People contact me because they are going through a rough patch: grief, loss, anger, depression, stuck in old patterns. But for every 5 people who do contact me only 1 attends. Here, in no particular order, are 10 reasons people give for not attending, along with my comments.
1. "It won’t work. Nothing else has worked, so why would this."
I really don’t know if this “will work” for you, but I do know it has benefited many many people (read some testimonials here). In my personal case, I had already done a lot of work before my first retreat, and I was pretty skeptical of this helping, but received more benefit that I had even imagined.
2. "I don’t like groups. why can’t I just see you privately?"
Many of us are afraid of opening up in groups, of being put on the spot or having to speak publicly. We’ve tried group processes before and they were "one size fits all" or just weren't that helpful. This work is best done in a group--private sessions aren't as effective. The power of love in a group setting is hard to deny and often beyond our brain’s ability to understand it...it just is the most powerful healing force I know. We spend time at the beginning of each retreat doing activities to help participants relax and feel more safe so it is easier to open up and share.
3. "It’s too scary."
I’ve had many folks sign up but then get nervous as the date of the retreat approached. Some anxiety is normal. The work may be outside of our comfort zone…it has to be so we can make real progress! In my case, I was very nervous about the retreat. In fact, my therapist kept recommending it, for over 3 years before I finally relented and went. And the only reason I did it then was because my life was such a mess I knew I had to do something. What a relief the retreat was...It turned out that what I was really afraid of was life, not the retreat! The retreat was the beginning of a process I am still engaged in, of experiencing the world as safe and as home.
4. "It costs too much."
The retreats do cost money, but compared to many other offerings they are reasonable, especially in that the price includes housing and most meals. People often pay a lot more for short vacations and many healing retreats cost several times as much as our offerings. Plus, tuition assistance is available for those that need it, at both the Star Dance Ranch and Shalom Mountain retreats. We do have expenses and must charge so we can continue to offer this work.
5. "It’s too far away."
Well, it may be, although we had attendees from all over the world. It's relative--I’ve had this complaint from people who live less than 3 hours away too! There is a Megabus from New York City that is convenient, and an international airport an hour away from Star Dance Ranch in western Massachusetts.
6. "It’s too short…I can’t possibly get what I need in just 3-4 days."
I hear this several times a year. Some folks insist they need at least a week or more because their problems are so complicated or intransient. Our brains often can’t accept that we can do the work in such a short time. Yet I've seen people change their lives in just a few minutes of deep work. When we are in "time out of mind" or Kairos time, amazing changes can happen. "In a twinkling of an eye." For those who do come from a distance, we offer sessions on the day before the retreat.
7. "I don't have the time."
Well you may never have the time unless you prioritize it. I often hear people comment at the retreats, "Why did I wait so long?" I personally wish I had attended these retreats many years before I did finally come...I could have saved a lot of pain!
8. "My problems are just not that serious, other people have much more to deal with and in comparison my issues are trivial."
Sometimes people are afraid to come because they feel their problems don’t compare to the tragedies of others. My advice is to stop comparing! Healing the past can only make you more effective in life so that you can live your life more fully in the moment and be a richer and brighter source of comfort and support to others.
9. "My issue is too big, too much, I'll overwhelm everyone."
Well, it sounds to me that when someone says this they are overwhelmed and need help. This is something to talk about in the phone interview. Some people may need to work with a psychotherapist first, or instead. Participants generally need to be relatively high functioning to get the most out of the retreat. But sometimes, as in the case of dealing with a recent loss, people come to the retreats who are stressed, traumatized and in shock, and their work is just to experience being held and loved--that may what is needed.
We are all different. Each of us is on a journey and there is no cookie cutter formula for what you need now. What your work at the retreat will be unique. Most people I talk to are ready for this work. And know that at the retreats people are never forced into doing something...you are always in charge. We will, however, encourage you to "go for it."
10. "I'm too old, too young, too smart, too dumb, too frail, etc."
Let's talk about it. This work is not for everybody. People come from age 21 up. (I usually refer younger folks to a special young adult retreat.) Men and women, all orientations are welcome. We have no specific religious affiliation but spirituality is welcome. Star Dance Ranch is not fancy...it's an old farmhouse, warm and friendly. You do need to be able to participate in the activities, so again, let's talk.
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