Mountain Waters Retreats Retreat Centre in Nelson BC Thu, 10 May 2018 20:20:13 +0000 en-US hourly 1 How The Body Keeps Score Thu, 29 Mar 2018 21:58:21 +0000 Read more]]> I woke up Monday morning, unable to hold a cup of coffee in my left hand or pull a zipper. My wrist was swollen and immobilized and I had no idea what had happened.

My mind thought, “Perhaps at 58 you just wake up in the morning not knowing what part or appendage is  going to be falling apart?”

I was back in Montreal attending the funeral of a close family friend, someone who had touched the life of my parents, my kids and myself. In a way I could not fully understand I knew it was important for me to be there to honour the difficult endings and not turn away.

It was not until I got home two days later, wrist still sore, that my wife Yogita’s searching questions helped me piece together what had transpired.

At the cemetery I had grabbed a spare shovel to help shovel dirt into the grave site. The dirt was a mixture of wet clay and small stones and the two men hired for the job were struggling. In five minutes of rigorous shovelling we had buried the casket, which meant in the Jewish tradition of the funeral, that the mourners could return back to the warmth of their cars and get out of the falling snow.

There was no moment when I felt any twinge of pain in my wrist that grey and somber afternoon and yet what I had come to see is that I had unknowingly hurt myself nonetheless by being out of touch with my own body. I realized talking to Yogita how easy it was to treat my body, especially as a man, in a machine-like way. As a vehicle for getting things done. Putting dirt into a hole. Getting it done.

I realized how far back this way of being traveled into my past. How many thousands of times that wrist had pushed forcefully on a shovel in my years of tree planting, grabbed tools and lifted timbers on construction projects, always focused upon speed and efficiency, the very things we expect from our machines. 

But not learning to listen to the more subtle signals coming from my body about “how” to best “do” all this with more care for myself. That involves slowing down and paying more attention to the feeling sense within the body, noticing the signs of fatigue, the feedback loops of sensation that call us to adjust and notice what is happening inside ourselves.

It has been four days now since the funeral, and while still sore, my wrist is slowly getting better.  

Our bodies are like the winter snow pack with all of its many layers, a snowfall, a suncrust, a long cold snap, a blizzard, each event etched into the hidden layers affecting the strength of the whole and carrying the history of what has been experienced.

We too carry the history of all we have experienced. My left wrist, given all that I have asked it to do, in often robot-like ways, is now like a fragile layer in the snow pack. A place in my body that asks me to pay a different kind of attention. 


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Searching for the Insta Fix Thu, 07 Sep 2017 17:58:15 +0000 Read more]]>

Creating change on the inside is a lot like walking into the wilderness.

If we’re honest, there is a part of each one of us that just wants things to be easy. For our problems to be taken care of, for our investments to grow, for life to show up on our doorstep just as we ordered it.

(If you want to jump ahead to the bottom you’ll find a 10-minute meditation for awareness and being in your body)

Self-help books and internet ads promise quick results to many of our problems and feed the belief that the change we want can be had with very little effort. When illness strikes, we go to the doctor in much the same way we take our car to the mechanic and say – “Fix it”.

As a culture, we are so “busy”, and have developed such short attention spans, that any solution not corresponding to the time we have available right now, quickly falls off our radar.

Changing the self-limiting habits that we have practiced and ingrained over our lifespan is not something that happens in an instant.

Even the “aha’ moment, those brilliant flashes of insight, occur through the wiring up of a whole new neural network to support a new habit and realization. This rewiring happens over time and gets stronger with repeated use. There is a word for that: integration.

I have someone who helps me with my marketing. We were discussing what to offer you this month and she suggested I write one of those lists you see on many internet sites of this kind… 7 things you can do today to de-stress your life, or some such thing, but my reaction was to push back and say No.

You see, I believe change on the inside is a lot like walking into the wilderness. It takes a few days for our domestication to fall away and to feel more comfortable in unfamiliar terrain. After a couple of days, you find your legs, your balance, and new resources come to the fore.

