Category Archives: spiritual

FCRP 2017 Interest Groups

closing ceremony
FCRP Closing

Interest Groups 

Facilitator: Dixon Bell
We will explore the Plenary talks on a deeper level in a facilitated discussion group.  We will also discuss any other topics that arise.  This Interest Group provides an opportunity to join into a group identity that is safe and develops organically. Mode: Discussion, sharing

Dixon Bell is a past clerk of FCRP and has been associated with FCRP and WFCRP for over a decade.   He is a poet and a cyclist and has been a teacher for the past 43 years.  He is now retired and lives in Glengary, WV.

Facilitator: Lorraine Kreahling
Ideas and insights that occur while listening to the Plenary talks can get lost when we stand and hurry off to what’s next.  We will make a point of noting these insights or epiphanies (whether comforting or troubling) and bring them to share with the group.  We will use breath and images, and simple yoga postures to create space to honor these truths in our bodies.
Mainstream culture’s obsession with bodily perfection—youth and conventional beauty—can land as a kind of shadow on our physical selves, triggering defenses that can get in the way of the Light.  In our discussion of evil (following the Plenary topic), we will use breath to enable us to hold the dark material nonjudgmentally—rather than reflexively dismissing it.  From this conscious physical witness, new Light may emerge from a deeper place.  Please wear lose clothing that allows movement and bring a yoga mat or blanket and a journal. Mode: Discussion and yoga

Lorraine Kreahling  is a writer and lifelong student of yoga with a daily practice.  She studied professional dance for many years in New York City.  She did graduate work focused on the meaning of dance in fairy  tales and folk tales; her graduate thesis was on Jung’s Individuation process as mirrored in fairy tales.  She has been a regular contributor to The New York Times, including articles on yoga.  She is a member of 15th Street Monthly Meeting.

Facilitator: Beth Perry
A broad range of people can benefit from Tai Chi.  Tai Chi teaches you to relax and avoid using unnecessary effort in movement. It allows you to channel the energy you save into paying attention—first to your body, and later to the forces that act on you from the outside. “Sole” work—directing your attention to the weight pouring into your footprints—helps you discover one of the basic secrets for maintaining balance. The practice of listening to your body can open the door to unexplored abilities. Our work will include practical applications for daily life—from lifting a child or shoveling snow to getting in and out of a chair with the least amount of effort.   Come in comfortable clothes and flat comfortable shoes. All levels of physical capability are welcome.  Mode: Gentle Movement

Beth Perry began study of Cheng Man Ching’s Yang form of Tai Chi in the early 1980s and has studied with many of his senior students, including, Maggie Newman and the late Dr. Tao. She is an advanced student of the martial art application of ’push hands.’ Beth teaches Tai Chi  in retirement homes, adult education schools, senior centers, and Friends Center in Philadelphia. She spent several years working in Uganda and southern Sudan, returning to use that experience in anti-apartheid work with American Friends Service Committee and Philadelphia Yearly Meeting. Beth is a member of Radnor, PA Friends meeting.

Facilitator: Stephen Potthoff
In this interest group. we will be exploring various ways the natural world and dreaming can facilitate journeys into the shadow realm of the unconscious while simultaneously serving as a place of inspiration, light, and transcendence.  Participants are encouraged to bring with them dreams that have brought them into valleys of the Shadow, as well as realms of light.  Workshop activities will include a hands-on telling of the universe story, dream incubation exercises involving intimate exploration of the natural world, and collective dreaming on behalf of Mother Earth.

Stephen Potthoff is a Professor of Religion at Wilmington College, in Wilmington, Ohio. He has both a personal and scholarly interest in dream and visionary experience and has offered dream workshops at Wilmington College, Pendle Hill and the Friends Conference on Religion and Psychology. Stephen is a member of New Garden Friends Meeting (NC) and attends Wilmington College Campus Meeting (OH).

Facilitator: Gary Soulsman
Death has been a taboo subject for many of us. But we are also learning there is much to be gained from sharing our experiences with death, along with our anxieties and hopes around our own aging.  In fact, by looking at death we can gain a new perspective on how we wish to use our remaining years. This group will include intimate sharing, meditations on love and our personal fate, as well as a discussion of the implications of the Near Death Experience. Participants will have a chance to talk about Lionel Corbett’s plenaries as well.  Mode: Sharing, meditation, discussion

Gary Soulsman is a journalist whose academic work focused on social and behavioral studies. He was the religion reporter for Delaware’s largest daily paper. His work with dream sharing groups spans more than 25 years.  He is a long time member of FCRP and will be co-clerk of the FCRP Planning Committee starting after the FCRP 2017 Conference..

