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The Mindful Embryo

Further Courses and Continuing Professional Development


* 20TH-21ST APRIL 2024 *

“Is it possible for we cells, before and after especially neural tissue arises, to reproduce in later phases of the life cycle variations of our first experiences? May our prenatal experiential patterns function as templates for some of our patterns woven into the complex knit of postnatal design?”   
Ronald Laing (1927-1989) in Facts of Life.

For more than 30 years Jaap van der Wal has been teaching his renowned seminars, The Embryo in Us, in which the embryo and fetus are explored as beings of body and mind, and do not live as a ‘not-yet-full being’. These seminars explore a phenomenological approach to our life in the womb, and the main conclusion is that our consciousness, mind or soul does not emerge from the body (e.g., it is a not a product of the brain), but rather the other way around. As the philosopher Rumi puts it, we ourselves created and still create our bodies, “The body developed out of us”.

This means that as a growing and developing embryo/fetus we are not brainless “not-yet-beings”, but we exhibit behaviour and have consciousness. This behaviour can be comprehended by sensing and experiencing the forms with which the embryo shapes its body as sign language; the body as a per-form-ance or “gestaltung”. Furthermore, those biological forms and behaviours with which we bring our bodies into being are expressions of our mind or spirit. Our prenatal development is a gesture of incarnation in which the human mind embodies itself step-by-step in order to gradually become conscious of that body and to be an acting, feeling and thinking-knowing being.

In this webinar, Jaap will discuss this path of incarnation in a two-day summary and highlight the significance of key phases and events. We will consider the important processes and still points like conception, implantation, the embodiment of the heart as an organ of consciousness, the manifestation of a first inner being in the third week, finding a center to come to oneself and finally the birth out of oneself (no, not out of one’s mother!). Being born and dying can be seen as mirroring gestures of development, and conception as an act of incarnation and an example of how an interaction between mind and body is possible and conceivable.

The intention in this webinar is to focus on the possible significance of embryonic times for later soul life. We will re-live our embryonic development, recognize the flows, jumps and layers of incarnation and how mind and body interact as polarity.

The main themes will include:

  • Where do we come from?
  • What has the embryo to teach us about our being; mind and body, spirit and matter. It will include themes referred to in The Embodied Mind by Thomas Verny, Bruce Lipton, and Spirit into Form by Cheriona Menzam.
  • Not just a brain; it is “the body that keeps the score.”
  • Conception: getting or making? Do children come from us or through us? Can we and should we free ourselves from the reproductive biology of male and female and devote ourselves to the meeting of the feminine and the masculine? With ‘polarity-thinking’ can we thereby transcend the opposition of the sexes?
  • Nesting: what is the relationship between mother and child and what can go wrong?
  • What is the gestalt of pregnancy, birth and parenthood?

This webinar is open to all. All participants will have access to powerpoint slides, supporting films and articles, and each day there will be opportunities for questions and answers. Recordings will also be available for all participants for a limited time.

Course tutor:

Jaap van der Wal Ph.D.

Jaap van der Wal PhD, MD is a physician and he worked as associate professor of Anatomy and Embryology at the University of Maastricht in the Netherlands until his retirement in 2012. After completing his medical training in 1973, he specialized in Functional Anatomy of the Postural and Musculoskeletal System, with a later emphasis on the architecture of connective tissue and fascia and its role in proprioception. Gradually, he developed as a teacher in the philosophy of science and medical anthropology. Jaap states, “My passion, however, was and still is human embryology. The human body is a process that develops and functions over time. The embryo moves and behaves in forms. It is in this area that I came across Goethe’s phenomenological approach. I apply the method of dynamic morphology to understand what we actually do as human beings when we are embryos. I respectfully find in the embryo tentative answers to questions about the significance of human existence.”

Since 2012, Jaap has devoted himself to Dynamension, a worldwide project to teach ‘Embryosophy’, which he now teaches mainly in Europe and the USA at schools of craniosacral therapy, osteopathy and polarity therapy. He often presents his findings at conferences, and his courses are regularly attended by a range of body workers, prenatal psychologists, trauma therapists, somatic experiencing practitioners, yoga practitioners, movement practitioners, body psychotherapists, and more. Inspired by Rudolf Steiner’s anthroposophy, these seminars are open to anyone in search of spirit and body with an open mind; building bridges between science and spirituality.

Venue and times:

Online via Zoom. From 9:30am–5:30pm (UK times) each day.


£235 if payment is received by 12th February 2024, or £265 if received after this date. All fees are non-refundable. Contact our administrator for our bank details to make a transfer or other payment options.

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Warm Wishes
Michael Kern