From January to March this year, I hosted my first online retreat, ‘Journey to Shine.’ Fourteen women from four countries shared a journey of connection and transformation via the wonders of technology (namely Facebook, email, Youtube and Skype).
As you know, it was the first event of this kind I had hosted and therefore it was uncharted territory for me. While I had written most of the content in advance, I had no idea how it would resonate with people and how they would respond in the e-retreat setting.
But I have learned that when I am called to do something with the intention of uplifting and inspiring others to their own greatness, I cannot fail, only learn.
I had a hunch that even though I was leading the e-retreat, I would also benefit from the wisdom and experiences of the other participants, but I had no idea how humbled, inspired and healed it would leave me.
Those who participated absolutely blew me away with their honesty, sincerity, vulnerability and strength.
Obviously, what happens on the e-retreat, stays on the e-retreat (it’s like a spiritual Vegas), but I can say that there were many moments throughout the twelve weeks which stopped me in my tracks and blew my heart so wide open that I felt so blessed to be able to facilitate such intimate connection.
Those moments of identification between participants are the sort of moments I live for, which can be summed up by the following words:
There were several things I thought I knew before but which were completely solidified for me during this experience.
1) Connection is fertile ground for healing
Many of us isolate with our feelings of self-judgement, shame, hurt and fear, but the truth is that we all feel those things at certain times. Isolating with our feelings adds loneliness on top of it all, making it more challenging to bear.
When we see that others also experience similar feelings, our isolation lifts and we become connected to something greater than ourselves. We no longer feel alone and that in itself lightens the load we are carrying. Often, it can remove it all together.
2) We all need a witness to our journey
We all need another human being on this planet to witness our journey; to acknowledge our struggles, hurts, triumphs, pain and joy. We need someone to see us and to listen to us without judgement.
Many people do not have this in their lives. They have bought into the message that their journey is not important enough to be witnessed and that their pain is invalid. This leaves them crippled by never being able to show up in the world as their true selves.
It was one of the biggest privileges of my life to witness the sacred journeys of those who shared with me.
I didn’t need to fix them or change them or make them better, I simply needed to show up and say, “I see you. I hear you. I love you.”
3) Non-judgement is vital to creating a sacred space
What touched me most about the group aspect of the e-retreat was the absolute love and acceptance of all who participated. While much of the deeper sharing occurred in private (confidential) emails with me, the secret facebook group saw its fair share of interaction and I was so impressed by the love shown to every single person regardless of their beliefs.
Without needing to spell it out, we all realised that supporting each other on our different paths, rather than judging each other, promotes healing.
There is no one way to do anything and we all have something to learn from each other.
While we all had different backgrounds, beliefs and ways of relating to the world, we came together on the one thing that connects us all: Love.
The outpouring of love, support and encouragement for each person who shared themselves was truly a beautiful thing to witness.
So beautiful, in fact, that it is still going! While technically the e-retreat may be over, the facebook group is still very much in session because those who were a part of it wanted to keep sharing with each other.
I am so grateful to every single person who participated in the first ‘Journey to Shine’ and for making it the transformational experience that it was.
I feel lighter, freer and more ready to share this experience with others than ever.
We have a couple of males participating this time which I am thrilled about, and while the content and structure will be similar, this experience will be completely unique.
I invite you to discover the beauty of your imperfect journey with us and shine as brightly as you were created to.
Each week we will focus on a different jewel of wisdom.
I will send 5 emails to you per week, from Monday to Friday. The first email will be a story from my personal journey. The second will usually be a reflection on the topic and the third and fourth will be practices and rituals of some kind.
The fifth email will be a video from me with some links to resources which have helped me on my path.
I will also be sending out some extra gifts, such as mindfulness meditation audios.
Each week you will have the opportunity to share your experiences with me via email, and at some point on the retreat, if you like, we can schedule a Skype session to chat about how you are going and what is coming up for you.
The secret facebook group is where we connect together and I will be posting there daily to encourage you on your journey. No-one can see who is in the group or what is posted except members. I will create an entirely new group for this retreat.
All of that, of course, is optional and if you simply want to receive the emails and observe, then that is absolutely fine too. It is completely up to you how you want to experience the e-retreat.
The investment is US$60, which is just $5 per week and you can pay however you like, weekly, monthly or in full.
If it isn’t the right time or vibe for you, I totally get that, but would REALLY appreciate you sharing the details of the e-retreat or the graphic below with anyone who you think may benefit from it.
Thank you all for your support and encouragement! You can sign up for ‘Journey to Shine’ here and feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions.