At our healing retreats participants experience major changes in their consciousness, from being stuck, sad and grief stricken, angry, fearful or anxious to experiencing emotional freedom, well-being and joy. This emotional transformation also includes clearing out of old mental thought patterns and fixed, limiting perspectives.
We learn new ways to be in the world and practice new Skills of Loving that enable us to begin to live into a new reality.
Our awareness expands and becomes more open and flexible. The retreats are true mind expanding events. People come hoping to get relief from pain and end up opening to much more, to a new way of living. To the joy of living.
This shifting takes place over three or four days. People feel much better, and they don't necessarily realize the full extent of how they have changed until they get home and friends comment how different they are, how different they look.
We enter a new world, where people see and hear each other better, where the language of love is spoken and heard. It's a different reality.
And then, sometime after the retreat, most participants experience a contraction, a gradual shift back into the world experience they came in with, minus a lot of pain. The pain is gone or greatly diminished, but also the world appears more limited and we don't see or hear each other quite at the same depth as we did at the retreat.
What is this shift in reality? And can we keep from coming down?
It's more than a change in world view, although that is part of it. It's more than different thoughts about ourselves or others. It definitely includes an emotional transformation–from a stuck place of pain to more freedom, joy, hope, ease. And the shift is much more than that too.
When I speak to people after the retreat they report radical changes in the way they feel and see. The Client Comments section is filled with reports of these shifts.
We like to say the retreats take you to the next place on your journey. Most often it is to a more expansive, happier place. But sometimes it can be to another difficult emotion that was hidden, suppressed and now needs to emerge and evolve. I've seen people shift from a sad and meek identity into the assertiveness of anger, and even stay in anger for awhile, not recognizing it too is a stage that must be transformed. But more often than not, the shift is to a bigger, better, more expansive reality.
It takes a certain amount of awareness or mindfulness to recognize the emotional transformation that takes place at our events. And it takes even more to recognize the background shift in our consciousness, to a different reality, into a bigger world.
Some of the characteristics of this different reality we experience at retreats are as follows:
But as Tom Petty says in the song Learning To Fly, "coming down is the hardest thing." For some participants the retreat experience begins to feel like a nice dream after a few days, like something unreal or imagined. We put it in the past–"that retreat I went to."
My experience, after years of noticing and living this shift in reality over and over, is that actually, the "real world" experience is the more dreamlike, unreal, imaginary life.
We shift partly back into the consensus reality of the world we live in, with its walls between people and friction and harshness–the world the TV and movies and newspapers tell us is real.
Yet it is not as real and solid as the world of Love and radiant Light. When we take our blinders off, when we wake up as some mystics put it, the world is more fully alive, free and filled with love.
Those who have attended several retreats learn to live more and more in that freedom, joy, safety and timelessness and believe less and less in the cramped reality of their former lives. They're learning to fly. That is why I recommend that people attend a few of these events, to more fully transform the old story into a new one, a new reality.
My first retreat experience of this kind was in 1998. It was dramatic, but I did come down after a few days. But never fully back to where I started. Then, over a period of a couple of years, I went back for the emotional transformation of another retreat and then another.
Somewhere in there, and I don't know when, the shift became much more permanent–I changed and knew it. It was the repeat exposure that helped me live into my new story and break down the old viewpoints, thought patterns and stuck feeling states.