I of the Storm

By Steven Libowitz   |   June 20, 2019

The Q Process was taught periodically at Unity of Santa Barbara by Rev. Denese Schellink when her husband Larry served as the lead minister at the space. In the wake of Rev. Larry’s recent resignation, Unity has engaged the veteran Unity Rev. Phil Smedstad – who has led hundreds of transformative workshops over the past 35 years – to serve as chief transitional minister while the congregation searches for a permanent replacement over the course of the next half year.

As part of the process, Smedstad is offering a series of monthly workshops slated for the fourth Saturdays through October to bring together not only the Unity community but also the one at large, as Unity has long served as a gathering place for many non-church affiliated healing and transformational offerings. This weekend brings the second seminar, “The I of the Storm,” based largely on the bestselling book by Dr. Gary Simmons, who is also the co-creator of The Q Process and The Art & Practice of Living with Nothing and No One Against You. (In deference to the Summer Solstice Celebration taking place a block away at Alameda Park, the June 22-23 workshop will be spread over two days, 9 am to 12 noon on Saturday and 12:30-3:30 pm Sunday.)

The program is based on the notion that “Nothing happens to me – Everything in my life happens through me,” and employs lecture, discussion, and gentle exercises to ground the concept. “It’s all the same basis of the deep work I’ve been doing on myself over the last thirty years,” the Minnesota-based Smedstad said earlier this week after returning from wine-tasting in the Santa Ynez Valley with his local hosts. “Stop projecting on others and deal with what is in me… And almost all of those issues go back to childhood.”

Indeed, the weekend experience is meant to guide participants in learning to use critical thoughts of others as powerful tools of self-healing, how to become much more comfortable in the presence of conflict, how to release painful patterns from your life, and how to experience deep forgiveness of yourself and people from your past.

While the workshops are geared toward the Unity community, the concepts of healing things unresolved from the past and establishing a different perspective in letting go of feeling like a victim of other people certainly apply to all human beings. They are open to everyone at no cost (although reservations through Unity are appreciated to ensure enough handouts). When asked what people might expect, Smedsted said he thinks this weekend’s one will be self-screening.

“If the idea that your beliefs are creating your reality resonates with you, you’ll learn a lot about how to change your life. If it doesn’t, you probably won’t make it through the first day.”

Visit www.santabarbaraunity.org/i-storm-workshop-rev-phil. 

Alexis’ Access to Healing and Helping

Alexis Slutzky’s four-part Awakening Earth Series, which takes place one Sunday per month at Yoga Soup as a sequential arc of deepening, brings people together to unite in a shared context of love for the world and common care for people and planet as well as to build connection and courage for bringing forth what is most alive in us in response to a world in need of repair. Slutzky, known widely for her ritual grief work, expands the focus to encompass our unique gifts and the obstacles that often prevent us from our natural and full expression, employing community and containment to see and be seen and to explore our basic humanity. The series gets going this Sunday, June 23, with the theme “The Heart Broken Open,” with future focus on “Belonging and the Trance of Separation” (July 21), “Hearing the Cries of the Earth” (August 25), and “Resiliency, Courage, and Sharing Our Gifts” (September 29). The 3-5 pm gatherings cost $15 each.

From June 28-30, Slutzky will lead a weekend camping retreat titled “Remembering the Gift – Honoring the Call” at Arroyo Hondo Preserve, the rustic canyon near the ocean 20 miles north of Santa Barbara. The retreat brings together changemakers in the fields of service, health and wellness, education, rites of passage, environment and ecology, social justice, youth work, culture, wilderness guiding and more with activities including ritual, singing, listening and sharing, nature based practices, shared meals, living outside and more to explore the full range of the human experience. Sliding scale donation of $250-$350. For details, visit www.wildbelonging.com/events. 

Soup-ed Up

Also at Yoga Soup this week: a Silent Tea Ceremony with Lizzie Smith, a ceremony that offers an opportunity to cultivate stillness and acceptance of the present moment, from 7-8 pm on Friday, June 21 (by donation)… The first of a new monthly series of FULL BEATS Yoga Movement, Cristy Candler’s hour-long workshop that features a warm up, an easy to follow format of dance steps, a “Soul Train” jam out moment, and a cool down and guided relaxation (7-8 pm on Saturday, June 22; $20 & $22; also July 20, August 17, and September 21). Candler is a yogi with 30 years of experience including performing on Broadway in such hits as Wicked, Chicago,and Rock of Ages… East Forest’s periodic Ceremony Concert + Ritual, a multi-level experience which incorporates elements of meditation, sound healing, and live music, takes place 7-9 pm on Monday, June 24 ($40 & 45).

Spiritual Seeking in Summerland 

The just-opened Summerland Center for the Arts dives into the realm with “Bridging the Gap between a Physical and Spiritual World” from Dr. Fran Leigh, a medium, spiritual guide, and inspiration speaker who is also the author of five bestselling books. The 6-9 pm event on Saturday, June 22, costs $30. Next up is the launching of three ongoing weekly events in the center’s Rise and Shine Series: Manifestation Mondays with medium, energy reader and healer Vicki Emanuele, author of Manifest ANYTHING You Want in 30 Days (9 am Monday, June 24); Kundalini Yoga, Meditation and Sound with Susan Wichman (8 am, Wednesday, June 26); and Movement, Intention & Inspiration with professional life coach Liz Haley (9 am, Friday, June 28). The center is located at 2346 Lillie Avenue in Summerland. Call (805) 770-3677 or visit www.summerlandcenterforthearts.com for details and registration.

Altered States, Revisited

Internationally renowned thought leader Jean Houston joins Pacifica Graduate Institute founder and former president Stephen Aizenstat and others in a weekend conference on re-imagining evolutionary transformation in light of social change. Practices in social artistry, navigational tools of journeying, and experiences of meta-technologies will be offered as participants co-create an experience of intention, evocation, and social action that address the great issues of our time: climate change and ecology, social welfare, new forms of governance, education, economics, and equality between diverse groups. Visit https://retreat.pacifica.edu/altered-states-dreams-vision-renewal for details, options and registration. 

Hiking and healing

The new Unlock Your Greatness Meetup debuts with a “Get Unstuck & Create an Awesome Vision Hike” at high noon next Thursday, June 27. The group was founded by Jesse Brisendine, a speaker and author who is the creator of “Zero Limits Coaching,” and is open to anyone who wants to get unstuck, likes to hike, has goals they are working on, and want to live their greatest life. The trail leading up to Inspiration Point is the appropriately-chosen path for the group’s first vision hike, gathering at the trailhead on Spyglass Ridge Road. Visit www.meetup.com/UnlockYourGreatness.

Mastering the Magic of Movement

The Hendricks Institute offers the opportunity to learn the language of motion, your unique movement signatures, and the bridge that movement provides to the vast inner frontier of our dreams and experiences. Making friends with your own beats and phrases and moving freely enhances creativity, relating, problem-solving and joy. The intensive takes place June 26-30 at the former Montecito-based couples’ HQ in Ojai. Details at https://hendricks.com/event/mastering-the-magic-of-movement.


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