GAP Study Abroad – Exploring the Roots of GAP: A Deep Dive into the Essential Practices

Richard Price, the root teacher of Gestalt Awareness Practice, often quoted the Tao Te Ching in relationship to Gestalt practice: 

But the Way, when declared,
Seems thin and so flavorless!
It is nothing to look at
And nothing to hear;
But used, it will prove

Richard understood that humans are often looking for something new, something exciting and different and “sexy”. He also knew that what really helps us when we need support and what holds us through difficult times is to know how to notice and turn toward what we are feeling. He knew that practicing awareness and knowing how to pause and be present in the world allows us to make healthier choices that lead to more satisfaction and less suffering. 

Gestalt Awareness Practice (GAP) supports us to turn toward what is emerging with curiosity and friendliness.  We are encouraged to recognize and suspend our habitual thinking and actions as we meet the process that unfolds in each moment. With a focus on physical awareness including breath, we can recognize ways our organism is self-regulating. We can remember how we are the embodied sensations and feelings that we notice. We can own that we are each the expert of our own experience. Prompted to notice with direct perception, free from our usual thoughts and filters, we have the opportunity to reawaken to the world around us with a fresh view. We can show up with others in a more open and spontaneous way. 

This program invites participants to use awareness practices each and every day for a two month period and learn from actively entering the “awareness gym”. Through individual practice, meeting independently with a study partner, and in group webinars, the program offers exercises for direct experience and discussion about the ideas and philosophies connected to the practices. 

This program can support anyone interested in living life more fully. For those relatively new to GAP, this program will provide a thorough grounding in the essentials. Experienced students will find here an opportunity to dive deeper into both understanding the foundations of GAP and discovering another layer of “aha” through ongoing practice. For those in the helping professions, these practices can enable you to maintaining your wellbeing as well as offer new ways to support others. 

This program relies on your full participation. The more you engage, the more useful the course will be. The registration section below gives you a sense of what is requiring of participants. If you can commit to these weeks of practice, we welcome you to apply to the course.  

Our faculty team is Christine Price, Sharon Terry, Chieko Maruyama, Hiromi, Masumi, and Masa Sazuki. 

When Christine Price was 16 years old she read Gestalt Therapy Verbatim by Fredrick S. Perls. The philosophy articulated there and transcriptions of personal sessions moved her deeply. She wanted to know more and to experience directly this way of knowing herself. Some months later she attended a workshop at Esalen Institute led by Richard Price. Since that time – it will be 50 years as we start this program! – Chris has used these tools and taught them to others as a way to increase a capacity to be aware, allow habits to transform into choices, and learn how to follow and trust the unfolding experience within our personal being and in relationships to the world and other people. 

Chieko Maruyama is a senior teacher on the team and will also serve as translator. Chieko first invited Chris to teach in Japan and they have been doing courses together in Japan since that time.  

Sharon Terry and Chris have been working together for several years, bringing the GAP practice to new venues, especially through webinars – even before our current health problems demanded it. 

Hiromi, Masumi, and Masa Sazuki, have been offering programs with Chieko and Open Sense for several years. Masumi and Masa were both in the first program that Chris ever taught!

Although this is a very intentional program with a clear agenda, in GAP we honor process before program, paying attention to what emerges in the needs of the group, and responding accordingly. We also recognize the uncertainty and lack of predictability in life, especially in this past year. We address that by working as a faculty team to offer a well prepared program even as unexpected things happen. This flexibility also supports the congregational model where the practice we learn together is the primary teacher. With time, the focus on a human teacher becomes secondary to what we learn together by understanding and using the practices.

Philosophy and Principles

  • Awareness leads to choice, based in trust
  • I am the expert on my experience. I am responsible for my experience.
  • Clearing and Cultivation
  • The Four Steps
  • Show Up 
  • Turn Toward 
  • Offer time and Space 
  • Meet with Breathing
  • Facing, Feeling and Grounding 
  • Tolerance, Patience and a Sense of Humor: GAP as Art, Sport and Spiritual Practice 
  • Working with Stimulation: Discharging and Containing
  • Discerning the Three Realms of Awareness 

Essential Practices

  • Taking Our Place / Taking our Seat: The Practice of Getting Present
    • Remembering and connecting to support: past and present, through our body, mind and environment
    • Body awareness scan
    • Balancing inner awareness, thoughts and perceptions of our circumstances 
    • Taking the Witness seat
  • Basic Breath Practice: The Practice of Focusing
    • developing a moment to moment relationship to breathing 
    • taking refuge in breathing as a place of centering 
    • returning to breath as a way of being present, here and now 
  • Continuum of Awareness: The Practice of Listening and Expressing
    • The quality of noticing 
  • Nothing to change, no particular way to be
  • Meeting whatever is arising with open mind (curiosity) and open heart (friendliness)
    • Rotating between noticing and expressing
    • Listening to self and other
    • The Four Expressions: Breathing, Sounding, Moving and Speaking

 Dates:  Japan time… US 17 hours earlier

  • 2/27(Sat):Study Abroad Japan Day 1  
  • 2/28(Sun):Study Abroad Japan Day 2   
  • 3/27(Sat):Study Abroad Japan Day 3   
  • 3/28(Sun): Study Abroad Japan Day 4   
  • 4/24(Sat): Study Abroad Japan Day 5
  • 4/25(Sun):Study Abroad Japan Day 6    

Please register from HERE


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