School of Intuitive Herbalism

Learning from the plants directly

Listening Touch and Subtle Listening – opening our perceptions

Listening Touch

Throughout our trainings at the school we systematically work with three distinct modes of perception – the perception of the body, the perception of the heart, and the types of insight and gnosis that are sometimes called seership.

All of these eperiences are happening at once, but it takes a care, patience and focus to learn how to discern each perception, deepen them and work with them in a way that is valuable to the client.

We meet the perceptions of the body through our somatic, visceral senses – through warmth, rhythm and sense of connection and flow. We listen for warmth and coolness, fullness and emptyness and a whole range of different embodied rhythms. We work with somatic transference and start to untangle our responses from our perceptions.

The perception of the heart is met through our empathic, emotional responses, developing a confident navigation of our feelings realms and those of others.

Our seership turns up in many different ways, from moments of spontenous knowing, to images, words, phrases and sense of presences in the space.

As we dive into each mode we learn to know our own patterns of perception better, to come out of habitual modes of seeing and relating, and bring insight into the space.

Whilst training as a herbalist twenty five years ago, I also started exploring bodywork. Initially this took the form of trainings in Holistic and Therpaeutic Massage as well as Aromatherapy, alongside my first steps into Reiki. At a certain point some years in I started to realise that these were simply the ‘form’ of bodywork, and that the essence lying beneath each was the same – compassionate witnessing touch. In my practice, every session now involves subtle bodywork as a means of unlocking and revealing the stories held within the body. Sometimes a little manipulation, stretching and ‘good old kneading’, but mostly very subtle deep listening – a listening that I have found can catalyse the most profound realisations and steps on a healing journey.

We now offer a two stage introduction to this skills, in the form of two four day immersions, one in Listening Touch and one in Subtle Listening.

The first course – the listening touch, is in some part and evolution of 25 years experience of Reiki and we have come to honour this part in the name as ‘Reiki Awen’ – for me this is the purest form of simple presence that we can bring. At times I’ve thought to leave ‘Reiki’ as such behind entirely, due to issues with how it is traditionally taught, but have now found a way to teach it that is congruent with my experience.

In approaching and teaching Reiki I have completely dropped any concept of ‘channelling’ energy to one of witnessing*. This practice is simply the loving act of witnessing the life energy within the person you are with. This act of compassionate witnessing supports both the emergence of this life force and the breakdown of the barriers we have put in place that separate us from it.

These classes have tendancy to start a profound process of your own healing and for this reason I see them as a ritual affirmation and commitment for yourself. Each person is different, but generally I recommend leaving a good length of time between the three levels of Reiki, such that each level becomes well practised and fully integrated. I see this work as primarily a self development process, since your ability to witness and be present with others is directly related to your ability to witness and be present with yourself

These sessions are for a maximum of six people allowing close support and supervision. As the school grows, these classes are increasingly taken as part of an on-going program of study (e.g. alongside apprenticeship or foundation year) and priorty is given to those who are part of an ongoing process with the school.

‘Thank you again so much for this fabulous experience, your welcome, your guidance, your fantastic teaching style and ability and the initiation of this energy. I feel very blessed to have been part of our small group and deeply nourished. I already experienced at the weekend as I was teaching a Shiatsu course how some of it has woven into my presence with the group and teaching.’

Markus Heimpel, 2017 (Shiatsu practitioner and teacher)


The second course: Subtle Listening extends the foundation of presence in touch that we introduce in the first course. We give each of the first three days to the perceptions of one of the cauldrons – a day to the somatic, a day to the heart and a day to our seership. In each of these we carefully learn how to navigate our internal landscapes of perception and slowly develop skillfullness with each mode of perception.

On the last day, we start to weave each of the three modes of perception back together and establish a strong baseline of knowing our own habits of perception to build from.

This second course can be taken any number of times and the only requirement is some background and experience in touch based therapy. It can be approached at any level of experience, since it is always possible to deepen and extend each of these modes of perception – someone 20 years in bodywork practice can get as much out of it as someone meetings these approaches for the first time.



For latest dates and financial exchange click here.

For more details do send us an email through the contact form or apply during our annual application window which is 1st – 14th January.




* Reiki is traditionally taught as the ‘giver’ channelling energy through their hands to the ‘reciever’. This model of understanding never sat well with me due to (1) The implied duality of healer/patient and (2) The idea that the energy comes from elsewhere.

Instead I have carefully watched what happens during sesssions and prefer to teach it as a process of witnessing the life energy / soul light / divinity within and by this process supporting it in its process of unfolding and manifestation. Our natural state is to be full of this light and life force, but for most, the toils of human life cause it to shrink away. Practiced in this way, Reiki is simply a name for a type of applied meditation practice which is deeply enpowering