This weekend, I trekked down to Maryland and spent time with a group of stretchers and seekers; those who were willing to dive in deep, go wide, dance with their demons and the Divine. The workshop called Come As You Are invited us to peel off the layers that we thought had protected us and kept us safe but (in my case at least), held me back from being authentic and truly allowing people in.
A little background on the facilitators will put it into perspective.
Eugene Hedlund is a certified 5 Rhythms teacher and the founder of the SheddingSkins path of personal transformation. He is based in San Diego, California and teaches both 5 Rhythms and SheddingSkins workshops throughout the US and in Europe. The SheddingSkins path is a seamless blend of Movement Meditation, Sound Alchemy, Shamanic Ritual and Tantric Ceremony into one cohesive practice where each of these medicines are used to create a comprehensive system of personal transformation.
Monique Darling has studied with phenomenal teachers since the 1990s and offers private sessions, workshops & cuddle parties around the country spreading her love and healing.She has been featured on TLC, The Dr’s, and interviewed in magazine’s for the work she is doing. She is the founder of Divine Interludes where she specializes in transmuting fear and repression into courage, love & freedom. Helping people reclaim their voices and expressing themselves at full volume.
Together they wove a safe chrysalis in which we budding butterflies could grow until we were ready to break free. They coached but did not crack us open. We were to do that ourselves should we choose, and on one level or another, we did. I did something uncharacteristic as I immersed fully as a participant with only a slight departure as I viewed the exercises and dynamics from the perspective of a therapist/facilitator myself. I cut myself some slack there, acknowledging that it is an occupational hazard. In other words, I took off my professional hat and just allowed for whatever arose for me.
As the day progressed, I found myself increasingly willing to shed my own figurative skin that I had grown over the years that I thought defined me. One exercise that was blow me out of the water amazing, elegant and thorough is called Circle of Mirrors created by Eugene. The group sat on the floor in a circle and one by one (and totally by choice) we were invited to step into the center and walk around the space sharing about an issue we had brought with us to the workshop. What followed me there was a persistant drive to DO all the time, scrambling to accomplish, Type A, what I jokingly call being ‘functionally manic’ with an inability it seemed, to put the brakes on for very long. As I started the process, I brought to mind two images that had arisen in a previous exercises. The first was one that has been with me since childhood that I referred to as ‘Little Shirley Temple: Everybody’s Sweetheart’ who would tap dance to please, entertain and ‘be loved best of all’. As she was dancing, she also was diagnosed with asthma and foot issues that required treatment for the first and clunky red orthopedic shoes (hard to tap dance in them and not very graceful). On top of that, she was a really smart and inquisitive child who would read incessantly and ask copious questions. She felt different from most of her peers as a result. With that in mind, she became hyper competitive with herself and filled her life (even back then) with tons of activities….swim team, Hebrew School, Girl Scouts, volunteering, friends… sounds like prep for the life I live now. Add to that another persona that I call “Zen Goddess” who is here to heal the world, beam love and light and be totally calm in the face of chaos, serene at all times. This exercise resembles psychodrama as people were invited to step in as these various roles. One of the men became Shirley….dancing and singing On The Good Ship Lollipop. A woman took on the role of the one who felt bogged down with the physical challenges, someone else was my busy-buzzy on the go role and still another sat in the center, in half lotus, hands in mudra position, eyes closed, chanting oo0o0o0o0o0ommmm. Watching all of this going on at once, my various components doing their thang; singing, dancing, slogging, holding her brainiac head, zooming around, being all spiritual and whatnot, my tears turned into laughter as I recognized what I had done to myself all in supposed service to the entrenched belief that it was necessary to hold on to the love that I experienced as a child. At the end of the experience I thanked the first person/persona for teaching me how to be center stage with confidence, the second for helping to ground me and challenge me, the third to invite me to learn alot and drink in the world, never bored, the zoomer to help me juggle an active schedule, multi task and achieve and the final for assisting me in my spiritual journey. I referred to this merging of the various aspects of myself as “Divine Guidance”. At the moment, I am in re-entry and integrative mode, allowing for new revelations to arise. Although I have shed skin, I don’t feel raw as I had inticipated as if I was sunburned. Instead, I am glowing pleasantly. Grateful beyond words to Monique and Eugene, as well as my fellow travelers; my beautiful mirrors who held me in love and respect that came un-earned, like grace itself.