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Evolving through Challenges into Oneness Consciousness

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Some of the presenters and their themes are listed below.

Karen Litfin

Karen is Professor of political science at the University of Washington. Karen’s first books, Ozone Discourses (Columbia University Press) and The Greening of Sovereignty (MIT Press) helped to shape the field of global environmental politics. She has written on earth remote sensing; the political implications of Gaia Theory; the ecological politics of sacrifice; and contemplative pedagogical practices. Her latest book, Ecovillages: Lessons for Sustainable Community (Polity, 2014) traces her yearlong journey to ecovillages around the world in language that is at once intellectually and emotionally engaging. The book explores these micro-laboratories of cultural evolution through four broad windows—ecology, economics, community, and consciousness—or E2C2, and gleans their lessons for a viable human future at every scale, from the neighborhood to the planetary. From 2001-2011, Karen led a study abroad program that brought many students to Auroville. For publications, click here.

Theme: The Ideal of Human Unity at the Dawn of the Anthropocene

Rod Hemsell

Rod recently lived in Auroville from 2005 to 2017 where he worked as a high school principal and developed a program for Tamil students based on the progressive education reforms adopted by the Indian government in 2005. Many of his students have gone on to get college degrees. He also helped to establish a research project known as the University of Human Unity during those years and presented several lecture courses which are now books: The Philosophy of Evolution – Darwin and Sri Aurobindo, The Philosophy of Religion – Hinduism, Buddhism, Christianity, and The Philosophy of Consciousness – Hegel and Sri Aurobindo. Rod was also a resident of Auroville in the pioneering days from 1968 to 1983. In the interim he was a teacher and principal in schools in the USA. Publications are available online from and

Theme: Reason and Responsibility in Yoga

B Sullivan

B Sullivan joined Auroville in 1974. He was instrumental in founding the Verite Community, the Centre for Scientific Research, Quiet Healing Centre, and Auroville Today journal. Currently he is a guide at Matrimandir and a caretaker at International House, among other interests. As the chairman of Zero Waste Auroville, he advocates for cycling, recycling, and upcycling. As a member of the Coordination Group for the International Zone, he participated in the 2012 Soul of Nations workshop in Auroville and has been a presenter at several AUMs. He has built an ecologically designed residence out of waste materials in Auroville he calls his “Trash Mahal” in Auroville.

Theme: Secrets of the Yoga

Raina Imig

Raina is an artist, teacher and healer. Born clairvoyant in India, she grew up in India and Europe in a family of committed non-believers. She lived in Auroville for 5 years during the 70s/80s and keeps her connections there. In Portland since then, she has two grown children. Raina is a trained Shamanic Practitioner, providing healing and soul retrieval locally as well as long distance. She leads her original 10-week series. She teaches Highest Gift, a transformational course combining inspiration from Shamanic and creative techniques. In her personal and professional life, she combines an understanding of ancient wisdom, her devotion to her teachers, Sri Aurobindo and The Mother, inspired knowledge, and intuitive creativity. See more at

Theme: Parallels between Shamanism, Ancient Knowledge, and Integral Yoga: A Way Forward 

Don Salmon and Jan Maslow

Don Salmon, a pianist/composer and clinical psychologist, has been a devotee of Mother and Sri Aurobindo since 1976. Don and his wife, Jan Maslow, have written a book on integral yoga psychology, “Yoga Psychology and the Transformation of Consciousness: Seeing Through the Eyes of Infinity.” Their website,, is based largely on the Mother’s writings on education, particularly Her essay on Psychic Education. They have just released an e-course on meditation and the brain (also inspired by integral yoga psychology and Mother’s writings on education), available at Don and Jan live in the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains in Asheville, NC (just replace the letters “uro” in “Auroville” with “She” and you have “Asheville!”)

Theme: Open Heartful Awareness

Guided music, movement, meditation, reflection, and small group dialogue to connect with the inner self and others to develop ideas for what you can do when you’re home after AUM.

Suryamayi Clarence-Smith

Suryamayi was born and raised in Auroville, India, the largest intentional community in the world, which is the subject of her autoethnographic doctoral research. She began developing this research as an undergraduate student at the University of California, Berkeley, where her thesis “Auroville: A Practical Experiment in Utopian Society” was awarded highest honors, and won the annual undergraduate paper prize of the Center for Communal Studies at the University of Southern Indiana. She is also a teacher of the Auroville-created educational technique called Awareness Through the Body. See more about her at

Theme: Awareness through the Body

Awareness Through the Body (ATB) is an Integral yoga practice to enhance concentration, relaxation and self-knowledge in children and adults. ATB started in July 1992 in the schools of Auroville as a programme to help children increase their capacity for attention, concentration and relaxation, and to enhance their ability for self-awareness and their sense of responsibility. Nowadays, it is offered to adults as well as to children. Through a wide variety of exercises and games, ATB offers individuals opportunities to come to know themselves better, to explore the complexity of their being, and find ways to integrate and harmonize this complexity around the inmost centre of their being. Learn more at:

Bill Leon

Bill is a dreamer and seeker of truths. Recognizing that the Ultimate Truth has varied dimensions and expressions, he seeks understanding through a broad exploration of knowledge and cultures in order to experience multiple points of view of the consummate One. He visualizes better lives for all in the world and journeys toward that through his own personal change and work. Immersion in the study of Integral Yoga led him to connect with the global community of Auroville, India (started by The Mother of Sri Aurobindo Ashram). As an Auroville International USA board member for over two decades, he has been a steady support. Moving frequently in his youth, he became fascinated by the diversity of cultural expression, and this influenced his life-long study of geography in the world and at four universities. After earning a Ph.D. from the University of Washington, he taught for 15 years at the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs and directed the Center for Community Development & Design, managing community research and development efforts throughout the state by his staff, students, and other faculty. Returning to Washington, Bill founded Geo Education & Research to provide program evaluation, community development, research, and educational services to non-profits, Tribes, foundations, and government agencies, including the United Nations and the International Criminal Court. See: and

