ONTOPO : Memorial Day Weekend, Catskills Zendo

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Ontopo brings together artists and creatives in an informal learning environment that is site-specific, multi-disciplinary, and cross-platform.

Ontopo projects are participatory and based in socio-ecological exchange. Participants explore the mechanics and aesthetics of collective performance, with opportunities to workshop new artworks and courses. As an open collective, Ontopo’s form fluctuates in relation to location and participation. The goal is to engender a multi-sensory, multi-disciplinary collective event that merges production with exhibition, work with play, design with art, and performer with audience.


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Ontopo is pleased to present Ontopo Catskill Zendo, SS18 an overnight temple stay with Kathleen Kim, Helga Fassonaki, Jon Santos, Nelleke, AHARAW, Ai Lin, Ben Thorp Brown and Daniel Ryan. The stay, which includes group dinner and breakfast, will take place at Catskill Zendo, a Korean Buddhist Temple in Summitville, NY.

This intentional gathering focuses on the place of the sanctuary, as both a physical/architectural and mental/spiritual phenomenon. We will deconstruct Zendo temple as a structural sanctuary and devise metaphysical sanctuaries through sound, meditation, and vision. In doing so, we consider how modalities of sanctuary affect our well being as embodied and political subjects.

The retreat opens with a group dinner followed by a screening of Ben Thorp Brown’s Gropius Memory Palace and night of performance. The film features guided hypnotherapy by Daniel Ryan, inviting viewers to construct a ‘memory palace’ as they experience Walter Gropius’s iconic Fagus Factory. The film offers an opportunity to soothe anxieties around technology’s effects on the body and workplace, and to consider the relationship between memory and architecture. The screening segues into experimental music performances by Helga Fassonaki, Kathleen Kim, and Ai LIn. The night will conclude with a dance party featuring sets by D.J.s Jon Santos, Nelleke, and AHARAW.

The next morning, we will reconvene through guided meditation with the Zendo monks. Daniel Ryan will lead group hypnotherapy and past life regression. In a panel discussion, Kathleen Kim and Helga Fassonaki will discuss the intersection of creative production and social justice advocacy. Kim, an immigrants’ rights legal scholar and experimental musician/composer, will present on the constitutional foundations of immigration law and the historical link between race and immigration. Fassonaki, a visual and performing artist, will present on her project Khal, which derives from her experience as an American artist in residence of Persian and Azeri decent in Tabriz, Iran, where women are legally restricted from public vocal performance. Following the panel, we will embark on a guided mushroom foraging walk with Alberto H. Arensberg.

Ontop is an ongoing series of performative and participatory projects based on collective creative exchange. With a multi-faceted embrace of visual, culinary, design, sound, architectural, healing and performance arts, Ontopo reimagines the relationship between creating and consuming, author and audience in the age of accelerated production. Ontopo is organized by Jon Santos.

SPRING EVENTS

 Artist,  Fran Rodriguez . 

Artist, Fran Rodriguez

...the desire to alter consciousness periodically is an innate, normal drive analogous to hunger or the sexual drive. Note that I do not say "desire to alter consciousness by means of chemical agents." Drugs are merely one means of satisfying this drive; there are many others…

-Andrew Weil

"... it had always seemed to me possible that, through hypnosis, for example, or autohypnosis, by means of systematic meditation, or else by taking the appropriate drug, I might so change my ordinary mode of consciousness as to be able to know, from the inside, what the visionary, the medium, the mystic were talking about."

-Aldous Huxley

 

Bowery Cannabis Club Presents: An Exploration of Altered States

  • Friday, March 30th. 7:00-10:00pm. $40. Sign up here 

  • Hosted by the Bowery Cannabis Club and Daniel Ryan CHT CRT

  • Treats by Enjoy Cannabis Desserts

You are invited to join a new kind of conversation about how we interact with Cannabis. We will kick off the evening with mingling and infused snacks, and then explore the borders and influences of our altered states through guided reflection. What are the differences when we enjoy anything with intention versus with a passive attitude? We will be compassionately illuminating the lessons of these experiences and integrating them into our knowledge through a guided experience combining meditation with hypnotherapy.

