Midwest Alliance for Mindfulness

Ways of Looking Retreat: Attending to Inner and Outer Experience with Compassion and Courage
with Sydney Spears, PhD, RYT-200


October 23 (Sunday)
at 4:00 pm (GMT-05:00)

Class length
60 minutes

See Course Details

Cultivating a clear mind and an open heart requires us to be willing and resourced enough to hold in awareness all that is here, including what’s happening inside us and our relationship with the world. There are many ways of looking that can help us discern what matters most from all the noise and distraction, allowing us to engage with our experience, individually and collectively, according to our highest values and with greater compassion and courage. We invite you to join our guiding teacher, Dr. Sydney Spears, and some of the core teachers of the Midwest Alliance for Mindfulness, for five days of companionate silence, inner exploration and nurturance, and deep nature connection. Participants will be guided in a variety of optional practices such as meditation, mindful movement, gentle yoga, sense and savor trail hiking, mindful eating, labyrinth walking, and mindful photography.

Though this five-day, silent teacher-led retreat is designed for the general public, it also meets requirements for teachers of mindfulness based programs and up to 14 hours of continuing education credit are available for KS & MO licensed mental health professionals. There are three ways to attend: stay with us in our private, hotel style accommodations, commute in each morning and return home at night, or participate online via Zoom.

Sunday Oct 23 - Friday Oct 28, 2022

Heartland Retreat Center 16965 NW 45 Hwy Parkville, MO 64152 (or online via Zoom US Central time)

Cost (MAM members receive a 20% discount by entering discount code MEMBERS20 at checkout):
  • Online Participants(sliding scale - those who can pay more make it possible for those who have less to participate, deadline to register is 10/21/2022, no refunds will be provided after this date)
  • Residential Pass (room and board - deadline has passed) = $1800 (registration deadline is Friday 9/22/2022, no refunds will be provided after this date)
  • Commuter Pass (meals only, no room - deadline has passed) = $1000 (registration deadline is Friday 10/6/2022, no refunds will be provided after this date)

Cultivating Loving Awareness of Self, Others and Our Planet Home - Learning to befriend ourselves and establish inner resources creates space for greater attention to our own needs, consideration of the needs of others, and concern and appreciation for the natural world. Participants will be guided by a variety of trained mindfulness teachers in compassion cultivation, meditation, mindful eating of vegetarian and vegan meals, yoga nidra for interconnection, and forest bathing.

Establishing an Embodied Presence - The body acts as a harbinger, if we are open to its messages. It affirms and reinforces our contact with opportunities for joy and pleasure and offers the earliest warning signals of suffering and pain, offering an opportunity to respond skillfully. The body is also the vehicle through which we interface with the world and we can learn to be more intentional in our actions with practice. Participants will be offered somatic teachings and a number of body-centered practices such as trauma sensitive yoga, mindful walking, music for mindful relaxation, Qigong, and Feldenkrais.

Exploring Ways of Looking - Photography can be a wonderful vehicle for practicing mindfulness - its an accessible way of noticing and savoring that can provide us with continuing reverberations of joy. When we lovingly capture a moment on camera, it requires us to be still, to get in close and really notice - or take a step back and observe from a wider view, and to appreciate what is right here in front of us. Participants will engage in creative exploration through a mindful lens of wonder and awe, the fruits of which they can take with them to appreciate and enjoy again and again. The technical aspects of photography will not be a focus and no special equipment is required (the guides are not professional photographers - a phone camera will suffice).

Guiding Teacher:
Sydney Spears, PhD, LCSW, LSCSW, TCTSY-F is cofounder of the Midwest Alliance for Mindfulness, a certified Mindful Self-Compassion teacher, Director of Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Belonging for the Center of Mindful Self-Compassion, a licensed clinical social worker, and a Trauma-Sensitive Yoga facilitator and certification supervisor for the Center for Trauma and Embodiment. Dr. Spears has offered the practices and attitudes of mindfulness and self-compassion across a wide spectrum of contexts and diverse settings. She is an adjunct instructor at the University of Kansas incorporating these skills and concepts into her coursework in diversity, anti-oppression, social justice, and trauma-sensitive practice. Dr. Spears also teaches adaptive yoga at the Kansas City, Missouri VA for veterans who have been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress and for community survivors of complex trauma through private sessions. She co-designed and co-led a culturally sensitive mindfulness-based training for incarcerated males through the Missouri Department of Corrections to support their re-entry into the community. Through her counseling practice, MidLife at Ease Counseling, Dr. Spears specializes in mindfully supporting people with chronic stress, grief/loss, trauma, anxiety, depression, and relationship challenges. Dr. Spears has taught academic courses in cultural diversity, social justice, and clinical social work practice for 15 years and is passionately committed to advancing social justice efforts through providing and maintaining a non-oppressive, trauma-sensitive, and culturally responsive practice.

Supporting Teachers:
  • Shane Ledford, CMT-200, CYT-200
  • Deah Robinson
  • Julia Grimm, LMLP
  • Tracy Ochester, PsyD, RYT-200


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