Walking In Your Shoes®

Wolfgang Ettenreich, M.S.


 

In the 1990’s I earned my Masters of Computer Science & Theoretical Medicine from the Technical University of Munich, Germany.

About a couple decades later I was granted the AMI Montessori diploma to work with children according to the pedagogy and philosophy of Maria Montessori.

Most recently I was certified by Joseph Culp to facilitate the Walking-In-Your-Shoes method. I am a member of the WIYS Institute of North America (www.wiys-institute.com, see facilitator listing).

Some Information About Me

Below I am sharing some of my interests and skills with you. Why would you care to read? Well, you might be among the people who like to know a little more about a facilitator in order to decide if it is ‘worth’ to give something new a try. But as you know, the menu is not the food. You will never know what WIYS is and might do for you until you try it out!

Walking In Your Shoes ®

This profound work has become a true passion of mine. I have spent some significant amount of time in LA for 1-on-1 work/training with Joseph Culp, the co-founder of Walking-In-Your-Shoes. Then I embarked in the group work process – here in the Bay Area and in LA – for the certification process, also with Joseph Culp. Mid 2014 I became one of the first 2 certified WIYS facilitators here in the SF Bay Area. My goal is to make this method known to a wider audience so that more people may benefit from it.

Systemic Constellation Work

I came to know about WIYS via Systemic Constellation Work (SCW, aka family constellations) which I am involved with since 2001. I had several of my own constellations set up and was a representative in numerous constellations (still counting). The fascination for this work led me to take 2 levels of facilitator training and afterwards to co-facilitate workshops. In my WIYS workshops I point out some of the similarities and differences between Walking-In-Your-Shoes and SCW as needed.

Diamond Approach

As a student of the Diamond Approach I am a member of the Ridhwan School for Spiritual Development in Berkeley, CA. In this spiritual work we practice and refine the continuous exploration of the Truth & Dynamism of Reality. Why are we not all True Nature, what takes us away from our very home? One of the main ‘tools’ is Inquiry, the skillful exploration of one’s own experience into its very depths. I find some striking parallels in the process of Inquiry and WIYS.

Didjeridu

A few years ago I stumbled over a seemingly odd musical instrument, made out of wood and hollowed out by termites: the didjeridu. Turned out that it is the oldest wind instrument known and being played by the Australian Aborigines since the beginning of time. With ongoing, incredible lessons from the world reknown didjeridu virtuoso and master player Stephen Kent, I now have some decent playing skills under my belt. But the didjeridu has also become part of my spiritual journey: its primal sound and simplicity, the powerful vibrations and a teacher if one can truly listen and let go of any ego.

Dance Of Oneness ®

I just wanted to be back at the lovely Esalen Institute at Big Sur, CA and the workshop I took was completely by chance. But then what a delight … spirituality fully embodied! Now I am very grateful to be a student of the wonderful Banafsheh Sayyad, located in Los Angeles, who teaches self-empowerment and spiritual development through dance. She is the creator of Dance of Oneness, which draws from Persian Classical and Tribal Dance, Flamenco, Yoga, Tai Chi, and Sufi Ritual, the poetry of Rumi and Hafez, Gurdjieff Work, Chinese Medicine and Nutrition. Oh I wish I had some more time to for workshops of her.

Aikido

Even though I am not practicing actively on the mat anymore, Aikido is still present in me as an art of living and a philosophy of being in this world. I made it to first degree black belt and enjoyed having yet another world class teacher: Sensei Pat Hendricks – recently promoted 7th Dan – of Aikido of San Leandro, CA. The years on the mat there and the times as an uchi-deshi (in-house student) won’t be forgotten.

And did I mention … ?
I am not a hoarder of certificates & degrees but did ‘collect’ some very helpful – and at times quite profound – experiences.

For many years I have participated in – and I still do – Holotropic Breathwork workshops. I find this modality and the work of Stan Grof very intriguing for a variety of reasons. I like it when the chattery mind gets a time-out.

For a few years I was a student of Sasaki Genso Roshi, a Zen master of the Rinzai tradition and a disciple of Omori Sogen Roshi. Even though I was used to get up early as an Aikido uchi-deshi, it wasn’t always easy to sit on the mat at 5am to receive morning tea and end the day often close to midnight. How light though a head is without the mind’s noise.

I enjoyed many workshops, among them ‘Dance For Life’ with dance pioneer Anna Halprin, ‘Integral Transformative Practice’ with George Leonard, ‘The Heart Of The Shaman’ with Richard Yensen or ‘Unlearning Racism’ with Lee Mun Wah. Beside those …

OK, enough of the ‘menu’  :-)

Wolfgang

Wolfgang

Certified WIYS Facilitator

I am based in the San Francisco Bay Area. To get in touch with me you can simply use the contact form on this site. If you are interested in future workshops, trainings etc, please sign up at the bottom of the page (see WIYS logo).

You may also visit me on Facebook (f) / LinkedIn (in) or get some occasional tweets.

