Awareness Through the Body, or ATB, is a comprehensive system of activities for children or adults — enabling them to be conscious of their own perceptions and abilities and to be more self-aware and self-directed.

A two-day workshop will be held Friday, June 28 and Saturday, June 29, from 8:45 a.m. to 4 p.m. and 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the First Universalist Church in Rockland. There will be a one-hour lunch break each day.

The workshop blends action and meditation, individual and group challenges, relaxation and self-exploration with the goal of enhancing concentration, and awareness. ATB was first developed at an elementary school in Auroville, India, and for many years now the founders, Aloka Marti and Joan Sala have also taught workshops for adults in Auroville, Holland, Spain and the United States. The activities are playful and profound, individual and cooperative, — combining known and unknown approaches to encourage concentration, focus, a sense of accomplishment, and well-being.

The workshop in Rockland will be led by Margo MacLeod and Heidi Watts, both students of Joan and Aloka. Macleod leads ATB classes for children ages 5-14 (including one-on-one sessions with ADHD/autistic/Asperger children), their parents, and adults in Austin, Texas. She is former program director of the master's and bachelor's programs at Goddard College. Heidi Watts, Professor Emerata from Antioch University New England has worked in the field of education for 50 years. She has assisted MacLeod in sponsoring ATB workshops in the New England area.

She describes one of the ATB activities:

"You have been given a small balloon. Silently you blow into the balloon, noticing how you blow, how much effort you need, whether you need to pause, and what it feels like to tie the balloon closed. Then you lightly sail the balloon aloft and try to keep it off the floor, bouncing it lightly off the end of your finger tips, your right wrist, your left wrist, the back of your arm, maybe even your head. There are other balloons in the air. You release yours and skip to catch another before it falls, and soon the whole group is in motion, trying to keep the balloons aloft. And then slowly with your last balloon, you start to lie down, keeping the balloon aloft the whole time, until you are on your back, balancing it with your knees, your feet, your hands, perhaps your head again. How does this feel in your body; are you breathing differently at different times? Are you distracted or absorbed? How does it feel in the joints? The fingertip? Finally, you are laying quietly, the body invigorated, the mind relaxed-you have been completely and alertly concentrated."

The balloon activity is only one of hundreds of experiences for children and adults in the Awareness Through the Body program that builds qualities of concentration, relaxation, centering, and mindfulness. People of all ages seeking to deepen their inner/outer connection; teachers of all stripes; therapists; those who work with body and movement (yoga teachers and dancers); and artists looking to enhance their creativity have found that ATB helps them encounter "that still, inner place of joy and connection."

For more information, costs, questions and to register, contact the First Universalist Church in Rockland at 594-8750, dre@uurockland.org. Some financing and housing may be available. Space is limited.