PRE-CONFERENCE WORKSHOPS Friday 1st November

10:00   Introduction by David Lorimer

10:15 Prof Marjorie Woollacott Consciousness and Healing: Can We Reconcile Scientific and Experiential Perspectives?

Professor Marjorie Woollacott

In this workshop, Marjorie Woollacott will lead participants in an in-depth exploration of the nature of consciousness from both the scientific perspective and that of direct experience, discussing how each contributes to a complete understanding of the topic. We will explore together studies on near-death experiences, which validate the presence of clear awareness when there is no brain activity. She will also lead you in discussions regarding the processes that underlie both meditation and healing modalities. In the workshop, you will have the opportunity to explore in small groups your own experiences as well as the implications of this research for our understanding of consciousness and its implications for healing.

Marjorie Woollacott, PhD, is a neuroscience professor emeritus at the University of Oregon and has been a meditator for 40+ years. Her research has been funded by the National Institutes of Health in the US, and she is research director of the International Association for Near-Death Studies (IANDS) and the President of the Academy for the Advancement of Postmaterialist Sciences (AAPS), which explores consciousness as a fundamental component of reality. Her most recent book is Infinite Awareness: The Awakening of a Scientific Mind, in which she shares her own experience of her meditation awakening and her own and other scientific studies on such phenomena as near-death experiences, supporting the premise that consciousness functions beyond the mind. She has also co-authored a popular textbook for health professionals and has written 200+ research articles, several of which were on meditation.

13:00   Lunch

14:15 Prof Betty Kovacs Retrieving Soul from the Pathology of Western Culture

Betty J. Kovács

In the afternoon workshop, Betty Kovács will discuss why the Roman Church waged a centuries-long campaign to destroy Classical culture and all previous spiritual traditions and how this massive destruction of the blueprint for our evolution has resulted in the pervasive pathology of Western culture.  What were these spiritual/scientific secrets so feared by the Church and State but so needed today for the healing of ourselves and the planet?  Betty will present the twentieth-century recovery of these lost shaman-mystic-scientist cultures and show how these traditions 1) discovered and nurtured the blueprint for Christ/Cosmic Consciousness; 2) saw no separation between the mystic and the scientist or the spiritual and the material worlds; 3) saw the individual as the mediator between these worlds; and 4) nurtured techniques for direct experience of this unified reality.  She will show how these underground traditions were the source of each period of Awakening in Western history, including today.  There will be questions/answers and discussion after the talk and Betty will end with an ancient technique for balancing body, mind, and heart with the earth and the cosmos.

Betty J. Kovács received her PhD from the University of California, Irvine, in Comparative Literature and Theory of Symbolic/Mythic Language. She has studied and taught in Europe and the United States. She taught Literature, Writing, and Symbolic/Mythic Language for twenty-five years. She served many years as Chair and Program Chair on the Board of Directors of the Jung Society of Claremont in California and sits on the Academic Advisory Board of Forever Family Foundation. She is author of The Miracle of Death: There is Nothing But Life and Merchants of Light: The Consciousness That is Changing the World.


Friday 7pm – Pre-Conference Film
Journeys to the Edge of Consciousness: Three Psychedelic Trips that Changed the World Forever

Special pre-conference screening of Documentary Film ‘Journeys to the Edge of Consciousness’ + Q&A with director Rob Harper.

Take an animated trip into the depths of the human mind with three brave pioneers of the 1950’s/60’s Aldous Huxley, Timothy Leary and Alan Watts. This part-animated feature length documentary presents three psychedelic trips by these three world-famous authors that together changed them, and Western culture, forever. The film combines stylish, minimalist animation with a rich, immersive soundscape to create a unique cinematic spectacle, inviting you to relive the highs – and the lows – of the psychedelic experience from the edge of your seat. Sixty years later we put these historic trips into a modern context, sitting down with twelve leading current thinkers – including Gabor Maté, Graham Hancock, Dennis McKenna, Rick Doblin, Amanda Feilding and many more – to ask: “What can expanded states of mind teach us about ourselves, the world and our place in it?”
www.journeysmovie.com

NB. Tickets for the pre-conference film are booked separately from the conference ticket. £10 + booking fee for students, £12 + booking fee standard price. Click here to go to Eventbrite booking page for the film.

