How can we find and more consistently experience ease and flow in life, our relationships and in our work – from parenting, to partnership, as a therapist, manager, or even CEO?

We believe this multi-level course on developing the concept of ‘Self as Instrument’ is a response to these questions and we’re bringing the first instance of the level 1 course in 2024!

Ethan and Taylor discuss the program with Dr. John Vervaeke on Voices with Vervaeke

What do we mean by ‘Self as Instrument’?

The concept of Self as Instrument (Burke, 1987) has its roots in organizational development – but is not limited to that area. In the OD context, organizations are ‘human systems’ (as opposed to a mechanical, purely logical, system) where, invariably, the self has to be included. However, we suspect if you’ve worked in any corporate organization from the past several decades, you might have had the experience of feeling more like you’re being treated as a resource, rather than a being that has a self. This environment, this culture, implicitly creates patterns of behavior, mental and physical, where we treat each other in very much the same way. In that we have people in positions of influence, operating as if this were true or the way it should be. It’s not likely the reason for this is that they’re evil, it’s more likely they are simply not aware of it, and when you’re not aware of something like that, it ‘has you’. Then add in the modern idea which many people often take on that what they do as part of their identity and you have a recipe for unsustainable organizational systems. Most try to address this with rules or policies, few actually work at the level of the individual. So if we’re to improve these environments, we have to recognize them as ‘human systems’ and thus include the self in our roles. Therefore we need to do some work on our instrumentality; Learning how to bring our complex selves forward in a context-appropriate way.

Given all of this, it’s no surprise that this concept has been adopted into the personal development space as relating to others as human beings, while claiming one’s own humanity in that process, would be a very valuable and broadly applicable life skill. Especially in an environment where machines and AI-systems impact and compete for jobs previously held by people. 

Our take on Self-As-Instrument is one where we transcend (but include) the context of organizations and look at that broader context of moving through life with more ease and flow. 

For those of you familiar with the work of Dr. John Vervaeke, perhaps the easiest way to understand what we’re developing here is a Meta Optimal Grip (which John talks about in Episode 5 of After Socrates).

How do we develop ‘Self as Instrument’?

Our program currently consists of two levels.

  1. The process of enacting agency in the context of being in the receptive position (being facilitated).
  2. The extending of agency when operating in the context of having influence with others (e.g. facilitation, helper, support, manager, leader, etc.)

Both levels provide an environment, an arena, to learn, practice and develop skills that build the capacities we see as essential to cultivate ‘Self as Instrument’. 

We cannot guarantee that at the conclusion of your participation you will have acquired all you need to have the persistent and ever-lasting experience of moving through life with ease and flow, but we do believe this arena is fertile ground for you to practice and build towards what is needed to make that to happen. We have combined decades of experience in designing and facilitating transformational experiences to lend weight and credence to that belief. Further to that, we have an advisory board for the curriculum that includes the director of a Cognitive Science program (Dr. John Vervaeke) and the director for a PhD graduate program for Psychology (Gregg Henriques).

More Details on How

Our approach with this course is derived from the question “What capacities would a ‘full-stack’ human possess?”, the stack here references a series of domains (below) suggested from work done in a meta-curriculum for wisdom and wisdom practices.

The domains are referenced in Respond’s: “A Theory of Wisdom Practice” article which is part of the meta-curriculum for Wisdom Practices researched by Respond in 2022 and 2023. In it the article defines an ecology of wise practices that touch into and integrate all of the four domains, Dialogue, Imaginal, Mindfulness and Embodiment. 

With the help of John Vervaeke and others we have extended this to application across contexts, more specifically the one of ‘Service’.

We believe that being of service is also a necessary element in a well balanced ecology of life practice. As a result, this program is best suited to people who are in a position to engage with something ‘bigger than themselves’. In other words, being in a position to provide some kind of service. This could be team leadership, helping others with their personal development, or guiding/parenting children. 

As a precursor to the Level 1, participants will take part in More Wise – How to Practice for Wisdom, an online weekend intensive that addresses the Theory of Wisdom and covers the domains via Respond’s Theory of Wise Practice. You can read more about this course-within-a-course here.

The SAI Level 1 focuses on how to sense into and maintain one’s individuality within a group context. You’ll be exposed to exercises that foster your ability to discern what is “yours” and what is not. You can expect to be placed in challenging contexts that stretch and develop these ‘muscles’. 

These include but aren’t limited to:

  1. Develop an awareness of the self and subjective experience
  2. Track changes occurring in the group and how they impact you
  3. Maintain presence with a group context amidst relational fluctuations

Is this course for me?

