Deepening Retreat at Moora Moora

I’m soaking up the juicy experience that the Deepening was at the end of March! 17 of us gathered in the octagon at Moora Moora to share a couple of days to connect more deeply with ourselves, our world and eachother. Using the Work that Reconnects (Joanna Macy) and experiential Deep Ecology as well as aspects of the Awakening the Dreamer, Changing the Dream symposium we rapidly formed community.

Deepening GroupAlthough we had a late start due to delayed arrivals it provided learning for later and we did the ‘Milling’ after dinner. Similar to how it evolved at the last facilitator training, I combined the ‘Milling’ with the ‘Relational Presence‘ (Lee Glickstein) activity that we usually do to teach facilitators a new way to relate to their audience. The energy in the room was palpable in that people really dropped into a profoundly connected space during the process. It was such a privilege to facilitate!

Saturday

On Saturday morning we did the ‘Elm Dance‘ and learned the story of Novozybkov, the largest town not evacuated after the Chernobyl nuclear disaster. This brought us in touch with our grief and pain for what is happening in our world. We followed with the ‘Truth Mandala’, a profound and powerful ritual that provides space for our despair, anger, numbness… all the feelings we have about the injustice we see and experience. A great deal of pain and anguish was expressed and held in a safe and meaningful container.

After this cathartic truth telling we had lunch in silence, allowing for time to process, reflect and decompress. Next there was an opportunity for people to creatively express themselves through colour and clay. Some wrote in their journals, others worked together on a mural, and the messy ones took up playing with clay. It felt like a real metaphor for me. At first I wanted it to be perfect and then completely let that go and allowed for a shape to form itself.

A discussion of the dominant world view juxtaposed with the Great Turning from an industrial growth society to a life sustaining society supported our ability to ‘see with new eyes’. This is one of the stages in the Spiral of the Work that Reconnects, which parallels the “What’s possible for the future” section of the Symposium. It allows for the transformation of our experience of the world and our place in it.

The afternoon session on Saturday was focused on an experience of ecological self and ‘interbeing‘. The weather co-operated, and we did ‘Breathing with Trees’ outside. This open eyed meditation uses the exchange of oxygen and carbon dioxide between humans and plants to explore the interconnection with nature, moving into a space of being nature. This paved the way for the ‘Council of All Beings’, starting with a quest in the surrounds to be chosen by a being to represent them by embodying the species that chose you, in the Council. There were several tall trees, ferns, an ant, the sun and a whole ecosystems of beings represented, all bringing wise messages to the Council. It was a beautiful reminder that we hold the wisdom of nature within us and can connect with it whenever we choose to. For me it was my first really enjoyable experience of a ‘Council of All Beings’.

Saturday night a dance of the elements, lead by two participants, helped us to shake it loose and move our bodies after such a big day. Thankfully there was still some dancing to be had after our facilitators meeting! We forgot about Earth Hour, though Moora Moora is powered by renewable energy generated on site so we didn’t feel so bad!

Sunday

Sunday morning was a particular highlight for me. Our ‘Well’, a space to share what’s present, dreams, concerns etc, was full of expressions of gratitude for the experience and for the facilitators. I felt fully acknowledged and loved up by how receptive and even hungry people were for this kind of experience. It really affirmed that this is what I’m designed to do and reminded me of how much I love doing it! It felt like we’d just had our evaluation and could just finish there! We had a few more processes to do which also added value to the experience and by the time we had the group photo and had our final round of sharing we felt complete in a drippingly gorgeous kind of way.

The experience was not only a deep affirmation of the value of diving deep into the shadow as an almost alchemical way to find our inner gold but there was rich learning for me as both a facilitator and a participant. I learned that making space for new facilitators is important and that diversity in a team can be difficult at times but rewarding in the end when a way though our anxiety and doubts is found. I learned that sometimes tricky dynamics in a group can be self managed. I discovered a contentment in myself for this to be a labour of love, at least for now.

Deep gratitude for all who participated and helped make it happen, and to my facilitation team: Sarah Houseman, Mary Stringer and Rose Baillie

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