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CONFERENCE PROGRAMME – Saturday 2nd November

9.30am Rupert Sheldrake, PhD – Ways to go Beyond and Why they Work: Science and Spiritual Practices 

This talk is based on the themes of Rupert Sheldrake’s recent books, Ways to Go Beyond and Science and Spiritual Practices in which he looks at fourteen spiritual practices that are personally transformative and have scientifically measurable effects.  All provide ways of going beyond our everyday states of mind into a sense of a greater conscious presence, bliss, fuller understanding, or deep connectedness. Sheldrake is both a scientist and a spiritual explorer, and discusses practices that are not normally thought of as spiritual, such as participation in sports, learning from animals and psychedelic experiences, as well as more traditional practices like meditation, fasting, praying, pilgrimage and being kind. He asks why these practices work. Are their effects ‘all inside the brain’ and essentially illusory?  Or can we really make contact with forms of consciousness greater than our own? Sheldrake suggests that we can. 

Dr Rupert Sheldrake is a biologist and author of more than 90 technical papers and nine books, including The Science Delusion, and the co-author of six books. As a Fellow of Clare College, Cambridge, he was Director of Studies in Cell Biology, and was also a Research Fellow of the Royal Society. He worked in Hyderabad, India, as Principal Plant Physiologist at the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT), and also lived for two years in the Benedictine ashram of Fr Bede Griffiths on the bank of the river Cauvery in Tamil Nadu. From 2005-2010, he was Director of the Perrott-Warrick Project for the study of unexplained human and animal abilities, funded from Trinity College, Cambridge. He is currently a Fellow of the Institute of Noetic Sciences in Petaluma, California and of Schumacher College in Dartington, Devon. His web site is www.sheldrake.org


11.10 Professor Marjorie Woollacott – Impossible Truths: Exploring Research at the Boundary where Neuroscience and Mystical Experience Meet 

Professor Marjorie Woollacott

At the beginning of her professional career, neuroscientist and researcher, Dr. Marjorie Woollacott had no doubt that the brain was solely a physical entity and was controlled by chemical reactions and electrical impulses. She was sure that the loss of brain activity meant the end of existence. The first time she meditated, however, she had a glimpse of another possibility—an undeniable experience of unlikely and uncharted energy. Since this time Dr. Woollacott has been actively exploring research on the nature of consciousness. Through her integration of data from objective science and subjective spirituality, Woollacott breaks open the issue of human consciousness and investigates the existence of the non-physical and infinitely powerful human mind. In this talk Dr. Woollacott shares her own research and key studies from other laboratories supporting a non-dual reality, in which consciousness is primary. She will discuss studies on the mystical experiences of meditators, near-death experiences, and new approaches to end-of-life care.

Marjorie Woollacott, PhD, is a neuroscience professor emeritus at the University of Oregon and has been a meditator for 40+ years. Her research has been funded by the National Institutes of Health in the US, and she is Research Director of the International Association for Near-Death Studies (IANDS) and the President of the Academy for the Advancement of Postmaterialist Sciences (AAPS), which explores consciousness as a fundamental component of reality. Her most recent book is Infinite Awareness: The Awakening of a Scientific Mind, in which she shares her own experience of her meditation awakening and her own and other scientific studies on such phenomena as near- death experiences, supporting the premise that consciousness functions beyond the mind. She has also co-authored a popular textbook for health professionals and has written 200+ research articles, several of which were on meditation. Her website is www.marjoriewoollacott.com


2.00pm Dr David Luke and Amanda Fielding in conversation Psychedelics beyond and within the Brain

Amanda Feilding is the founder and executive director of the Beckley Foundation, and has been called the ‘hidden hand’ behind the renaissance of psychedelic research, and her contribution to global drug policy has also been pivotal and widely acknowledged. By establishing key research collaborations with some of the world’s most prestigious universities, she has propelled the field forward over the last 20 years, conducting several landmark studies, such as the world’s first LSD brain imaging study. Amanda set up the Beckley Foundation in 1998 with two main aims: firstly, to investigate consciousness and its changing states and secondly, to reform global drug policy by developing evidence-based, health-oriented, harm-reducing, cost-effective drug policies which respect human rights. Through her work with the Beckley Foundation, Amanda is bridging the gap between science and policy, allowing them to complement and inform one another, ultimately harnessing our knowledge of the benefits of many prohibited substances to maximise human wellbeing and potential.

Dr David Luke is Senior Lecturer in Psychology at the University of Greenwich where he has been teaching an undergraduate course on the Psychology of Exceptional Human Experience since 2009. His research focuses on transpersonal experiences, anomalous phenomena and altered states of consciousness, especially via psychedelics, having published more than 100 academic papers in this area, including seven books, most recently Otherworlds: Psychedelics and Exceptional Human Experience (2017). David is also director of the Ecology, Cosmos and Consciousness salon at the Institute of Ecotechnics, London, and is a cofounder and director of Breaking Convention: International Conference on Psychedelic Consciousness. He lives life on the edge – of Sussex.


