Note: I received compensation for writing this blog. All experiences and opinions are my own.
I have been intrigued with the thought of taking part in The Goddess Gathering retreat ever since I heard Stephanie Johnston at Work of Heart 2018. I met her again this summer and had a chance to talk to her about the Desire Map retreat. It sounded like just what I needed, but of course I gave myself all kinds of reasons why I shouldn’t do it. First among those reasons was the drive, a half hour away from Moncton.
This might not be a big deal for most of you, but for me, it’s huge. I am “directionally challenged”. Even in town I am often anxious when driving to a new place, and my husband always drives when we are “on the road”. Since this was another step along my new path, I decided that I would go, and that I would drive myself. Having said that, Ray and I took a drive out to the location earlier in the week, so I could see how Google Maps would get me there.
The day of the retreat dawned, and I got ready to go. The car had lots of gas and I sat in the driveway setting up the map, but there was no voice coming through. I was stressing about it, and then decided to just get started, trusting that between the map on my phone and my memory, I would get there. Low and behold, once I pulled out of the driveway and made the first turn, the voice told me how far it was to my next turn. Lesson: If you trust yourself and just get started, the help you need will show up.
The drive to Village Scandanave was beautiful and I did most of it in silence, just being present and listening for the Google prompts. Lesson: When you spend some time in quiet, you can hear the subtle signs to change.
I arrived early and was shown to the Nordic Spa room where I had a cup of chamomile tea and waited for the other participants. We made small talk and spent some time in silence, each in our own thoughts about what the day may hold.
Stephanie arrived and led us to the yurt. As soon as I walked in, I felt the need to take off my shoes, it was such a sacred space. Not in any religious sense, but in a spiritual, healing way. It was beautifully decorated from the painted support beams to the items that Stephanie had added. I didn’t take any pictures because I want people to have the feeling of seeing it for the first time.
We introduced ourselves and explained why we had chosen the object we brought from home to add to the space. The day proceeded with guided meditation and choosing a card that had a quote from Danielle Laporte.
The rest of the morning we worked through the Desire Map workbook to help us discover the way we want to feel about ourselves and our lives. Though this retreat is focused on feelings, it is not all about sharing those feelings, but rather a chance to delve inward. Break and lunch were delicious vegan meals provided by High Vibe.
After lunch we indulged in the Nordic Spa experience, 15 minutes of hot, 30 seconds of cold and 15 minutes of relaxation and journaling, all done in silence. While I was sitting in the hot tub, I realized how hard it is for me to let go, as I was focused on “doing it right” and wondering when the 15 minutes would be up, instead of just “doing it”. When I did relax, my feet floated to the surface, and I tried to push them down so that I was sitting. Lesson: just go with the flow and stop trying to control everything.
After our time in the spa, we returned to the yurt for an hour of gentle yoga led by Christine Comeau, who was also one of the participants. Then we continued in our workbooks to further define our feeling words. By that I mean literally define. We looked up the meaning of the words that showed up most often. We then had a few minutes of sharing what we had found. The day finished with a ritual to send us forward. I drove home feeling refreshed, fulfilled and oh so grateful.
I have attended many retreats over the years and I love the opportunity to meet new people and to share our stories. The experience of The Goddess Gathering Desire Map retreat was much more focused on the self, not on the other and it was just what I needed. This is a retreat for those, like me, who love retreats, and it is for those who are more private. Stephanie leads with gentleness, caring and a desire for each person to put their feelings into words.
In the disclaimer I said that the experiences were my own, but that’s not entirely true. My experience was created and enhanced by the group that came together that day. Thank you to everyone who helped to make that day such a memorable one. The next retreat will take place in November. I highly encourage those who have been thinking about it just do it! It will be a wonderful way to set your intention for the New Year.