The Leela School Waking Up From the Trance of Suffering

Located in Ashland, Oregon, The Leela School is an educational non-profit (501c3) dedicated to world peace and freedom through universal self-realization. The school is the training arm of the Leela Foundation started by Ashland resident Eli Jaxon-Bear in 1996. The foundation offers retreats and trainings locally as well as in Europe, Australia and New Zealand. In today’s interview we spoke with Eli to discuss a new year of certification courses that will be offered here in Ashland this April, May and August.

Eli, thank you so much for doing this interview today and for being a part of the LocalsGuide. It’s been a while since we last spoke. What’s new at The Leela School?

It has been a year since our last interview and our school has grown in wonderful ways over the past year. I am excited to share it with our community. We had our first graduating class in Australia a few months ago and our first class in Europe will begin in Amsterdam this spring. We will also have a new graduating class here in Ashland in May.

As the school grows our context has grown as well. Our first year of training can lead to certification in clinical hypnosis. This entry level allows our students to set up a private practice and support their clients on the level of changing dysfunctional thoughts, feelings or behaviors. This is the level of work addressed by traditional cognitive behavioral therapy, however we have found that clinical hypnosis is one of the fastest, and most effective, ways to effect permanent change that enriches people’s lives. Whether working with negative habits, relationships or negative self-worth, you will be expertly prepared to assist people in dramatically altering their lives.

Now that hypnosis is being used at the Mayo Clinic and other major hospitals as well as being taught at Stanford and other universities, hypnosis as a fast and effective change agent is widely accepted in the medical world. Our teaching ensures that our graduates are ready to meet and assist a full range of presenting problems and they are already doing so with an amazing degree of success.

The next level of our training goes beyond the presenting symptom to the deeper layers of ego and character development. We use our version of a mathematical model of the psyche, perhaps first developed by the Greek philosopher Pythagoras, (known now only for his Pythagorean Theorem). This model is called the Enneagram, for its nine-points, with our ego structure fixated at one of those points. Once we can recognize our own egoic structure we can see deeply into our own psyche as well as those who come to us for council or therapy. This can lead to deep realization about why we are the way we are, and the possibility of realizing a deeper truth about ourselves. Using this model enables us to distinguish between character fixation and true character and between ego and true self.

Something new this year, we are opening our Enneagram classes to first-year students as well, so that there are now two entry points into the school. We offer a possible certification as a Leela Enneagram Coach at the conclusion of the Enneagram trainings. We are also opening the first five-day Enneagram retreat to anyone interested, whether you want to be certified or not.

Our third year is our mentor year where we develop mentoring skills, learn advanced interventions, and further develop our teaching capacity with the possibility of being certified as a Leela Trainer.

By offering an in-depth experience that is both personal and professional we are setting the ground for personal awakening and for that realization to be passed on to those who desire it.

Last year’s series of Advanced Hypnotherapy classes here in Ashland were a huge success, and you received great feedback from your students. Would you mind sharing some of this with us?

We have received many wonderful reports, both here in Ashland and in Australia. Here is one from a new student, and another from someone who was already a successful therapist before taking our course:

During the first days of the retreat, Sonia, one of our new students, just learning the process, reported, “I have a message for you from my mom: She said to thank you so much. I spoke with her last night on the phone and I practiced something we were learning and she had an opening. She relaxed and it was so beautiful to connect with my mom that way. I saw her in such a different way, I was able to see her for the first time as my own self. We both were in awe and as we sat together in the silence.” We have a video clip of this report on our website if you would like to see it. Sonia is so moving and innocent in her reporting. You can see it here: https://www.leelaschool.org/resources/testimonials

Another student, Kemila, already a published author on hypnotherapy and past life regression, and for many years a successful hypnotherapist in Vancouver wrote,

“The Leela School’s Advanced Clinical Hypnosis course is different from any other hypnotherapy schools that I know. Each class starts with silence so we all start by going within, finding our own inner presence and resources. Eli and the Leela School teachers present each class in a very simple way, and when you start to practice, you get to find out how rich this actually is when drawing out your own inner wisdom.