3.30pm Sonic Enchantment with Fabio GarcesSound Meditation Journey

A unique sound journey integrating sacred sounds, shamanic practices, binaural frequencies and music technology to bring you into a deeply meditative and restorative state of consciousness. With over 10 years experience in this field. Fabio has created a truly unique and transformational experience. Sonic Enchantment is a live musical and multi-sensory experience, which brings listeners on a journey of the mind, body and soul. A mixture of old world and new world technology, The resulting effect serves to create personal experiences that span a wide range of transformative benefits such as restoration and the re-emergence of balance and inner calm. Merging a background in music production, sound design and his own journey with various meditation practices from around the world, Fabio Garces has spent the last decade researching and developing this project. Exploring the field of cymatics, acoustic therapies, solfeggio frequencies, ancient Egyptian, Tibetan, South American, Central American, shamanic and sound healing practices to develop an approach that combines modern acoustic technology with ancient sound healing.


4.30pm Exclusive Live Interview with Ken Wilber Towards an Integral Understanding of Consciousness

Ken Wilber

Often referred to as the “Einstein of consciousness studies”, Ken Wilber is a pre-eminent scholar of the Integral stage of human development. He is an internationally acknowledged leader, founder of Integral Institute, and co-founder of Integral Life. Ken is the originator of a comprehensive or integrative philosophy, aptly named “Integral Theory.” As Wilber himself puts it: “I’d like to think of it as one of the first believable world philosophies” — something that is becoming increasingly necessary in order to navigate and thrive in today’s world. Incorporating cultural studies, anthropology, systems theory, developmental psychology, biology, and spirituality, Integral Theory has been applied in fields as diverse as ecology, sustainability, psychotherapy, psychiatry, education, business, medicine, politics, sports, and art.

Wilber explains the need for an Integral Approach in the following way: in our current post-modern world, we possess an abundance of methodologies and practices belonging to a multitude of fields and knowledge traditions. What is utterly lacking however, is a coherent organization, and coordination of all these various practices, as well as their respective data-sets. What is needed is an approach that moves beyond this indiscriminate eclectic-pluralism, to an “Integral Methodological Pluralism” — driving toward a genuine “theory of everything” that helps to enrich and deepen every field through an understanding of exactly how and where each one fits in relation to all the others.

In short, the Integral Approach is the coherent organization, coordination, and harmonization of all of the relevant practices, methodologies, and experiences available to human beings. Through the Integral approach, we reveal the previously unseen possibilities for a better, more compassionate, and more sustainable future for all of us.

Ken Wilber is one of the most important philosophers in the world today. He is the most widely translated academic writer in America, with 25 books translated into some 30 foreign languages. He currently lives in Denver, Colorado, and is still active as a philosopher, author, and teacher, with all of his major publications still in print. Ken Wilber is also the founder of the Integral Institute, which is the first organization fully dedicated to advancement and application of the Integral Approach in relation to contemporary global issues. It was formed in collaboration with over 200 scholars and experts, specializing in education, politics, business, medicine, psychology, spirituality, as well as, law and criminal justice.


CONFERENCE PROGRAMME – Sunday 3rd November

9.30am Professor Chris Roe and Evelyn Elsaesser – Investigation of the phenomenology and impact of spontaneous and direct After-Death Communications (ADC)

A spontaneous After-Death Communication (ADC) occurs when a mourner unexpectedly perceives a deceased person through the senses of sight, hearing, smell, or touch. Very commonly, experients solely “feel the presence” of the deceased person or perceive a contact or a communication during sleep or hypnagogic states. Spontaneous ADCs occur frequently, with an estimated 30-50% of mourners having experienced one or more spontaneous ADCs. Testimonies collected in different countries and since the last century suggest this phenomenon to be universal and timeless. Whatever the ontological status of spontaneous ADCs might be, they are perceived as real by a great number of persons and therefore certainly deserve their place on the consciousness research agenda.

The objective of this 2-year research project is to gain a better understanding of the phenomenology and the impact of spontaneous and direct After-Death Communications. On the basis of a specially designed online questionnaire, the data are expected to provide insights into the profile of the experients; the profile of the deceased person supposedly initiating the contact; the circumstances of occurrence; the type, unfolding and message of perceived ADCs; and their impact on experients. The outcome should permit disclosure of this hidden social phenomenon to the scientific community and the public by means of publications, conferences, and media events.