As this is a deliberately transformational container, we must say that this is ‘not a safe space’. What we mean by that is everyone comes into the container with different experiences and capacities and therefore we can not guarantee a sense of safety throughout. That said, we designed this program to find a sweet spot, to not structure it in such a conservative way as to be flat and unmotivating, and also to not structure it in such a way that it is so exciting and intense as to be reckless. The container offers many agreements to empower you in every moment to find what you need to do to push your edge (‘where the magic happens’) when you need to and what you might need to do to push the brakes when you may need a greater sense of safety in the moment.

Because no program can be all things to all people (and we’d suggest being wary of any course that claims this), we have a fitment assessment process to intake people into the program. This process also works both ways, it’s not just us asking you questions, we also want to be available to answer your questions to see if this course is a good fit for you. 

We also request that if you are currently working with a mental health practitioner, that you discuss your potential participation in this course with them prior to registration. Beyond that; 

This course might be for you if…

  • You are already operating in domains where you are in service of others, or you have the sense you are in a position where you can be of service to something greater than yourself. 
  • You are looking to ‘up-level’ in personal and or professional contexts. If you’re ready to grow by improving your self awareness, improving your communication such that you can move through life’s many contexts with a greater sense of confidence and ease.

and subsequently;

This might not be for you if…

  • Have experienced Trauma and you are presently (recently have been) experiencing symptoms of that Trauma
  • Are presently experiencing difficulty regulating yourself, or consider yourself prone to dysregulation.


This program offers several courses-within-a-course. One is mandatory (More Wise) and thus included in the price, and the other (at present) is optional, though recommended. These modules are:

More Wise: How to Practice for Wisdom (included – see note)

Pre-Session: Read the two Respond Network articles provided after registration (est. 90mins)

Dates (online, times in EST)

  • Saturday, February 10th  – 9:00am – 1:30pm EST
  • Sunday, February 11th – 9:00am – 1:30pm EST

Note: If you have already completed More Wise previously, you can get a $150 deduction using the coupon code MWCOMPLETE at checkout. Until the SAI Level 1 is open for registration, please visit the RSPND website to sign-up for More Wise directly.

TIAMAT Tier 1 ($200 optional add-on, €500/$500CAD value – detail below)

Dates (in-person) – TBA (Sign up to be notified above)

Self-as-Instrument Program Level 1

Dates (in-person) – TBA (Sign up to be notified above)

Integration Call (online)

TBA – (90-120mins)



*denotes a requirement of participants to agree to provide immediate feedback and data to help us establish efficiency of the program. We expect the full retail for non-residential will sit at around $2,000 CAD and we expect to offer this program in a week-long residential format (Europe H1 2024) at the equivalent of $3200CAD. 

Therefore for this specific iteration and for each of the Early Bird pricing tiers, we are also requiring participants to complete:

  • A feedback form about your participation and experience
  • A pre-course questionnaire
  • A post-course (< 1 week post) questionnaire
  • A 6-week post-course questionnaire

We are expecting each of these will take between 10-20 minutes to complete.

Next Steps

There are no educational or experiential prerequisites and the course is designed to start from the ‘ground floor’, and scaffold up as we progress. It is, in effect, open to the public. However, after you complete the registration process below we will set up an (approx.) 15-minute fitment call with each participant to help with participant alignment to the course and the course aligned to the participant.

Registration is not yet open.

Bundle Option: TIAMAT Tier 1 (recommended)

TIAMAT is a secular Ecology of Practices, borne from ritual, performance and theatre that leverages 4E cognitive science to facilitate the cultivation of flow, insight and rationality to afford wisdom and self-transformation.

In Tier 1, you will be introduced to a series of psychophysical exercises that are designed to synchronize mental behavior (thinking, feeling, sensing, observing) with physical actions in relationship with self, other and world. 

Please see the solo event listing here for more information about TIAMAT and the Tier 1 weekend.

In the context of the SAI program, TIAMAT Tier 1 functions as a training container to build fluency with the skills that will be employed during the SAI Level 1. A helpful analogy would be thinking of Tier 1 as “shadow-boxing” and SAI 1 as “sparring with a live opponent”. This is not to say that participants who do not take TIAMAT Tier 1 are disadvantaged or in any way unfit for the SAI program. Someone with a good deal of experience in their own ecologies of practice can do just as well in the SAI program. However, TIAMAT might still offer considerable value in terms of a diversity of perspectives and/or integration between practices. 

Notify me of Future Self-as-Instrument Course Dates