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Gestalt&Zen: 'Nurturing a sense of belonging.'

'In our noisy world - noise intrudes the deepest valley - we have to impose the obligation on ourselves to preserve silence', writes Zen Master Niklaus Brantschen in this book 'Stille' (silence). Silence is politics. Silence as a cultural asset, as a natural heritage? The safe place for silence seems to be in ourselves. Sitting in silence, meditating in the Zen tradition, Za-zen, is part of the workshop 'Nurturing a sense of belonging': one day introduction to Zen, for experienced Zen practitioners one day Zazenkai (kai refers to community) with Niklaus, two and a half days Gestalt workshop with Margherita Spagnuolo Lobb. For further details please have a look at or visit the Facebook group Gestalt&Zen.

Why Gestalt&Zen? Fritz Perls writes: 'The whole philosophy of nothingness is very fascinating. (..) When we say "nothingness", there is a void, an emptiness (..). When the Eastern person says "nothingness", he calls it "no-thingness" - there are no things there. There is only process, happening. (..) And we find when we accept and enter this nothingness, the void, then the desert starts to bloom' (Perls 1969, 77f). There are as Niklaus found out four reasons to enter the nothingness. Curiosity. Stress reduction and enhancement of creativity. Search for meaning. Satori, Erleuchtung. As Gestalt people we add and the Zen Master nods: For us presence is the key, being present and in contact with our clients, in contact with our responses, the inner ones, the bodily resonance, thoughts, emotions, impulses. Sitting in silence we'll be practising nothing else but being there, being present, being in the now-moment. Thoughts will come and go, emotions will come and go, bodily sensations will come and go. Fasting for the senses. Practising the phenomenological attitude, knowing and not knowing, no comment, no judgment. What is is. Margherita writes: 'The feeling of oneself is the main tool to put our own certainties in the background and throw oneself into the wonderful momentary moment of self/other experience, with one's own song and dance, being free to try other possibilities in the here and now.' That's what we cultivate while meditating, that's what we practise in Gestalt. Fritz: '"I've got plenty of nothing." Nothing equals real​.'

The Zen practice taught by Niklaus is inspired by Bernhard Glassman's and the Zen Peacemakers's socially engaged buddhism. The silence Bernie brings to Auschwitz, to Bosnia-Herzegovina, but also to streets of Zurich and Manhattan, is politics, too. Niklaus founded together with Pia Gyger the Jerusalem project: Jerusalem – Open City for Learning World Peace (see Paul Goodman prompted us, to work for 'healthy communities'. In their times, in our times, they needed it, we need it, now. The silent retreat in the middle of the noisy world and the active intervention preserving the inner silence are two sides of one medal. Fritz: 'Withdraw to a situation from which you got support, and then come back with that regained strength to reality.' On that background, in this spirit the Swiss Association of Gestalt Therapy and Integrative Therapy SVG ( would like to invite you to the workshop with Niklaus and Margherita.

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