Beyond Limits: Power of the Mind, Power of the Body | Jo Marchant, Kirsty Hanly, Sara Campbell, Miranda Taylor, Jorge Goia,
The Hoxton, Holborn | Saturday 11th February 2017
At Beyond Limits, Advaya Initiative brought together some of the most inspiring figures in the field to explore the power of your mind and body, replace negative patterns, turn from fears to freedom and investigate the relationship of mind over matter. Workshops and talks from a free-diving world record holder, neuroscientist, yoga philosopher, capoeira activist and cognitive hypnotherapist investigated the direct affect of our outlook on our health, wellbeing and reality. As a group we looked at practices we can implement in our daily lives and ways we can discover and harness our depths, power and true potential.
The day started with a choice of workshops, including Kundalini Yoga and Meditation with Sara Campbell, Capoeira with Goia and ViniYoga with Miranda Taylor. Opening our bodies and coming back to the physical allowed the group to connect to what we were working with on the most immediate and essential level. The talks in the afternoon went on to explore what was subtly encountered in the morning, and each workshop held a resounding and strong energy that sustained everyone through the day.
Piccalilli Caff provided a nurturing and wholesome vegan lunch using organic vegetables and grains and spices of the Middle East to fire up our digestive systems and balance our blood sugars for the afternoon. We moved through to the two dining rooms and sitting on the long tables had the chance to meet and connect with the other participants of the day.
At 1330 we welcomed everyone into the talks, and the group was brought together again with an ancient Vedic chant to Patanjali by Miranda Taylor. Then Guy Hayward, compere extraordinaire, set to task introducing the first speaker, four-times freediving world record holder Sara Campbell. In Sara’s fascinating and quite literally breath-taking talk she explained the mental, emotional and spiritual journey that she went on from London-based, chronically ill PR-girl, to four-times World Record holding freediver, living in the desert on the Red Sea in Egypt. Sara spoke about how freediving is not the adrenalin-fuelled, high-risk sport many people make it out to be. It is a process of deep meditation, aligning the body with the vibration of the ocean and tapping into its deep innate wisdom, one which is at one with Nature, as we recognise we are part of Creation. Sara practices and teaches freediving as a spiritual path and on the day shared her profound insights of the potential for humans within Nature when we interact with Her on Her terms. This is where the magic occurs.
Miranda was next to take the microphone with a talk that presented the beauty of Yoga as a toolbox of practices that we can call from in our daily lives as we work to achieve clarity, stability and peace - from Asana, Mantra, Pranayama and Mudra, to Action (Karma Yoga), and Kriya. Miranda demonstrated some of the current drawbacks we might experience on the level of the mind, and ways we can work to harness these and overcome them, enabling us to live fully in the present, balanced and focused.
Jo Marchant spoke after the break and in her perspective shifting talk we understood the power of the mind from the scientific angle. Jo used the example of the placebo to illustrate the potential of our outlook on our medical health and wellbeing, or more specifically how the way we think and feel about medical treatments can dramatically influence how our bodies respond. Accordingly, simply believing that a treatment will work may trigger the desired effect even if the treatment is inert – such as a sugar pill. For a wide range of conditions, from depression to Parkinson’s, osteoarthritis and multiple sclerosis, it is clear that the placebo response is far from imaginary. Trials have shown measurable changes such as the release of natural painkillers, altered neuronal firing patterns, lowered blood pressure or heart rate and boosted immune response, all depending on the beliefs of the patient. There is even evidence that some drugs work by amplifying a placebo effect – when people are not aware that they have been given the drugs, they stop working. On the flip side, merely believing that a drug has harmful side effects can make you suffer them. The nocebo effect, as it’s known, can even kill (New Scientist, 13 May 2009, p 30). It has always been assumed that the placebo effect only works if people are conned into believing that they are getting an actual active drug. But now it seems this may not be true. Belief in the placebo effect itself – rather than a particular drug – might be enough to encourage our bodies to heal….
