Consciousness Network, Reborn

By Steven Libowitz   |   March 22, 2018

It takes nine months for humans to gestate in the womb from conception to birth. Perhaps it’s no coincidence that the same period has elapsed since the Santa Barbara Consciousness Network events went on hiatus as founder Forrest Leichtberg began to incubate a new format for the gatherings. Complications with logistics combined with a desire to reassess the operations precipitated the break, during which the organization received full 501(3)(c) nonprofit status, and, equally importantly, reassessed its purpose.

“We needed to clarify who we are and what we do, our vision and mission,” Leichtberg explained, adding that originally the main thrust was to create a single space where conscious individuals could connect. “The community has a lot of healers, people who define themselves as living a conscious life, or at least living with that intention, mindset, and energy. There were a lot of groups, but not a single space that could bring them all together.”

Now, the new statement reads “to establish and advance conscious communities.” The main method is the newly restructured Consciousness Expo & Symposium Events, meant to serve as a “meeting space, training ground, resource pool, and support network that helps conscious communities fulfill their potential and impact the world,” Leichtberg said. To that end, the new format, which debuts this Friday, March 23, at the original venue of Unity of Santa Barbara, combines the expo, featuring local health and well-being product and service providers, with a panel symposium.

The events, which are now slated to take place quarterly, are intended to “take the community through a journey of greater mastery” of four specific areas, he said. They are: Personal well-being, in the realms of physical, emotional and spiritual; Relationships, including personal, business and community; Success, encompassing career accomplishments and monetary goals in a way that respects humanity and nature; and Spirituality, addressing connectedness with the whole, and the ability to manifest a vision.

This first symposium under the new format features a panel of four wellness experts who will speak about the latest advances for achieving optimal body-mind-spirit health, Leichtberg said. Included are Dr. John Horton, M.D., Integrative physician and co-author of The Inner Game of Stress: Outsmart Life’s Challenges and Fulfill Your Potential with Timothy Gallaway (The Inner Game of Tennis); Dr. Kathy Gruver, Ph.D., author of seven books including The Alternative Medicine Cabinet and Conquer Your Stress with Mind/Body Techniques; Corinna Maharani, C.A.P., founder of Maharani Ayurveda in Santa Barbara and a practitioner and instructor of Ayurvedic medicine; and the reverend Larry Schellink, the nondenominational spiritual leader who is lead minister at Unity. The new structure calls for brief, 10-minute introductory remarks from each participant, followed by an extensive Q&A with the audience and one another.

“I want this to be a space where people can bring their own unique flavor of a conscious life into the mix, and offer and be received by the others who are present,” Leichtberg said. “We don’t take a stance on that path, but only encourage that your path be respectful of life, nature, your body, and your mind, and contribute to well being. The intention is to help empower you on that journey, however you decide to implement it, and to offer support you in your path.”

But the Expo, which precedes the symposium and is now free for everyone, is the most vitally important part, Leichtberg said.

“It’s not about the speakers on the stage but about the community, and how we can support and further each other. The overriding intention is to create coordination.”

(The Consciousness Expo & Symposium takes place 6 to 9:30 pm on Friday, March 23, at Unity, with the Expo running from 6 to 8 pm, and the speakers taking the stage at 8. Expo admission is free, the symposium costs $20. Visit

Mind Your Own Business

Patricia Diorio, M.A., is the executive producer, creator and co-host of the Get Conscious Now! show airing on TV Santa Barbara, who also produced and hosted The Paradigm Shift on TV and radio in town. Diorio applies her decades of experience in education and psychology to her work as a spiritual counselor wherein she offers intuitive readings, workshops, and classes in her private practice. Over that time span, she put a particular focus on demonstrating how “science and spirituality are the same conversation” through interviews with more than 300 pioneers of evolutionary thought such as Dr. Deepak Chopra, Dr. Bruce Lipton, and Dr. Michael Beckwith.

