Ireland 2011 Therapist Retreat SHEN and beyond…

Shen and beyond… is a network I started for those of us trained in the Shen family of therapies: Shen, Kairos, EQ Bodywork, Biofield & Healing Therapies. Set up as a neutral hub, separate from the certifying organizations as a way to connect us across the waters, to share and swap, regardless of the name of the therapy.

In June we had our second therapist retreat in Ireland. Our collective article follows:

SHEN and Beyond retreat holiday in Ireland 2011
Every holiday has a measure of laughter, fun and fulfillment. The SHEN and beyond Retreat holiday, was no different except that we came home with less baggage and gratitude for the friendship and healing, we received.

Writes Deirdre Leavy

One holiday maker a well-known person left the Irish people with a positive affirmation of “Is Féidir Linn”. Another well-known visitor extended the hand of friendship to the Irish people with the words “… a Chairde”. While those of us who a ttended the SHEN and Beyond Retreat holiday, would say whatever your opinion, we all thrive on positive encouragement and a hand of friendship and a holiday sometimes whether we are therapists or not.

And, with the SHEN and Beyond Retreat holiday looming, the best holiday looked like it was going to be the worst disaster, I thought maybe nobody will want to come. Doubts faded as I received emails from people in SHEN, Kairos and EQ Bodywork. The messages read of interested but didn’t have the finances to cover travel expenses, confirmation with deposits and some disappointed because they wanted to come, but the time did not fit into their schedule. I was so heartened by the positive responses.

The reality of some of those responses came Monday evening. Everyone had arrived, introduced themselves to each other and settled into what was to be their new home for a week all with the help of some relaxing and grounding sessions. Eva, one of the first to arrive, i s the visionary leader and a very important part of the SHEN and Beyond Retreat holiday. I noticed her favorite words were “Yes we can” as she speaks in a soft mix of accents. I look forward to hearing her say it in Gailge “Is Féidir Linn”. Eva is a natural. She emanates from a natural calm approach which told me, as I tried to pack more into the week in an effort to fill the to-do list that this is just a week of everyone getting together sharing some shen sessions and having some light-hearted fun.

As we light-heartedly chatted at mealtime about those now-famous words “Is Féidir Linn” and as the days moved one into the other, there was a great sense of optimism. While optimism may not make the message of positive encouragement, and a hand of friendship travels across it certainly allows us time to look for the good times ahead not alone reaching out to humans but to all life. Jenny did just that as she reached out to treat Brownie. Brownie was in pain and grievin g for his master who passed away four weeks previous. Mealtimes were not without Mary’s beautiful ‘Spelt’ bread. I left the retreat optimistic that “Is Féidir liom” (“yes I can”) make ‘Spelt’ bread and I have.

As for the focus of the group we bartered some great productive SHEN sessions. Xavier kept us on track. Eva introduced us to art. We did some yoga and stretching exercises guided by an expert in her field Fiona. We went swimming. The rain obeyed our request allowing us, blue skies and some sunshine. We enjoy walking along the royal canal accompanied by Brownie. We dined outdoors, afterwards we stepped into the echo friendly wild garden where we became like children playing and taking photos. What do children know that you have forgotten? For a start, they know that everything is possible.

As we celebrated the longest day of the year I also got to celebrate my birthday with some amazing people on the Hill of Uisneach and I think I am correct in saying w e all felt an overwhelming feeling of spiritual oneness with others and with the sacred site called Uisneach (considered to be the mystical navel of Ireland, it is well worth a visit) as we celebrated the longest day of the year.

Hosting the Retreat holiday proved to me that even if a person’s life takes off in a new direction we can always reach out in friendship. Having attended the SHEN and Beyond Retreat holiday in Turkey inspired me to host it in Ireland this year. I am so grateful that Ireland has taken part in the hand of friendship and healing that is extended to fellow therapists worldwide.

Go raibh míle maith agaibh

My SHEN experience in Ireland
by Jenny Jones

I would like to share an experience I had whilst having a SHEN session from Deirdre. It was the day after the Summer Solstice and our special experience up in Uisneach, in the heart of Ireland.

