Sympoiesis #2: Contemplative activism – writing Residency

15 Nov to 15 Dec 2021

Question: What is our response to the un-contemplative mess that we’re in ? 


Sympoiesis #2 is the second in the series of month-long residencies that are a spiritual cooking-together of various ingredients: people, practices, workshops, art, community life and actual cooking. The ingredients are drawn by the opening of a space, a vacuum to be filled by people and practices too spiritual for politics, too “political” for the monasteries. The idea that life can be divorced from spirit is at the heart of our trouble. Let’s sit with this great trouble without giving into the narrowing impulse to “save the world.”

Residencies combine both an activating frame of collective practices and a time space dedicated for writing on C.A , on a specific project or/ and daily work – A key aspect is learning how we can integrate community and practice, collective and private, absolute and relative in our daily life. 

Find out more about Sympoiesis Residencies at

Key Information

  • Where? The Life Itself Praxis Hub, Bergerac, France.
  • When? 15 nov 2021 to 15 dec 2021 
  • Who (is coming and can come)? system-thinkers, spiritual ecologists, bodhisattvas, change makers, symbiotic entrepreneurs, poets, painters, ecodharmists, people ready to just be with what comes, good and bad. 
  • Who is organising? Organised by Contemplative Activism Group of Life Itself Carers for the practices: Naresh Giangrande and Liam Kavannagh 
  • How can I join? From 2 weeks to a monthly resident or as a guest during retreat
  • How much does it cost? approx €350-550 per month / per person for room plus €210 for food (€7/day). Couples can share rooms at a substantially reduced rate.
  • Language : english  

Apply for residency :

(registrations will close the 6th of November for this residency )



The theme for this Sympoiesis is : Contemplative Activism

Contemplative Activism is a response to the realisation that one of the wellsprings of our social and personal pain and confusion is the lack of a contemplative mindset — the mindset we are in when we are “connected.” Contemplative activism involves doing the activism that we already do, such as climate activism, with a contemplative mindset. It also involves asking ourselves how to be active on behalf of the contemplative mindset — to give our wholeness its overriding place in our lives, organisations, and in society. Contemplative activism is a disposition to stay with our trouble and be guided to action by what rises.

These definitions of Contemplative Activism have emerged from our group who have been contemplating this question. We have just begun. Many other aspects of Contemplative Activism are emerging and this is what this residency is about . 

The design for this practice will be developed under the principle of contemplation, meaning we will sit, cook, eat together and create the adapted design for our group and writing goal of publishing a book on contemplative activism. During this sympoiesis a silent retreat will be organised open to guests interested to connect with us. 

Valerie Duvauchelle will be our tenzo and will guide us to compose menus which brings clarity and energy under the principles of Shojin cuisine, the zen temple food.

Retreat offered during this residency ?

Silent retreat : 26th- 28th of november 2021

During this sympoiesis a silent retreat will be organised and be open to guests. People will be able to come earlier and stay after to share thoughts on deep ecology, collapsology, complexity and activism.

Facilitators Naresh Giangrande and Liam Kavanagh

Naresh Giangrande 

As a Co-founder of Transition Town Totnes, the first Transition Town, I have facilitated many people in their journey to personal and community resilience. I am currently working with Jem Bendell on Deep Adaptation, am facilitating the economic dimension of Gai Education’s eco village design training, lead a group of contemplative activists, live in an ecovillage, was managing director of a landscape company, a gaffer in the film industry, and taught meditation.

Liam Kavanagh 

Director Of Life Itself Institute and Co-founder. Liam Kavanagh is a cognitive scientist who studies how our body and feelings interact with our thoughts, both within the individual and within social groups. Liam studied Economics at Cambridge University, and holds a PhD in Psychology and Cognitive Science from UCSD.

Register for this retreat HERE


Here is an outline of the schedule. It will be processed contemplatively, meaning we will sit together and create the adapted daily collective design for our group and writing goals of publishing a book that builds on the work all of us have been doing for eighteen months in Contemplative Activism. 

  • 7h00 to 7h30 am- body awakening 
  • 7h30 to 8h30 am – silent sitting 
  • 8h30 to 9h00 – community work ( chopping and cleaning )
  • 9h30 to 12h30- C.A session practice ( including cooking )
  • 13h00 lunch
  • 15h00 to 18h00- CA session session practice ( including cooking)
  • 19h00 diner
  • 20h30 zazen

Fridays and Weekends will be retreat time or private time . Every monday mornings we will adjust our design to the needs of our group.