WIYS General Logo (R)

To sign up for workshop announcements/WIYS events visit the Contact Page

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Aligning with life's depth
The life we are living is all too often only the tip of the iceberg, those 10% we actually see above the waterline. Unfortunately we barely see or recognize that there is much more than what seems to be. What is keeping us on the surface rather then experiencing life in its depths? Factors contributing to this are, to name a few: limiting believes, old patterns & self-images, sometimes trauma, following the standard notion of separateness & dualism, and many more. We are mostly unconscious of these and other dynamics operating in us and some are sanctioned or even reinforced by society, like individualism, consumerism and other '-isms'. WIYS can help us to (re-)align ourselves with this original depth despite our unconscious loyalty to what seems to be real and what we allow ourselves to receive. In some way then WIYS is moving us towards ‘more life’ one step at a time.
A different kind of knowing
Osho: “For listening, one needs a discipline of being silent, of being in the moment, of putting aside one's mind with all its garbage - making a way for whatever you are listening to. If it is true, bells will start ringing in your heart; if it is not true, nothing will happen within you. This is a different kind of knowing: through the heart, not through the mind. This is the only true way that one can understand.”
Osho, Zarathustra: A God That Can Dance, Ch.#5: Prologue
The above quote summarizes quite beautifully some key aspects of WIYS: we work phenomenological (with what arises in the moment) and during the Walk we listen more to our body than our mind (what does it feel like). That which rings true then - not necessarily recognized by our mind - will express itself thru the body of the Walker in movements, words, emotions and others. We use our mind intelligently to understand and integrate our experience (not playing out any of our prejudices, judgements etc.) once the Walk has concluded. Welcome to A Different Kind of Knowing.
Thru walking to understanding
The process of walking is usually a simple means to get us from one place in the environment to another. Here and there we walk for some sightseeing, for exercising our body or just to get some fresh air. In changing only a few parameters of 'a Walk' we are suddenly able to experience a facet or dimension of reality which by far surpasses the one we typically encounter in daily life. First we let go of any ideas to get somewhere and how our body is supposed to move. Then we give the Walk a clear intention (such as to be another person) and pay close attention on what is happening, what is arising in our body. During the entire process we perceive information, express it thru our body and arrive at different levels of knowing. For more details about the actual process, please read “How It Is Done”.
Discovering new possibilities
What determines that which we are going after in life, what we are trying to achieve or not, the risks we are willing to take or the options we see available to us? For each one of us there are true limitations indeed: not everyone can be a theoretical physicist or a world class sprinter, no matter how hard one tries. But unconsciously we are limiting ourselves much more because of old but powerful believes, self images, (trans-generational) traumas and a variety of other causes. WIYS is a powerful tool to rediscover the tremendous possibilities in our life, in our profession, in our projects or in our relationships. It can help us seeing and going beyond our habitual horizon only to discover paths where we never thought one to be.
Igniting capacities for healing
Though WIYS is a powerful tool, we don’t aim to heal a person or ‘work’ on improving the particulars of a condition. What we do is exploring deeper layers of reality, other facets of it. For example: A person would like to explore the state of depression she often finds herself in. Our aim is not to get rid of the depression and/or making the person feel happier but to explore her condition. So the Walk might show an exiled, suppressed part of hers which was not welcomed by the parents or caregivers in the early years of life. Maybe this part was too exuberant, too intense for them to deal with. By now recognizing this part in the Walk, embracing it, maybe grieving its absence for so many years, she will eventually be able to integrate and own it. In this way we facilitate a path which - more often than not - leads to healing, igniting capacities which are already there so to speak.
Realizing empathy
Empathy is at the core of this work. It is the capacity we all share - to various degrees - to recognize the emotions another person is experiencing. At times we can well imagine how something feels like for another person based on our own experience. Without such experience we are mostly left to make assumptions. But regardless how ‘common’ someones situation might look like, it is nevertheless a unique experience of this individual. WIYS is a wonderful method to practice and ‘realize’ our empathy in that we put ourselves in the shoes of someone else. Only very little imagination and no assumptions but the immediate, felt sense in one’s own body makes this work a powerful dive into the human experience and beyond.
Bridging the human divide
One main contributor to the magnitude of suffering in the world is our strong conditioning to see and experience the world as inherently separated. There is me, there is you, there is us versus them and each one of us being separate from nature & the world around us. We tend to emphasize much more that which makes us distinct from one another than realizing that which connects us, that which we all share. The reasons doing so are manyfold, from survival instincts, traumas, etc. all the way to the fundamental loss of connection to our True Nature. WIYS has been used for team building, to (re-) establish communication where it had broken down and to facilitate reconciliations. It can be a deep spiritual practice, allowing us to experience being the bridge to each other and beyond, the oneness of all there is.
Supporting creativity
Much has been written and talked about being in the flow, about creativity or the creative process. Nevertheless many of us experience at times that a project or some endeavor stalls because we have no ideas on how to continue or what the next step should be. There is the story we’re writing which needs a villain we can’t come up with, the dance choreography which doesn’t meet our vision yet, the marketing campaign or product design we are stuck with and so forth. You could explore what might be blocking your creativity, sure. But you can also go for a more 'direct' approach and walk your project, your choreography, the villain for your story etc. and let yourself be surprised in what shows up. Joseph Culp - the WIYS co-founder - has used WIYS for decades to help actors, artists, writers (to name a few) to tune into what supports their work and make it flourish. His Walking Theatre Group is using WIYS to develop characters, story lines and more.
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