Participating in the course is not just creating a new career for your future, it is to rediscover yourself. Expect to be supported, seen, heard, and transformed.

This is a hypnotherapy course with a soul! And it is a course where you learn enough skillful means while at the same time you wake yourself up from the trance of suffering.”

Please talk more about what it means to “be a true friend” and why this is important to the work you are doing.

A perfect example of being a true friend was Sonia’s report of being with her mom. By being a true friend for her mom, she was able to serve her mom in a way she never had before in her life, and as a result she was able to see her mom, without her daughter projections, and so was able, for the first time, to see her as her own self.

Mostly we believe that being a true friend means listening to our friend’s story of what’s wrong and trying to give advice to help fix it, and then having that person to tell your tales of woe to when you are down. Being a true friend in our context is the ability to be with someone with an open heart and a silent mind in order to receive them without anything going on internally – no judgment, no desire to help or fix, not needing anything back, like love or recognition or support. In this way the person in need is able to be in a completely safe space and receive a true reflection of themselves in a moment of openness, silence and love.

Once you can sit as a true friend to meet whatever arises, then we teach skillful means to expertly assist our clients in reaching outcomes beyond their dreams.

Congratulations on all your success, this all sounds very exciting. Before we go into detail with your 2017 schedule, will you please introduce us to the Leela Foundation and the services you provide both locally and around the world? 

The Leela Foundation is a non-denominational, non-hierarchical organization devoted to world peace and freedom. We provide a meeting place for truth seekers to discover and realize for themselves the deepest insights of self-inquiry.

The Leela School is the training arm of the Leela Foundation, which is set up to train and certify helping professionals. We offer a unique model of the ego and the means for realizing your true nature and provide a deep support for waking up from the trance of suffering.

Eli, you mentioned the growth of the school. Who are some of the people who have played a role in this growth?

Someone our local community may not yet be familiar with, as he is a New Yorker, is our Director and Senior Lecturer, Yigal Joseph. Yigal has a Doctorate of Philosophy degree and is a New York State Licensed Psychologist and has New York State Permanent Certification as a School District Administrator. He is the recently retired Principal of Columbus Elementary School, where he implemented a discovery-oriented, inquiry-based curriculum that led to NY State recognition. 

He has served as Chief Psychologist of the Corsello Centers for Complementary Medicine, and as Director of the NYC Psychologist-In-Training Program, where he coordinated the recruitment, training and supervision of psychology interns in collaboration with ten area colleges and universities. As senior administrator in the Office of Schools’ Chancellor he enabled school leadership teams to incorporate exemplary teaching and learning standards.

Yigal and I are currently working on taking our training manual, An Awakened Guide: A Manual for Leaders, Teachers, Coaches, Healers, and Helpers, currently only available to our students, and making it a new book for the general public.

“Let both the client and therapist wake up.” Please tell us more about this quote.

There is no end to the depth of realization one can awaken to.  In our role as Leela therapists, we can continue to see our own latent tendencies show up and have the capacity to stay true. We can always drop deeper within ourselves.  This depth and clarity is what we offer to those who come to see us; it is transmitted from heart to heart.

Whether your client comes to solve a problem, stop a negative habit, develop self-esteem and confidence, cure an emotional wound or something deeper, your open-hearted contact with them will transmit the possibility of living life in openness and love that is centered in intelligence and clarity.

This year you will be starting a new training series as well as bringing a new Enneagram training. Please talk about this.

When I went to college in the ‘60’s my psychology department was under the spell of B.F. Skinner and behavior modification, which I found ineffective in actually meeting people where they were and helping them, so I dropped psychology until twenty years later when I was called to it again. Getting certified in clinical hypnosis was the way I found to get around the rigidness of a system that I didn’t see working and get me into a private practice where I was helping people in a few short sessions instead of years of psychotherapy. Now we offer that option as a ground-level start to a career that can go beyond the limits of mainstream psychotherapy. After our training you will be certified and ready to open a practice or to add to the skill level of whatever else you may be doing in your life.

