a story that goes with my paper, Mind/Body
Dialogue in the Clinical Setting
October 2006 Jill Lazenby suggested I submit a paper for the conference she was
working on, on Mind Body Dialogue, a conference at Toronto Universitys OISE
given in honor of Marian Woodman, who would be the principle speaker and receive
a lifetime achievement award. The conference would be held in June
Oh wow! Have I got some things to say about
I spent November writing
and rewriting - I usually need to tweak and tweak for weeks and weeks - and by
December I had a paper I was proud of. And it was accepted! The paper was little
long. Its most of what I know about dialoging with the body
in 10 pages, but if I really motored I could deliver it in 20 minutes. Twenty
years in twenty minutes.
the conference approached I looked at the schedule on-line. Ooh oh. Apart form
the keynote speakers, all the other papers would be delivered in divided up paper
sessions, eight at a time, in separate rooms. I had had visions of standing
on a podium lecturing a full hall. Never mind. I was going to make the best of
This reminded me of a trade show
a year before when I hadnt make the best
friend John worked as the Wellness Coordinator for a very large concern
just down the street from my office. John, from the time he met me, spoke about
organizing a little wellness trade show (for me?) at his institution. He took
him a year, and when it happened it was a triumph, for the most part. He had about
18 exhibitors in a small hall in the cooperations home office. He put aside
a special place for me at the back of the hall so that I could consult and treat.
And then he arranged tables in front of me in a separate row so that nobody could
get to me. I suggested the row needed some rearranging, but that didnt happen.
Perhaps a third of the people who came into the hall walked past my table. Two
thirds never even saw me. No biggie, maybe, but I didnt grin from ear to
ear. I made due.
At the end of the conference
I congratulated John, I thought, very warmly, for his event, all in all, was a
I didnt speak to John for
a few weeks and when I did he told he that I was the only one to complain at the
event and the only person who did not phone him, as a follow up, to thank him.
Up until this time John and I used to lunch together every other week, and I visited
his country haunt not infrequently. After this, though, weve met twice in
the year and only on my initiation. Ho hum. So it goes.
at the mind body conference I was not going to repeat these mistakes. I was going
to make the best of it I was going to be a real half full glass guy.
my story, my paper is awesome, I think. Take a look, I say laughing. So it was
a quite a let down to find I wasnt going to deliver it to a throng. And
then the first keynote speaker talked in circles about very little. And the first
paper session, tiny audiences and in the session I chose, one guy talking about
a project on talking circles in the native tradition and he did a
study, focus groups. He got to talk to three, three! people, and generalize from
that. (Stop being so negative, Norman. It was a good intent. Nice people. The
second paper was a study with just as small a population, unfinished work, and
but I listened, I listened , I was present. And I talked to people.
And I had a good time, virtue being it's own reward and all.)
first day, Monday, the conference started late - the subway wasnt running
for a while in the morning - so after another, for me, empty plenium session paper
(the professor sang and played guitar! with modest talent), I missed the workshop
session (divided again, eight to choose from) to go home walk and feed the dogs
before going to try and catch Marion Woodmans address to the conference
that evening in the auditorium. But, it was my birthday and I had another engagement,
so I couldnt stay long.
First a head of
a department delivered a eulogy and biography - fascinating, yes, but a flat delivery
and thirty five minutes.
Marion Woodman, at 45,
decided to go to Zurick to study to become a Jungian analyst. She went on to become
an icon to the new age with her work on the unconscious and, particularly, her
work on the feminine. Ive not (yet) read Woodman, and Id not yet seen
her ever, but knew of her and her work. If someone says Joseph Campbell
(the grandmaster of myth), Id probably think, and Marion Woodman.
She was a luminary figure in certain sections of the counter-culture. But before
she got to the stage there was a presenter to present the lifetime achievement
award - another five minutes, and my time was running out, but I was cool. Making
Woodman is 81. Dignified, but no hard edges. Its all these privilege words
that come to me: aristocratic, noble.. Marion started by thanking the presenters,
and, two minutes in, it was time for me to leave. Still I felt filled just to
see this presence!
I arrived early, again, to make the most... Through the long window I saw Marion
Woodman arriving. I went to the foyer. Found her free. Offered her a copy of my
poetry chapbook, Incarnations. A pleasant, but not significant, meeting.
morning Ms. Woodman was to lead a plenium workshop. Move the chairs, she said.
Lie on the floor. Find a dream image.
I couldnt find a decent recent dream image, but a childhood nightmare came
to mind. A ten, an impressive dream about a great hole, and Im on a ledge
inside it, to deep to escape
and then I drifted off. (Ill have to
ask Jill about the workshop!)
to my paper delivery. An audience of six! And it didnt take 22 minutes.
It only took 18. I could have gone slower. Oh. Anticlimax. But I have the paper
to post on my website where who, where who will read it?
co-deliverer in this session had some interesting things to say about consciousness
from Yogic-psychology perspective. Ill blog it later.
in a little workshop in the afternoon it was pointed out that in speech it is
vowel that carry most of the emotion.
So I learned
stuff, a bit. And I met people, a few. And it was a good conference. But now it
was over. My incisive paper unheard, virtually. Id read to half a dozen
pairs of ears and the wind, bit I was making a much better go of it. I was making
Im in the foyer - time to go home - and I think Ill just take one
last look in the library where all the plenium session were. .
Woodman was sitting in an armchair, in the library, talking to a middle-aged follower
or protégé, who was gushing and saying good-bye. Two younger enthusiasts,
whom I knew from the conference, warm people, sat near. Their was space on the
sofa opposite Marion, so I sat. The leave-taker finished and left and Ms. Woodman
turned to me. You wanted to talk to me?
yes, but I have no context, I said.
beckoned me over. So what brings you here, she asked.
told her of my friends invitation and my paper on mind body dialogue. Thats
an important subject, said Marion. Do you have a spare copy.
Instant karma for my (relatively) good attitude. I had to glow. What better audience
could I ask for?
talked for five, ten minutes. Mostly I talked, trying to elaborate very briefly
on my thought that spirit is actively suppressing scientific investigation
into the fringes of science and the paranormal (I will write of this at more length).
And then Marion Woodman said to me, with just a little pomp (perhaps she introduced
it with, Ive something to tell you). In any meeting,
she said, the most powerful presence there is the unconscious.
any meeting, the most powerful presence there is the unconscious.
I said, having my own little flash of insight, because it connects to spirit.
I had another insight. The snippet of a dream, the big trench, the big hole, it
was the unconscious.
was telling this story to my therapist, Phil Walsh, about being stuck on the ledge
in this pit above the unconscious, Phil says he would advise me to just jump in.
Into all that shit and fire? I demurred.
can flick off the shit, said Phil, and fire purifies.)
that's the story of my meeting with Marion Woodman. What a blessing. Thank you.