My presenting issues over the c ourse of the SHEN retreat was (1) with my mother, whom I have been caring for over the past 18 months as she has Alzheimers, and I also needed to feel more grounded and secure. My dealings with mum was bringing up my childhood issues. Deirdre coached me back to my childhood. On the table I felt disconnected from my mother – she seemed disengaged from life and me. Then I felt myself disengaged and squashed into a transparent box, stifled, no room for emotions. Then I realised its not really a box, its self-imposed. Then I laughed – I saw myself in a Tom & Jerry type cartoon breaking out of the box – 1 leg poking out and hopping all over the place. It felt so good to laugh. As I came out of the box I had space to feel. Of course, too much laughter wasn’t allowed – “that’s enough now” my mother would say. I felt some mild anger and then realised how wonderful it was to feel it – I was happy to feel it! My issues with mum faded.

Next I saw myself as a baby pro jectile vomiting (I was born with pyloric stenosis – a stuck stomach valve). I suddenly realised that was about rejection. Was I picking up on mum wanting to reject me? She didn’t exactly reject me – I then felt some sense of self-rejection. Next thing I felt myself giving birth to MYSELF! I remembered over the past few weeks a little voice in me has been saying “my baby” … “I’m going to have a baby” and I didn’t know what it had meant. Without going through the physical pain of a real birth, I give birth to myself on the SHEN table.

It felt like a dream, like a paradox. I felt total love for my baby, seeing her/my tiny silky hands and feet and totally accepting her on all levels. My baby/self felt whole and nurtured by my father – God – and my mother – Mother Earth! Deirdre, who I think had been working on my Root and Kath, then moved to my right knee and lower leg. I then felt a strong sense of security and stability growing. As Deirdre held my foot, I felt my foot against the belly of Mother Earth and it felt so nourishing and loving. Growing oneness with Mother Earth and Father God. I then realised how wonderful it was to be born on the Emerald Isle in the heart of it! Thanks to Uisneach and the sacred water on the site, our guide in Uisneach all dressed in green, thanks also to Deirdre, Father God and Mother Earth! I was in tears of joy as I relayed my experience to Deirdre.

Right at the end of my session I realised I needed a new name. Instantly the name Persephone came to me – from where I don’t know. I have only just looked this up on Google and I am amazed at the meaning. Persephone in Greek Mythology was a vegetation goddess and had a strong connection with the underworld. How grounding is that! That reminds me of a self-SHEN session I had about a month previous, when “my baby” thoughts mixed with sadness came up and the need to feel “anchored in the earth and staying in the light”. Its all tying u p now. I’m so glad to have had the opportunity to write this article, without which I may not have made the connections.

During my last session the following day, which was a grounding session, it felt like God was shoe shining my heart until it was gleaming and sunny! What a great way to end the seminar!

What a wonderful experience the whole Ireland retreat was and I thank all the participants for sharing that special time! May we have more please!

Jenny (Persephone) Jones

Therapist Retreat in Ireland
by Eva Dillner

This year Deirdre Leavy invited us to come to Ireland for the SHEN and beyond Retreat, a self nurturing event for experienced therapists trained in the SHEN family of therapies: SHEN, Kairos, EQ Bodywork, Biofield and Healing Therapies. Our venue was the lovely Hollybrook Holistic Center nestled in wildflowers on the banks of the Royal Canal.

To keep it affordable, we cooked many of the meals ours elves but also took time out to visit local restaurants for dinner. Deirdre did an outstanding job in procuring natural foods that fit all the dietary requirements. Participants came from Scotland, England, Sweden, Belgium and Ireland.

The way I work is to check in with the group, get a sense of where everyone is, then make a decision on how best to proceed. Getting plenty of table time was important to all. After landing sessions we proceeded to mix it up a bit. Working with the same partner all day, we could choose to be client all morning or afternoon, or mix it up and trade every other session. With experienced therapists there is room to give general instructions, then let each one check in and decide. Taking care of our own needs is an important aspect of the retreat. We also worked in threes, two therapists with one client.

