Upcoming Programs

MythoSelf® Facilitator training, Module 1
27th-30th September 2007, Co. Wicklow, Eire.
Facilitated by Dr. David McDermott, Mythoself® Master Trainer.

Empowered Life for Teens workshop with Jeff Leiken.
28-30 September 2007, Hertfordshire, UK.

The Mythogenic Self® Experience
9th-11th November 2007, East Grinstead, Sussex, UK.
Facilitated by Sam Riordan and Jon Nicoll, MythoSelf® Associate Trainers.
See our main page for details

Dance of the Elements workshop (UK)
Date and Venue TBC.
More details coming soon.

Space

In any given moment, how aware are you of the space around you?

I had never paid much attention to space until a couple of years ago. That I do is one of several consequences of Mythoself Training that would simply have never entered my mind when I first signed up. It wasn't that I was devoid of spatial awareness, or even felt its lack, after all I'd managed to navigate my way through the world reasonably competently for nigh on 40 years, and yet, through developing greater awareness of the space we inhabit, and our sensitivity to it, I have come to a finer appreciation of how much this can influence the experience we have.

This week I was offered a small insight into the design of architectural space that quite thrilled me.

The University of Sussex campus is famously designed by the English post-war architect, Basil Spence. Set in a valley in an officially-designated area of outstanding natural beauty on the rolling chalkland of the South Downs, it was the first of the modern English universities built in the early 1960's to accommodate the baby boomers. Against a backdrop of green fields and countryside there's a lot of distinctive red brick (although this is not a 'red-brick university' but a 'plate-glass university'!) with a couple of buildings that are considered to be particularly significant contributions to Spence's ouevre.

I have a personal fondness for one such in particular, a multi-denominational Meeting House built in the circular shape and proportions of a traditional Sussex oast house, which has a prominent and very central position close to the main, and at one time only, entrance to the campus. The Meeting House is intended to represent the very heart of the community, pulsing with the rhythm of prayer. It's not a large building, but it's quite unmissable, standing as it does in open space, all adjacent buildings set a measured distance away, with its greenish-tinged copper roof and white walls inset with thick irregular panes of diamond-yellow, sapphire, ruby and emerald jewel-coloured glass. The sacred space inside the Meeting House is warm and enclosing, quite intimate, and the deep golden glow of light through the windows, even on the cloudiest of days, dances on the highly-polished floor, and there is a grandeur in its simplicity. A tapestry hangs on the back wall of the chapel, its woven threads reminding those who gather together for worship to 'be still... and know'.

Spence's original design concept embraced the creation of an environmental context in which a community of scholars would learn and grow, so whilst the Meeting House may stand alone, the real beauty of much of the rest of the campus resides in the relationship between architectural structures and the spaces between them, and the relationship between all of this and the space that contains them. Enter the campus on foot, along the wide main thoroughfare which runs along the lowest point in the valley, as was originally intended, and the whole of the campus rises up in front of and around you.

So, there I was, walking in the glorious mid-morning sunshine, soaking in all the springness and the cherry blossom and the chatter of young people sitting on grass, even a solitary duck waddling towards one of the shallow ponds, and I stopped to admire the results of some recent renovation. This main route through, which runs south to north, leads past the Meeting House and opens into a large exposed square. The main university library is on the westerly side of this square, built on the higher ground of the valley rise, and reached by going up a series of impressive steps.

Through the square and straight ahead, the path narrows a little to lead you through what must count as the single most imposing structure on campus - a pair of very tall white concrete pillars that flank the glassed entrance into a single storey building that houses two lecture theatres. The concrete pillars have been recently cleaned, sandblasted to near their original shade of white, and it was the effect of this that I stopped to admire - the towering pillars, standing like threshold guardians either side of an entrance that in contrast seemed low and dark and mysterious.

For most who enter the campus on foot it is through this portal that you will first enter the inner space of the University buildings and, once through the doors, you find yourself beginning a gentle ascent along a wide but low-ceilinged and quite dimly lit corridor, which comprises a small series of flights of steps, with an exit above, at the far side through which the natural light streams.

I have gone up these steps countless times, probably thousands of times over the years, and I have yet to find a way to do so that doesn't in some way disturb the cadence of my motion. The steps have exceptionally broad treads, with very shallow risers, and the landings are placed at irregular intervals. There have been times when I have deliberately tried different rhythms, and altering my pace, in an attempt to get up them quickly, or smoothly, without in anyway breaking my stride, and all to no avail.

What I learned this week is that my experience of these steps is not a consequence of my being a short-arse with little legs, nor is my experience in anyway original or remotely unique. What I discovered, quite by chance, is that it was Spence's intention (and this is what I found so thrilling) that, after being drawn across the wide open space of the square, and through the magnificence of the high-pillared gateway, the impact of going up these steps would be very directly experienced as a physical halting, a moment of arrest, an undeniable stopping in your tracks that forces an immediate focussing of attention in the present moment, a slowing down to focus on where you are and what it is that you are doing, with each step that you take, as you go up and towards the light.



Best Regards,

SamR

 Some past articles

In the beginning

Space

Moments of Greatness

Your Right Foot (with free audio download)

Change your life in West Sussex! (with free audio download)

Demolition and re-construction


 Parenting

Parents, Teenagers and the Mythoself Process

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