Drama for Life, a department of the University of the Witwatersrand School of Arts, launched a Think Tank in early January on African Contemplative Practices – a research platform supported by Mind and Life with South Africa’s African Healers, Sangomas, Arts Therapists, Neuroscientists, Artists and Mindfulness practitioners. The group congregated at Tara Rokpa Retreat Centre to explore the significant meaning, value and place of African Indigenous mindfulness and healing practices in the world. The project is directed by Dr Lucy Draper-Clarke.

The workshop was aimed at defining contemplative practices in the African context, and bringing together together scholars and contemplative practitioners from different African traditions to: 1) categorize African embodied (predominantly movement-based) contemplative practices; 2) develop a scheme of classification of their perceived state and trait benefits; 3) design a collaborative, interdisciplinary research agenda; and 4) form a professional learning circle of colleagues committed to community building, knowledge- and resource-sharing, and social transformation through contemplative practice in order to heal the past, transform the present, and allow for future flourishing.

I got the privilege to spend a few significant days at the exquisite Tara Rokpa Retreat Centre with an extraordinary group of diverse individuals. What an experience! I feel like I’ve walked into the future where the past and present meet knowingly. The nature of the work is radical, evolutionary and so necessary. I’m in awe of the beautiful people and the wisdom they carry.” Warren Nebe, Director of Drama for Life

Gratitude to my newfound family for these extraordinary days. It was such a privilege to be part of this extraordinary Think Tank. I keep repeating the phrase ‘I learned SO much’, which I did, but perhaps more importantly it reminded me of my purpose, which is service, and within this very kind of milieu.

I’ve also been mulling on the Tara Rokpa Centre and wanted to share with you my thoughts. It is an extremely special space. The energy is absolutely clear; pure, and within the Octagon there is an invisible containment that I sense provides the environment to birth truth and to open hearts. I think that in having conceptualized this critical Think Tank and initiated it in the Tara Rokpa Centre, you set up the conditions to birth these generous days we are all bubbling over with.” Ruth Levin-Vorster, Neuroscience researcher

Eternal gratitude for being part of this extraordinary and precious retreat” Bandile Seleme, Drama Therapist and facilitator of Umgidi Wokulingisi