Until I was in my 30s, I didn’t warm to the idea of retreats. My only experiences up to that point had been of high school-organised, mid-winter, freezing cold lodgings, crappy food, and angsting teenagers, micromanaged by a bunch of zealous youth workers and folk songs sung lamentably to a beaten up guitar and the ubiquitous tambourine. Kumbaya! Not something I’d recommend.
Workshops are my favourite method for gaining knowledge and meeting like-minded individuals. You can workshop just about anything these days. The best thing about them is that they are subject-specific. They zero in on topics and are often tailored specifically to the attendees’ abilities and needs. And then there is the power of the group dynamic. Individual study and one on one are powerful, but a group brings another dimension to the learning space. Even now, as more group meetings are held online, the dynamic remains strong. Not to mention the cost effectiveness of attending online.
Back in the good old days, when workshops were akin to junkets, there was a lot more involved than turning up with a notebook and pencil. There were airfares or some kind of travel expense, accommodation, food, and some new stationary if you were feeling a bit fancy. If you were really committed, then new clothes, software and possibly upgraded hardware were also to be included in the budget. Factor in the family you left behind. Their needs had to be organised and met before you could even dream of leaving the house. And then merchandise began to appear. It was yet another unforeseen cost you had to budget for. Nowadays it’s expected, online or otherwise.
Enter my friend Annette. We met as teenagers, happily, not at a youth retreat. We attended workshops whilst at college whether we liked it or not. They were called extra curricular activities. Back then, workshops held a certain stigma. We were all about discovering who we were, the more creative and dramatic the better so workshops were our jam. In no time at all we travelled different academic paths and lost touch.
Fast forward 15 years, fate brought us back together – with kids, spouses, work and commitments galore. Annette discovered retreating to a convent to examine, in a meaningful way, day to day living and how she could make a positive difference in the world. She invited me to join her, travelling to the other side of town, unencumbered, to commune with a group of like minded women intent on bringing focus to our lives and good works in our community. It seemed such a short span of time before, again, our paths again diverged.
Fast forward almost 30 years, and here we are, Annette and I, communing with a new and ever changing group of like minded women at the beautiful Light House in Tallebudgera Valley. It is the realisation of Lynelle Rafton. A beautiful, safe, sacred space where we allow our vulnerability to show, knowing that we are supported, encouraged and loved for who we are as we join together in a group focused on and called Conversations with Women. With her co host Jean Cobine, Lynelle takes us through sacred feminine ceremonies before settling upon pondering the topic for conversation chosen for the month. Afterwards we enjoy a delightful afternoon tea where we can relax, give ourselves time to assimilate the deeper aspects of the conversation and come away feeling energised, empowered and in our feminine energy.
Do you want to know what is the best thing about this retreat? Whilst we all have our work commitments and day to day runnings to attend, The LightHouse shines as a beacon to remind us that we must also fill our hearts and souls so that we can keep moving forward within the spirit of the world.