Now, she’s embarking on a new aspect of her spiritual work to bring awareness and raise consciousness in the corporate world as a professional speaker. The public can get a first taste this Saturday, March 24, at the Healing Hub, where Diorio will deliver the talk “Mindfulness: The Key to Increasing Profits, Passion & Purpose”. The address, accompanied by a Power Point presentation, encompasses her personal story of becoming consciously aware following an early trauma, through research in the science that humans are “energy beings in physical form… (whose) thoughts, feelings, and words are also energy that are literally creating our reality, personally and collectively,” and concludes with an offering of “Seven Simple Steps” to employ mindfulness in the workplace as well as daily life.

A $10 donation is requested for the 7:30 pm event at the Healing Hub, located in Le Cumbre Plaza. Call 280-2050 to RSVP.

Community Grief Ritual

Alexis Slutzky – a wilderness guide, mentor, community builder, council trainer, and licensed Marriage and Family therapist who is also adjunct faculty at Antioch University and affiliated with Pacifica Graduate Institute and The Ojai Foundation – began leading these gatherings that have the subtitle “Cultivating Connection, Compassion & Communion” last year, even before the Thomas Fire and ensuing Montecito mudslide. The original plan was for quarterly events timed for the solstices and equinoxes, half just for women and the other two for all genders. But after the twin tragedies, Slutzky began hosting mini-versions of the rituals at Yoga Soup and elsewhere to help in the recovery efforts from a communal healing aspect.

As spring approaches, Slutzky is returning to the all-day quarterly rituals, with the next one slated for next Saturday, March 24, once again encompassing all forms of grief: death, loss, change, divorce, betrayal, unrealized dreams, places in ourselves that have not known love, things expected and did not receive, ancestral grief, trauma, the sorrows of the world, and more. Synthesizing processes and insights from her work with Francis Weller, Sobonfu Some, and Malidoma Some, as well as training in related work with Joanna Macy (Despair and Empowerment/The Work that Reconnects), Deena Metzger (Grief into Vision), and Martin Prechtel (Grief and Praise), Slutzky will help participants experience grief as a natural part of the human experience, in community rather than isolation, as a conduit to love and gratitude.

The 9:30 am to 5:30 pm gathering takes place in the great outdoors, employing nature in the healing process, at Arroyo Hondo Preserve, with a sliding scale fee of $50 to $100. Details and registration online at

Energies of Yin & Yang

Brie Ehret Barron and her husband, Stace Barron, who co-founded Avraprana Emoto-Spiritual Healing, are cuing up an offering that seems particularly timely for our gender-conflicted world. Yang & Yin, not male & female, examines issues of “Essence vs. Conditioning in gender issues and intimacy” in a a six-week class addressing the controversies of the innate nature of male and female, their effect on sexuality of all kinds, and bridging the gap between psychological and spiritual dynamics of intimacy. The course will cover such topics as how our essences of Yin and Yang relate to the forms of male and female and their expressions as men and women; sexuality and codependency in the context of our emotive primacy of being; the essential nature of Yin missed by feminism, and the effects on men and the innate natures of Yin and Yang and their energetic expressions; the deeper layers of the issue of sexual harassment and women’s empowerment; and the architecture and dynamisms of Sacred Union’s intimate relational space.

The course takes place 1:15 to 3:30 pm on Saturdays, March 31 to May 5, at the Healing Hub in La Cumbre Plaza (136 S. Hope St.), and costs $35 per class, or $195 for the full six weeks. The Barrons are offering a free introductory session including Q&A about the course at 1:15 pm this Saturday, March 24. Call (541) 326-7525 or email to register. Visit for more about the Barrons and Avraprana.

Raab on Writing

Diana Raab, the Montecito author and philanthropist who has been contributing first-person accounts and reflections to the Journal in the wake of the January 9 Debris Flow, has offered several local workshops based on her latest book, Writing for Bliss: A Seven-Step Plan for Telling Your Story and Transforming Your Life. Next up is “The Secret to Telling Your Story”, which takes place 3 to 5:30 pm on Sunday, March 25, at The Sacred Space in Summerland, where the intensive workshop to help writers organize their thoughts and begin to write the story they want to write aims, in just one afternoon, to offer the key elements and a road map to actualize a writing plan for telling your story. The cost is $63. Visit or call 565-5535.


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