SPIRITUALITY / Mar ‘2018
Path of Love
Of all the life-changing events, this course has affected me, and improved my life, like no other.
I was surprised to learn I held deep-rooted Rage and Shame in being a woman. I had been blocked by a fear of not being good enough. A fear of rejection. We ALL feel a sense of isolation and anxiety over not being accepted. We NEED to belong.
The Mighty Gum
Not unique, not special, one of many … at first glance.
Omnipresent from where I sit, and common throughout the world.
But look closer and you will see the power of the Mighty Gum.
Erect and tall, it reaches high and higher, its stem gradually growing depth and bulk as it metamorphoses into a solid trunk, over time.
Its branches spreading outwards, expanding to take in more of what the air has to offer.
Its delicate leaves multiplying, more and more and more, and dying and dropping off and falling; the tree, never once grieving the losses of these, as it knows in its heart, its soul, its guts, that more will come.
It is strongly rooted in the earth, spreading underground in gentle, continuous search of more nutrients, more moisture, to sustain its blood and body.
It doesn’t resist the searing sun, it moves gently with the breeze and allows the rain to gently fall from its leaves.
Opening to the sun, soaking in its energy, that it needs to feed all its elements – the leaves, the branches, the bark, the trunk, the guts, the roots… all of her.
Which then feed the many creatures that like to visit, stay a while or stay longer – the ants, the beetles, the birds, and bugs.
And then, as it ages and understands the elements won’t keep its body alive, there is no terror as it looks down and sees its two healthy, enthusiastic little saplings thriving – full of optimism, hope, and energy, eager to continue the cycle of the Mighty Gum.
I wrote this poem on the Path of Love retreat recently, during a small assignment where we reflected on Nature and its symbolism to us.
It was about my journey as a Woman and as a Mother.
Surprising for an editor perhaps, I frequently agonize over writing, but I wrote this poem in 10 minutes.
I wrote with freedom. Self-doubt didn’t suffocate me, instead a bolder, richer and more creative part of myself emerged; overpowering my usual insecurity and self-criticism.
I credit this to the Path of Love.
The Path of Love (PoL) is a powerful, seven-day course, set in natural bushland in the Hunter Valley, NSW, which is formulated to break through limiting, personal barriers that block people from achieving what we really want out of life. It is designed to help us develop more Love, and to live a more meaningful life.
It enabled me to go within, to the core, beyond Ego and facades such as appearance, life-situation, and personality; which cleared the way for my natural drive and passion to return.
I went to the Essence. I experienced an authentic me.
People had different personal motivations for being there – relationship problems, a lack of career direction, a personal crisis of some kind, dealing with childhood and past traumas, or, simply, because they felt at Crossroads and wanted more passion and direction in their life.
I didn’t have a clear reason for going on this retreat. I just noticed a few coincidences around PoL and was compelled to sign up, not knowing very much about it at all.
I am glad I listened to that inner whisper, because of the University degrees, travel, relationships and other life-changing events, this course has affected me, and improved my life, like no other.
PoL is a deep inquiry into the Self, involving meditation; music; dancing; writing; time in nature; sharing experiences, thoughts, and emotions; reflection; and silence.
There were 30 participants and the same number of staff, our ‘Angels’, who supported us through the intense, exhilarating and, at times, confronting, journey within. They formed a nurturing womb which held us while we shed outmoded and decaying belief systems and habits, allowing for a truer self to emerge.
We worked intimately in a group of eight where all exteriors washed away. I now consider these people another family. The bond we formed during this personal process was profound. And, under the skillful, compassionate and deeply insightful guidance of our facilitators, Samved and Mairead, we were safe to allow raw vulnerability, which encouraged trust, truth, unconditional love and deep, personal breakthroughs to happen.
I faced the scary, dark fears, and also celebrated the light-filled, majestic parts of myself.
I was surprised to learn I held deep-rooted Rage and Shame in being a woman. It was a low-level thing. On the outset, I was reasonably accomplished and happy, but deep down, this self-subjugation was killing the inner fire. In an effort to avoid being a “hard bitch,” I had suppressed my natural Womanhood.
I had made myself ‘small,’ in what I thought femininity ‘should’ look like. I had believed I was an empowered woman! But, through the course’s penetrating process, I experienced a different, new and beautiful kind of power in the Feminine.
The experience helped me take ownership of myself as a woman and as a mother.
Opinions, self-support, sexuality, sensuality, inner strength and a Voice to express what I want and need, as well as love and compassion. I found a Lioness. Protective of her children, and herself. Protective of women.
I identified issues I’d been harbouring since childhood, adolescence and adult life, and was then encouraged to nurture these wounds, and to let them go.
I also found a need to Speak my Truth, overthrowing fears of reproach or judgement, and I’ve been amazed at how well this has worked since in my relationships, work and daily life. I was too afraid to do this previously for fear of rejection, conflict and ridicule.
I realised I have been quite a fearful person, which, despite appearing confident, manifests as shyness and me avoiding social situations. I felt awkward and nervous of intimacy, and actually found it almost impossible to look people in the eye.
It was humorous and a great relief at the end of this course to be able to do this apparently basic exercise, that had seemed so terrifying seven days earlier.
I had been blocked by a fear of not being good enough. A fear of rejection. This, I learnt, is inherently part of the human condition. We ALL feel a sense of isolation and anxiety over not being accepted. We NEED to belong.
I learned that all have our insecurities, weaknesses, fears and pains. Of particular interest, was an insight into the male psyche and heart. I was ignorant to just how vulnerable men are too, and they, like women, are just as in need of love and meaning in their lives.
Here is a snapshot of what my new friends experienced on PoL:
Gunter, a husband and father who traveled from New Zealand to attend the course, shares:
“I felt pretty much done with life – I was depressed, fed up, over it, tired, mainly with my relationship in particular, and came away with the support and feeling that I was still ok, that I was not banished, cast out… I have always known that I’m not perfect, but I gave myself such a hard time, from quite early on. I feel I have made a quantum leap.”
Tanya was overcoming childhood sexual abuse and trauma:
“The loving kindness of PoL fast-forwarded the healing of childhood wounds that I did not realize were holding me back in love and life.”
Mark, a devoted husband and father, says, he was tired, stressed and depressed. “I had lost the passion and connection with my life purpose. Life post-PoL is completely transformed. I am excited about the future and have a new perspective on what contribution I can make.”
Carol, a powerful, sophisticated, charming woman reveals:
“Path of Love helped me understand I had a longing for connection – with my Self and with others. Since I have been able to meditate easily and to find the real “me” within. I’ve also been more aware of patterns where I may self-sabotage and I am able to connect with friends and with life at a much deeper level, which is enriching my life. I feel an inner peace.”
Troy, a devout Christian, father and husband, says:
“I came to learn and grow, and discovered I really wanted to see the bits of me I always hid from. I was encouraged to share, to cry, to listen, and to dance, and to realize that I was loved and divinely bespoke.”
Wen, a charismatic woman coming to terms with the ending of her marriage, shares: “I was able to look at my self-doubts and love for myself. Old beliefs are hard to confront but when you are in a loving, gentle, understanding surrounding, you can feel pure bliss.”
Ant, a clever, eloquent and successful businessman and father of two, explains:
“Its formula is genius and gruelling. On the course, I was semi anxious most of the time with that simmering turning up of the requirement to keep going deeper. That constant inching forward of the intensity and that escalating demand to face yourself. I found real power there. It was enough of a taste to show me that most fear can be transcended.”
I recently read somewhere: “Once you wake up, you can’t come back.”
The Path of Love enabled this to happen and it feels great to be alive, present and loving, and Real.