What a Personal Healing Retreat Can Do!
The Healing Synergy of Spiritual Retreat
When the time is ready, the student appears — as teacher! …and healing miracles unfold!
Four years ago, I began offering a special birthday retreat each year that is not an income generator for me, but rather my way of celebrating and honoring my life and calling as a spiritual mentor and guide. And each year I am blessed again with the magical surprise, sense of awe, and deep admiration for those vulnerably brave spiritual warriors who courageously come to this breakthrough SoulArts Process.
At each retreat, I find that there is a special gift — totally unanticipated — that shows itself and carries it’s own mysterious way.
This year and this last retreat was no exception.
What I offered as my annual birthday retreat this year (I thought!) was aimed toward a more luxurious spa cleansing retreat (complete with green smoothie and master cleanse, healing mineral baths, daily yoga, meditation, and private moonlit nights around the fire with Moroccan lanterns and music wafting through the air).
...It turns out that it was all of that – and more:
As all retreats where the energy of the moment is followed rather than some prescribed script, this retreat revealed a profoundly healing, holistic, and life-transforming awakening for everybody in the group.
It is always beautifully heartwarming to me to sit in sacred circle for the first time together on the first night, and as a new group of total strangers step vulnerability into the sharing of their deepest heart’s longing, struggles, and questions.
As our group gathered for dinner and the first opening session together, we began as I often do, with a talking stick and the lighting of a candle coinciding a personal invocation/prayer of what brings each person to this retreat at this time.
Just in this initial sharing of the heart on the first evening together, there is already a palpable sense of communion, personal safety, and curious anticipation in the room. As the energy field of a group retreat starts to weave its own surprising synergy, I know that “God is alive and magic is afoot” in our sacred journey together for the next 4 days and nights…
As 9 of us gathered in fireside circle this past week, and we began to offer and share our inner most fears, hopes, and dreams, an alchemy was already at play.
Here is a snippet of the real life circumstances and life stories that became a doorway into self-healing insight during a small group retreat, and shared here for that person reading right now, who most needs this example and hope:
The healing synchronicity of a spiritual retreat when well honored:
In the circle, one man who had just lost his wife to cancer sits beside a woman undergoing chemo and mastectomy with a hat covering her now bald head. …And suffering grief turns into deep healing compassion and love shared.
Another woman who had been suicidal her entire life sits beside another woman who’s boyfriend has just committed suicide …And a miraculous new understanding crosses over between the two.
This same younger woman realizes later in the cleanse that her death wish and shut down is related to having been violently raped by knife-point at the age of 16, when an older 67 year old woman across from her relates a similar experience having paralyzed her creative self-expression and turned into a hidden and self-destructive addiction
…And each begin to own a new level of personal healing and renewed love for life.
A man new to self-growth, and getting his first glimpse of the inner witness for the very first time, sees how Matt, my life partner has just discovered a new level of masculine power by moving into a heart-centered relationship with each moment in his office at work …And both are given a new self-reflective view of how the path of soul unwinds and unfolds in its own way and time.
What is most engaging and miraculous about these life circumstances and stories, is not just the obvious and mysterious parallels and synchronicity in the circle, but the way that each storyline and suffering struggle can be used to reveal the deeper pathways for self-healing, love shared, and peace realized.
This is true for each one of us as we go about our days and engage with strangers, friends, and partners alike: These real world life experiences are the doorways that lead us to the path of awakening and self-realization…. if and when we know the art of engage them in service to the sacred.
My role as teacher and guide in a healing retreat such as this, is threefold:
First, to help shine a light on the blocks, barriers, mis-perceptions, and unconscious conditioning that keep us each from that for which we most deeply yearn and seek: (inner peace, self-love, forgiveness, authentic self expression, unconditional love, meaningful life purpose);
Second, to offer the direct experience of what it is to become a student of awareness which can see through and understand the mechanisms of the ego-identified mind, recognize and engage the symbolic language of soul, and step artfully into an alchemical process of awakening to one’s own inner wisdom in every day life; and
Third, to help a person integrate this personal breakthrough and evolutionary understanding of spirit into an honoring and embodied awareness that remains present to life in each moment.
In other words, I try and help show a person how to see and lay down the outdated and identified-self, so that the truth-of-the-moment can be served and lived as one navigates and “rides the waves” of life, ever changing and on the move.
Contrary to egoic self-perception, we are not really “a static self”, nor is life lived in the realms that the identified self occupies itself with (past conditioning and future dreams). There is no such thing or person as an identified-self . We are not a static entity at all. Rather, we are a moving relationship within each moment (if we are awake and aware).
Yet here’s the intriguing part and paradox: Still, our stories, our life experiences, and our self-identifications pave the way to this break-down/ breaking-through insight of spiritual awakening.
As I often say in group or with private clients:
Our wounds and struggles are our “worthy teachers” ..they hold the key to our greatest gift and life meaning — if and when these wounds are listened to, and engaged from, the light of aware presence.
When we enter this inner seeing of aware presence of being, we come to know what was being pointed to in this famous biblical quote, “unless you become as children and are born anew, you cannot know the kingdom of heaven”.
If we put this 2000 year-old truth into a more contemporary awakening contextual language, it might be said this way:
“Unless and until you experience the laying down of your (identified) self, so that you can remain curiously and innocently present (as a child does) to each new moment as it arises (i.e., as each moment is born anew), you cannot know (experience, see, enter, live from) the kingdom of heaven (the awakened state of awake presence, God-consciousness and inner-peace).”
This biblical phrase is easily misunderstood by the linear or egoic mindset in which fundamentalism (in all religions reside). This teaching is actually a pointer to a much deeper essential and mystical truth — one that can only be seen, understood, and realized by those with the direct inner experience of giving up one’s life in order to live it fully (within each new creative moment arising).
The non dualist’s call this inner awakening of self-realization, “clear seeing” and “no-self awareness”. I simply call it “remembering who you really are“.
The saying goes: “When the student is ready, the teacher appears.” In this writing I have reversed it around a bit to say this: “When the time is ready, the student appears as teacher …and healing miracles unfold!”
Is the time right for you? Are you ready to appear as your own teacher and witness the healing miracles as they unfold?
In a true and valid spiritual retreat, a teacher offers guidance that helps open the doorway to a direct experience of ones own inner wisdom and unique path of awakening. In a spiritual retreat such as this, be ready for this:
be ready to experience something the mind cannot explain nor understand (and that will drive the mind a bit batty for a time …and then fall into huge relief);
be ready to experience a renewed sense of awe for the mystery of soul and the sanctity of life;
be ready to open to a surprisingly natural, easy, and compassionate love for self and other; and
be ready to re-enter your daily life, forever changed and stirred awake by the surprising beauty and grace of your own path and human spirit.
It is with abiding awe and gratitude that I thank all who stepped into retreat with me, and found themselves healers and teachers to one another and themselves in ways that the mind could never anticipate nor construct.
It is, as always, my tremendous honor and privilege to serve as servant of the soul for those ready to step through the doorway of their woundedness to fall in love with the journey, and to discover the great gift of Life’s genius – by engaging this holy dance.
I look forward to engaging with you when the time is right…
republished from 2008
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