The final talk of the day came from capoeira specialist and political activist Jorge Goia. Goia looked at play and physical games as a way to rediscover the body and rethink relationships. Goia explained the history of capoeira among the Brazilian slaves as a way to disguise their martial arts beneath music and dance, providing an outlet for expression on the physical level, and thereby working to overcome the suppressive forces of society. We then came to understand Soma as it was created by Roberto Freire in Brazil, as an anarchist therapy for activists fighting the military dictatorship in the 1970s. Accordingly, Soma focuses in challenging hierarchical relationships, observing the body as material to talk about collaboration, trust, self-esteem, emotions and feelings. An opportunity to study the micro-political and the everyday through our bodies’ response to certain physical exercises, the sessions work out of a framework which incorporates the theories of Wilhelm Reich, anti-psychiatry, Gestalt, the Afro-Brazilian art form of Capoeira Angola and the practice of self-organisation and solidarity. Soma thereby seeks to inspire skills that can transform the way we perceive the world, re-building the body, its dwelling and livelihood. The collaboration resulting from the shared playfulness (and subsequent reflective dialogue) of soma games stimulates the whole being to engage more fully with the world. The somatic experience places the body at the center of the personal, socio-political, and cultural project of affirming wellness, as we practice taking risks to thrive in healthy ways and be creative in everyday life.
We then ended the day with a standing ovation and smiles all around.
Until the next time!!
1045 Doors Open & welcome tea
1100 Workshops start: Meditation & Kundalini Yoga with Sara Campbell / Viniyoga with Miranda Taylor / Capoeira & Embodiment with Jorge Goia
1230 Lunch in the kitchen
1320 Afternoon welcome and talks intros
1330 Talk 1 - Sara Campbell: From Fear to Freedom - Freediving as a Spiritual Path and Practice
1415 Talk 2 - Miranda Taylor: Beyond the Mind - The Yoga of Attitude
1615 Talk 5 - Jorge Goia: Soma, Capoeira and Activism: Play is a Way to Rediscover the Body and Rethink Relationships
1630 Poem by Lily Ashley
Four-times freediving world record holder, Kundalini yoga, meditation, pranayama teacher.
Sara Campbell is a Kundalini Yoga teacher, and four times World Record-holding freediver. She is the founder of Discover Your Depths, a unique teaching and personal growth philosophy based on yoga, meditation, freediving and mind-body-spirit awareness.
Sara is passionate about people; how they think, love and live. Discover Your Depths is about helping people to realise they have more to give, more to live, that each of us has untapped potential and unexplored, unrealised depths. Sara helps everyone she teaches flick that mental switch from ‘I can’t’, to ‘I can and I will!”
Sara has been practicing Kundalini Yoga since 2003, and attributes her personal practice to her phenomenal success in breathhold diving – from beginner to three-times World Record holder in just nine months (diving to 90m below the surface of the ocean on just one breath!). She is one of only two women (plus a handful of men) to have dived, self-propelled, below 100m on one breath.
Through the mediums of yoga, meditation and breathwork Sara teaches people, both in and out of the water, to live boldly. She is passionate about transformation and helping people achieve their dreams and live more fulfilled, peaceful, joyful, successful, loving, happy lives. Through her Discover Your Depths programme, both in Dahab and online, she has brought hundreds of people to discover their own potential through awareness and breath.
Sara has been the subject of several BBC documentaries, as well as sports, news and lifestyle programmes, and featured in travel, womens’ and sports press internationally.
Sara recently released her first online training programme Yoga for Freediving, and is working on her first book, based on Kundalini meditation and her own personal journey from chronically ill London PR girl, to desert-living, deep-freediving, life-embracing international teacher.
She lives in her chosen hometown of Dahab on the Red Sea in Egypt, where she teaches classes, workshops and retreats. She also teaches, retreats and presents internationally.
