Tag Archives: Transformation

Writing to Awaken at Hollyhock

By , originally published in AT FORTY FIVE

Writing To Awaken, the latest book by bestselling author, Mark Matousek, begins

When you tell the truth, your story changes
When your story changes, your life is transformed.

and that set the stage for the 5-day retreat I attended in mid-August at Hollyhock, Canada’s Lifelong Learning Centre on Cortes Island in beautiful Desolation Sound, British Columbia.

Continue reading Writing to Awaken at Hollyhock

Writing To Awaken

By Mark Matousek, who will be presenting Writing to Awaken: Memoir As A Path of Transformation at Hollyhock on August 19-24, 2016.

I grew up in a house full of secrets, where painful things weren’t talked about, and “the inner life” was completely ignored. With nowhere else to turn, I began to keep a journal as a young boy, needing a safe place where I could explore my questions, express my feelings, and examine what I saw around me. This journal became my healing place, a source of solace, connection, and wisdom; the refuge where I could tell the truth and find my way through confusion and darkness. Personal writing became my lifesaver, in fact; it showed me that I had a voice and that something in me wasn’t a victim, or trapped by my childhood situation.

We all have wounds and secrets inside us, places where we hide, get stuck, and suffer; as well as dreams, ambitions, longings, and gifts, that we go unexpressed in the whirl of our hectic, everyday lives. We contain stories about these forbidden zones, too, narratives that sometimes conceal the truth and prevent us from getting free of the past. That’s why I created WRITING TO AWAKEN: Memoir as a Path of Transformation. Writing has the power to liberate us from our oppressive myths and personal fictions, more than any spiritual or psychological practice I know of. By learning to put the truth down on paper, we realize that we are not our stories – and never were. Instead, each of us realizes that she or he is the witness, the narrator and not the tale, the mythmaker and not the myth, and this insight is a watershed moment in the process of self-realization.

Continue reading Writing To Awaken

“Pain” by Ann Bradney

By Ann Bradney, Founder and Director of the Radical Aliveness Core Energetics Institute of Southern California.

Recently I have been witness to profound pain. Agony really. That place where there is nothing left to do but to drop to the ground and surrender. That place where we who witness it can do also do nothing but hold it, give space, allow it to flow. It is an energy that has no answers except FEEL ME, BE WITH ME, HOLD ME. It demands courage of those who witness it and courage of those who feel it because there is nothing to fix, nothing to change, there are no answers except for presence. It asks us to drop all our striving, all our ideas that there is something to DO and instead that we be.
What strikes me about pain like this is its capacity to transform the hearts around it. There is purity and truth to it; and how often the person feeling it has no idea of the power they are expressing by this surrender.

Continue reading “Pain” by Ann Bradney

What's in the Way, is the Way

By Raphael Cushnir

Am I Done With My Personal Work?

Short answer: No

Nuanced answer: As most of you know, last year I presented an online interview series called Teaching What We Need To Learn, in which 46 leaders in personal and spiritual growth shared their own “growing edge.” During the series I went to great lengths to share my own ordinary humanity. I wanted it to be abundantly clear that no amount of spiritual transformation eliminates the need for ongoing personal growth.

But I didn’t talk very much about how, in my view, that kind of growth best occurs. I believe that we’re not meant to do that work alone; even, and perhaps especially, as teachers. So the first thing I’d like to share in this regard is that I work regularly with someone very skilled in doing the exact same work I do with my own clients.

The next thing to share is that we don’t do anything advanced or fancy. We employ the moment by moment work of Emotional Connection, relying on the very same principles and practices described in my book, The One Thing Holding You Back.

Here’s a super-fresh example. Recently my growth partner and I met by Skype. I described a very old feeling that had been resurfacing lately. It causes me to slump and curl inward. It makes me want to give up, and stirs a deep, old belief that I’m doomed to be separate, unseen, unloved, and also to be shamed and vilified for the very things that are best about me.

