a tip for better retreats (+ a peek into my Shadow retreat last week)

Last week I led an Applied Depth Shadow retreat – 3 days of incredibly deep and powerful work. As in all my retreats, the level of learning & breakthrough was through the roof, but more importantly, the quality of self-love, self-compassion and empowerment that rose to the surface were truly miracles and sacred moments to behold.  

In the retreat – which is true of all my retreats – some of the most impactful & transformational moments happened NOT during a piece of curriculum or exercise I was leading (though many happened during those as well), but instead during the open process times where I didn’t have anything planned other than to hear what was moving for participants and coach them from there.

For example, I always leave open time for a full 90 minutes (yes, you read that right 90 full minutes) on the morning of Day 2 of nearly any retreat I lead. This is because so much gets stirred up Day 1, and more happens internally overnight as things marinate and through dreams, that I don’t want to rush past the gold.

Last week’s retreat was no different:

Wiithin the span of 90 minutes of open process time – completely unplanned by me and sparked by the incredible shares in the room – I spontaneously choreographed a warrior ritual for a woman in the room who was finally ready, after so many years, to own her anger (as we were working on her Shadows, what finally tipped her to be ready was the need for women – and everyone – to speak up loudly for women’s rights and women’s autonomy over their bodies). And in this ritual that the entire group participated in, we were courageously and safely able to find our aligned anger and our strong voices. 

And the power of that warrior ritual led another woman in the room who was working on “not being superwoman all the time” – to finally desire to be vulnerable and set down her over-responsibility and just be supported. As soon as that share came up, I spontaneously choreographed a beautiful nurturing ritual where each woman in the room felt the power and the importance of being held and loved.

These were holy moments.

Moments of deep reckoning and change.

Moments of seeing ourselves and the possibility for the world in new ways.

And yes, of course, these moments didn’t “just” happen because I left open time and space. 

They happened because of the strong container I created and the group created, because of the depth of the Shadow curriculum & exercises, because of my full presence & aligned energetics, because of my mastery when it comes to transformational skills.

But that being said…these moments also happened because I allowed SPACE for processing and I trusted I could guide whatever might come up in the room.

In other words, I didn’t shy away from not knowing what might come next in the retreat or from trying to overly control what might happen in the room.

(And I was able to trust and not shy away because of the depth of my skills, and because of the ways I trust myself, my participants, and the containers I hold).

So, my facilitator’s tip for today is: Don’t over-pack your curriculum. 

Always create some space for sharing, for the mystery, for being open to what profoundness and beauty will emerge when there is space to process. You can create this space in the group as a whole or in breakouts…and ideally both!

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