Facilitator: Deborah Shayne Hughes
Recent developments in neuro-science suggest that beyond the well-known ‘fight or flight’ response to overwhelming stress, there might be a third response of collapse or freeze.  In this group, we will use the practices of Feldenkrais Awareness through Movement and iRest Yoga Nidra to explore the impact of stress on the body, including paralysis and collapse in the face of old terrors or untenable dilemmas.  Through these techniques of gentle  movement and deep-body meditation—and drawing on the work of Marion Woodman—we will allow the slow emergence of the conscious feminine which can bring healing in ways both earthly and divine.  Yin or the receptive in feminine energy is present in both men and women.  The subtle shifts of consciousness that it engenders can help us articulate and embody our soul’s destiny and the sankalpa (the heart’s desire envisioned in yoga Nidra). As we learn to honor the posture of stress collapse, we can begin to witness how it can be fertile ground for a new embodied self.   We will see how initiating small changes in how we move and speak can help alter old patterns and make us more open to guidance and transformative behavioral choices.  Please bring your journal, pen and colors, a blanket and support pillows, if available.

Deborah Shayne Hughes is a former librarian, storyteller and teacher of Trauma Sensitive Yoga and Awareness through Movement.  She is a graduate of the Trauma Center at JRI Boston and Feldenkrais Baltimore.   She is also a long-time student of Jung and the work of Marion Woodman and the Embodied Feminine, NS first attended FCRP in 1989.

Facilitator: Martha Witebsky
We will use Baroque music as background to boost our concentration,  help us  become aware of our thoughts, and to inspire us to examine and reflect on what flows through our minds. Expressing our thoughts on paper helps us to reflect more fully.  This mindful approach will allow us to respond to the Plenary theme and explore our personal experiences.  We will have an opportunity to share our writings with the group if we so wish.  Mode: Writing

Martha Witebsky has facilitated writing groups at many  FCRP and WFCRP Conferences.  She is retired from her work as a translator of French and German at  the US Patent and Trade Office.

Facilitator: Randy Goldberg
Family constellation work helps you connect and correct the past so you can move forward with inner peace. Imagine a constellation in the sky—a grouping of stars that depicts your ancestors. Each star has an invisible string of energy connecting one to another and to you. In your aliveness on this earth, you are tethered to these people of the past. You have inherited their joys and sorrows, and you may be carrying anger, loss, illness or guilt that burden your life today—even if you do not know how or why.
Family Constellations is a method that allows the hidden to come to light.  The family constellation not only permits disconnections to become visible, but it also provides for the reconnection of the family members to take place.  Specific words or phrases and certain movements allow the energy to flow.  When it does so, everyone in the room can experience the shifts that become apparent.  Mode: Experiential, sharing

Randy Goldberg, is a graduate of the DC Hellinger Institute, and did advanced studies with Heinz Stark of the Stark Institute for Systemic Integrative Therapy in Germany. He regularly facilitates Family Constellation therapy for individuals and groups.  A former Yoga monk, he is also a Craniosacral therapist and an astrologer.

Facilitator: Jane Byerley

We will study poetry –some related to evil—some not. And we will journal to share or not to share. And perhaps do a little intuitive writing—as Spirit moves us. Do not hesitate to bring a poem for discussion if you wish.  Mode: Creative journaling and discussion

Jane Byerley has a wide range of experience. She completed graduate work in English literature at the University of Warwick, UK, and a Masters of Social Work in the States. She has studied C.G. Jung in study groups for 25 years and is a member of the Jung Society of Washington. She has worked as a psychotherapist and as a management consultant. She is FCRP’s Registrar and is Clerk of the Washington Friends Conference on Religion and Psychology (WFCRP).

Facilitator: Dana Gayner
Express yourself with color, shape, and form.  Engage your right brain in an artistic blitzkrieg of passion by painting papers that will be cut up into enticing shapes and glued together to tell your story.  No artistic skill is necessary.  Let your creative side take control while building the saga of your life.

