Introduction to Contemplating Impermanence: Death, Dreams and Forgetfulness 1

22nd November 2019 9.30 am – 4.30 pm
Institute of Group Analysis, 1 Daleham Gardens, London, NW3 5 BY

Cost: £130 ( includes teas coffees and snacks but not lunch – there are nearby venues for lunch or bring your own )

Convenors : Lawrence J. Ladden and Jale Cilasun

Please email to book your place before 1st November 2019.


All life-changing transitions, including those in health, work, relationships, ageing, and the end of life itself, benefit greatly from mindful attention and care. Our relationship to impermanence is central to mindfulness practice, mindfulness helping us to navigate life changes by bringing our full, supportive attention to what is about to depart as well as what is about to arrive, thus living a full attentive life.

Mindfulness practice reveals how the present moment is fleeting, and how something new is always emerging. The dream experience itself expresses impermanence. When awake we forget our dreams and when dreaming we forget that we are asleep. This echoes our relationship to impermanence – it is as if we are asleep to the fact of impermanence even though it is all around us.

This one day workshop will use mindfulness and group process to explore our relationship to impermanence. The workshop will have three integrated aspects:

First, we will practice mindfulness in silence and as a group with speech – Contemplative Group Dynamics. As with individual practice the group notes sensations, feelings and thoughts. A common observation about Contemplative Group Dynamics is that it “makes it easier to stay present.”


Second, we will explore dreams as expressions of impermanence. We can notice how our mind generates feelings and actions that feel real, only to see upon awakening their constructed nature.

Third, we will work with experiences of life changes from the group, treating them as if they are like dreams. This means that the thoughts, memories, feelings, and sensations as well as the shared emotional resonance members have to these life changes become a caring object of mindfulness for the group.

It is our hope that this day will help participants to bring awareness of the preciousness of the present moment more fully into their lives. By appreciating what occurs and not taking the moments of our life for granted we can bring a caring attention and a steady presence to the unfolding mystery that is right here.

This workshop is open to all interested in group work and mindfulness to explore impermanence including experienced mindfulness practitioners as well as those for whom it is new. There will be instruction in mindfulness practice.

There will be a monthly block group working with these themes from February 2020.

Learning Objectives:

  1. Identify how formal mindfulness practice enacts a first-hand relationship to impermanence in relation to sensation, feeling, and thinking.
  2. Identify the role of mindfulness in cultivating acceptance toward human expressions of impermanence: separation, illness, ageing and death.
  3. Describe the benefit of a group mindfulness practice using speech to mutually recognise and contain emotion.


Chandha, M. (2019). Reconstructing memories, deconstructing the self. Mind & Language, 34 121-138

Ganeri, J. (2017). Attention not self. Oxford: Oxford U. Press.

Levine, S. (1997). A year to live: How to live this year as if was your last. New York: Bell Tower

Mühlhoff, R. (2015). Affective resonance and social interaction. Phenomenology andthe Cognitive Sciences, 14 (4): 1001-1019.

Svenaeus, Fredrik (2018). Edith Stein’s phenomenology of sensual and emotional empathy. Phenomenology and the Cognitive Sciences, 17 (4):741-760.

Thompson, E. (2015). Waking, dreaming, being: Self and consciousness in neuroscience, meditation, and philosophy. New York: Columbia University Press.


Dr Jale Cilasun is a Psychiatrist with specialist training as a Medical Psychotherapist and in Group Analysis who has been working in the NHS for 33 years, last 18 years as Consultant Medical Psychotherapist. She has extensive experience of using the group as therapeutic medium for a wide range of psychological conditions. She has been working with contemplative group dynamics for the last eight years.

Dr Lawrence Ladden is a Health Psychologist and Clinical Psychologist with specialist training in group dynamics, practicing in the UK since 2013, and for years prior in Philadelphia with expertise in using mindfulness with patients with physical health conditions, such as cancer and chronic pain. A mindfulness instructor for more than 30 years, he developed contemplative group dynamics which is an integration of mindfulness practice and group processes.