Theme (with Ron Jorgensen): Expressions of Oneness as Mantric Doors to Experiencing Oneness

Human unity and other states of oneness are mentioned frequently in the writings and talks of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother and many others. They discuss the necessity for individual and collective evolutions in consciousness for people to achieve and act from a foundation in unity. In one sense, human unity exists naturally, but we deny and suppress this reality, deluded by our seeming separateness. This tendency is one of the root causes of much that is degrading civilization and the planet. Using mantric, written expressions on oneness, we will explore and experience different levels of oneness (from Origins to Self to Humanity to the Transcendent) and find our own expressions.

Ron Jorgensen

Ron is an everyday mystic. He sees the mystical qualities in the common elements of life and always sees the world afresh. As a deep and eclectic explorer of our reality and with interests in nearly everything, he is charged with wonder and enthusiasm that is caught by his lifestyle and poetry. Always ready to share his original insights and to listen to those of others, Ron finds ways to nurture personal development through his writings on spirit and his teaching of tai chi and yoga. During his studies at Harvard University’s Divinity School, he met the visiting Allen Ginsberg, which influenced him deeply for writing poetry. His most significant education began in the 1970’s during his eight years in the Sri Aurobindo Ashram and Auroville in India where he studied and practiced Integral Yoga and worked on projects for an Ashram-related group, World Union. See

Theme: Poetry as a Path for Inner Development with Introductory Poetic Steps

If you have felt dissatisfied with your understanding and enjoyment of poetry, not even to speak of its major power in The Integral Yoga, carry that burden no longer! Our Sri Aurobindo will help and I will try to accompany him as much as capable. There will be an unfolding of three parts:  1 discussion of bases and elements of poetry, 2 poems—not only their excerpts from Savitri—that may ignite and draw us along the Way and 3 our contributions of our own or other poetry we feel authenticates our time together. Bring whatever you wish. With your pen and paper and handouts, leave with more. 

Theme: Tai Chi

Tai Chi is an ancient Chinese body art originated out of Taoism’s insights for harmony of body-heart-mind, energy, physical balance, health, stress release, and even self-defense; a practice through mainly a standing position in a flow of slow, soft and firm rooted movement without any pause, energized and disciplined by a pattern of diaphragmatic breathing, inspired by natural motions of animals and birds along with our own in a remarkable grace of ecstasy and dance-like beauty. Though our time is sparse for such a grand scope, we’ll be able to learn and definitely enjoy some core flows.  Chosen are The Constant Bear, Grasping the Sparrow’s Tail, and Waving the Hands in the Clouds.  More if we surprise ourselves as better than we’d thought!

JV Avadhanulu

In 1987, I was diagnosed with ischemic heart disease, high blood pressure and high blood sugar. The medical opinion gave me just 7 more years to live. I am now 72 and enjoy and I am quite well, thanks to Pranayama. In 2007, I quit my professional career to live in Auroville. I discovered the purpose of my life in sharing Pranayama and other wellbeing practices that were beneficial to me. I began a new journey in facilitating workshops in Auroville, India, Europe and USA.

Theme: Integrated Practice of Pranayama as a Tool for Health, Healing, and Yoga  

The integrated practice consists of simple Yoga postures, Pranayama (Yogic breathing to manage your energy through Chakras) and Deep Relaxation. It can be done in 30-35 minutes.

Disciple: What part does breathing exercise — Pranayama — play in bringing about the higher consciousness?

Sri Aurobindo: It sets the Pranic vital-currents free and removes dullness of the brain so that the higher consciousness can come down. Pranayama — does not bring dullness in the brain. My own experience, on the contrary, is that brain becomes illumined. When I was practising Pranayama at Baroda, I used to do it for about five hours in the day, — three hours in the morning and two in the evening. I found that the mind began to work with great illumination and power. I used to write poetry in those days. Before the Pranayama practice, usually I wrote five to eight lines per day; and about two hundred lines in a month. After the practice I could write 200 lines within half an hour. That was not the only result. Formerly my memory was dull. But after this practice I found that when the inspiration came, I could remember all the lines in their order and write them down correctly at any time. Along with this enhanced functioning, I could see an electrical activity all around the brain, and I could feel that it was made up of a subtle substance. I could feel everything as the working of that substance. That was far from your carbon-dioxide!

Morgan Kellock

Morgan’s hatha yoga practice spans 38 years since her first class at Ganga White’s Center for Yoga in Los Angeles. She is adept at leading all-level classes with intelligent sequencing, appropriate modifications and verbal clarity. Her studio classes include the vigor of Yang Flow with an eye for alignment, and the depth of Yin Flow for toning and release. Every class is unique, a creative collaboration in Beginner’s Mind.

Theme: Hatha Yoga 

With presence and patience, we will unlock physical and mental tension, tone muscles, and create space to relax and play at the conference. Our hatha practice at AUM will cultivate basic functional movement with playful attitude, balance the energies of effort and ease, and support our spiritual study in this beautiful natural setting. Weather permitting, maybe we’ll practice outdoors! 

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