I was recently asked to lead a retreat at OMH Malaga in Spain by Sadna Kanani, the founder of OMH Therapies (https://omhtherapies.com/). Sadna moved to Malaga a few years ago to establish a Spanish branch of OMH Therapies, OMH Retreat. As I was an OMH therapist for several years Sadna had mentioned before she left for Spain that when she was set up over there she’d like to run retreats for stressed out people in need of some TLC!
As we were discussing possible themes for this particular retreat (loose details at the foot of this post) I thought about going deeper than general stress management and exploring how for many of us, the past few years have eroded our sense of self.
I have certainly felt adrift for the past year, as I’m sure many have, with the overall uncertainty of what is going on in the world and with the destabilizing effect of two years of lockdowns.
Last week I took myself through the modern day equivalent of “cave time” in order to get back on track about what and where I want to be in life. I’d drifted from were I wanted to be in two areas – work and health. I don’t have any real health issues, I just don’t feel as good or as fit as I could, through letting certain things slide I’d let bad habits creep back in.
More pressing though was the work aspect, a whole year had passed of not making any concrete decisions about what I need to, or more accurately, truly desire, to be focusing on, too much reacting to what arises or of focusing on “I should” instead of on what feels more inspiring. And not really getting anywhere as a result. To this end, apart from the Malaga Retreat, I am shelving all courses at the moment and focusing on writing books and creating meditations – this is actually a combined project that I will say more about as it unfolds. I am still available for individual therapy sessions!
Where has this past year gone? This is what I found distressing and I am noticing many people asking the same thing, not just in the old, slightly amused observation of “where does the time go!” but with an underlying sense of real and painful loss.
So for the Malaga event we came up with the title of “Back To You”.
We could sit and ponder the age old philosophical question, “who am I”? but more relevant at the moment is, “where has the person I used to be disappeared to”?
For me that theme of Back To You is multilayered, from the smaller personality of the self to infinite Self. Of getting past all the tired, worried, hurt, sad, angry parts of the stressed self responding and getting triggered by events both personal and global to the person you are when relaxed and happy. Who you were when you were young and more carefree.
Beyond this there is possibly a part of you that now longs to go beyond even this, to explore the unexplored or partially explored. That of unfolding into the untapped possibilities of all you can be, the knowing of who you are beyond this human self, the body vehicle or earth suit that you are merely inhabiting.
Distraction and some form of denial of the self is what ultimately prevents us from knowing who we are so rather than writing any more about this today I will end this post with a simple exercise that focuses on what is known in Buddhist and Taoist traditions as the Dantian centres. Three power centers within the body. I am simplifying the following as much as possible so you can go into it with little thought, just rest and be with whatever arises.
The Three Dantian Centres
The following need take no more than a few minutes, less than five. In brief, we first pull back from the external, then go to the heart for present moment awareness and finally come down to below the navel to ground yourself. If discomfort in the form of thoughts and feelings arise, breathe more deeply with acceptance for what is there until whatever has come up dissipates.
(For more on this go here and click on “A simple method for clearing uncomfortable feelings” – https://catherinestrang.com/free-resources/)
Upper Dantian – pull your awareness back from the forehead and into the center of your head. Intend that you are retreating from external and internal past and projected future drama. Breath deeply here for a couple of breaths
Middle Dantian -On your next out breath bring your attention down into the area of the heart, as you breathe imagine you are breathing in and out of the heart.
Lower Dantian – Now bring attention to a point a couple inches below the navel and breathe into this space, feel as if the pelvic region is a weighted container grounding you within the body.
If you wish you can now add the visual of a golden cord running up through your body from below the ground to above the head. This cord is anchored deep within the earth below the feet and reaches up to the higher aspect of self above the head. See it connecting each centre and also pulling you up straight through the spinal column as a form of support.
Details so far for the retreat:
In Malaga, Spain. Loosely scheduled for end of March 2023. It will be residential with healthy, Ayurvedic inspired food (Sadna’s sister Bindhi used to run a vegetarian Indian cookery school and restaurant in Edinburgh and has now set up shop in Malaga).
It would run for 3 days and apart from about 6 hours daily of inspiring and peaceful inner change work and meditation there will be two complimentary treatments per person. You will also be sent a digital copy of 3 specially recorded meditations and hypnotherapeutic journeys plus other resources so you can continue the work at home.
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