Turning water into wine. What makes a good seminar exceptional.
Robert Henderson on a series of three subtle energy workshops, which took place in the fall of 2021 in Warsaw.
Three ingredients are always needed to create any seminar you may be interested in attending:
1. Seminar content
From the point-of-view of the student it is the seminar’s (proposed) content that is understandably the most important factor, yet, as a teacher, when looking back at a really successful seminar, it is the blend in the mix of all three aspects that determines whether the seminar ends up being just an ordinary, everyday good one, or a really exceptional experience.
And exceptional is what happened in Warsaw over three weekends in 2021.
Here’s how it happened.
Subtle energy, or energy, is not theory. It is the life-force running through your body. And as life-force, it encompasses all aspects of life: past, present and future and is made up of physical energy, mental energy, emotional energy and spiritual energy. All running through your body at the same time and all creating various reactions in your body as they do so.
your body at the same time and all creating various reactions in your body as they do so. When thinking about energy, it is normal to think of it as some form of positive force, rushing through you, pushing you ever forward. And, yes, that is one very clear example of energy. But sometimes energy can do the exact opposite. Instead of pushing you forward, it can slow you down or even hold you back. Instead of lighting you up like a Christmas tree, it can sometimes make you feel as if something has just pulled the plug on you. This is contrast, duality, or the black and white nature of life. There has to be contrast, as without contrast, there is no life; there is nothing to feel. Sometimes it feels good and sometimes not so .
With the potential of energy being so large, so vast, when teaching a student about it, there is absolutely no point in trying to explain it, in trying to theorize it, in trying to conceptualize it. In order for the student to understand what energy is, you have to let the student experience what it is. Because, when you experience it, when you actually feel it running through your body and you know what type of energy it is, which is the role of the teacher to tell you which energy it is, then you ‘get’ it, then you understand it, then you know it. So, the first part of the seminar is always to help you to feel the different energies in your body. This is achieved through four energy-focussed exercises:
- Tesla Plates.
- Chakra scanning.
- Foot massage.
The Tesla Plates exercise is the placing of 7 small metallic plates, known as Tesla Plates, on each of your 7 main energy centres, known as your chakras. Each plate is manufactured in a way as to emit a very small electro-magnetic field, so that when placed on one of your chakras, it gently stimulates the energy present within that chakra so that you can feel it resonate inside you. You may typically feel this as a tingling or as a warming forming in the area of your chakra. Once your chakras have been gently activated this way, we move on to a Chakra Scanning exercise in which a practice partner holds their hands about 20cm above each of your chakras to see if they can pick up on any energy being emitted by that chakra. Similar to the results of the Tesla Plates exercise, your partner may pick up feelings of warmth or tingling on their hands. But where this exercise differs is that the chakras of the receiver become additionally activated by the energy in the hands of the practice partner and this activates the chakra on a deeper level, bringing deeper reaction, such as memories or pictures or colours in your mind’s eye. This is the beginning of the process of a deeper understanding of the self and it is the role of the teacher to help you interpret what it is you feel or see in your mind’s eye.
Colouring is an exercise which enables you to connect to energy in the form of colour, for instance the energy of red (strength, grounding), the energy of green (love) or the energy of purple (the cosmos and the universe).
And finally, the foot massage exercise. This is a simple foot massage exercise to see if you can pick up on the energy of your practice partner through their feet and if so, what that energy tells you about the health of your client.
As you can see from these exercises, the focus is to help you to feel different types of energy in the body and from that experience to learn the effects different types of energy have on the body. This is energy work as opposed to bodywork. In bodywork, you learn massage technique, structure and routine.
In energy work, you learn how to go inside yourself, and inside the body of your client, and to feel what is inside; and from that experience to learn more about yourself and your client.
And the connection the student makes to themselves or to their practice partner in class, marks the first quality point of the seminar, when the content of the seminar speaks directly to the student, when it resonates inside them. In their body. In their heart. In their mind. In their soul. And when it goes that deep, it changes things. It changes your perceptions.
As with any seminar on bodywork or energy work, there are two types of students. Those who think and those who do. Those who think and those who do.
By means of explanation, let’s take the example of palming and thumbing the energy lines in Thai massage. The thinker will palm and thumb the energy lines according to the location and running of the energy lines as taught at school. And there’s nothing wrong with that. That’s how we all learn.
The doer, on the other hand, can feel in a client if the location and running of their energy lines do not correspond to the ways they are meant to, in accordance with all the energy line drawings in the Thai massage textbooks. And this is actually the way it is. In many cases – I would even go so far as to say in most cases – the energy lines, especially in the areas of the legs and pelvis simply do not correspond to their illustrations in the books. The doer, the person following with their feelings and intuition can sense this but the thinker cannot. The thinker will pursue the lines in the locations where they think they are, or think they should be, yet the lines, for whatever reason, are not there.
This is often why energy work, and by extension energy work seminars, can be difficult for the thinker, as the experience of energy can sometimes become very different to the expectation of what they think energy should be. They need to be shown what exercise to do on the energy line rather than be told the energy line is not there. Because they can’t feel the latter.
And for whatever the reasons, and there can be many and varied, Hania, my host in Warsaw, brought together a class of students who were mostly doers. In doing so, she helped the class flow. And this makes for a far better learning experience for all.
But it wasn’t just the doers who made this seminar special.
Some students who came to the seminar were not there to learn. They were there for reasons deeper than learning. To have questions answered. To receive deep reassurance. To receive necessary support. To be re-connected to the part of them that knows everything is going to be OK.
This is a very particular extension of The Law of Attraction, whereby a student comes to a seminar without reason, or with a pre-conceived notion of a reason, only to discover in the middle of the seminar the real, true reason for coming. This is the gold in a seminar. And in Warsaw, there was a lot of gold!!
And finally the location.
Not necessarily the physical space. More the energy of the space, often set by the person who owns the space. Also, more the energy of the city itself, Warsaw, and even more, the energy of the country, Poland.
Anybody who knows energy work will know what I am talking about.
If you, as a teacher, have personal liberation and personal empowerment for your students at the core of your teaching – as I do – and you end up being invited to a location where the dominant energy is one of control, if for example the owner of the location, let’s say it’s a yoga studio, set up the yoga studio so they could be the centre of attraction in front of a group of people, then, energetically you and your class are going to struggle against that energy, as you are trying to grow liberation in an atmosphere of control.
So, the energy of the location where you teach has to fit the energy of what you are trying to teach. And again, in Warsaw, thanks to Hania, this hidden, often ignored aspect of a successful seminar, fired on all cylinders. And that is why Warsaw 2021 worked.
The course content matched, for the large part, the wants and needs of the students. The students matched the needs of the seminar as they were mostly doers and not thinkers. There was gold in the seminar. Some students were deeply moved and helped. And the energy of the seminar location supported what was trying to be achieved over the three weekends.
The three aspects. Fitting together. Supporting each other. Creating something very special. In energy work, that doesn’t often happen. But in Warsaw 2021 it did. And there is no reason why it won’t happen again in 2022.