This Podcast series on the Windhorse practice of Basic Attendance explores the discipline as an expression of the wisdom, compassion and resulting reciprocity that can manifest in ordinary human relationships when cultivated within a ground of openness and relational warmth.
I came to the Windhorse approach after graduating from the Naropa Institute—now University—in 1980, and I had the good fortune to be around when this was being envisioned with other Naropa graduates. My attraction to this vision and practice had to do with the emphasis on a person being fundamentally sane and healthy, as well as to the importance placed on having an engaging and supportive social environment as they work with their current life challenges. It also met my need to continue working with others in a setting where I could include my practice and understanding of Contemplative Psychotherapy.
My exposure to the first Windhorse Team that had formed was at a social event in the therapeutic household of the “client”, and I was struck by the mutuality of connection among all members of the Team, including the so-called “client”. There was such a felt sense of closeness and camaraderie among everyone, as well as warmth and acceptance. It felt so wholesome to be in this environment. As a result, I became involved with this approach and was fortunate to be an active member of Maitri Psychological Services (as the Windhorse organization was named then) through its duration in the 1980’s.
The presentations and ensuing discussions included in this Podcast represent a window into the range of experiences that can occur when a Team member and “client” are spending time together for their Basic Attendance shifts. I have always felt that the possibilities of what can arise and be included during a shift is only limited by the collective and mutual imagination of the Team member and the “client” at that time, given that the entire community where it is taking place is available as a support and inspiration for their engagement. As a result, they can engage in household activities like attending to the physical environment, food preparation, or making art, to name a few possibilities. Also, activities can occur outside of the household, which could include taking classes together, going to the gym or for long hikes.
The examples shared in the Podcast quite beautifully express the invitation to be present to what is arising within oneself and the “client” in the environment. This, to me, is the ground of the Basic Attendance practice, as an experience and expression of the co-presence between the Team member and the “client”. And given the Team member’s sensitivity, this can unfold into very poignant and intimate relational sharing.
So, the Art of this Practice—and it is precisely that, rather than a recipe or list of techniques to apply—is a very human endeavor which can bring out the best in each person. The invitation there also is to face the full range of one’s experiences—i.e. fears and joys—as this unfolds, in a relational environment that supports this. We hope you enjoy this Podcast about these intimate and potentially healing encounters.
Thank you for joining us,
*This is the first of a 14 part series that will dive into basic attendance on a Windhorse Team. Throughout this series, we will have conversations with staff members representing each of the roles at Windhorse Community services. This first recording provides a general overview of Basic Attendance and relational medicine.
Laura Ann Samuelson, MA, has worked as a team counselor at Windhorse Community Services and as a basic attendant at Windhorse Elder Care since June 2021. They hold an MFA in Dance from the University of Colorado-Boulder, and are currently an artist-in-residence at RedLine Contemporary Art Center in Denver. They are also a certified practitioner of the Feldenkrais Method®, a form of somatic education that helps individuals find a greater sense of skeletal connection, ease, and freedom in movement.
Jeremy Ellis is a Team lLeader & Assistant Team Leader at Windhorse Community Services. He began his journey at WCS as a housemate in 2015. He enjoys a variety of contemplative and creative practices and is currently obsessed with his new instantpot.
Conner Hollingsworth, MA, moved from Chicago to Boulder in 2014 in order to pursue a Master’s in music at the University of Colorado. At that time he began a nearly 2 year tenure as a housemate with WCS and has since moved on to Team Counselor and Assistant Team Leader roles. The philosophy and contemplative approach of WCS has proven to be a thoroughly harmonious counterpoint to his parallel career as a freelance musician. When Conner is not performing with symphony orchestras and jazz ensembles throughout the front range he enjoys exploring the spectacular hiking oppotunities that the nearby landscape offers.
Kathy Emery, MA, LP, is a graduate of the Naropa University’s East/West Psychology program in 1980 and has been actively working with the Windhorse approach to treatment and care of individuals since its inception in 1981 as Maitri Psychological Services. She currently is employed with Windhorse Elder Care and Windhorse Community Services as a Team Supervisor and Psychotherapist for both organizations. She also is a Senior Teacher of the approach and feels a lifelong commitment to bringing the Contemplative view and practice of care and therapy into her work with individuals and groups as well as through her teaching and writing.
Jack Gipple, MA, LPC, CAC III is the Clinical Services Manager of Windhorse Community Services (WCS), in Boulder Colorado. He earned his MA in Transpersonal Psychology in 1991. He has worked extensively with families, couples, and individuals dealing with issues related to behavioral and substance addictions, as well as a wide range of mental health challenges. He taught in the Naropa Contemplative Psychology Department for a decade and has been affiliated with the Boulder Shelter for the Homeless since 1992. Jack co-authored an article with Chuck Knapp “Windhorse Treatment: Group Dynamics Within Therapeutic Environments,” in Group: The Journal of the Eastern Group Psychotherapy Society. He has studied and taught T’ai Chi Ch’uan since 1985. He is a top-bar bee keeper, pinhole photographer, yogi, gardener, home orchardist, father, and husband.