When I was in high school I found an ad in a magazine for an all-girls engineering camp in Hoboken, New Jersey. I was instantly drawn to it. I was a kid who was good at math and science and my math teacher has suggested I become an engineer. I grew up in a town of 500 in northern Minnesota and my family never traveled, so how I decided to apply for one of their few scholarships is one of life’s mysteries.
When I found out I’d been accepted, I was more scared than excited. I was going to summer camp, across the country, alone. And off I went. To say my horizons were expanded is an understatement. But my biggest insight, which lives within me today, was not about polymers (my summer field of study), but about people.
In the hours spent making friends from all around the country, having late night chats about school and life and family, etc., I discovered that we are all fundamentally the same.
We have the same issues, the same fears, the same desires at our core as human beings. Prior to that trip, my first destination retreat we might say, I truly did not know that. I felt different and separate and afraid. This knowing changed me.
Fast forward, years later after completing my career as an engineer, I went on to teach high school math at the first public Montessori High School in the country. Spirit definitely guided me into this role.
The school was super innovative, and we did two-week retreats twice a year focused on experiential/ immersion learning. Because it was public and also Montessori, and located in Cincinnati, OH, the school attracted a wide range of students from the inner city to the prestigious suburbs. In my time there I spent 11 days on the Appalachian Trail with one group, taught “Cooking Across Cultures” to another group, and I also took a 2-week road trip (The Civil Rights Tour) to all of the sites throughout the south where significant events took place during the original fight for Civil Rights.
Each of these experiences attracted students from mixed backgrounds. Students who walked the hall together in different social groups got to know one another in a circumstance that led them beyond the normal social boundaries. Each time connections were made, new friendships born, and the students opened their hearts further to the Truth that we all have more in common than different.
(The Civil Rights Tour brought forward a whole other intensity of emotion, which may be a theme for another article as I feel into what I learned as young woman attempting to hold space for the pain of the black students as they put the pieces together of their history.)
Whether the topic was Civil Rights directly, or cooking, the opportunity to step out of day to day life and connect in a new environment healed differences and hearts.
So what does this have to do with you?
If you have a retreat inside you, I encourage you to find the courage to bring it forward now.
In the wake of the events in Charlottesville, one more in a string of events that spans years that are continually waking us up to the Truth of the racism on which our country was founded, we continue to ask, “What do we do?”
It may seem trite given how much we want to be able to heal the world quickly, but one thing I know for certain you can do is host your retreat.
Learn how to integrate retreats into your business regularly, and become the person who can hold a safe space of non-judgment for hearts to heal in your presence.
Kurt Wright says that “a human being cannot accept a part of themselves that they have not shared with another human being and had validated rather than violated.”
We have all been violated in our own ways. Yet our society systematically violates people of color, and this must be acknowledged and validated.
While we won’t solve the trouble in politics or seek retribution for the wrongs of the world in one retreat, your retreat can do it’s part to heal the heart of the problem we are seeing, which stems from fear, shame, and disconnection, every single time.
Encourage your retreat participants to “go there” and speak their Truth such that they can own their authentic values in life and make the decision to act on them “out there” in the world. The more people who wake up and heal, the higher the vibration on the planet.
Now here’s the thing. In our country right now, it LOOKS LIKE we are going backward on the surface. And it could be very easy to allow this to have you think that what you are doing on your chosen path is not enough. But that brings more ‘not enoughness’ energy, which is not the energy of healing.
While the actions in Charlottesville, and the response of our president, may be infuriating, this is also what it looks when we are healing. The awareness of the Truth of racism is at an all time high. We are no longer able, as a culture, to ignore the TRUTH upon which our country was built and continues to perpetuate.
This is a good thing. It may be unpopular to say, but this is what it looks like when we are winning.
Just as many people in your retreats will be there because something “bad” has happened in their life – job loss, cancer scare, death in the family – the “bad” has spurred them to see a new Truth, and this is where the seed of transformation begins.
Just like we individuals cannot move past something we cannot see and name and validate, neither can our country.
This stuff is happening FOR our country. Trump is happening for our country. Who else could bring the Truth of our hate and anger out in a more effective way?
It’s time to get out from behind your laptop and start connecting with human beings and creating a safe space for individuals within our system to heal.
I would like to provide the answer for how to support people of color directly in the healing process. I don’t have that. I still have roughly 75% white women in my retreats and programs. Yet every white person who heals their own heart and empowers themselves to speak up and speak Truth can be an ally for people of color.
I do know that every person in my retreats is a ‘safe space’ person. And I am not afraid to ‘go there’ on any topic, and will immediately call forth any judgment for healing.
In this container, we have experienced major healing around race, in particular when women of color share their experiences with racism. It is not right or fair to ask women of color to continue to be the spokespeople to help us white women understand racism. Yet when we get to do our part in holding space for healing the wounds, we all win.
White people created the problem and need to take ownership of solving it. And we ALL (of all shades of color) chose to come to the planet in the bodies we chose with the families we chose at this time in history for a reason. Our ancestors co-created this mess and we can come together to solve it.
And it is my belief that this magic happens one transformational live experience, one retreat, at a time.
When is yours?