This way people will have a daily structure to center themselves and experience what is the effect of a community moving together along the day. This residency welcomes people who need to work as a part of the retreats. Most of the CA session will be optional and could be dedicated to personal work , though many of us are devoting a good deal of time to writing. 

What are the invitations for this residency ? 

  • Residents shall commit to be on time to all community sessions in order to create an harmonious ecosystem
  • Residents shall commit to common principles (below) 
  • Residents shall agree to share their rooms during retreats if necessary 
  • Residents shall agree to not bring industrially slaughtered animal flesh or industrially extracted mothers animal milk to the hub
  • Residents shall agree to share collective daily activities such as chopping, cooking and cleaning as it is part of the Praxis Hub concept. 

We want to make our world our home the way it is and stop running from it 

We want to reconnect with our contemplative natural state of living

We want to light our shadows 

We want to make space for dreams to come. 

We want to engage in Life now.

Common principles 

We are a Lab of practices and want to experience the effect of the collective body on ourselves and how it feeds back the collective. In order to do that we believe basics have to be agreed on previously to the reunion. Those commitments are a mix of common sense behaviors when we live together and as a residency, specific requirements to giving back the fruits of your experience at the Praxis Hub.

  • to commit not to bring animal flesh products into the Hub in order to create a sanctuary and honor the sacrifice of all the lives taken for our food today
  • to commit to follow a daily collective schedule and community work
  • to commit to participate in retreats/workshops during residency
  • to commit to live no trace in kitchen , bathrooms , toilets after personal use 
  • to commit to put back zafu and zabutons in order manner after use 
  • to commit to not use alcohol during the week e in the Hub ( we can go outside), week ends are OK for party.
  • to commit to clean one’s room fully before departure
  • to commit to answer a questionnaire before entering the hub and write a feedback after the experience related to daily collective practices, food and facilitation.

FAQs particular to this residency

What is Contemplation?

By contemplation we mean: an ability that humans are gifted with for immersing ourselves in what we are attending to, allowing what is actual is to inspire thoughts rather than thoughts framing our view of what actually is. It has a feeling, you know it. This is something we all get into at points in our life. A contemplative practice is an activity, that involves by its nature, arousing this quality of experience. Nature poetry, for example, virtually requires us to contemplate nature so that we are inspired. Opening ourselves to inspiration is inherently contemplative. As the retreat has an artistic intention, we will be doing a lot of this kind of practice along with other practices which are more commonly thought of as contemplative, like meditations of various kinds.

Can I come for less than a month?

We will give preference to participants who can commit to a month for the purposes of allowing a real community of practice to emerge. For the people who can’t have the opportunity to stay 2 weeks we offer the possibility to receive people as guests 3 or 5 days around retreats time.

Can you offer discounts?

Please contact us if your financial situation makes it difficult for you to attend. We do our best to ensure people are able to attend and maybe able to offer special support. However please remember that to still consider retreats donations participation in order to support the service of the curator. 

How much will food cost?

We hope to maintain a 7 euros budget per resident and per day . 8 euros for guests.

What are the menus?

All food will be free of animal product and 95 percent organic. During retreats will be 90 % gluten free ( use of bulgur or spelt flour).Every meal will be carefully balanced in terms of proteins by the cooks . 

During silent retreat food will be 3 dishes served together under the principles of shojin zen cuisine (1 cereal/2 proteins – veg/3 raw veg with a variety of textures, colors and savors)+ cookies or dessert. At breakfast a non gluten porridge + fruits + mix grains will be prepared. 

Do I need to bring something?

A zoom call will be organized one week before the start where we will  all meet and arrange last details.

Do I need to prepare myself in some ways ?

This residency is an invitation to deconstruct ourselves. No preparation other than the readiness to “bewith” whatever comes 

What are the COVID-19 safety measures?

We cannot assure social distancing between participants, though, as of now, we will ask residents to carefully manage their distance from townspeople during the residency. We will be proceeding under the assumption that people will have either been vaccinated, acquired immunity naturally and/or accept some risk of illness from other participants. 

Do you provide refunds?

We can provide a refund up until three weeks before your stay.

Do you provide a refund if I can’t travel for COVID?

In the event that there are travel warnings or you become ill, we can provide a 50 % refund, 100 per cent if we can find other people to replace your reservation. 

Can you accommodate my special accessibility, dietary or other requirements?

We will cook  simple vegan meals,. If you have other specialised nutritional requirements, you will need to make some arrangements for these yourself. Please let us know and we will help as best we can. However this is a collective experiment and bear in mind that our private needs has to be measured according to the community ones. 

Can I leave and return within the same month booking?

We can accommodate monthly resident who must travel for other business. we also have 2 weeks residency . Please contact us to talk about it.