Courses Overview >> Short courses >> Bringing Health Down to Earth: Wellbeing through Nature, Ritual and Community

Bringing Health Down to Earth: Wellbeing through Nature, Ritual and Community

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Course dates: 
Monday, 19 October, 2015 to Friday, 23 October, 2015

With Bayo Akomolafe, Ijeoma (Ej) Clement-Akomolafe and special guests Charles Eisenstein and Frederique Apffel-Marglin (by videolink)

Is today’s health industry actually making us healthier, livelier and happier?

The narrative from the World Health Organization (WHO) suggests that the picture of global health is improving – thanks to advances in technology, health research, and the globalising economic paradigms that promise poverty will become a thing of the past. With an air of scientific certitude, WHO states that ‘average life expectancy at birth in 1955 was just 48 years; in 1995 it was 65 years; in 2025 it will reach 73 years.’

However, a more disturbing storyline muddles the waters, as reported in this excerpt from a recent study: ‘a new global tally of health finds that only about 4 percent of people worldwide had no health problems in 2013, while a third -- about 2.3 billion people -- had more than five health problems. And the situation is getting worse, not better: Worldwide, the proportion of years of healthy life people lost because of illness (rather than simply dying earlier) rose from 21 percent in 1990 to 31 percent in 2013, according to the Global Burden of Disease study…The number of people who will be living with health problems will rise rapidly over coming decades’[1].

Against the popular idea that the future of health is promising, and in spite of our feverish quests for health solutions and technological upgrades, it seems our very lives – and our weak and ravaged bodies – point to a painful conspiracy: we are getting sicker.

This course is an exploration of the politics of health, and how the exploitation of cultures and disruption of ecosystems, the practice of patenting, the influence of big money and an endless cycle of work, the mass production of pills, and the toxification of food have led to more epidemics, an estrangement from our own bodies, and deeper anxiety.

This course will look at:

  • how our civilisation – built on the myth that nature is separate from culture – divorces us from the vibrancy of the world;
  • how what we see as ‘health’ fosters the idea that the world is cut up into discrete, individual ‘sectors’ or ‘problem fields’ (separate from the sacred, politics, economics or even the cosmic), and that all we need to do is think up related solutions;
  • and, how the ‘future’ of health lies in re-sacralising our collaboration with the earth, with community, and with new rituals that produce new realities.

This week-long course is for those who feel our current story about physical health and mental wellness is no longer serving us. It is for those who think that we need a new ethics of wounded-ness, a living story about the universe, and a new way of reconceptualising and speaking about sickness. Ej and Bayo, who self-identify as recovering biotechnologist and clinical psychologist respectively, both insist that health as isolation is not enough, and must give way to health as entanglement.

Participants will be part of an un/learning journey and exploration into:

  • The modern, artificial, economy-induced distance between food and medicine
  • Reconfiguring health not as a discrete entity, but as an arrangement, and an enactment of multiple agencies
  • Reclaiming our independence from big pharmaceutical industries and the story that we are only well off with the health industry
  • The politics of health and wellbeing
  • Changing the questions and assumptions that reinforce the cycle of destruction that destroy/estrange our bodies
  • Sharing our experiences with sustaining/losing our bodies
  • What we can do collectively to re-entangle ourselves with the nonhuman world, with community, and with the sacred

This will be a rich week of exploration touching on issues such as the meaning of sanity, the benefits of a slower life, the wisdom of Tibetan medicine, honouring our roots as a form of healing, medication versus traditional healing, pregnancy and childbirth rituals, the economics of health and the myths that perpetrate our separation from nature.

We invite you to join Ej and Bayo, clinical psychologist and poet, and their guests, on this expedition into the magical vibrancy and aliveness of things. With this course, we hope to rekindle a love lost, re-entangle us with the earth and with community, and co-learn techniques that increase our fluency and porosity. With shared stories to inspire, experiential quests into the hearts of ritual, playful experiments and exercises that summon and sustain new practices, we will together come down to earth.