Dana Gayner studied art at the University of the Arts in Philadelphia. She was a teacher for over 25 years and learned to appreciate the many forms art can take. She has shown her watercolors, acrylics, ceramic masks, and fiber creations in many galleries and exhibitions. In addition, she has run many workshops featuring art in both two and three dimensional forms. Her Quaker background has led her to explore the spiritual nature of creativity.

Facilitator: Walter Brown
We will take a quick look at the historical Quaker view of these topics and have a discussion about where modern liberal Friends are these days.  Mostly this will be a chance to consider your personal philosophy and/or theology and how it fits or does not fit well with Jungian thought.  No particular knowledge of Quakerism or Jung for that matter is needed for this group.  Mode – Discussion, deep sharing and meditation.

Walter Brown is a life-long Friend who recently retired from his work as psychotherapist.  He has done various workshops at FCRP, WFCRP, Baltimore Yearly Meeting and other Quaker and professional settings.  Walter with his wife, Carole, live in Washington, DC and attend Langley Hill Friends Meeting in No. Va.

Facilitator: None, follow your leadings
This group is for those who would like unscheduled time to collect thoughts, share, meditate, and just relax. Loosely scheduled, we will provide a safe space for those who just want to be or do their own thing. 
Mode: Discussion, sharing, free time, your choice.




FCRP 2018 Plenary

closing ceremony
FCRP Closing

The 76th Annual Friends Conference on Religion and Psychology

Memorial Day Weekend – May 25 – May 28, 2018



with Joe Wheldon and Noel Wight



Bessel Van der Kolk

This year’s Plenary Speaker is psychiatrist and New York Times best-selling author Bessel Van der Kolk, M.D. His book, “The Body Keeps the Score: Brain, Mind, and Body in the Healing of Trauma”, is a courageous exploration of how trauma—whether from war-time experience, sexual abuse, corporal punishment, or even early parental verbal assaults—registers deep in the body and emotional brain. Such trauma gets imprinted neurologically at a distance from one’s rational self.  Dr van der Kolk explains that chronic depression, rage, anger, panic attacks, suicidal tendencies—and even self-abuse or numbing through overeating, alcohol, and drugs—can be symptoms of deep, painful past injury.

In his early work with Vietnam vets, Bessel van der Kolk learned firsthand how difficult it was to “right” a mind knocked out of kilter by the severe trauma of battle and the experience of wartime atrocities. Even those vets who were able to tell their stories in a therapeutic setting often found that their lives continued to be hijacked by uncontrollable emotions and behavior. Recovery proved elusive.

Neuroscience offers a partial explanation for this phenonmena. Brain scans show that trauma affects the brain at a deep “instinctual” level. The limbic brain triggers the release of the fight/flight hormones adrenalin and cortisol: The heart beats faster; breathing speeds up; blood pressure rises, and increased sugar is rushed to the muscles. When an individual is fighting or fleeing to survive or is paralyzed by fear, activity in the prefrontal cortex—the part of our brain that moderates social behavior—all but ceases. When trauma survivors encounter sounds, images, or even smells associated with the original trauma later in life, the deeper animal brain again responds, prompting a rush of cortisol and adrenaline that can cause uncontrollable emotions such as, rage, panic, anxiety, and depression. Again, brain scans show that when faced with trauma, the part of the brain that normally allows us to “calmly and objectively hover over our thoughts, feelings, and emotions and to decide how to respond”—that is, the pre-frontal cortex—fails to control behavior.

“Trauma is not just an event in the past, it is an imprint left by experience on mind, brain, and body which affects how we survive,” Dr. van der Kolk writes. “After trauma, the world is experienced with a different nervous system.” Overused neurological circuits become default patterns in the brain. In an effort to suppress the inner chaos, the trauma victim often tries to remain in control at the expense of being present in life. He or she is unable to experience spontaneity, to play, and is often closed off to new experience.

What does this have to do with the interplay of psychology and spiritual growth, the traditional interests of the Friends Conference on Religion and Psychology? How do the effects of early trauma on our emotional health affect the clarity we need to love one another? When trauma damages our inherent sense of feeling safe in our bodies, are there ways to recover?

The science and experience of researchers and therapists suggest that healing from trauma requires more than a rational understanding of the early injury. To reach deep brain neurological patterns resulting from trauma, practitioners use therapies that employ touch, rhythmic movement, simple play, and a focus on breathing. Crucial to the healing process in these approaches is a therapist who is fully empathetic and nonjudgmental—what Quakers might call a “loving witness.”