 Artist,  Sara Shakeel .

Artist, Sara Shakeel.


Attendees will be encouraged to share and reflect on their most potent and positive experiences with Cannabis, what made it so, and why. We’ll talk about the simple and essential nature of “set and setting” (our mindset and the setting we are in during an event or happening) and how to carry this new awareness with us and make it a practice while honoring ourselves, the plant, and the moment equally.


 Woom Center

Woom Center

Past Life Meditations Through Voice and Sound 

Explore past life regression through a modern lens with hypnotherapist and thought leader, Daniel Ryan. Integrating current neuroscience with the methods and philosophies of the pioneers within the field, experience a journey through your mind unlike any other, guided by voice and sound to places both strange and familiar. 


Sanctuary Meditation

 Artist Unknown

Artist Unknown

Refresh your mindset after the Spring Equinox, to break through that winter cycle of rigidity. Join us and meditation guide, Daniel Ryan, on Monday, 3/26 at 6pm, for the next opportunity to help yourself step out of the old wheel of rush and anxiety that’s so easy to be caught up in. Space is limited, DM or email us to RSVP!

$10 ear seed and $20 Swarovski Crystal ear seed treatments to compliment the meditation.


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Trance Writing: Volume 3

The story we're telling ourselves is our dominant narrative, and the most powerful hypnotist at any given moment is the voice in our heads. Writer's Block, for instance, is a kind of self-defeating, self-perpetuating, state-inducing story about what's not happening that can have in it traces of procrastination, anxiety, laziness, shame, and other corrosive agents. With the writers I work with we'll usually use past life regression early on because past lifetimes or not, the exercise ignites the story-telling machine in our psyche and generates potent living metaphors.

FOR ATTENDEES: Please bring with you one or more of the following.

  • A project or idea currently in development to work with is suggested, but not mandatory. Those looking to discover new ideas will also find benefit.

  • A notebook, pencil, pen, laptop, tablet, quill, ink, scroll, or other writing instrument of your preference.

  • Questions about creativity, its definitions, boundaries, sources, and pollutants.


Meditation, Hypnosis, & Past Life Regression

  • Tuesday, April 24. 7pm-9pm, $40 
  • Maha Rose in Greenpoint, Brooklyn. 97 Green St.
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Meditation is like a glass of water; refreshing, simple, and in the moment. Hypnosis is like a swimming pool. We can go into the deep end, be submerged, or stay near the surface. And past life regression is like an ocean. It's seemingly infinite in scale and depth - filled with mystery and revelation. Each of these three experiences is vastly different, yet mechanically each one is strikingly similar. Often times they are compared and considered together, others they seem worlds apart. What are the similarities and differences between them? What impact does intention have on the experience? What effect does the environment have? 

During this event, each modality will be experienced and explored. Beginning with meditation, moving through hypnosis, and ending with a past life regression - we’ll examine together precisely what separates and connects them, why they still remain so bewildering to so many, and how they offer unique benefits.

 

KCRW Podcast: Hypnotic Induction

As an appendix to the previous episode of KCRW's The Organist where I spoke with producer and artist, Ross Simonini, about my story and hypnotherapy, in this one I offer an experience. This is a hypnotic induction, and with that I must include some caveats. There are many different words for the same things. Often times hypnotic inductions are similar to guided relaxation or meditation. Guided imagery exercises can be similar to self-hypnosis and veer easily into shamanic journeys, Jungian archetypal work, or past life regressions. 