The next level we offer are the Enneagram Retreats that can lead to certification as a Leela Enneagram Coach. After that we have trainings leading to certification as a Leela Mentor and Trainer.

This spring we are offering the opening Enneagram Course as a five-day introduction to this work for those who want to deepen in their insight into their own nature as well as adding the Enneagram as a tool for deeper insight into their relationships and clients. We are also beginning a new round of Clinical Hypnosis Certification trainings this August.

Who is most suited to take your trainings?

We attract people from all over the world that are called to both be in service of others and are interested in their own deepening insight into themselves. We draw people who want quality and depth both in their personal lives and in their ability to help others.

We do not draw from the mainstream but from people who want to make a difference with their lives while being an independent, self-supporting career professional. I know we should say it is for everyone but it is not. We are for the people who are drawn to waking up from the dream of suffering, or who have already woken up, and want to be able to pass it on and make a good living while serving.

Eli, please share more about your own background in hypnotherapy and counseling.

After briefly running a Buddhist meditation center in 1978, throughout the 1980’s I led the Clinical Hypnosis Certification Program at Esalen Institute in Big Sur, and at the Institut Dr. Schmida in Vienna, Austria.

I have been certified as a Master Trainer in Neurolinguistics and I was on the Board of Examiners of the American Council of Hypnotist Examiners.  I was trained in Ericksonian and classical hypnosis and had a successful clinic in San Francisco, but felt there was still a piece missing. I then found the Enneagram teaching that was just starting in the Bay Area in those days. I trained with Claudio Naranjo, Kathy Speeth and Jerry Perkins.

After learning it, I changed the focus of that system from personality to ego structure and was a keynote speaker at the First International Enneagram Conference as Stanford, where I introduced a new model of the Enneagram.  That shift in perspective became the basis of my first Enneagram book, published in 1988. By integrating the insights into character and ego from the Enneagram, my teaching and clinical practice took on a whole new dimension of insight and depth. I could now work much more deeply with my clients and much more efficiently by knowing the deep structure of their character. My current Enneagram book is called From Fixation to Freedom and incorporates the deepening I experienced when I met my teacher in India in 1990.

My book Sudden Awakening (Hampton Roads) integrates the insights from my work with the steps needed to end the spiritual search in full self-realization. It is a step-by-step guide to direct experience of self-knowledge. Currently, Wake Up and Roar has just been released in a 25 Year Anniversary Edition, with a first-ever audio book version as well.

Please walk us through the structure of your upcoming Enneagram Course.

This course starts in April and is a five day retreat. Our time together will be an experiential exploration of how ego works and how to live a life of true character. The difference between character and character fixation shines a light on hidden parts of ourselves that, when brought to light, can be seen through. We discover the deeper possibilities of love and spontaneity in living a life of freedom.

We have an incredible collection of videos of people demonstrating their fixation and what the transcendence of fixation looks like. For each point of fixation we can show videos, have various exercises and use other means to both uncover the fixation and have the wisdom mirror to see beyond ego to our true nature. We will learn how to spot fixation in ourselves and in our clients and we will also see different techniques for addressing different fixations and discover a secret of the emotional body that allows us to drop into our true essence.

If after this five day course you choose to continue on with the school, the next module would be working with a personal mentor and watching videos online while doing various lessons derived from the videos and in consultation with your mentor. The third section is an advanced class and a certification testing period, after which, those who are qualified will be certified as a Leela Enneagram Coach.

In May, we are offering our clinical hypnosis course, offered in 3 parts leading to Certification in Clinical Hypnosis. There are two in-person retreats sandwiched around an online module that shows different cases and breaks down the therapeutic interventions so that you can master them for yourself. There are also ten one-hour one-on-one mentoring sessions as part of the online module to insure the student’s personal integration and skill building.

