Hello and welcome!
Here are a few things that might be helpful to know as we’re getting acquainted:
The Awareness Institute has been offering experiential self-awareness workshops and classes since 1987. Although our name has changed* along the way, that’s a lot of experience. (*You might know us as Aspire or The Center of Consciousness, but as of January 2015 we’re officially the Awareness Institute.) We’ve served thousands of people in the last 28 years of workshops and classes.
We are a non-profit organization run by a dedicated team of volunteers. The volunteers who assist in our classes and workshops have been through our four-part workshop series themselves and chose to help others benefit, both by continuing to deepen their own self-awareness work, and by supporting others in their process.
This blog contains both personal narratives written by members of our volunteer team and broader posts exploring universal themes. We share our experiences in an attempt to convey the transformative nature of the work we do. We know that words alone can never do the experience justice, but hearing of others’ experience provides insight into what this awakening, growing-up process is all about.
Our vision for this blog is simple: to provide a dynamic and supportive space for exploring that which is common to all of us: the human experience, and awakening to a more conscious life. We hope you’ll benefit from dropping in and reading from time to time. No doubt, you’ll be able to relate to what emerges here. With luck, it will help to shed further light on your own unfolding process.
We draw inspiration from many different teachers. John Ruskell, the co-founder and director of the Awareness Institute, brings more than 30 years of experience in the field of integrative (mind-body-spirit) therapy. Byron Katie, Ram Dass, Michael Brown, Eckhart Tolle, Pema Chodron, Carl Jung, and Rumi are names you’ll hear regularly. Of course, nature provides endless opportunities for learning and reflection, particularly during our summer wilderness retreat.
What we offer is distinct from anything else available. Our retreats are unique because they are completely experiential – meaning that no one will tell you what to believe. Rather than a sit-down lecture format, the retreats provide an interactive, engaging set of processes designed to give you a direct experience of yourself in ways you’ve never expected.
Our retreats are appropriate for everyone. Our workshop series is equally useful for those who have done deep inner awareness work, as for those who have done little. The only prerequisite is an open mind and a willingness to delve inward and to face the unknown in your self. What we provide is complementary to most therapies, as well as to mind-body-spirit practices, such as yoga, meditation, dance, writing, etc.
Each workshop is transformational in and of itself. Whether you attend one weekend retreat or several of the same retreats, participants uniformly report profound shifts in perspective as a result of this work.
We hear from participants that their awareness deepens with each repeated retreat, so, we encourage you to attend our workshops over and over again. It never feels like you’ve been to the same workshop twice. Like peeling back the layers of an onion, each time there are new insights, new breakthroughs, new depths. Even though we don’t often switch up the workshop titles, every single one is a standalone unique experience.
We believe that community is essential. As Rumi said, “Come, come, whoever you are. Wanderer, worshiper, lover of leaving. It doesn’t matter. Ours is not a caravan of despair. come, even if you have broken your vows a thousand times. Come, yet again, come, come.” In addition to our weekend retreats, we offer weekly classes and welcoming social activities, including a community “Inspiration” class that is open to all, by donation, and meets every Wednesday from 7 to 9 pm at the Institute in Midtown Sacramento (722 Alhambra Blvd). Please don’t hesitate to drop in!
We hope this gives you a sense of who we are, and we’d love to also hear from you… Drop us a line or leave a note below. We look forward to connecting with you soon!