I'm a meditator and this particular induction is intended as guided relaxation. There are many ways to induce and work with trance that are eyes-open, awake, dynamic, and conversational. The central lesson here is that trance is not dependent on relaxation and can happen at any time. Living and working in New York City, I find people appreciate the opportunity to get quiet and be guided back to a native sense of calm. If you're seeking good old-fashioned chilling out, look no further. 

From KCRW's Website:

"If each episode of a podcast is an organ, an essential piece of a larger body, then this is an appendix to that body: a non-essential but still uniquely formed bonus episode. In it you’ll hear a hypnotic induction as performed and scored by the hypnotherapist Daniel Ryan. Ryan was featured on the Organist last week in our episode about the relationship between our bodies, our minds, and sound. One last note— it’s probably best if you stop operating heavy machinery while you’re listening to this podcast."

I had the pleasure of speaking with the terrific and knowledgeable Adam Eason on his podcast, Hypnosis Weekly recently. Adam maintains private practice and leads the Anglo European College of Therapeutic Hypnosis which he founded in Bournemouth, UK, where he lives. He champions a scientific and evidence-based approach grounded in ethical practice and teaching from all sides which I highly regard and respect. On his blog, Adam has been quite articulate and outspoken on what he sees as the concerns within regression therapy. I agree with him on most - if not all - of his points and personally feel that what are often seen as problems with regression therapy are actually opportunities for a broader possibility space. During our conversation, I talk a lot about my experience with my father, watching him practice in the 90s when regression therapy was less than 20 years old, and in the second half I list out what I feel are the 5 most significant issues for the field to overcome. I'm grateful to Adam and his writing as he has helped me become clearer on what the challenges are put forth to regression therapy. You can listen to our conversation above, and I highly recommend the podcast in general for informed conversations within the field. 

You Are The Expert On You

On a Venn Diagram of health and wellness offerings, it's hard to say where hypnotherapy would be. Somewhere near the margins, I imagine. Despite the absence of adverse side effects, it's being very cost-effective, or it's broad applicability, the entrenched PR problems of hypnosis usually overshadow other factors. The same feedback loop of messaging continues to cycle making little to no dent in the public perception or understanding. News stories and articles about hypnotherapy sessions usually go something like:

  1. Would this person make me cluck like a chicken/swing a pendulum?
  2. They didn't make me cluck like a chicken/stare at a swinging pendulum. 
  3. We talked and they listened intently and asked interesting questions. 
  4. We did some relaxing exercises that felt like guided meditation. 
  5. I left feeling calmer and more peaceful as opposed to more agitated or worked up. 
  6. I still don't get it. Maybe you'd like it? 

It's an echo chamber of the same non-starting narrative. There are exceptions, of course, but I never cease to marvel at myself and my colleagues working in this field so deeply trained in listening and language, and so seemingly unable to explain itself. 

Living and working in the vibrant and thriving wellness scene (it's a scene) in NYC, I notice often the conflation of luxury products with health and wellness services. Sometimes the marketing is boldly unethical. There are degrees and some are more egregious than others, but it's so pervasive now that containing it feels like a battle that's already been lost. It was due to this that reading my friend, Rachelle Robinett's recent article titled "I Helped Turn Wellness Into a Luxury Good. Now It's Out of Control" was refreshing and cathartic. I'm going to leave a few excerpts below, but please read the whole thing if you've come this far. Her story, in my opinion, is necessary and timely. I admire her courage and honesty in telling it.  

LINK HERE


"I see how wellness has become another way to display wealth, and commodifying health is more dangerous than fetishizing clothes. I see how it thrives on inventing new ailments, creating social pressure to cure them, and selling snake oil for how to do it. I see how, by embracing the idea that well-being must be bought, we’re becoming more and more distant from ourselves—our bodies, our minds, and our health."


"My new clients regularly confess that they don’t know how to make simple meals for themselves, how to get to bed on time, how to fall asleep without medication, or how to make time to work out. They can buy the potion, but they can’t buy the time to mix it into a smoothie (or a glass of water for that matter). These issues are serious, and correcting them is so much more important and effective than any supplement."