That’s why the work, and the change opportunities that are offered here at Mountain Waters mostly happen within “retreats”.

Retreats happen over a number of days. Only with sufficient time and intentional practice can we drop beneath the conditioning we carry and explore how change unfolds from the inside out.

A retreat becomes an act of self-care and deep noticing, where the ground is prepared for something new. The Sufi’s call this work “tending the inner garden”. Weeds are pulled and new seeds planted that, given the right conditions, grow into the bounty and nourishment we wish to harvest in our lives. This process is the very opposite of what gets normalized in our fast food culture of the instant fix. For real and lasting change to occur it requires time, commitment, patience, and practice – the very things required for any new learning.

If you have been struggling or searching for a deeper connection to life, you may want to consider joining me and a group of like minded individuals looking to create lasting change in their lives with The Hero’s Journey retreat starting Sept 24th.

And as a gift to start you on your path or to continue to support your efforts, I’ve prepared a 10-minute meditation to share with you. Listen to Meditation on the Body here.

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Striving for Perfektion Tue, 29 Aug 2017 20:08:18 +0000 Read more]]>

Our April newsletter went out this spring with two big fat typo’s in the subject bar.

I had a full body cringe before even finishing the first sentence. Even my body had internalized the striving to “get it right”.

I became immediately aware of my ambition to compare favorably with others now that my imperfections were in full public view.

Then something softened. It was more than the acceptance of “shit happens”. It was a moment where I got to see how widespread and systemic striving is, and more importantly, what it tries to cover over:

A feeling of Lack.

Lack comes from a place in our past where something was missing, and what was missing got internalized as deficiency. (I wrote about this in my last blog post which you can read here).

Lack makes a different shaped hole in each of us. Here is the “I’m not good enough” hole. There’s the “I’m not attractive enough” hole, and the “I will never be successful enough” hole. The permutations are endless.

In our culture this lack is made invisible, glazed over by distraction, consumption and all the things we do to keep busy and avoid what we feel.

I decided to explore this striving for Perfektion because the secret to loving others despite their imperfections, is loving ourselves despite ours.

I wish I could offer a quick solution or a simple practice that would create significant change if you find yourself in a difficult place. But that’s not how this kind of process works. To be willing to heal we need to go into those places where the pain exists and hold it in a new way. We need to bring kindness to the places where it was lacking.

This is the focus The Hero’s Journey, a 6 day retreat, September 24 -30th. This retreat is about shifting our perception to find the means to welcome all of our experience, even the difficulties. Learning to embrace with kindness all of our reality initiates the process of change that happens from the inside out.

When you live in this way you get to feel more fully alive.

You come to know more about the places where you limit yourself, so different choices become available.

You notice your ability to show up with a greater capacity to hold the joy and the pain without the need to push any of it away.

Find out more about The Hero’s Journey here.

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The Architecture of Lack Wed, 23 Aug 2017 22:26:35 +0000 Read more]]>

How we develop the idea that we’re not enough

A few days ago I held a newborn infant and gazed into eyes of wonder and innocence, still connected, it seemed, to the mystery of his origin.

The openness of the child’s gaze left me reflecting on just what happens to that wonder and sense of connection as we progress through life.

New research shows that up to about the age of eight, children don’t possess the ability to fully differentiate between themselves and their mother or father. If Mom withdrawals under the stress of a rough day, the young child does not see that “Mom is just having a hard time”. He or she concludes that there must be something wrong with me to have caused the situation. The connection to Mom or Dad has been compromised – and it is the young child’s fault.

In this age of single parenting and isolated nuclear families, small but repetitive slights to a young child’s sense of connection, get internalized as a deficiency – a feeling of lack – that lies beneath the surface of conscious awareness.

This is in no way to blame parents, but to acknowledge just how far we have moved from our tribal past when Grandparents, Aunts and Uncles plus countless cousins were on-hand if parents were unavailable. In these cases the child’s sense of safety and connection to caring adults was maintained.

