By Chelsea Shaw
I sit surrounded by notes, chicken scratch scrawled across torn sheets of paper, quotes and pieces of information that I couldn’t jot down as quickly as I was receiving them. I’ve written three or four different outlines trying to navigate my way to a neatly packaged prose that describes the weekend, but before long I find myself stuck. How can I possibly narrow these stories down? How can I express the transformation and growth that I witnessed over three days in a single blog post, or even two or three? I have written and crumbled up several different versions of my time at the Emotional and Karmic Healing Workshop, knowing that none of them did justice to the retreat experience. I feel like I’m trying to explain to a child why sunsets make people cry: there’s too much beauty and not enough words.
So I go back to where I began, driving up the winding dirt road to Still Meadow Retreat Center and grinning at the evergreens peaking over the tops of the surrounding hills. I wondered what the weekend ahead would look and feel like, particularly in my role as both workshop participant and Gemisphere team member. I also wondered what our participants would discover besides the beauty of the evergreens.
In the retreat sanctuary, I looked around at our chair circle, at the Rose Quartz mandala holding a calm and welcome space, and at the fresh flowers placed around the grounds. From the apprehensive excitement I saw on the faces of arriving participants, I could almost hear their thoughts: “I wonder how many times I’m going to cry this weekend.” I wanted to tell them, “As many times as you need to. We’re here for you.” I knew that our work this weekend would look different for everyone, including myself. My gratitude for being present for the emotional healing of so many miraculous people outweighed any anxiety I have about how smoothly things would run.
I am filled with stories to share. Should I write about the Rhodochrosite Chakra Placement Therapy and the way it changed my relationship to my anger? What about the Ruby Self-Esteem Therapy and the way I felt anxiety physically release from my chest? There was Tonya,* whose breathing issues were dramatically resolved with the help of Carnelian and the loving attention of the group. There was also Kayla, who couldn’t explain her outpouring of emotion during a lecture on Carnelian until the entire group began to shift their focus to their own self-healing. Suddenly her grief was replaced by joy, and we learned how much our own self-love can affect those around us.
We also expanded our gemstone knowledge and learned lessons we would carry with us long after the familiarity of our retreat weekend had passed. We discussed our limitations and our ability (and need) to soar beyond them. Between lectures on the anatomy of the emotional body and the structure of an emotion, we learned to embrace the ailments we are usually so quick to try to remedy. “Illness is a part of the remedy,” one participant realized. “It is the beginning.”
Perhaps the most important lesson we learned was about our ability to modulate change in our lives. The weekend’s theme was transformation. Initially this was intimidating to those who find change difficult. But Dr. Ada Gonzalez, naturopathic physician and our workshop instructor, encouraged us to gently let go of these fears. She taught us that we don’t have to step into discomfort in order to learn and grow. We only need to make minor adjustments and find the actions that do feel good as we encourage the evolution of our being. “You have earned the right to have this experience,” she reminded us.
As I thumb through my notes, I find that I’m distracted by the longing I already feel. I long for the group of people who shared their stories, emotions, and growth. I long for the peaceful retreat center and the magical sounds of Oregon rain falling on the sanctuary roof. I long for the food—oh the food!—that we were spoiled with, and the sharing of meals that I looked forward to each day. I long for the feeling of being supported, the hands at my back through each lecture, therapy, and contemplation. It didn’t matter that I hadn’t known those hands hours or days before—I knew them now, and I knew them well. Through my longing, I struggle to find words that can accurately depict the wondrous weekend that I so much want to share with the world, but the best that I could come up with is. . .
You had to be there.
For more information on Gemisphere’s Workshop retreats and how you can attend, please click here.
*Names have been changed to protect the privacy of our workshop participants.
Chelsea Shaw is Gemisphere’s Social Media Specialist and a Gemstone Advisor.