Practitioner Retreat in Costa Rica
A couple of years ago, at a conference in Malibu, I sat outside late with a group of friends drinking wine and talking. Every once and awhile one of us would declare ‘no more kinesiology-talk’, but it never lasted long; the conversation returning again and again to the work/research/politics of this fascinating modality. Some of these were people I had never met in person before, but we all felt deeply bonded by our shared experience with this work. Later, talking with one of these friends, he expressed some sadness that there had been so few opportunities to actually work on each other at the conference. Sure, there was a ‘Balance Room’, but only one and working in there often meant missing the presentations that were happening in the main hall. But this is the way most of the large conferences are set up. What if we tried to do something a little different?
The idea was pretty simple: get a group of practitioners of different modalities together in a beautiful place, teach each other new usable techniques, exchange deep sessions and go on adventures. While I have organized many classes before, I have never tried to do something for a group like this, coordinating accommodations, transport, food, learning and adventures, and I was worried that it would fall flat. So what did I get out of our time together on the beach?
- The chance to deal with all the stuff I had been cramming into boxes. Like a lot of practitioners, I live in an area where it can be very difficult to see other muscle testing professionals. Even when I am making a concerted effort to take decent care of myself it can be tricky, and sessions are usually far enough between that it is difficult to make real headway on the issues that bother me. Having sessions every day, five days in a row allowed me to see some change. I am hoping that, in a few days, all this work will be integrated, and I will be left with a better version of myself than existed before.
- Physical and mental calm. Every morning we put our feet in the sand and stretched, aligning our bodies with the sand and surf, finding center and balance. Starting the day in this manner, then having a good session and enjoying a meal with friends before going on an adventure meant that I was able to feed the different levels of my being. I experienced several moments of actual mental relaxation; a sensation that is kind of rare for me as my head is usually spinning with all the things it’s trying to do.
- A greater sense of community. One of the biggest motivating factors for the retreat was the desire to create and support a stronger community of practitioners. People from different countries and modalities coming together to share their own unique way of working. I think each of the practitioners involved was exposed to a couple of styles and modalities that they haven’t ever experienced before, and we are all richer for the experience. A few days together in this way and I feel very close to all these people, the differences between us seeming to melt away quickly.
- New tools to work with. Part of what we did every morning was ‘Show and tell’, leading switch-ons and offering something to the group: a new technique, an exercise – something relatively easy to do and of value. Because of my fellow participants I stepped in to a 5-element map, learned some seated tai chi, did yoga stretches and breathing exercises, learned a series of steps someone with chemical dependencies can use to self-balance and did an Irish jig. I shared the new dan tien protocols I have been working on with the group and some people used them right away in their sessions that week, offering me instant feedback about how they worked for them.
- A new ritual of self–care. “Self-care” is becoming a bit of a buzzword in the healthy industry and frankly, I think it gets misused – often becoming an excuse or a justification rather than a full expression of love and healing. Self-care can mean looking deeply inward, understanding what you actually need and showing some empathy for yourself the way that you would a client. Seeing how this retreat went; I fully intend to create more spaces like this and turn it into an annual event that will rejuvenate my soul and help move me forward.
After a new venture, I try to look at it from all angles – what would I do again, what didn’t work, what kind of feedback did I receive, etc. While I can see areas that we could improve on next time, the overall experience was very positive. So often when I am working with practitioners around the world I hear complaints about the lack of community – that they feel isolated or cut off. It is up to us to create the community that we want, to support each other intentionally and to do the work ourselves so that we can be clear and strong while helping others. So thank you to those who came on this journey with me. I can’t wait to see what the rest of 2020 will bring!