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Sophia Center
Sophia Center for Culture and Spirituality - a wisdom center celebrating Earth, Art and Spirituality

Forums and Three-Day Intensives

The Sophia Center regularly invites from the community artists, activists, ritual makers, theologians, ecologists and other contemporary spiritual leaders to share their wisdom and bring fresh perspective to the students and faculty.

LOCATION: Sophia Center Classroom (at Chapel level, look for signs —
see the Visitors Map)
Holy Names University, 3500 Mountain Boulevard, Oakland, CA

ADMISSION (unless otherwise noted): $15 General, $12 Seniors & Students
R.S.V.P. 510-436-1046 or 800-794-8813

Public Forums

Thursday, february 6 — 1:30- 4:00 PM

Attuning to the Earth Goddess - Patterns in art and archaeology
Unity, ecstasy, beauty, harmony, truth!

How is it that our culture has abandoned the ancient reverence for and harmony with nature? It is a condition that gives rise to many of the problems we experience, ranging from environmental damage to personal feelings of separation from each other. Scientific materialism has so caught us in its sway. How do we find our way beyond this recent lapse in the traditional understanding of life’s mysteries? How do we re-establish our natural ecstatic connection? Artist Christopher Castle brings his experience of sacred landscapes and ancient traditions to show how working with natural rhythms was once the basis of social and individual order. He will introduce exercises for developing this awareness. In his paintings Christopher explores the annual cycles of birth, growth, dissolution and regeneration that are evident in the old patterns of country life.

Christopher Castle is a British-born environmental artist. He exhibits widely in Europe and the U.S. In his paintings and graphic works he explores many ancient landscape traditions through studies at ancient sites, delving into ways cultures have related to their place, the land and nature, and applying the concepts in his art. Castle exhibits his paintings and prints widely in the U.S. and Europe. Alongside his studio work Castle teaches at schools in the San Francisco Bay Area bringing environmental art courses to hundreds of students every year under the auspices of Berkeley’s Kala Art Institute. Please go to his website for more information and his full resume.

thursday, march 20— 1:30- 4:00 PM

The Divine Uncertainty Principle:  Teachings from Kabbalah & Depth Psychology on the Wisdom of "Not Knowing"

Kabbalah teaches that there are fifty gates of understanding and at the summit of this ladder is a level of consciousness known as "not knowing." Here, thoughts and thinking stop and consciousness rests in the vast spaciousness of infinite beingness. "Not knowing," however, is not always so easy to embrace. Though it is the key to all new learning and growing, it requires the ability to bear uncertainty. In this seminar we will explore wisdom teachings from Kabbalah, depth psychology and other spiritual traditions on how we can stay open to this essential mystery in our personal, professional and spiritual lives.

ESTELLE FRANKEL, MFT, is a psychotherapist, spiritual adviser, and seasoned teacher of Jewish mysticism who blends depth psychology with the wisdom and healing practices of Kabbalah. She is the author of Sacred Therapy: Jewish Spiritual Teachings on Emotional Healing & Inner Wholeness.

thursday, april 10— 1:30- 4:00 PM

What is Yin Yoga? How Can it Deepen Meditation?

How does Yin Yoga nourish our bodies, stimulate our qi (energy), benefit the mind-heart, and prepare us for seated meditation? Join yoga and mindfulness meditation teacher Mary Wade for an introduction to Yin Yoga practice and learn how it can enhance ease and wakefulness in meditation and daily life. Because Yin Yoga cultivates self-acceptance, reflection and inner awareness, it is an excellent balance to other yogic and mind-body disciplines that stimulate action and expression. Yin Yoga is valuable for anyone interested in living whole-heartedly. The practices, approaches, and philosophy known today as Yin Yoga were developed by Paul Grilley, based on his study of ancient Taoist yoga and its descriptions of energy meridians. Westerners may be familiar with energy meridians through acupuncture.

Mary Wade, M.J., has taught Mindfulness-based Stress Reduction, founded by Jon Kabat-Zinn, PhD, at Commonweal retreats for health professionals and integrated health centers since 1997. She is a certified yoga instructor. Mary continues to pursue advanced study of asana, meditation, pranayama, insight dialogue and yogic and Buddhist philosophies with Sarah Powers and other Insight Yoga Institute faculty, as well as with the Center for Mindfulness, University of Massachusetts School of Medicine. She is also a published medical writer and research associate at UCSF, Family & Community Medicine.

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3-Day Intensives

april 3, 4, & 7

Thursday 1:30 pm-4:00pm | Friday 9:30am-12:00pm | Monday 9:30am-12:00pm

American Sacred: The Homegrown Mystics, Practical Idealists and Prophetic Voices Who Shaped America's Spiritual Traditions

When European “settlers” first reached North America, a quintessentially American Spirituality began to declare itself – a living stream of visionaries and reformers whose stories mirror the wrenching complexities of our history:  John Woolman, Sojourner Truth, Margaret Fuller, John Muir, Dorothy Day, Howard Thurman, Gary Snyder and Sister Helen Prejean.

Carol Lee Flinders, PhD, has a doctorate in Comparative Literature from UC Berkeley, She has taught there and at the Graduate Theological Union.  She is the author of Enduring Grace:  Living Portraits of Seven Women Mystics, At the Root of This Longing:  Reconciling a Spiritual Hunger and a Feminist Thirst, and Enduring Lives:  Women and Faith in Action.

Tim Flinders, MA, lectures on mysticism and contemplative spirituality in the Sophia Center program on Culture and Spirituality.  He is the author of Sacred Surround:  An Introduction to the Thought and Spirituality of Thomas Berry and John Muir:  Spiritual Writings (Orbis Books)



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