 Writer and Holistic Health Practitioner, Rachelle Robinett.

Writer and Holistic Health Practitioner, Rachelle Robinett.

"...from within the industry and with everyone’s wellbeing in mind, these are some of the ways I've learned to find health in more of the right places:

Try food first

As someone who has studied herbal medicine for many years, I firmly believe that food can do more good (or harm) to my body than any potion or pill. I believe that simply eating more vegetables can nix the perceived need for fancy remedies for most people, and produce is a hell of a lot cheaper too. Those “basic” foods you can find at most grocery stores often have fewer ecological and socioeconomic side-effects than so-called superfoods. By basic, I mean things like lettuce, carrots, garlic, and apples. And the more local, the better. As long as I'm mindful of my consumption, I'm on the right track.

Question products (and my motives)

While most of the wellness products on the market today aren’t inherently bad, details—such as quality, ingredients, and intent—really do matter. Before I buy a product, I ask myself: "Is this a shortcut that's going to handicap me in the long run?" "Is the intent to make me dependent on something rather than capable of caring for myself?" I read ingredient labels—not the marketing messages. I do research, check reviews, and get referrals from people I trust. And obviously, I question my sources. Searching terms like “the benefits of” is a sure way to get some confirmation bias. Need proof? Google “the benefits of Twinkies.”

Not everyone needs a healer and a supplement regimen

Perfect-health potions are a perpetual obsession of our species. I resist peer-pressure to have a healer, an astrologer, and a 12-ingredient daily smoothie. Or any unconsidered supplements in my life. (Unless it’s really good-quality probiotics. Just kidding, kind of.) If I'm taking supplements, I reality-check them once in awhile. Am I truly feeling better? Is it really worth the money? Nothing can counteract the effects of a poor diet or imbalanced lifestyle; if that were possible, we’d have a hangover cure by now.

Mind the social media

Today, every person can be a brand, and every brand can seem like a person; social media is full of blurred lines. So it’s on all of us to think about what we post, like, and share. It may be harmless to overshare over-styled smoothie bowls, but it can be harmful when celebrities endorse overpriced and untested products that none of us fully understand. (I recently suggested that a woman stop taking maca—which she'd tried after seeing it in her Instagram feed—in the evenings. Maca is known for increasing energy, and she was suffering from insomnia.)

Vegetables, sleep, exercise

Vegetablessleep, and exercise remain the unchanging foundations of wellness. I try to avoid today’s conveniences that pardon me from focusing on those basics. If delivery meals means forgetting how to prepare a meal, or breathing apps distance me from my ability to know when I need to stop and breathe, they may not be worth it.

My health is my own

My wellbeing is my responsibility, but it’s also my adventure. It should be a source of happiness, not anxiety. How I feel, what my medical test results show, and the way I'm able to live my life matter far more than being on the latest superfood bandwagon."

KCRW Podcast and Interview: Sleeping Knowledge

How does music resemble food? How can sound work like medicine? To treat chronic digestive pain, producer Ross Simonini tried everything until visiting hypnotherapist Daniel Ryan, who uses only the sound of his voice through a technique shared by orators, monks, musicians, parents—and magician David Blaine.

We also learn about the psychoacoustics of lawn sprinklers with Susan Rogers, a sound engineer who’s recorded albums for David Byrne, Barenaked Ladies, Tricky, and, most famously, Prince’s albums Purple Rain and Sign o' the Times. Rogers is one of the most legendary female sound engineers in an industry long dominated by men. These days, she’s also a professor at the Berklee School of Music, where she researches how our brains process sound.

Lastly, author Eugene Lim brings us speculative fiction on the interstellar connections between celebrity CEO Elon Musk and the Organist podcast itself.

Hypnosis segment produced by Ross Simonini. 
Interview with Susan Rogers produced by Jenny Ament.