Looking back at evaluation/feedback forms from my most recent retreats (last one in 2018), I'm struck by how many people mentioned, in favorite activities section, how much they loved and gained from the dyad and small-group work. The depth of interactions among participants is deeply healing in itself, and simply happens because of what we're doing: nothing is forced. See retreat agreement and power of plain face to the right to understand the container for how we view and hold space for one another and ourselves. The tone we set is of course greatly informed by the sweetness of the place and the fascinating chemistry and connection spontaneously created each time by the combination of the specific, unique beings present.
It's important to me to set up the programming so that it weaves in an effective, nourishing rhythm and flow among large group, small group, dyad, and solo activities. The moments when womyn come together in twos or small groups to be in a process with another or a few others are carefully framed so that we're not advising one another but holding space, holding up mirrors, and sharing relevant experience and wisdom. We're telling the truth of our lived experience and felt reality even as we open to what else is true, what could be truer. We meet one another in a loving space of nonjudgment, bringing both confusion and clarity, and contemplating, talking, laughing, feeling together as we open to new possibilities, interpretations, and understandings.
The result is kind of gorgeous. Magic abounds. Insights, releases, and breakthroughs keep coming around.
about being in shared processes with others
"I really appreciated having the opportunity to connect on a deeper level with so many of the women."
"Multiple paired shares helped me go deeper, allowed new layers and clarity to emerge over time."
"I loved getting the wisdom of the crowd! The diversity of thought and experiences."
"I learned about what I have to offer and also received gifts of important feedback from each person."
"This retreat was so well planned & programmed. Pace was perfect; exercises so helpful; group dynamic was amazing!"
"Your programming was excellent. I genuinely loved all your activities. Some I knew right away I'd love. Others, I thought, meh. And one I even dreaded! But by the time I was participating, I saw the purpose and the gift. Without fail, I got some kind of message, had a revelation, made a useful observation, or got a gift of some kind. The pace of the day, the number of activities per day, the structure, the hours of silence and 4 solo hours of self-work/play/rest—all added up to the perfect balance. You have a gift!"
"You struck a fantastic balance between keeping examples/topics general and working with specifics with volunteers at a level where they were challenged, stretched, even uncomfortable, yet safe and protected/secure."
"I’m going away with more than I came with, even after having let go of baggage."
The following agreement sets the container and informs how participants show up for one another and for themselves. I read it more than once during the program to keep it in view, and all present truly align with it in the most beautiful way.
I agree to keep confidential anything shared during this workshop. I agree to hold space for each being present, seeing everyone in the highest light. For these hours together, I agree to put aside any negative story that comes up or any preconceived notions I have about anyone here. For everyone present, I take the stance “My love is greater than your fear.”
I agree to continue bringing back to myself any insights and advice I find myself directing toward another. I will apply these to my own process. I am here to work on myself and my life.
I will also seek to hold myself in the highest light. Where I’m concerned about what others think of me, I’ll keep coming back to what I think of myself. I will seek to be in good standing with myself, to meet whatever comes up for me with compassion, and to move as directly as I can at any given moment toward the highest vision of myself. I am willing to believe in my own evolution, to step into the next best version of myself.
POWER OF PLAIN FACE
Plain face can support you anywhere, anytime, with anyone, even in consciously inviting it when you're all alone, thus honoring your right to put on nothing and be nothing and nobody in your own privacy. I invite retreat participants to plain face at various times, including when listening closely to another as she shares her process or when eye-gazing (a practice of simply gazing into the eyes of another).
Here's how it works. Drop the muscles in your face. Put nothing on your face to seek to convey anything (not even kindness, or I care, or I’m safe). There’s no need to manipulate another to think anything of you. If smiles or any expressions naturally arise, you don't need to suppress them! Drop back into plain face as soon as it's natural to do so.
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