with author Jules Pashall at book launch for Diverse Bodies
CIIS seems like an oasis in the midst of the wreckages all about us, a community of nearly 2000 visionaries—faculty, staff, students, administrators—literally from all over the world. It came together originally, like Esalen, under the umbrella of the Indian anti-colonial philosopher Sri Aurobindo who envisaged a world where all the wisdom teachings were gathered and shared in a common education project rather than carrying on old ideological battles. It has slowly evolved from a dialogue between “East” and “West” to include “North and South” and all the in-betweens, urging forward our communal inquiries to look for the sparks of wisdom wherever they are being kindled, and nurturing their flaming forth to find their rightful place in shaping a more humane and just world.
The late Michael Kahn and I created The Somatics masters degree program in 1983 prompted by 2 goals:.
- To contribute to the construction of the Somatics field by establishing a collaborative education, research, and accredited educational program; and
- To afford some publicly sanctioned professional degree that would both provide a more predictable income for the many gifted individuals trained in healing skills, in addition to the dangers of practicing healing modalities without some kind of license.
The then newly formed California Board of Behavioral Sciences offering the MFT license was a viable choice.
CIIS offered an important context where we could fully address what might be called the transcendental or spiritual aspects of the body, dimensions that radiate out beyond the simple relief of human suffering, the profound states of consciousness accessed through attentive and sustained body practices. So many of us have had our spiritual yearnings nurtured by our practices of breathing, touching, sensing and moving. And yet, how to articulate such unfamiliar dimensions in a dualistic culture. CIIS is a place where many thoughtful people are engaging that conversation from different angles.
As the first graduate degree program in the field, and with the support of CIIS’s Public Programs, we have also become something of a think-tank for the development of the field, attracting many of the seminal creators: Lillemor Johnson, Ilse Middendorf, Charlotte Selver, Marion Rosen, Peter Levine, Ilana Rubenfeld, Anna Halprin, Bonnie Bainbridge Cohen, Emilie Conrad Da’Oud, Stanley Keleman, Robert Hall and Thomas Pope, Gerda Alexander, and Carola Speads, to name only the generation that is rapidly coming to an end.