“We are not human beings looking for a spiritual experience, We are Spirit having a human experience.” – Yogi Bhajan
Capoeira and Soma specialist and practitioner trained by Roberto Freire
Jorge Goia Jorge came across capoeira in the early 1990s, while working with Roberto Freire, a pioneer in therapeutic uses of capoeira. He then studied Capoeira and Soma in his MA and PhD in Social Psychology, at UERJ, Rio de Janeiro, where he was interested in the changes these two techniques can stimulate, and how the body awareness and skills they develop can affect emotions, feelings and behaviour. He proposed both Soma and Capoeira as a learning process of relational skills, which produce new ways of surviving and living in the world, and as such constructed an approach that goes beyond dualist models of mind/body or individual/society.
Created in Brazil by Roberto Freire as an anarchist therapy for activists fighting the military dictatorship, Soma focuses in challenging hierarchical relationships, observing the body as material to talk about collaboration, trust, self-esteem, emotions and feelings. An opportunity to study the micro-political and the everyday through our bodies’ response to certain physical exercises, the sessions work out of a framework which incorporates the theories of Wilhelm Reich, anti-psychiatry, Gestalt, the Afro-Brazilian art form of Capoeira Angola and the practice of self-organisation and solidarity. Soma seeks to inspire skills that can transform the way we perceive the world, re-building the body, its dwelling and livelihood. The collaboration resulting from the shared playfulness (and subsequent reflective dialogue) of soma games stimulates the whole being to engage more fully with the world. The somatic experience places the body at the center of the personal, socio-political, and cultural project of affirming wellness, as we practice taking risks to thrive in healthy ways and be creative in everyday life.
Award winning science journalist and author, genetics and medical microbiology specialist.
Jo Marchant trained as a scientist and has a PhD in genetics and medical microbiology from St Bartholomew’s Hospital Medical College in London, and an MSc in Science Communication from Imperial College London.
Jo has worked as an editor at New Scientist and at Nature and has written on topics from the future of genetic engineering to underwater archaeology. Her articles have appeared in publications including The New York Times, The Guardian and Smithsonian magazine. She is science editor of the Five Books website.
Her radio and TV appearances include BBC Radio 4’s Start the Week and Today programmes, NPR’s Fresh Air, CNN and National Geographic. She has lectured around the world, including at the Royal Institution in London, the Hay Festival, the Edinburgh Science Festival, the Getty Villa in Los Angeles, the Aspen Ideas Festival and the Dutch-Flemish Institute in Cairo.
Jo is author of Decoding the Heavens: Solving the mystery of the world’s first computer, shortlisted for the 2009 Royal Society Prize for Science Books; The Shadow King: The bizarre afterlife of King Tut’s mummy (June 2013); and the New York Times bestseller Cure: A journey into the science of mind over body (January 2016).
Inspiring Lives Coach and Cognitive Hypnotherapist - leading a deeper journey into true inspired living.
Kirsty Hanly is a Coach and Cognitive Hypnotherapy Master Practitioner, teacher, writer and speaker. She works with individuals from all walks of life who want to be turned on to what it is to live inspired to make a positive impact on the world. Using Cognitive Hypnotherapy, Kirsty is also a specialist in working with stress and anxiety conditions and in helping people release the unconscious blocks that hold them back from living to their full capacity and potential.
Kirsty originally trained at the Quest Insitute in London and is a founder member of 4PC, a curated mastermind group of 25 of the world's leading coaches, with renowned coach Rich Litvin in Los Angeles. She writes regularly for the Huffington Post and has previously been invited to speak at TEDx in London.
Miranda Taylor never wanted to be a yoga teacher, she just had a bad back and was a bit stressed being a Mum and a full-time editor and writer. But when her son had to be home schooled for a year she gave up her job as editor of a travel magazine and began to go to a yoga class to help her back. It worked and she was amazed by her teacher’s approach and skill. In order to learn more about yoga she began to train with Colin Dunsmuir on his legendary four year teacher training course in the Krishnamacharya tradition, and within a few months she found herself teaching family and friends - and really enjoying it! She particularly enjoys teaching one-to-one and Vedic chanting. Now Miranda combines her old job writing and publishing (Desa Publications) with also teaching yoga in west London.
Piccalilli Caff is a wonderful oasis on Surrey Docks Farm. They are open every day and serve delicious, locally sourced fresh produce. Website.