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Improvisation and Spirituality: Beginnings

January 8, 2020

Back in 2013, Ted DesMaisons assembled a group of improvisors at a San Francisco Zen monastery to explore the many connections between spirituality and improvisation.

Before long there was a worldwide group of people who were tracing the same pathways that DesMaisons and his colleagues explored during that Bay area event.

Many were part of the improvisation community, and included people who saw improvisation as a practice that transcended its theatrical roots. And some were part of what Time magazine's January 2014 cover story dubbed the "mindfulness revolution," and were using mindfulness to help them rewire and channel their emotions.

As this post points out, there are several points of intersection between mindfulness practice and improvisation: Perhaps the most obvious is their joint emphasis on being present, or in the moment. Another is the importance of embracing uncertainty and observing what's present without trying to change it.

Other points of intersection, which I think are more apparent in improvisation than in conventional solo mindfulness practice, are interdependence, and the spirit of Lila or divine play.

In my podcast interview with DesMaisons last year, we explored the idea that improvisation was not merely a way to enhance meditation practice but a way of enhancing our ability to live life to the fullest.

This spring, in scenic Sonoma County, we'll give participants a number of ways to do just that, drawing from the traditions of contemplative practice and improvisational theater.

If you register for our event before January 15th, you'll receive a 15% discount by selecting Early Bird on checkout.

We'll also send you a signed copy of Ted's new book, Playful Mindfulness. Plus, if you live in the Bay area, and recruit two or more workshop participants to do this with you, one of us one of us will come to your home or site to facilitate a post-conference integration event.

The residential workshop will be held at Bishop’s Ranch, a lovely retreat and conference center nestled in a spot amidst the lush valleys, redwood forests, organic farms and world-class vineyards of Sonoma County, about 85 miles north of San Francisco.

Workshop tuition includes lodging and meals, Some of the food served will be grown on the ranch property itself, and may include recipes featured in Bishop's Ranch's cookbook, The Abundant Table.

You can find more information by going to our event site.

Here's hoping to see you in northern California in Spring.