|Wayne's House Retreat Center|
So why would I, someone who to the best of my knowledge is not facing a terminal illness, choose to attend this type of retreat? Well, for one, I have a pretty healthy relationship to death. It doesn’t frighten me. Perhaps being raised on a farm helped. I was around birth, life, and death all the time. I understood it to be part of the natural course of things. And I have experienced the death of very close loved ones - including my first-born daughter when I was 19, and my mother just this last year - without them being devastating or horribly traumatic. Not to say I haven’t had my share of grieving around these deaths, which I have, just that for me death is a natural process that I’m not afraid to face.
|View of volcanic plateau from Wayne's House|
The retreat had many layers and elements, including a creative process that happens to be one of my favorites - mandala making (based on Dr. Judith Cornell’s work). We engaged in the mandala making after being guided through four levels of “death” and a final “rebirth.” All of these processes were facilitated in a very gentle, loving and nurturing way by our phenomenal retreat leader, Aleia O’Reilly, director of Further Shore, Inc. She created a very safe and supportive space for our depth journeys.
|The intention for my Death #1, Mandala #1 is: |
To emerge from the soul fire renewed and transformed.
The second death in the south was an “emotional death of letting go.” We were given index card prompts and instructed to write down ten of our favorite things (person, food, activity, etc.), which we then put in order of their importance to us.
|The intention for my Death #2, Mandala #2 is: |
It’s an inside job.
Having just experienced my own mother going through a similar process of having to let go of her favorite things before she transitioned, I could really understand and grasp this exercise. Arising from this meditation we again went to the art table, set an intention, and began the creation of a mandala that represented what came to us from this second death experience.
|The intention for my Death #3, Mandala #3 is: |
Forgiveness of self.
|The intention for my Death #4, Mandala #4 is: |
All the ways to my soul are open.
|The intention for my Rebirth into Light, Mandala #5 is: |
Be you... Soul wishes full expression
through this body at this time.
Your freedom is everyone’s freedom.
Complete with our deaths and rebirth, we celebrated our depth journeys with a closing circle, literally, using all our mandalas placed on the floor as the defining edge of the circle. It was really lovely to view the mandalas put together in this fashion, to see and honor the unique expressions of each participant, yet notice also how they all fit together smoothly and fluidly.
This was an incredibly healing and enlightening retreat for me and an experience that will remain in my heart for a long time to come, with more messages and realizations to unfold with each passing day. I really am no longer the person I was when I arrived at Wayne’s House.