Behind The Green Wall

Andrew Burnet reports on the Salisbury Centre, now in its sixteenth year as a home of alternative health practice, philosophy and training.

On a sidestreet opposite the Commonwealth swimming pool. there is a wall which runs at about two metres high for some twenty metres. interrupted only by three doorways. The activities pursued behind the wall may appear mysterious and even secretive. but the Salisbury Centre is open to anyone with enough interest to investigate. And despite the occasional ‘fuck offhippies!‘ message left on the answerphone. no-one seems uneasy about the fact that for over fifteen years. the Centre has been engaging in some fairly unconventional practices.

The Centre was established in a large. Georgian house and garden in 1973. by the dream analyst Winifred Rushforth. whose work in her field is still represented at weekly dream-interpretation sessions. She had previously been involved in the Wellspring Clinic: the new building was to house a sister organization. and still contains a Wellspring Room. The aims ofthe Centre. which are calligraphically enshrined in its library. are four-fold. Briefly. they are: the advancement of religious unity; the development of physical. mental and spiritual capacities and self-discipline in young people; research into spiritual healing. and the prevention of suffering caused by mental or physical ill-health or by social circumstances; and co-operation with similar organisations.

The Salisbury Centre is now run by six trustees and four residential

workers, who are responsible for maintaining both the building’s fabric and activities, and the atmosphere ofcommunity. Alex Taylor. the resident who showed me round. says that it has developed mewhat since its early days. which I: describes with affectionate cynicism as ‘an old hippies‘ hangout‘.

‘Nowadays,‘ he says, ‘it‘s a bit more mainstream‘. though it perhaps seems less far-out as much because of the change in public attitudes towards holism as for any other reason.

Nonetheless, the mere breadth of variety within the Centre‘s programme does promote an atmsophere of the exotic. At the earthier end is the pottery workshop run by Taylor for groups of all ages. More esoteric are the meditation sessions and Tai Chi workshops (in a

choice of Wu or Yang style). Other regular activities include Yoga, Massage. Aromatherapy. Shiatsu. self-led Overtone Chanting. and the relatively new Men‘s Group, designed to affirm the positive sides of masculinity in the light of the feminist movement. Anna Caplan‘s Thursday morning class, ‘Towards Inner And Outer Balance‘ concerns itself with the essence of holism attempting to bring mind. body and spirit into harmony.

‘There‘s also something called Neuro-Linguistic Programming, which seems to be a kind of brainwashing,’ quips Taylor. ‘But we let them get on with it.‘ The spirit certainly does encourage Iaissez-faire. ‘preople have a good idea for classes they‘d like to run.‘ says Taylor, ‘we usually offer them the space.‘

Most regular classes cost £3 (£2) (though some are a little more expensive). and instructors normally receive sixty per cent of the takings. though these conditions are open to

Salisbury Centre Weekend Workshops


All should be booked in advance. with a returnable deposit oi 25. Bring load to share Ior lunch.

I Soto Zen Retreat Sat 11 Nov. 9.30am—2pm. by donation. With a priest from Throssel Hole Priory. For further details contact Neil Rothwell. l

hosted by the Soto Zen

I ‘Meeting The Dragon’ Sat 18. Sun 19 Nov. Not open to the public.

I Change: Sun 19 Nov, 10.30am-5.30pm. £18(£12). Anna Caplan leads a group to examine and liberate crossroads and stuck situations. using a whole range of physical and mental exercise techniques.

I Tai Chi Yang Style Sun 26 Nov. lOam—S m,

relaxation technique which involves slow. moving meditation.

I Nauru-Linguistic Training Sat 2. Sun 3 Dec. £35. ‘A precise. learnable model of how we code the world.‘ This discipline is gaining widening acceptance in psychotherapy. management and education. A challenging and enjoyable series of exercises led by Terry

- Gower. 6521403. £l8(£12). Adrian I Global (Io-operation Fri Martinez. who leads the S'z°1"0"l;""'7"°" 17 Nov. 7.30pm. by regular weekly group, Lug b l ec‘k am' ( 5)~ donation. A meditation introduces the deep 6 y 2“ -

negotiation. and in some circumstances the Centre will waive its share. Self-led groups pay £1 .50 (£1) per head. and meditation sessions are by donation.

In addition to the weekly programme of regular sessions.

there are workshops most weekends.

which offer intensive work in selected fields (see listings below). One weekend a term is given over to a Soto Zen Buddhist retreat. while others offer the opportunity to look in depth at the subjects covered in the weekly courses. But most are one-off sessions in very specific areas ofpreventative health practice or philosophy.

The weekend workshops can be quite expensive. but apart from a £250grant from Edinburgh District Council‘s Community Education Department, a share ofthe fees is the Centre‘s only source of income.


Taylor. whose duties include tending the garden (which grows both flowers and vegetables) and dealing with telephone enquiries. says that the Centre‘s residents tend to be ‘sympathetic to Green issues. but not radical Ecover users. ifyou Iike‘. The staff accommodation upstairs. which looks out over a well kept lawn. certainly seems unremarkable. though there is just a hint ofrelaxed institutionalism.

But he assures me that running the Centre is hard work. and that the programme‘s division into terms comes as something ofa relief. ‘During the holidays.‘ he says. ‘we maintain the place and try to recover from the term.‘

A leaflet with full details oft/t is term 's courses is available from the Salisbury Centre. 2 Salisbury Road. Edinburgh. 6675438.




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Coffee shop open for snacks etc.


_J The List 10— 23 November 1989 79