As soon as I described the feeling, I knew that the belief connected to it wasn’t true. But it was still necessary for me to allow the feeling my full, compassionate attention. So I relaxed into that attention and let the wave of emotion take me over in real time. I also let it further express itself in my posture. I noticed my lower lip begin to jut into a trembling pout. I not only surfed this pout, but in addition exaggerated it. Suddenly I felt like I was all pout, like a toddler in a quivery tantrum.

Once I was in toddler mode, an image arose of myself around that age. It wasn’t exactly a memory, but came more from a story that had been told to me many times, about how I, extra-verbal Raphael, stared at the world glumly for my first two years and didn’t say a single word.

It didn’t matter to me whether the image was from an actual experience because the felt sense of it was so real. As the feeling cascaded through me, and the image remained as well, I found myself saying, out loud, “I didn’t do anything wrong!” I repeated that phrase, over and over, louder and louder, and felt a corresponding surge of energy.

I said, “Stop hurting me!” and the energy grew. I felt bigger, more animated. Then I said, “Leave me alone!” and once again hunkered down. The energy that was so vividly present now almost instantly disappeared.

Through this process, and the reflection that followed, I saw very clearly how my pattern of retreat to safety from hurtful intimacy has continued, all these years, and contributed to a periodic deflating of my life force. I saw how important it was for me to redouble my intention to stay present, to keep showing up, especially when this pattern activates.

Key points:

1)The greatest gift of this process was that it came as direct experience. I used Emotional Connection to get into it, and to move through it. The insight about my energy states, and how they connect to hurt, intimacy and safety wasn’t merely conceptual. I knew more than ever the visceral truth of it, and I also knew exactly how to to work with that energy for the purpose of continued healing and expansion.

2)None of this was new. It was a well-worn point of my personal journey, revisited anew at a deeper rung of my life spiral. It would have been easy to throw up my hands and walk away, to cry out, “This?! Again?! I thought I was done with it years ago!” It would have been just as easy to see this recurrence as proof that I’m back where I started, no different or better off than when I first began to address my issues consciously.

What kept me from retreating in despair was my internal sense of the exact opposite feeling. I was engaged, excited, more fully alive than when I began the session. The body doesn’t lie, it’s true, but energy is an even more reliable truthteller. In the aftermath of the session my energy was equal parts grounded and vibrant. I was wide awake to new potential.

And, I was profoundly grateful. I still am. And I’ve offered this window into my own personal process in the hope that it may inspire you, too, to keep committed to your own personal work no matter how far you’ve come on your corresponding spiritual journey.

The emotional realm is the nexus between self and Spirit. Whatever is in the way, is the way. When you stay with what might feel old, forever-stuck, hopeless, when you revisit it with a trusted and skillful partner, miracles do happen. And the greatest miracle of all, perhaps, is the deep knowing that you’re right where you need to be…

Here. Now. Home.


Raphael_CushnirRaphael Cushnir is an author and a faculty member of the Esalen Institute, the Kripalu Center for Yoga and Health, and the Omega Institute for Holistic Studies. In addition, he coaches individuals and teams at Fortune 500 companies, governments, religious organizations, and leading non-profits.

Join Raphael for his Hollyhock Program on Cortes Island, Total Immersion For Total Transformation, July 26 – 31, 2013.



Living an Authentic Life: Maria Sirois Tedx Talk

When we are authentic, all of our parts get to exist (Maria Sirois)

Authenticity, mindfulness, signature strengths, meaning, and passion are explored to add to our ability to address loss, trauma and stress.  Explore practices from the fields of positive psychology and mind/body medicine to build greater happiness, stronger resilience, deeper inner peace and an increased capacity to positively transform your life.

Dr. Maria Sirois speaks about “Living an Authentic Life” at TedxBerkshires

Dr. Maria Sirois is an inspirational speaker, consultant, and licensed clinical psychologist who has worked in the fields of wellness and positive psychology for twenty years. mariasirois.com

Join Maria at Hollyhock for Flourishing No Matter What, July 31 – Aug 4, 2013