Teachers

Bayo Akomolafe

Adebayo Akomolafe (PhD) is a young clinical psychologist, lecturer and author from Covenant University in Nigeria. Author, poet, international speaker, Bayo is the Special Envoy of the International Alliance for Localization, a project of Local Futures. Bayo is globally recognized for his poetic, unconventional, counterintuitive, and indigenous take on global crisis, civic action and social change, and was recently enlisted as the recipient of the Global Excellence Award (Civil Society) 2014 by FutureShapers (California). He is the Coordinating Curator for The Emergence Network, a post-activist project seeking to trouble the discourse on change and contemporary activism, as well as the facilitator of 'We will dance with Mountains: Writing as a tool for Emergence', an online course (course.bayoakomolafe.net). You can know more about Bayos work by visiting bayoakomolafe.net (Linkedin: https://ng.linkedin.com/in/bayoakomolafe)

Disenchanted with the single story about wellness and being he had received via his Eurocentric clinical training, Bayo has embarked on a quest to seek out the less-than-obvious stories his own people have told for hundreds of years. He has met with Yoruba shaman-priests who speak glowingly about the vibrancy of the nonhuman world, the limitations of human agency and identity, and a more holistic notion of prosperity and abundance. They have taught him the limitations of ‘the white man’s pills’ and urged a collective shift from the hubris of modernity to a deepened alliance with the web of life, saying: ‘In other to find your way, you must lose it’. Bayo has learned to recognise that the powerful experiences associated with mental disorders have deeper significance, and could be our strongest allies in our quest to live in a more beautiful world.

Ej Clement-Akomolafe

Ijeoma ‘Ej’ Clement-Akomolafe is a prolific author, speaker, lecturer in Applied Biology and Biotechnology at Covenant University, Nigeria.

In 2013, soon after giving birth to their first child and daughter, Ej started to experience excruciating pains in her belly, pains which made it impossible for her to dedicate herself to her work as a lecturer and ethnopharmacological researcher. The doctors examined her and discovered stones in her gallbladder and urged her to consider undergoing a laparascopic gallbladder removal procedure. Distraught and worried about the life-change consequences of such a procedure Ej sought the opinion of a Tibetan healer. His fingers throbbing mildly on what seemed to be imaginary lines and mysterious coordinates on Ej’s arm, the healer gently disclosed details about Ej’s condition to her – details he couldn’t possibly have known. Months later, after following the advice of the healer to slow down, and eat certain herbs, Ej recovered completely.

Charles Eisenstein

Charles is a teacher, speaker, and writer focusing on themes of civilization, consciousness, money, and human cultural evolution. His on-line writings have generated a vast following; he speaks frequently at conferences and other events, and gives numerous interviews on radio and podcasts.

Eisenstein graduated from Yale University in 1989 with a degree in Mathematics and Philosophy, and spent the next ten years as a Chinese-English translator. He currently lives near Harrisburg, Pennsylvania with his wife and four sons.

For more information on Charles Eisenstein, his books and for videos and audio clips, visit http://charleseisenstein.net/ (link is external) (link is external)

Frederique Apffel-Marglin

In Subversive Spiritualities, Frédérique Apffel-Marglin draws on a lifetime of work with the indigenous peoples of Peru and India to support her argument that the beliefs, values, and practices of such traditional peoples are ''eco-metaphysically true.'' In other words, they recognize that human beings are in communion with other beings in nature that have agency and are kinds of spiritual intelligences, with whom humans can be in relationship and communion. Ritual is the medium for communicating, reciprocating, creating and working with the other-than-humans, who daily remind the humans that the world is not for humans' exclusive use. Apffel-Marglin argues that when such relationships are appropriately robust, human lifeways are rich, rewarding and, in the contemporary jargon, environmentally sustainable. Her ultimate objective is to ''re-entangle'' humans in nature, by promoting a spirituality and ecology of belonging and connection to nature, and an appreciation of animistic perception and ecologies.

Fee: 
£ 795.00
Course fees include private accommodation, all meals, field trips, materials and all teaching sessions.