Playing ‘Games’ to go Deeper

By Steven Libowitz   |   April 25, 2019

Authentic Relating Games (ARG for short) – an entry point into the relational field that I’ve been a part of locally for the better part of five years – went on hiatus more than a year ago when its Santa Barbara founders Simon Darcy and Tamra Rutherford stopped leading the once monthly events. But this Friday the series of short interpersonal experiences that can deepen conversations and quickly create connections are returning to Yoga Soup, courtesy of Damian Gallagher and Jenny Calcoen, locals with extensive experience in personal growth work.

“ARG is a modality that can be a way for people to relate to each other on a deeper level than we are used to,” Gallagher explained. “It opens a door to the possibility to go beyond simply having an exchange of information and instead have profound experiences, even with strangers.”

Given that many of us were not taught tools to relate to each other in an authentic way, the Games can provide a structure and method to bypass mere formalities and hone in on “what lies beneath,” the more human qualities that connect each of us. “It’s a safe container where you are guided to get to something beyond just speaking about things, perhaps a more emotional level, and, also importantly, in relation to each other in the present moment.”

The Games can be as simple as filling in a sentence stem. For example, one of the popular introductory experiences is called “The Noticing Game” and involves two people standing or sitting directly across from each other, making eye contact. One person starts by saying, “Right now, I notice…” and the other, after a pause, responds, “Hearing that, I notice…” Each member of the dyad alternates with a new observation, a present-time experience that can prove quite revealing given its simplicity.

“The Games set a framework where it’s not open-ended, which can be intimidating, and instead the rules and structure provide a feeling of comfort,” said Gallagher, who also facilitates yoga, sound healing, breath work, meditation, and somatic experiences. “That way, people can be revealed, get vulnerable, share true emotions, and express authentic feelings with each other and feel more connected.”

Gallagher and Calcoen will take turns in leading various exercises, initially an ice-breaker to create a unified field, followed by a group movement piece with brief interactions, he said. Then the leaders will take a few minutes for participants to “share impact” of the previous game – a tenet of the Authentic Relating practice – before breaking into smaller groups for other games that lead to connection.

The perhaps unexpected benefit of participating in the interactive experience of ARG is also a deeper relationship with oneself, Gallagher said. “The Games can help me access my own inner world, which might not always come easily and therefore feels even more vulnerable to me. To be able to reveal that in a safe space is so important, and helps to create deeper connection.”

Which is why he’s happy the Games are not only back but that he is serving as co-host.

“The experience of facilitating something I already love to do is very fulfilling. It nurtures my own being.”

Authentic Relating Games: Connections takes place 7-9:30 pm Friday, April 26, at Yoga Soup. Admission is $18 in advance, or $25 day-of. Visit

Memorializing the ‘Mother of Conscious Evolution’

Barbara Marx Hubbard, the futurist, author, speaker, and co-founder and president of the Foundation for Conscious Evolution who passed away at age 89 on April 10, had a significant connection to our community, having spent more than a decade dwelling part-time in the Montecito hills beginning with the new millennium and frequently visiting the area before and after. Hubbard, the author of several books on social and planetary evolution, was still very active in her work regarding a potential quantum leap for humanity via integrating emerging scientific, social, and spiritual capacities, including co-creating and participating in the weekly Evolutionary Church every Saturday for more than two years right up to the weekend before her death.

While there have been several memorials online and elsewhere in the two weeks since her passing, two more right in are neighborhood have been scheduled. The Association for Global New Thought (AGNT), the Santa Barbara-based organization co-founded by Hubbard in 1997, will be holding a celebration of her life and work at 5 pm on Saturday, April 30, at El Capitan Canyon, the sacred indigenous land about 15 miles north of the city, where Hubbard’s family and friends will create enlightened space for a prayer vigil and candle lighting ceremony in her honor. Hubbard’s daughter Suzanne, AGNT leaders, colleagues, and others will speak, while Hubbard herself will appear via video expressing some of her most enduring ideas.

The memorial will also be streamed live on Facebook. Visit

Next month, on Friday, May 17, Ani Ahavah – who used to run a monthly Hubbard-inspired “Love Grid” at the Ayni Gallery – will host a Commemoration of the Life of Barbara Marx Hubbard at Unity of Santa Barbara, where all who have been “touched by the life of this amazing futurist, teacher, luminous soul, and beloved friend are invited to gather and share heartfelt expressions of gratitude for Hubbard’s enormous impact in our local community.” For more information about the 7 to 8:30 pm event, contact Ahavah at (805) 450-2238 or email

Creating Conscious Relationships

The next event in a crowded calendar from the recently revived Santa Barbara Consciousness Network finds Katie Love facilitating an “intimate evening of learning, conscious interrelating, and co-creative experience to help bring more awareness, curiosity, and openness into our relationships, how we love, and our sexuality.” Love, who is certified by The Tantric Institute as an expert level Love, Sex, and Relationship Coach, splits her time between Santa Barbara and Boulder, Colorado, where her mission includes helping people live from the truth of who they are so that they can experience deeply-connected love, expand their potential and enrich their experience of life, and enjoy “a love life where you don’t have to compromise essential pieces of your authentic nature to make the relationship work.” Participants will learn how to quickly and effectively neutralize conflicts in relationships, and to maximize smooth, loving flow in daily interactions.

The 4 pm workshop on Saturday, April 27, at Unity of Santa Barbara, costs $20-$25 and is limited to 45 people. Visit

Also at Unity 

Devotional music duo Jaya Lakshmi & Ananda return to the venue on Friday, April 26, as part of their 8th annual California tour. The singer-songwriters will share a combination of kirtan (call and response singing), bhajan (devotional hymns), and original singer-songwriter compositions in English, Sanskrit, and Gurbani while alternating on guitar, harmonium, keyboard, and bansuri flutes and being joined by Marla Leigh on percussion and flute. Their music is said to channel a powerful blend of modern and ancient soundscapes that touch the heart and invoke a meditative and connected state. Tickets for the 7:30 pm event are $20 in advance, $25 at the door. Visit

Qigong on the Sand

For more than two decades the last Saturday of April has been designated World Tai Chi & Qigong Day, when mass teach-ins and exhibitions are held in hundreds of cities in more than 80 nations. Many local teachers of the healing and meditative mind-body practice, including the popular Carpinteria practitioner Jessica Kolbe, will be offering free demos and exercises at Carpinteria’s Linden City Beach from 9-11 am on April 27. Visitors can practice easy movements and learn about the health benefits of Qigong and Tai Chi, including reducing stress, improving balance and finding peace of mind in the graceful moving meditations. Visit


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