It was serene and gentle, but equally powerful and intense. The house and surrounding countryside offered immediate peace and quiet, with a faint promise of revelation. It was an environment which heralded the high level of quality we would experience in every facet of the retreat. Attendees arrived with a little apprehension; understandable, really, because there is no way of knowing quite what to expect. It was the same for the trainers. Marcus and I were poised, ready to go down any avenue the process and the people took us; equipped with our versatility and expertise, and a willingness to support and enrich the lives of those bold enough to be themselves.
And from the very start, that’s how it was. People recognised the strength in vulnerability. They came prepared with specific goals, an understanding of the power of the writing process, and a commitment to leave with a better of idea of how they could improve their lives beyond the gift they were currently giving themselves. As well as formulating their goals, their homework had been to observe and make notes. The reflections they shared allowed us to hit the ground running, creating an immediate momentum which sustained itself effortlessly throughout the weekend.
The first instruction was for everyone to be selfish and take whatever they could. It would be my job to facilitate the process and, if necessary, ensure fairness. It wasn’t necessary. There was consideration for others, but also a hunger for whatever it was they were seeking from the experience. From the start there were challenges – gentle yet probing – which set the tone for the whole weekend. Each challenge revealed more of life’s secrets. (It’s a real pleasure to work with people who recognise a need in themselves and are willing to do what they can to make a difference to their lives. Especially as, in doing so, they also contribute to the lives of others.)
Sessions on personal development and Transactional Analysis, were interspersed with physical exercise. Those sessions, too, were straightforward but sufficiently taxing: a walk to the lake, 7-15 minutes of stretches and body weight exercises tailored to the needs of the attendees, and a walk back to the house. All the time we were urged to remain aware of our bodies, our breath, our environment. Simple instructions with powerful returns. Marcus also led discussions on the Pillars of Health (Mindset, Nutrition, Movement and Sleep); and three times a day we sat together to eat: simple breakfasts, and catered lunches and dinners from Eva Humphries, a talented and knowledgeable nutritionist whose first-class contribution to the weekend was unobtrusive, informative and delicious.
Everything we did was done in service of ourselves, our goals, and each other. There were check-in rounds in the mornings, feedback rounds in the evenings, and regular invitations for everyone to connect, contribute, and give feedback on each other’s comments. People worked harder than they may have realised, even in the pockets of relaxation which arose naturally at intervals throughout the time we spent together. It was a magical time; one of tranquility, inspiration and nourishment for every aspect of who we are and who we wish to be.