It’s a transformation process that allows us to become very self-aware of how we are in the world, how we get triggered when experiences happen to us, so we can create more understanding. As we are able to have a process of self-inquiry rather than resorting to blame for our external conditions, we become more aware of how we are interpreting them. That gives us choice. To me, the Q Process is beautiful and semi-simple, and it matches my conscious awareness of truth in thought.”

That’s why Schellenk has been leading interactive workshops in The Q Process, subtitled “The Art & Practice of Living with Nothing and No One Against You”, at Unity every quarter for a couple of years. The next session begins with a one-day offering of exercises, multimedia presentations, and discussion on Saturday, March 17, and is followed by three weekly coaching sessions to anchor the process.

Schellenk readily admits that the one-day workshops doesn’t offer an instant cure. “The work is not so much in the teaching on Saturday,” she said. “It’s really in the worksheet. It’s an ongoing process that we practice together. You continue to re-frame experiences mentally, going through the worksheet process…. There’s information but also practicality, a work book and worksheets that you can do anytime. You can see your measurement, your progress. There’s hard evidence that where I used to have huge angst, it’s not there anymore. So, I can celebrate.”

It’s that necessity to maintain a practice, especially in the context of community, that also attracts Schellenk. “It’s a ‘doing’ thing – not just sitting in silence, meditating, which is important too,” she said. “People gather together with common goals and a language that supports them in their spiritual journey, which is something we all need. It’s about creating shared reality.”

That’s also how Q Process fits in with Unity’s mission to co-create a world powerfully transformed through a shared spiritual awakening, Schellenk said. “Anything that helps us move into greater connection with self and others, and a universal presence, is valuable. The Q Process works for me. But it’s not for everyone. There are many paths. Choose the one that resonates with you.”

The Q Process workshop costs $129, and includes the 84-page workbook and follow-up coaching, plus membership in an ongoing online group. Register online at www.santabarbaraunity.org/q-process-workshop-1 or call Unity at 966-2239. Schellenk can be reached at deneseds@gmail.com. Visit the Q Effect website for more details: www.theqeffect.com.

Frank Talk about Dying

The veteran Buddhist teacher and visionary Frank Ostaseski co-founded the Zen Hospice Project before creating the Metta Institute, which was established to provide education on spirituality in dying, essentially, as one of Ostaseski’s former mentees puts it, a training ground for end of life professionals and volunteers. Ostaseski, whose groundbreaking work has been highlighted on The Oprah Winfrey Show and honored by the Dalai Lama, recently published The Five Invitations: Discovering What Death Can Teach Us About Living Fully, which distills the lessons gleaned over decades of research and service and serves as an evocative guide that suggests a radical path to transformation. The five factors are simple: Don’t Wait; Welcome Everything, Push Away Nothing; Bring Your Whole Self to the Experience; Find a Place of Rest in the Middle of Things; and Cultivate Don’t Know Mind.

Ostaseski will discuss the book and its applications for the blessings of the importance of embracing death before the end of life at a free event open to the community presented by Hospice of Santa Barbara – the nonprofit that has been providing care of individuals and families grieving the loss of a loved one or struggling with life-threatening illness for 40 years – at the Marjorie Luke Theater at 7 pm next Thursday, March 22. All of the available reservations for the 800-seat facility had already been snapped up by last Thursday, two weeks before the event, but they’re taking names for the waiting list, since there will likely me many no-shows.

Ostaseski will also lead a day-long workshop on Saturday, March 24, for a much smaller group, with a cost of $100. Call 563-8820 or visit www.HospiceofSantaBarbara.org.

Look, up in the …

SKY Meditation, which is being taught and practiced in a dozen centers across the country, has arrived in Santa Barbara to plant a foothold in what would be one of the smaller communities in its footprint. The SKY Meditation course, according to the website, is a practical step-by-step approach to making the meditation experience easy and enjoyable, and includes breathing technique, light physical stretches, interactive processes and discussions to help integrate the benefits of meditation into every aspect of daily life.

Free introductory sessions – consisting of an hour of comprehensive introduction to SKY Meditation including Pranayama (breathing techniques) and a guided meditation – began at the Goleta Valley Community Center, 5679 Hollister Avenue, last weekend and are slated to continue into at least April. Dates for the session include 6:30 to 8 pm on March 15, 19, and 21, plus 4 to 5:30 pm on Saturday, March 17. More dates may be added based on the reception.

The SKY material suggests that the program offers wide-ranging physiological, mental, and emotional benefits are seen immediately, while research indicates that SKY may reduce depression, anxiety, PTSD, stress, and addictive behaviors, while significantly increasing feelings of well-being, optimism, and mental focus, and improving emotion regulation.