This course will teach you how to be a successful therapist if that is your goal, but is also ideal for anyone seeking a deeper insight into their own psychological movements and patterns. It is an assistance to those who are already practicing as a health professional, offering fundamental insights as well as skillful means to add to your existing practice. This course is for those who have a calling to work in the helping professions, and be a support for others. By the end of the first year you will be able to set up a successful private practice.

Who are some of the teachers who will be participating this year in the upcoming training series?

Students will work with me personally as well as other teachers in The Leela School who have studied with me over the years and who have displayed the depth and clarity required to be available in this capacity. I feel so fortunate that deeply qualified students have become teachers and are ready to pass on what they have learned. Here are a few of them:

Lisa Schumacher is one of our local teachers in the school who, besides teaching in the school and carrying on a private practice, has satsang retreats around the world.  Avram Sacks is another local that I have known and worked with for 18 years.  Avram has a private practice in town and works as a mentor with our students.

Terry Shultz, who was certified by me at the Esalen certification program in 1989, now is a clinical director of a counseling organization that started out with 5 therapists, offering 24 hour in-home crisis services to at-risk families in Central Pennsylvania. It has since grown to 60 therapists and 20 paid support staff, offering a range of programs and resources for families. A third of Terry’s therapists have been together for 20 years and another third have been here for at least 12 years. Terry’s staff thrives in an atmosphere of Empowerment and Self Realization.

There’s not enough room to mention everyone, so please check out their photos and bios and the rest of our staff on The Leela School website

Eli, what are some of your hopes and opportunities that you foresee for individuals who might be interested in participating in the upcoming trainings?

If you are called to be with us in this training I assume you want to help alleviate the suffering within yourself and within the world around you. We are here in full support of you. Over the years I have watched many of my former students become successful therapists, teachers, spiritual leaders and true friends in service of the end of suffering. I look forward to the blossoming of the full potential for everyone.

The essence of this teaching is to be available to the world with a quiet mind and an open heart.  When this is seen as your true nature, it is effortless and blissful to live a truly fulfilled life of love and peace.

When you also have the skillful means to intervene in support of another, you will be used in ways beyond belief.

Eli, how do you see people’s lives start to change once they have gone through your training?

I have worked with people who wanted to quit drinking and others who wanted to stop smoking for example, and have had follow-up reports from these clients years later informing me that since their session they have been clean.  And of course I work with people with very deep traumas and emotional issues, and through the power of being able to change or reshape a memory, or simply to bring in an instrument of healing, I have consistently seen people come out of their heads and live freely from their hearts. As this flame is passed from heart to heart, I love seeing new therapists or already trained therapists give brilliant sessions in a very short period of time and then expand and deepen their work as they set up a private practice and eventually start to teach.

Can you give us specific times and next steps for individuals wanting to learn more about participating in your event?

We have the first part of the Enneagram Training, which is a 5-day retreat April 23 – 27, 2017, and the next first part for Hypnotherapy training begins on May 5, 2017.

I really recommend going onto our website, and chat or Skype with one of our teachers to see if this class is a good fit for you.

For those who wish to enroll, or watch a video of me working to see the kind of work we are offering, you may do so on our website, www.leelaschool.org, or you can contact our office manager Leigh at leigh@leela.org, or call her at 541-201-0900, ext 100.

You can like us on Facebook, where we share pertinent information about classes as well as interesting articles/videos pertaining to the power of this work.

You can also have private sessions with one of our staff by calling the office or booking online.

Finally, do you have any last thoughts or comments you would like to share with our readers?

I am so grateful to be a part of our community here in Ashland. We are a deeply progressive, compassionate community. We have come from so many different traditions and paths to live together in support of building a better world. I invite you to join us in deepening your skill level, insight and skillful means to apply in your relationships and work, whether you are a teacher, guide, mentor, coach or healer, you are welcome and may find something to better help you serve.

Learn More:
The Leela School
574 E. Main St. #1
Ashland OR, 97520
541.201.0900
www.leelaschool.org