How does the ‘holy trinity’ of counseling, coaching, and the retreat affect people’s experience?
Some people think that you can attend one retreat and immediately your life will be changed forever. This work is quite deep. It’s quite complex. And it’s by no means a quick fix.
Here’s the truth about plant medicine. With the proper guidance, preparation and integration around the retreat, it’s possible to make massive progress in a short space of time. Unfortunately, the majority of retreat participants find themselves back to square one following a retreat, and the deeper opportunity and benefits are being missed.
People are heading to the retreat, but they’re not taking the time and energy to prepare appropriately. People are having breakthroughs on these retreats, and so progress always feels amazing. But often what happens is that the integration is being overlooked. Once you’ve returned home, a couple of weeks later, a month later, life returns to normal. All of those environments and dynamics at home haven’t changed. You’re still driving to work. You’re still dealing with your friends and your family, and they all expect you to be the same person.
There are a few dynamics here at play. The first is that we have pretty much universally all of us have some past trauma and certainly limiting beliefs and small small incidents can actually have quite a profound impact. The second dynamic is that we have intergenerational trauma; our parents were traumatized, and their parents are traumatized, and so forth. There’s a bit of a pattern of trauma that’s being passed down through the generations, which affects nearly all of us. It’s very common through working with plant medicine that people uncovered these suppressed and repressed memories that are often locked deep in the subconscious. And sometimes clients ask, well, why would I want to uncover those things? Well, those things are manifesting in our character. And so whether they manifest as anger or pride or envy or whatever other emotions, they are coming through our character. Sometimes we don’t understand the reasons for why we’re acting in particular ways and so that medicine can really help us to discover those things, kind of unlock those memories, reconcile the past and really accept what has happened and leave it in the past.
The third dynamic is that we’re really not particularly well equipped to deal with the complexity of modern life. We have so much going on in our personal and professional lives that our thinking minds really struggle to keep up and to manage with that everyday complexity. What starts to happen is that our brain begins to take shortcuts in order to deal with that complexity almost as kind of an energy efficient mechanism. You can’t possibly take in all of the stimulus of everything that’s happening in the world or in your personal life. And so you begin to take shortcuts in your thinking because there’s just so much going on. That sounds like a positive adaptive response, but in reality, what tends to happen is that we come to use a very small subset of our neural pathways. So we’re actually losing some of our brain function because our thinking has become a little bit deterministic or overly patterned, which is a real pity.
So now you have this big breakthrough of, say, universal love, and then you land straight back to where you are now. Why is that? Well, it’s often because we haven’t been guided to release certain emotions, process trauma and overcome limiting beliefs. It’s super important to do high quality mental and emotional work so that we can come into retreat with the right context. And in order to rewire your brain and to strengthen these new neural pathways that have been created during your experience, it is imperative to properly integrate post-retreat so that you don’t revert back to the short-cuts your brain was once taking.