Most people attend our emotional healing retreats because they are in pain––the death of a loved one, the end of a relationship, multiple losses. Other attend because of suppressed feelings that lead them to feel depressed, angry, anxious or sad. They want to heal the past so they can live a fulfilling, joyful life.
Our retreats often reveal an emotional hole that we've been unsuccessfully trying to fill with all sorts of coping behaviors. That hole, in many circumstances, is rooted in our childhood experiences.
When we are young, we need our parents to care for us. Without our caregivers we would die. We need to be fed and protected to physically survive. But life is so much more than just physical survival. To thrive in this world we need healthy parenting, which nurtures and protects us.
Many of us were not sufficiently cared for, or were traumatized in different ways at that crucial time, a time when we were building our brain’s neural networks of safety, competence and relational intelligence.
This wounding became a template of how to live in the world, which affects all our romantic and close personal relationships. We replay old pattens of relating, we relive our old stories. In a way, as Harville Hendrix and others have pointed out, we are trying to work through the past lack of nurturing and caring in our present close intimate relationships, but often end up just replaying the old patterns.
These patterns often occur below our ordinary awareness. Without realizing the cause, we can end up blaming others or the world for our problems, or aim blame at ourselves. The root cause of the problem is in that early survival template.
We continue to play this out until we learn how to take care of ourselves, to love and nurture ourselves, to believe in ourselves. Change the "old story" and you change your world! That is how to heal the past.
Most healthy methods of trying to heal the past can be slow, difficult and partial.
Many of us turn to unhealthy ways to avoid emotional pay and try to feel better. These can include numerous forms of addiction–alcohol, food, gambling, tobacco, etc.. And, there are very common and more subtle addictions such as habitually checking our emails and social media pages,
All of these addictive patterns are our attempts to feel better. And they work for a short while, until we need another dose! But they keep us from true connections with others that we both crave but are afraid of.
These behaviors are substitutes for genuine, loving human relating. Genuine relationships provide us with a rich sense of belonging, a human connectedness which many of us never experienced often enough as a child.
We need to go deep to change the core template created when we were young that tells us who we are in the world, that give us a sense of ourselves and a knowing whether or not the world is friendly and safe.
To rewire our brains and transform our state of being we need to go back into our old story of who we are and how the world is and transform it, or as they say at Shalom Mountain, to "live it through to a new conclusion."
And studies have shown that this is best done in a group setting, where deep social relationships help us re-pattern and heal the past. Our original wounding was relational (you and your relationship with your caregivers) and healing is relational.
Deep down, we all yearn to belong. Loving relationships heal our brains, our hearts and each other. It is the most potent medicine in the universe.
This “positive limbic remodeling” takes place at our retreats. It is one of the essential elements that make our retreats effective and why the group setting is so helpful. New clients often ask if they can do this work privately with me, and I try to explain the vital role of social connection in healing core pain. Our wounding from past relationships hurts, and we want to avoid the exposure. Many of us carry shame from our childhood, that keeps us in hiding. Yet social connection is the perfect cure for hiding.
At the retreats we get that experience of belonging that is key to our healing. We come out of exile and rejoin the human race. For many, that is a huge relief..
Other elements of each retreat are essential as well. We need sufficient safety to allow us to go into the old vulnerable stories. We spend almost a day at the beginning of each retreat building a safe and supportive community.
By far the most important element in healing is an abundance of unconditional love. We teach and practice the Skills of Loving (formulated by Gerald and Elizabeth Jud) to help us dissolve old stuck pain. It is the universal solvent of healing.
Each retreat is a new beginning, a new start to our lives.
Click on the link below to see our current retreat schedule.