Prof Chris Roe, PhD teaches at the University of Northampton on parapsychology and the psychology of anomalous experience, neuroscience and consciousness, and spirituality and health. His research interests focus on understanding the nature of anomalous experiences, the psychology of paranormal belief and the phenomenology of paranormal experience as well as experimental approaches to test claims for extrasensory perception and psychokinesis, particularly where they involve psychological factors. Chris is a Board member of the Parapsychological Association, a Council Member of the Society for Psychical Research and the International Affiliate for England of the Parapsychology Foundation. He edits the Journal of the Society for Psychical Research and is on the Editorial Board for the European Journal of Parapsychology. He is the lead researcher in this major study of After Death Communications.

Evelyn Elsaesser is an expert on death-related experiences, notably Near-death experiences (NDEs) and spontaneous and direct after-death communications (ADCs). She is the author of numerous books, articles and book chapters on these topics, including Lessons from the Light, co-authored with Kenneth Ring, On the Other Side of Life, and Talking with Angel about Illness, Death and Survival. Her latest book Quand les défunts viennent à nous is dedicated to spontaneous and direct ADCs. Evelyn Elsaesser is co-founder and member of the Executive Committee of Swiss IANDS (International Association for Near-Death Studies) and coordinator for Europe of IANDS. She has served for many years as coordinator of the Swiss branch of the Scientific and Medical Network (SMN).


11.10am Professor Betty Kovacs Death and the New Consciousness

Betty J. Kovács

Our species is dreaming a dream to heal itself: we are experiencing consciousness beyond death and we are discovering a science that helps us understand our multidimensional experience.  Together, the mystic and the scientist are constructing the scaffolding for a new, inclusive consciousness on which our survival now depends.

Betty J. Kovács received her PhD from the University of California, Irvine, in Comparative Literature and Theory of Symbolic/Mythic Language. She has studied and taught in Europe and the United States. She taught Literature, Writing, and Symbolic/Mythic Language for twenty-five years. She served many years as Chair and Program Chair on the Board of Directors of the Jung Society of Claremont in California and sits on the Academic Advisory Board of Forever Family Foundation. She is author of The Miracle of Death: There is Nothing But Life and Merchants of Light: The Consciousness That is Changing the World.


1.45pm Steve Taylor Spiritual Science: How a ‘Panspiritist’ Perspective Can Help Make Sense of the World

Steve Taylor PhD

Steve will introduce his philosophy of ‘panspiritism,’ as described in his recent book Spiritual Science. The standard materialist model of science has had little success in explaining such areas as human consciousness, the connection between the mind and the body, altruism, evolution and ‘anomalous’ phenomena such as near-death experiences, psi phenomena and spiritual experiences. It has also led to a widespread sense of nihilism. Steve will describe how a ‘panspiritist’ perspective (which assumes that the essential quality of the universe is fundamental consciousness, or spirit) can make sense of these phenomena, and provide a much more coherent understanding of reality and human behaviour. It is vitally important that, as a culture, we move beyond materialism and adopt a ‘post-materialist’ perspective such as panspiritism.

Steve Taylor PhD is the author of several best-selling books on psychology and spirituality, and is a senior lecturer in psychology at Leeds Beckett University. He is the current chair of the Transpersonal Psychology Section of the British Psychological Society. His books include Waking From Sleep, The Fall, Out of the Darkness, The Leap and his new book Spiritual Science: Why Science Needs Spirituality to Make Sense of the World. His books have been published in 20 languages and Eckhart Tolle has described his work as ‘an important contribution to the shift in consciousness which is happening on our planet at present. His website is www.stevenmtaylor.com


2.30pm – Movement and sound meditation session with Seth Newman and URUBU


3.45pm Professor Stephen BraudeMechanistic Errors in Consciousness Research

Professor Stephen Braude

Many people believe that scientific orthodoxy fails to deal adequately with the nature (and very reality) of consciousness. And probably most of those people also believe that this failure has to do with a matter of hardware–namely, that science takes the fundamental ‘stuff’ of nature to be physical and governed by strictly physical laws. But a deeper problem, in my view, is that traditional scientific efforts to accommodate the realm of the mental rely on mechanistic forms of explanation. The flaws in that strategy are hardware-independent and could just as easily subvert dualistic and idealistic theories–and even theories, such as Sheldrake’s theory of formative causation, believed (erroneously) to avoid the pitfalls of mechanism. I will explain what a mechanistic explanation is and discuss several key manifestations of flawed mechanistic thinking in science generally and consciousness research in particular.

Stephen E. Braude is an American philosopher and parapsychologist. He is a past president of the Parapsychological Association, Editor-in-Chief of the Journal of Scientific Exploration, and a professor of philosophy at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County. He has written a number of books including: First-Person Plural: Multiple Personality and the Philosophy of Mind; Immortal Remains: The Evidence for Life after Death and
The Gold Leaf Lady and Other Parapsychological Investigations