This document has two purposes. It’s first purpose is to situate the year-long masterclass series within a pedagogical framework, so that you have a clearer sense of its function, arc, and trajectory. The second purpose is to help situate you within the class as a learner, as part of a co-learning group, and to help you extract maximum value from your engagement, through application.
This course is a co-production of Applied Mindfulness, Inc., the Academy of Social Medicine, and the Restorative Practices Alliance. It was created for several inter-related purposes. First, to train our facilitators in the core pedagogical frameworks that support the Restorative Practices Neuro-developmental model. Second, to coalesce and synthesize the thinking of a strategically selected group of the world’s leading thinkers and explorers whose work is situated at the intersection of connection and wellbeing. It complements a thematic arc established in the Restorative Practices Film Series (2018-2020). Ultimately, the purpose of our work is to establish a new and robustly researched paradigm for the treatment of ill-being, grounded in cutting-edge neurophysiology and ancestral awareness practice, that foregrounds the re-establishment of safety and connection as the neurophysiological baseline in a human multi-culture.
If we may be so bold as to offer an analogy: both modern Western and Japanese carpentry utilize wood for the building of structures. Each of these lineages begins with a worldview, that gives rise to the creation of a set of tools, which in turn allows the person using them to create certain kinds of structures.
Japanese carpentry emerges from a worldview with both aesthetic and moral qualities, a conceptualization of beauty and moral beauty. From this view are born tools. One of the tools that exists in both Western and Japanese carpentry is the saw. Both types of carpenters have a wide variety of saws that allow their operators to perform a variety of different functions. Interestingly, Japanese saws generally cut on the pull stroke, whereas Western saws cut on the push stroke. We would propose to you that this difference is not merely mechanical, but arises from something philosophically much deeper. If you cut with a saw that pulls the wood toward you, you can stabilize the wood with your body (see image above). This intimacy with the wood is connected to an aesthetic, and to the development of the elaborate joinery that distinguishes Japanese carpentry, which unites wood through precision joinery, without nails. Western carpenters, using saws that push the wood away, need clamps and other mechanisms to stabilize them. Western carpentry developed along different lines. Without making either a value judgement or aesthetic judgement, we would propose that a certain worldview generated a certain tool, which in turn lends itself to building certain structures with more or less ease.
Turning this analogy now to medicine and mental health, allopathic medicine arises from a mechanistic worldview that is the result of a Cartesian dualist split between the mind and the body, subject and object. This worldview co-arises with capitalism, and its transactional impulses, White Supremacy, and its heirarchizing impulses, and Patriarchy and its bias toward logic and action. It yields a particular understanding of the structure and function of the human body, in its physiological, anatomical, and biochemical particulars, and like all knowledge systems elaborates a taxonomy that orders human ailment along taxonomic lines that it uses to differentiate between symptoms, and dis-eases, and by so doing orders their treatments.
Our assertion is that allopathic medicine has fundamentally mis-mapped the relationship between the mind and the body. Our assertion is that because allopathic medicine arose in fact from a mind-body split, it is ill-suited to clearly see the nature of the mind-body connection, as it is taxonomically organized in opposition to this. This makes it ill-suited to the treatment of any condition that is a mind-body issue, of which, stress, in its continuum from chronic to toxic to traumatic, is likely the most important example, as it is indicated in 60-80% off ill-being.
We propose, however, that in contra-distinction to allopathic medical conceptualization of well and ill-being, there is a cross-cultural, primal, ancestral, awareness-based understanding of health and illness that in fact maps directly and elegantly to the most novel discoveries of neurophysiology. We propose a cross-disciplinary congruence of models aligned with this view. We propose further that as this view is further elucidated, articulated, consolidated and tested, it will in turn generate novel taxonomic lines that lead to novel intervention models. We propose that these new intervention models will leverage mindful awareness and in vivo understanding of neurophysiology to facilitate neuroplastic changes in Autonomic Nervous System function and setpoints.
We propose, furthermore, that extending this view causes us to re-evaluate the very nature of medicine and mental health, and to situate it not uniquely within the individual body, but within the context of both culture and ecology. We propose that our well or illbeing is in fact a reflection of our individual bodies within the greater context of layers of culture (family, community, society) and ecology (local, bio-regional, global). This suggests a social medicine that recognizes health is co-constructed by our bodies, our relationships with ourselves, one another, and the Living World, and the meaning we make from this understanding. We propose, in fact, a connection phenomenology of wellbeing.
The Restorative Practices Neurodevelopmental Model is one such model. Our objective, and a bold objective at that, in this series, is to engage with thinkers, researchers, and practitioners whose work challenges and re-configures our core assumptions about what constitutes well and ill-being. As Dr. Vincent Felitti MD, Co-Principal Investigator of the Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACES) study points out,
“What we are often treating in public health as the problem is, in fact, the patient’s solution to a much deeper problem that we can’t see.”
Through this lens, many of the things that our modern medicine is treating, such as addiction, are actually the solution to something much deeper, such as trauma. If this is so, removing the addiction will never actually accomplish the goal of healing the patient. Yet if the deeper trauma is healed, the addiction may spontaneously resolve.
Our engagement is with a series of thinkers, and a series of conceptual models that we believe has the power to re-frame your basic understanding of what constitutes wellbeing and ill-being.
Because of the power of these ideas, and their potential for dislocation, we invite you therefore into a mindful relationship with this content. We invite you to allow yourself to receive it, and to engage it not only conceptually, but through non-cognitive ways of knowing. We invite you to try it on, to consider its implications, not only for your patients or clients, but in your own life. Our objective, over the course of the series, will be to architect a novel conceptual model of wellbeing that you can step into. We know, from having delivered more than 1,300 trainings in this area, that if you can allow yourself to step into a kind of ‘beginner’s mind’, to steep yourself in this worldview, you will begin to see new tools arising that permit you to work and respond in ways that were not possible before.
For us, part of the excitement is knowing that you, empowered with this worldview, and in possession of new tools, are going to build things that we didn’t know were possible. And in this, our objective is to together advance planetary wellbeing.
With Esteem for your Collaboration,
Natureza Gabriel Kram
Founder, Applied Mindfulness, Inc.
Co-Founder, Academy of Applied Social Medicine
Convener, Restorative Practices Alliance