Dr. van der Kolk has explored a number of therapeutic methods which help trauma victims get in touch with the deep neural pathways where trauma is imprinted. Eye Movement Desensitivation Reprocessing (EMDR) uses bilateral stimulation—side to side eye movements—to create new neural pathways that connect the traumatized self to the rational being. Somatic therapy is a gentle hands-on therapy which works with imagery rather than ideas, by making gentle physical contact through clothing; Feldenkrais uses slow repetitive, mindful movements to create new mind/body sensibility and awareness. Trauma sensitive yoga starts in the higher brain levels, but uses breath to reach the deeper central nervous system patterns and create new connections between the prefrontal cortex and the limbic brain. Neurofeedback applies electrodes to the skull to stimulate the kind of brain waves known to counter terror or fear. Internal Family Systems therapy uses role play in a contained group setting to re-enact the trauma with nonjudgmental, supportive witnesses.

On Saturday afternoon, FCRP will welcome Joe Weldon and Noel Wight, co-directors of the Somatic Therapy Center in Philadelphia, who will introduce us to transformative touch therapy, which they have spent three decades teaching and administering. Somatic Therapy is a gentle, non-intrusive hands-on technique that helps individuals connect what is happening in their bodies to what is happening in their lives. This deep connection supports the creation of new synapses in the body and mind, opening the way to healing from physical and emotional pain. Joe and Noel’s lectures and experiential demonstrations throughout the rest of the weekend will allow conference participants to see Bessel van der Kolk’s theory of healing from trauma in action.

Bessel van der Kolk is the medical director of the Trauma Research Center at the Justice Resource Institute in Boston and professor of psychiatry at Boston University. He has published extensively in professional journals on the subject of trauma’s interface with dissociative problems, borderline personality issues, self-mutilation, cognitive development, and memory, and on the psychobiology of trauma. His best-selling book, “The Body Keeps the Score” draws on more than four decades of research on trauma and clinical experience with its victims. Dr. van der Kolk travels internationally to present workshops that explore the neurological seat of trauma and the healing process.

Joe Wheldon is a licensed clinical psychologist and master somatic therapist. He is co-founder, with his wife Noel, of the Somatic Therapy Center in Philadelphia. He is a deeply experienced guide and teacher of the art of transformative touch, which focuses on the innate wisdom of the body. Joe has taught at the University of Pennsylvania School of Social Work and Villanova University.

Noel Wightis also a master somatic therapist and co-founder of the Somatic Therapy Center in Philadelphia. She studied extensively with Ilana Rubenfeld, the founder of the Rubenfeld Synergy Method, and has taught with Ilana Rubenfeld, at Omega Institute, and at Esalen. Her extensive background and experience teaching and administering transformative touch daily confirms her belief that the body is a wise ally, guide, and key resource on the path to healing from trauma and becoming whole. Noel has a master’s degree in integrative psychology.



WFCRP Plenary 2018

WinterSunset st Claggett Center
WinterSunset st Claggett Center

Hauntings: Dispelling the Ghosts That Run Our Lives
Plenary Speaker:
James Hollis, PhD

Jim Hollis in Washington DC
James Hollis, PhD

About the Plenary Topic:

Our ancestors believed in ghosts, and perhaps they were not far off the mark as so much of daily life is driven by invisible psychic forces, archaic agendas, and imperious admonitions and prohibitions, all the more powerful because they operate unconsciously.   What are the features of such “hauntings,” and how might we gain some further foothold on a more conscious conduct of life? At t this conference, literary and case studies will illustrate the presence of “hauntings” in people’s lives.  Please bring notepad and pen to the plenary sessions to use in reflecting on the invisible powers which govern your daily life.   

Our learning goals will be to:

  • Learn the significance of “complex” theory as a useful tool in the practice of psychotherapy.
  • Identify means by which “complexes” can be identified through dream work and pattern analysis.
  • Differentiate the utility of psychodynamic therapy from behavioral modification and cognitive restructuring.

About our Plenary Speaker:

James Hollis, Ph. D. is a Zurich-trained, Jungian analyst in private practice in Washington, D. C. where he is also Executive Director of the Jung Society of Washington.  He is the author of fourteen books, most recently, Finding Meaning in the Second Half of Life, What Matters Most, and Hauntings: Dispelling the Ghosts Who Run Our Lives.   Additionally, a new book, Living the Examined Life is due in February of 2018.