SKY Meditation is a project of the International Association for Human Values (IAHV), a 501(c)(3) educational and humanitarian NGO that is “committed to programs of personal development that culture the expression of human values in everyday life… including a sense of belonging to a common humanity; respect for all people, cultures, and traditions; respect for the natural environment; an attitude of non-violence; and an ethic of social service.”

For more info, call (214) 676-5206, visit www.skymeditation.org or email santabarbara@skymeditation.org.

Little Book that Could

Michael Kearney, the veteran Santa Barbara-based palliative care physician who is married to and co-hosts meditations and workshops with wife, Dr. Radhule Weininger, has just published The Nest in the Stream: Lessons from Nature on Being with Pain, a concise and inspirational book geared toward helping those dealing with pain through a celebration of impermanence and what it means to be awake, alive, and connected to the world, Kearney draws on Buddhism, the indigenous wisdom of Native American and Celtic spirituality, and – the inspiration for the title – his own powerful teachings gleaned by observing nature.

Kearney recently joined Weininger for the La Casa de Maria fundraiser at Trinity late last month, and his book will be the centerpiece of this month’s half-day mindfulness retreat at the same location, which is serving as the temporary home for the events that Weininger led at La Casa. By donation. Kearney will also talk about the book and more in a signing event at Chaucer’s at 7 pm on Wednesday, March 21. Free.

Reading for Recovery

Meanwhile, the next event in an ongoing series of fundraisers for La Casa de Maria also takes place this Sunday afternoon, March 18, when Enid Osborne, the poet laureate of Santa Barbara and a former staff member at La Casa, hosts a benefit poetry reading at the Unitarian Society of Santa Barbara. Paul Willis, David Starkey, Chryss Yost, Sojourner Kincaid Rolle, Perie J. Longo, Laure-Anne Bosselaar, Gudrun Bortman, Lois Brown Klein, John Ridland, Christopher Buckley, and Nancy Lee are among the poets who will join Osborn in sharing words, while Bob Sedivy will play Japanese flute. Admission to the 3 pm event is by donation, with the proceeds – including those of book sales – headed to the post-debris flow rebuilding efforts at the Montecito retreat center.

Consciousness Hacking

Fishbon Pescadrome, 101 South Quarantina St., hosts the next gathering of the group, a talk from Dr. Jonathan Schooler, professor of Psychological and Brain Sciences and Principal Investigator UCSB’s META Lab (Memory, Emotion, Thought & Awareness), on the topic of “The Middle Way Between Mindfulness and Mind Wandering”, from 7 to 9 pm on Monday, March 19. Schooler’s research on human cognition explores topics that intersect philosophy and psychology, such as how fluctuations in people’s awareness of their experience mediate mind-wandering and how exposing individuals to philosophical positions alters their behavior. Monday’s event takes a look at how, contrary to what popular opinion, “zoning out” is invaluable form of expanded consciousness, as Archimedes and Einstein, among others, experienced world-changing epiphanies traversing through the vast expanses of the mind. Schooler shares current research on finding the perfect balance of mindfulness and mind wandering for optimal achievement. Free admission. Reserve online at www.facebook.com/events/226094077947436/.

Stokes-ing Your Relationships

Crystal Stokes utilizes a Stanford-developed adaption of the Enneagram assessment she employs in her private practice as the basis for a workshop at Yoga Soup Saturday afternoon. The Power of Knowing Your Personality: In Relationships offers tools to create greater compassion, greater communication, and deeper connection via assessing personality traits, with the premise that understanding your partner’s personality as much as your own is the secret to lasting relationships. What motivates them, what do they fear, what are their strengths as well as blind spots? Visit www.DiscoverMyType.com to take a sample test. Admission to the 2:30 pm event is $10.

Joy of Liberation

Buddhist monk Tenzin Priyadarshi leads a one-day based on Je Tsong Khapa’s “Three Principal Aspects of the Path” and Gampopa’s “Jewel Ornament of Liberation” this Saturday, March 17, in Goleta. The essential Kadampa Buddhist scripture is a condensation of lamrim and a profound guide to meditation on the stages of the path to enlightenment. The retreat consists of teachings, prayers, meditation, tea/lunch breaks, and time for Q&A. The venue is the EMID building, 224 Vereda Leyenda, in Goleta, and donation of $75 is suggested, though no one turned away due to financial hardship. Doors open for registration at 9 am, one hour before activities begin.

Visit www.bodhimarga.org/joy-of-liberation or email emid@emidsb.org for details.

They’re Ba-a-a-ack!

The Consciousness Network, founded by the young community-oriented entrepreneur Forrest Leichtberg, returns after more than a six-month hiatus with a re-configurated event at Unity of Santa Barbara next Friday March 23. The Consciousness Expo & Symposium (formerly known as “Conscious Networking Events”) will now have a two-hour mixer followed by a presentation with a panel of health and wellness experts rather than a single speaker. See next week’s issue for more details, or visit www.consciousnessnetwork.org.


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