Why I Created the Finding Peace Retreat
When I share my story with others, a frequent question I am asked is, "What helped you the most?" The short answer - retreats.
It's a little more complicated than that. I live in a fairly rural area of Arizona. When I moved here approximately 20 years ago, it was a lot more rural than it is now. I had been hired at the largest and ONLY mental health agency in the community at the time. Seeking personal counseling services was a challenge because the mental health network was so small. I didn't feel comfortable seeing someone with whom I would be working.
After trying to do recovery on my own and falling flat on my face, I had to figure out another option. Telemedicine was not yet developed at the time and so I either had to do therapy over the phone or travel three hours one way for an appointment. I decided to do therapy over the phone.
After meeting with my therapist for several months, she proposed coming to a retreat that she and her business partner were going to be putting on over the summer. My initial response was, "No Way!" There was no possible way that I was going to travel for several hours to meet with strangers and spend the entire weekend with them. But, she persisted.
She said it would be good for me to meet other people who could relate to the struggles I was having. I didn't know anyone who struggled with what I was struggling with. I began thinking about how nice it might be to not feel all alone.
She told me that I needed to broaden my support network. Seeing as how I didn't have much of a support network, she was right on that point. I knew, as a therapist, the value of having a support system. I also knew mine was seriously lacking.
She explained that there is a lot of work that can be done over a weekend that would take months to do weekly. Since I was paying out of pocket, getting more work done in less time and money sounded like financial responsible.
Yet, I still refused to go. It would be hard for my family if I left. I would have to take a day or two off work for travel. There were travel expenses. I had a list of excuses. And they were good excuses too. My therapist gently asked me what the real reason was for why I didn't want to go.
"I do want to go," I lied.
Well, it wasn't a complete lie. There was part of me that was yearning to go. That part of me knew that I NEEDED to go. But there was another part of me that was absolutely terrified.
Would I see someone I knew? Would the others think that my issues were too much and reject me? Would I have to do things that I didn't feel comfortable doing?
She answered my questions. She told me chances were fairly low that I would see someone I knew, but even if I did, they likely would be having the same concerns about confidentiality as me and we could discuss how to handle that once the retreat was over. She assured me that the issue of confidentiality would be frequently visited.
She told me chances were also incredibly low that my issues would be too much for the others who were coming to the retreat for the same reason. In fact, I might discover that we have a lot in common and can relate more than I thought possible.
Lastly, she assured me I wouldn't be asked to do anything that made me feel uncomfortable or went against my value system.
And so I went. For the first time in my life, I met with a small group of other men and shared parts of me that I had only shared with my wife, my therapist, and my ecclesiastical leader. And when I did, I was overwhelmed at the love and compassion I received. I had just shared some of my darkest secrets and the others were giving me support and compassion. They shared similar stories and the shame lifted.
As a result of attending that retreat, one of the participants invited me to go to another one. I signed up. This was a much larger retreat with over 40 individuals who had similar struggles and issues as myself. Some of the same objections and fears I had with the first retreat arose this time as well, but I went.
Those two retreats literally changed my life. I was able to push back the shadows of shame and step into my core truth that I was enough, that I had value and purpose, and that I was worthy of love and belonging.
My first retreat was in 2008. From those retreats and then others that I either participated in or helped staff, I experienced a change of heart. It didn't happen overnight and it didn't happen over a weekend or two, but it set up the foundation for lasting healing to occur.
Most importantly, it helped me form a network of support that I continue to rely on to this day. This is an absolutely critical point because I still live in a rural area, in a smaller community where I know most of the therapists who live and work here. It is a conflict of interest for me to attend support groups in the community because many of my own clients attend those groups as well. So having a larger network of support has essential and life-saving for me. I would not have found any of these people without attending one of the retreats.
When the Shadows of Shame start creeping in, I no longer isolate. I have a long list of people whom I can call who help me reconnect with my core truth and remind me that I am worthy of love and belonging.
That is the biggest reason why I created the Finding Peace Retreat. I wanted to create a weekend experience that gives back the same kind of healing I experienced. The Finding Peace Retreat is a 4-day, intensive, experiential training based on the Amazon Best-Selling Book, Finding Peace.
The weekend creates a place of healing for individuals with past wounds of loss, rejection, neglect, abandonment, betrayal, and abuse who are looking for greater joy, happier relationships, and deeper fulfillment in their lives.
Whether you’re just becoming aware of how these wounds have impacted your life or are exhausted with the constant cycle of trying to do your best and still feeling like a failure, the Finding Peace Retreat will give you the skills to heal from the past, change the internal negative messages that drive feelings of shame, and develop mindful, compassionate habits leading to greater contentment and peace.
I invite you to join us at the next Finding Peace Retreat. Previous participants have said it was life-changing. Are you ready for more peace, joy, and connection in your life?