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Take a small seed, and plant it into an already highly compacted and messy world; the seed will grow and take life from all that surrounds it. Suddenly that seed that felt harmless in the beginning, becomes the bane of your life and everything in it. This is my story and the incredible journey I entered in becoming at ease with myself and all those around me and the feeling of loss when you continue to drag the demons of life upon your shoulders and suddenly they are lifted and you are given new air to breath, new strength to fight the colour and complexities within our lives…

When I was asked to attend the Retreat, I felt a little uncomfortable to say the least. The idea of opening myself up to religion and other people in that same mindset was quite daunting. However I do consider myself to have an open mind, and luckily as I tend to ruminate, I agreed to give it a go. As the weeks passed leading up to it, I decided initially to research the notion of a ‘retreat’ and what was to be expected as well as how I could benefit from it myself in relation to my aspirations of becoming a writer. A few days before I began my journey, I celebrated my 27th birthday. On my birthday I got several cards and one of them was someone close to me explaining their understanding of my need to find faith in this way and its importance in my life and the positive impact on others including my children. I already felt strongly attached to a remarkable emotional and spiritual path, but those words completely put into perspective how and why this was so necessary in my life;

“If you can’t have faith in what is held up to you for faith, you must find things to believe in yourself, for a life without faith in something is too narrow a space to live” Alec Bourne.

The day arrived and as I began my journey I was already deep in contemplation, but I had promised myself not to expect anything precise and keep an open mind to the people and places I would meet both in mind and spirit. On the first day, I found it rather difficult to simply do nothing other than sit quietly and think or pray. I had spent my whole life busying around, not giving myself the opportunity to feel the calm and quiet. I found myself wandering aimlessly. That evening I sat with the fire roaring in the lounge, completely at ease. I began to reach out to God and ask that he walk with me along this journey. I sat for possibly hours, focussing on the many corners of my life and the cracks I had created, forever preventing me from reaching across and alleviating those memories.

Finally I had tired myself out with these thoughts, so I prepared to now empty my mind and sleep. The most incredible experience was that first night’s sleep…I dreamt of bright lights and peaceful song, it was as if I had stepped out of the darkness and opened my heart and mind into a life of peace and serenity.

When I arrived home, I felt strangely different. I was noticeably calmer, but couldn’t help feeling like there was a piece of me missing, like I had returned with a hole in my heart… It took me a little while, but I soon realised that the part of me that I had left behind was the grief and heavy turmoil I had been carrying around with me for several years. Overall, the experience albeit a short one, was the most incredible, emotional and spiritual journey I had ever encountered. If I took anything from this, it would be that it was paramount to my life to heal myself before I could begin to heal others and that is essentially why I believe I can now be a better person. But in order to heal myself, I needed to have greater clarity in my life and others around me and accept that other people aren’t necessarily ‘wrong’ but perhaps come from a generation in time where their opinions are suited to their individual life experiences. All I can do therefore is allow them to recognise that my views are based around my own encounters with the life that I have been given, and in expressing my passion, I should absolutely not attempt to be forceful or persuasive.

Now go… set out and find your inner peace, for without it you are simply being.