This year we were lucky to have Yoga Teacher Fiona in our midst to lead us in easy exercises. Connecting with and caring for our bod ies is key both for therapist and client. Movement makes us more aware of what is going on in the body, where we hold tension and helps energize the biofield. In that spirit we spent one lovely morning at the local pool, swimming like fishes in the warm waters. Thanks to organizer par excellence Deirdre and fellow driver Xavier we got out and about quite a bit.

Highlight of the week was spending summer solstice on the hill of Uisneach, the heart of Ireland. June 21st is Deirdre’s birthday and I feel so blessed that she chose to spend it with us. We were met by a guide right out of Irish folklore and walked for hours across the magical lands full of springs and capstones. We wrapped up around a bonfire where Deirdre led us in a beautiful ceremony to honor our planet.

My very first SHEN mentor got me started doing art as a way to connect with my emotions. About mid week, I felt the group ripe for an art exercise. With simple crayons and plain paper at hand, I invited each one to take a few breaths and close their eyes, then choose a color. Just let your intuition guide you, you don’t have to know what you are drawing, just keep going, change crayons or not. Simply let that part of you that knows create and let your mind go. In silence we drew. Then I waited a bit. Sometimes there’s one more things that wants to be added.

I invited each one to share what they had drawn, what came up, what awarenesses had floated through. With emotions ripe we went to the table.

It’s amazing how a group gets made up of all the talents you need. We were blessed with fantastic cooks Jenny and Fiona. I’m perfectly happy to set tables and wash dishes and provide generous murmurs of approval as we munched our way through heavenly dishes. Mary brought home made bread that we absolutely devoured. To start our week Deirdre had prepared a lovely soup tha t warmed heart and soul.

Airing our questons and thoughts about our work is another aspect of the retreat experience. We dedicated one evening to a round table discussion.

Future Retreats
Self catered or full room and board? Taking the time to prepare meals does provide social time that seems to deepen the connection between participants. But some would prefer not to have to fuss with meals and dishes. The cost would be higher for full room and board.

Since I’m also American, I go to the states now and then. Next trip is likely to include stops in Boulder and Durango, CO, Escondido, CA, Hawaii and Seattle, WA. The next retreat could be in the USA or in a holiday destination like the Canary Islands, Malta, Cyprus…

The first two retreats have been experiments in action, where we’ve done a combination of things to support the SHEN process, like NES, Creative Dance, Art, Swimming and Yoga. It’s worked quite well with bits and pieces but I’ d like to do the next retreat with a single focus.

Therapeutic Storytelling is a potent way to unearth more emotions, especially if we’ve been through deeper traumas. That applies to most therapists who find their way into the SHEN family of therapies. Something significant happens when you get to tell your story in one thread instead of in bits and pieces. Sharing it with a group can be a powerful experience. To be heard, to be acknowledged, to uncork the remains of the emotional trauma. When you tell the story with a focus on wringing all the emotions out of it in the telling, then combine it with SHEN therapy table time, an even deeper transformation is possible.

It was during my internship as a SHEN Instructor, that my mentor suggested I write my story as a way to dig even deeper in my dirt. I wrote to heal me. I wrote to expunge my hurt. I wrote to verbalize that which was not allowed to be said. I wrote for me. I had no intention of sharing it with anyone, except my mentor and perhaps fellow therapists. It was good dirt to use in trading sessions. I was lucky enough to have excellent therapists to trade with while I was writing. I was amazed at how much more came up and out in the writing.

As so happens, I’d written most of my story when it was time to meet up with my mentor. I was reluctant to share such an intimate and frankly, unflattering piece with anyone. But what don’t we do in the urge to heal? We bare our innermost yuckies with kindred spirits on the path.

My mentor read it in one go and encouraged me to publish it as a book. Which I did after a few more sessions. First edition The Naked Truth was followed by a second expanded edition five years later with a new title Secrets of Transformation. I realize the book info is a bit of a plug for my stuff, but I think you’d like to know that I’m not a novice in therapeutic storytelling should you choose to come to the next retreat.
Eva Dillner

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