Conversations on Forgiveness and Emotions

Dear friends and colleagues:

Given the continued uncertainties surrounding the pandemic and the warnings about a rise in Covid-19 infections in the fall, and furthermore, given the overwhelming experiential focus of our conference, an approach that is incompatible with an online format, we are postponing the conference until next year. We will be announcing new dates in February of 2021.

If you have further questions, please email Caroline Eick:                                                                                       

Thank you for your patience and understanding.

Flint Sparks
Keynote Speaker

Flint Sparks is a Zen teacher and former psychologist dedicated to assisting people in the unending path of growing up and waking up. He is an experienced therapist and a master teacher who assists people in the skillful removal of barriers to love, both inside and outside. He is a clear and caring resource on the path of freedom from unnecessary suffering. Flint has nearly four decades of experience in the practice and teaching of psychotherapy. He is also a Zen teacher who leads retreats throughout worldwide.

Flint’s academic training began with graduate degrees in both biology and psychology. He has extensive postdoctoral training in mindfulness based psychotherapies and group therapy with specialty training in both the Hakomi Method and Internal Family Systems Model. His traditional Zen training began at the San Francisco Zen Center and continued at the Austin Zen Center which he founded and nourished in its early years. Currently he is a guiding teacher at Appamada, a center for Zen practice and inquiry in Austin, Texas. He is also a guiding teacher at the Open Door Zen Community in Madison, Wisconsin and a closely related group of sanghas in the UK, Just This Zen Communities

Today, Flint’s teaching and consulting bridge the fields of health psychology, the psychology of contemplative practices, and traditional Zen Buddhist practice. His early research and counseling experience with the terminally ill inspired him to continue investigating the influence of consciousness in physical healing and emotional well-being. In response to witnessing the difficult struggles of both patients and family members dealing with chronic illness and death, he began to search for spiritual practices which would support and deepen his psychological work. This led him to an ever deepening commitment to Buddhist teachings and practices. Together, these two primary areas of interest—healthy human development and contemplative spiritual practices—form the complementary strands of the double-helix of full human maturity. These are the ongoing practices of growing up and waking up.

Presentation: The Heart's Release: Removing Barriers to Love Along the Zen Path​



Vera de Chalambert
Keynote Speaker

Vera de Chalambert is a spiritual storyteller and scholar of comparative religion. She speaks and writes about spiritual culture, mindfulness and the emergence of feminine wisdom in our times. Vera holds a Master’s degree from Harvard Divinity School. Her work explores the meeting place of theology, spirituality and social change and is informed by inter-spiritual insights from the world’s great wisdom traditions. Vera is deeply influenced by Buddhist and Kabbalistic lineages and was among the younger students of Reb Zalman Schachter-Shalomi Aging as Saging work. Her spiritual practice includes meditation, dance and motherhood and her greatest spiritual training and commitment are to the school of daily life, where the Divine reveals itself among the perils and joys of the mundane and the deepest process of healing and awakening unfolds in the heart of human relationship, creativity and community.

Presentation: Blessings of Brokenness



Güner Arslan, Ph.D.


Güner Arslan, Ph.D. was born in Germany from Turkish parents. He spent his childhood in Germany, his youth in Turkey and has been living in Austin for the past 21 years.

Soon after he arrived in Austin he got involved in interfaith and intercultural dialogue which eventually grew into the Dialogue Institute, an educational non-profit with more than a dozen chapters in 6 states with the mission to promote mutual understanding, respect and cooperation among people of diverse faiths and cultures by creating opportunities for direct communication and meaningful shared experiences. 

Güner is currently the volunteer director of the Dialogue Institute Austin and a speaker on interfaith dialogue, Islam and Sufism. He also serves as the President of the Board of Trustees of North American University, a private non-profit institution offering bachelor's and master's degrees based in Houston. 

During the day, Dr. Arslan works as a design engineer at Silicon Labs where he designs chips for the Internet of Things. He earned his Ph.D. in Electrical Engineering from the University of Texas at Austin specializing in digital signal processing.

Rupesh Chhagan 

Rupesh Chhagan, L.Ac, MSOM, CHP, CHT is a Certified Hakomi Teacher and Practitioner and a licensed Acupuncturist and Herbalist with a private practice in Austin, Texas.  He combines the wisdom of Hakomi and Chinese medicine to facilitate self-study in mindfulness that incorporates the energetic realm as well as the physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual. Rupesh is on the faculty of AOMA Graduate School of Integrative Medicine where he teaches Hakomi
skills in an Oriental Medicine context as well as the dynamics of the healing relationship. He is a long time student of Buddhist psychology, philosophy, and practice, with extensive explorations into Vipassana and Japanese Soto Zen.

Freedom and Forgiveness: The Somatic Impact of Letting Go and Holding On​ 



Caroline Eick

Caroline Eick, Ph.D., was born in Montréal, Québec where she grew up in a multicultural/multilingual immigrant neighborhood. Her experiences as first generation born to post WWII refugees who also struggled with alcoholism ignited in her a lifelong passion for learning how inherited personal and cultural beliefs/stories intersect to shape emotional distress and/or well-being. Caroline’s experiences with her son’s journey with mental illness have also led her to become a student of and integrate the latest research on the neurology of the heart and its influence on the brain to help build emotional resilience. As co-founder of the Center for Heart-Mind Coherence, Caroline integrates her experiences as practitioner in addiction treatment, her academic research in cross-group relations, and over forty years of practice in contemplative inquiry to help clients transform emotional hurts and obsessive behavioral patterns into emotional wisdom. She is a certified HeartMath mentor and is trained in the Hakomi body-centered psychotherapy. Caroline writes: “Accessing the wisdom of the heart is the great calling of our times and the next revolution in human consciousness.”