Today the “not enoughness” takes many shapes and forms, and is mirrored back to us by the society we live in. There is “not enough” time,”not enough” money, “not enough” love and attention, and for some, “not enough“ safety and security.

This underlying feeling of lack can lead in extreme cases to Trump-like displays of grandiosity, wealth and power, all in an attempt to fill an empty place inside. The hidden template of lack gets played out as busyness – the more I do the better I’ll feel about myself – it gets expressed as self judgement – I’m never good enough. and an underlying sense of dis-ease or dissonance that our culture offers us myriad forms of distraction not to feel.

It is a paradox that as we turn toward the “not enoughness” in ourselves, and instead of judging it, or wall papering it over, bring our conscious care and attention to the very places in ourselves where this lack lives – the places something begins to change.

It’s as if we give ourselves in those moments, the very presence that was missing in our past. We become the ‘good enough parent’ of our own experience. We rewrite the script and change the source code with our own presence – allowing us to move forward with more gratitude for what life has to offer.

As the Sufi mystic Jelaluddin Rumi said so simply 800 years ago, It’s all about loving and not loving.

The truth is that it’s hard to truly love ourselves or another, when we are operating from a place of lack.

For those of you who wish to explore these themes in a deeper way, I invite you to take a look at The Hero’s Journey, a six day retreat I will be leading during the last week in September.

And due to such a positive response in the spring, Yogita Bouchard and Sharon Abbondanza will be once again be offering the five day woman’s retreat, A Woman’s Way of Being, Sept 16th – 21st. This is both a profound reset for the central nervous system and a deep dive into the wisdom available within.

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The Power of Community in an Age of Lonliness Sun, 13 Mar 2016 23:09:48 +0000 We were never meant to do it all on our own

Last month I was privileged to have had a few wonderful conversations with people who had been through our Healing with Addictions Program. I wanted to see how they were, and to find out what aspects of the retreat had been central to their experience.

SKylght modifiedI was surprised when the word “circle” kept coming up. The circle they were talking about was the physical circle that is created every time people sit down together in a group in the round Malocca building where we do this work. The circle is that, and something more.  It is also a group of people coming together with a common intention, holding space and bearing witness to each other’s  healing.

The power of the healing circle

Often in these circles there will be heartfelt sharing with tears, yes, sometimes, laughter, where something difficult of the past that is perhaps never before been shared, or turned to, is now held in common.

In such moments there is a peace that gets made with the past. What happens in these moments is that someone is seen in their authenticity, perhaps for the first time, by a community of people to which they belong. When this happens something important about their experience gets validated. This is circle.

The world we have created is a paradox in so many ways. This blog is a form of sharing into an online community, as is facebook for many people. And yet it is a facsimile, a virtual community, where we get the taste of something but not that much of the nourishment.

We are social creatures, yet increasingly, people live in isolation and loneliness.

Of course, there are many reasons for this. We live separate from each other in our nuclear families. Our economy is structured so that  people are working harder and harder just to get by. There is little time to socialize and people come home tired and turn to the television or the internet for solace and distraction. Our culture celebrates the myth of the heroic individual, the self starter, the entrepreneur smart enough and tough enough to rise to the top of the heap. Each Apple product, The ‘i pod, the “i” phone,and the “i”pad’  places the ‘I” front and centre for a reason. Because we relate to the world as individuals.

circle of handsTribal cultures know that no one can do it alone. That was part of what was so devastating about the residential school system that was forced for so many years upon Canada’s native peoples. It ripped apart the social bonds that held the traditional culture intact.

At the addictions Retreat one of the hardest things for people is to learn that it is okay to ask for help. in fact at certain times it is absolutely essential. Yet people are caught in the notion that they need to figure it out on their own and this plays out like a defective piece of software.

Human beings are wired for connection, we are uniquely social. Our language, our emotional sensitivities and our artistic expressions  only make sense within a community context.

That’s why the word circle kept coming up in my follow up conversations.  For it was pointing at a deeper longing to belong to something bigger than ourselves.

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