Presentation: The Radical Power of Forgiveness: An Act of Creation Within and From the Heart



John Fleming

John K. Fleming began his career at UT in the College of Liberals Arts serving as an Administrative Associate with the African and African Diaspora Studies Department.  He was also a member of The University of Texas Wind Ensemble and Symphonic Band while studying flute under Prof. Karl F. Kraber in the Butler School of Music.

Since 1992, John has worked extensively as a flute instructor, performer and clinician to students in music programs throughout the greater Austin and surrounding areas. He has facilitated leadership enrichment workshops relevant to band programs in the Austin, Pflugerville and Victoria Independent School Districts drawing from experiences as the first African American Drum Major of The University of Texas Longhorn Band. John has actively served in the community as a board member for Reading is FUNdamental, the KLRU Community Advisory Board and The University of Texas Longhorn Alumni Band and the Longhorn Band Advisory Council. He is a past Board Chair for the Leadership Enrichment Arts Program helping to mentor and inspire minority and under-served youth in Central Texas through the arts. He currently serves as the Director of Advocacy and Partner Relations with the Survive2Thrive Foundation which provides an ecosystem of life-saving resources to survivors of domestic violence and human sex trafficking who have been wait-listed for the 2 local shelters that service the Austin area.
John’s most recent endeavor is the development of the Conscious Conversation process where he helps people communicate effectively by honoring each person’s Truth with active/deep listening with the heart. In Conscious Conversations, all participants utilize empathy and compassion to create an intimate space where everyone is heard, understood, and where all participants matter.  The intention is to help people bridge the gaps of our differences so that we may come together with a greater understanding of each other.
John is an avid music lover, singer and musician and can be found at local live music venues and/or performances throughout the Central Texas area.

Presentation: ​Forgiveness and Social Engagement 


Steve Milan

Steve Milan, LCSW is a father and a son and a partner, a therapist and client and supervisor, a teacher and student, a mentor and friend and seeker. He has been a hapless, erratic and dedicated meditator for the last 25 years, and finds his own inconsistency both frustrating and endearing. In his therapy practice, he works primarily with men and couples. Steve offers holistic psychotherapy services using a mindfulness-based, body-centered approach and based in the awareness of our wholeness beyond learned habits of disconnection which can diminish our energy and restrict our freedom. His desire is that through his work, “we all live more fully and show up more consciously”. Steve also directs Sol Community Counseling - a quality, low cost, non-profit counseling center. And he founded the multidisciplinary healing community at Sol Healing and Wellness Center where he has his private practice. He claims Ron Kurtz (Hakomi), Kenneth Robinson (Yoga for the Emotional Body) and Rich Armington (Systems Centered Therapy) among his professional guides, and the wellness center as well as quite a few supervisees over the last 18 years as his professional legacy.

Presentation: The Forgiveness Begins at Home: Exploring the Barriers and Benefits of Self Compassion



Kyler Shumway

You might assume that Dr. Kyler Shumway, was one “the cool kids.” After all, he’s an author, former Division 1 athlete, and Doctor of Clinical Psychology. But in reality, Kyler was a target. Bullied for his weight, his second-hand farm boy clothes, and his social anxiety, Kyler was made to believe that he did not belong.  As rejection, humiliation, and isolation became “normal” for him, he began to change. Kyler became the bully.  After a painful journey of reconciliation and healing, he swore to make things different – because he knows he is not alone. 1 in every 3 adults have been bullied as children, and many of us continue to bear the pain of those experiences. Today, Kyler is on a mission.  He believes that, together, we can bring an end to the bullying problem by breaking the chain of suffering, daring to be different, and creating a world where everyone belongs.

Presentation: Bullying and the Fire of Unforgiveness



Jessica Steinbomer

Experienced in teaching, leading groups, public speaking and UX research, Jessica is a somatic practitioner and UX researcher. Whether working with businesses or individuals, Jessica observes the patterns, messages and innate wisdom of systems in order to serve as a guide to overall wellbeing. Jessica utilizes her analytical perspective as a researcher and business owner merged with a holistic perspective from Hakomi and somatic modalities to facilitate integration in the realms of health in both body and business. In addition to research, Jessica leads workshops, trainings and retreats in deep listening, personal resourcing and work life balance. Jessica is the co-author of "Heart of UX" a curriculum designed to assist researchers in mastering the art and science of UX research.

Presentation: To be announced



Jon-Eric Steinbomer

Jon-Eric is a Hakomi Somatic Psychotherapy Practitioner, Researcher, and Filmmaker.

For almost 20 years, Jon-Eric has been a human-centric pioneer in the tech industry, conveying people's stories as a user researcher. He partners with companies like Amazon, Google, Nissan and Microsoft to build empathy between the people who develop technology and those who use it.

Throughout his research career, he's witnessed first-hand the transformative power of the camera as a critical element of the success of his projects. He has seen it to be a powerful tool, both in better understanding the experience, as well as to help in conveying the richness and depth of peoples' lives to others.

He has a deep interest in relating, bringing awareness to the unconscious, and heart resonance. He also frequently studies the intersections of consciousness and quantum physics, Zen Buddhism and other non-dual teachings.

Presentation: Seeing ourselves through the lens of relational loving presence, an experiential introduction to the Standing Waves method.