As I sat down to dinner last night, I looked around the table. I saw dearly loved faces softly lit by the candles glowing on the table. My eyes also took in the beautiful, bright tropical floral arrangements that graced the centre of the table. I inhaled deeply and savoured the fragrance of the flowers mixed with soft rainforest air that seems to nourish all things.
Other things I felt grateful for:
This week, the Choose Again blog features a sample of one of the elements of the online course we are currently creating.
Our goal is to bring as many elements of our Retreat and Workshops into the course as possible, and those of you who have visited either will know how important meditation is to the work.
We are recording a series of guided meditations for the online course, and here is one for you to try now. Let us know what you think!
The process of creating "Choose Again - Six Steps to Freedom" began six years ago when Diederik finally gave in to some very persistent persuasion and reluctantly started work on the book.
Diederik was so busy at the time between the centre in Costa Rica and running workshops internationally that we chose the route of a ghost writer to put the book together. It soon became clear that without an intricate knowledge of the work of Choose Again, and the personal stories of how Diederik came to develop the Six Steps, the book would not be a success.
We knew we had the makings of a wonderful book because it has all the elements of a 'best seller' - a great personal story, a sound practice that can change lives and work that challenged established norms. More importantly- we also knew this was an incredible opportunity to share the Six Steps to Freedom more broadly so it could transform more lives for the better.
The incredible Anne Andrew got involved at this point, and applied her knowledge and experience to the task.
How to do Positivity Training (You'll need a little notebook):
When you think a certain way for a long time, you strengthen the pathways in your brain that run these thoughts, and it takes deliberate attention and perseverance to form new pathways.
This week's practice is scientifically proven to forge new, more positive pathways in the brain, helping you be more naturally aware of the good that already exists in your life.
It's a practice we do at dinner every night at all our retreats and workshops, and clients report experiencing a profound shift in how they view their day as a result.
It was in February 2017 that I first heard about Diederik Wolsak’s work and the Six Step process.
At that point I had been a student of the Course in Miracles for 4 months and had been hoping for the miracle that would take me out of the deep anxiety and the feeling of hopelessness that I felt on and off for years. My life had become one coping mechanism after another for years, between a desperate spiritual practice, tools and medicine journeys, workshops, study groups and I had spent thousands of Dollars and countless hours in online courses to try to find out what was wrong with me – I figured there had to be something wrong with me because despite all the efforts, and the deep spiritual journeys, realizations and having lived in an Ashram for years nothing seemed to last more than a couple of days or weeks at best, before that same old feeling of desperation and being a failure came back. What was wrong with me??
You will often hear Diederik refer to the 'Ripple effect' of the work we do at Choose Again. This is where one person comes to the Intensive Retreat Centre, or a Workshop, and experiences the transformation that the Six Steps to Freedom provides. Then, they take that transformation back to their family, or place of work, and people are curious about what has caused this change. Then, they try the work for themselves!
This is always a privilege to witness, and we want to share with you the story of one family who took this one step further, and started hosting Choose Again workshops in their purpose built Yurt!
“If you think you're enlightened, go spend a week with your family” (Ram Das)
Many of us, are profoundly dreading the upcoming holiday season. The idea of being in close quarters with a less-than-functional family can send cold shivers down the spine of even the most enlightened being.
“How am I going to handle all the intrigues and unresolved issues that are ever-ready to explode over the dining table? When will it ever end? And how do I get out of this hell-realm alive?”
Thankfully it doesn’t have to be this way.
In conjunction with our upcoming weekend workshop, "Harmonious Relationships make Happy Holidays" we’ve asked the staff at El Cielo to share some reflections about their past holiday experiences. We wanted to find out whether and how their view of the holidays have changed by applying the Choose Again methodology.
We hope their perspective will inspire you.
I’m on my yoga mat; my head is resting on my outstretched legs. It’s very quiet - except for the last drops of the morning rain bouncing off the roof. Melanie’s soothing voice is guiding me and the rest of our small group to surrender into a “Caterpillar” - a classic Yin Yoga pose. “Find your edge...just be present with the sensation. Keep breathing...”
My hamstrings feel like they haven’t been stretched for decades, but as the minutes go by I feel how they begin to open up. My whole body is relaxing. My mind is becoming calm and serene. I love Yin Yoga.
When the class ends, I walk silently out of the yoga hall, to put my mat away. Breakfast is waiting for us. I’m relaxed, energized, and very grateful to know that fresh fruits, cereals, yogurt, eggs, and tortillas are waiting for me in the dining hall.
I have been at El Cielo eight times – not quite the record but close. There are a number of reasons for all those trips (no pun intended), but the main one is very simple – it’s my happy place! Now, if I’ve learned anything from Choose Again and at El Cielo, there is no such thing as a happy place – only a happy heart and that heart can be happy anywhere. That’s true, but like a touchstone, I keep coming back for more of the good feelings I get when I am there.
At El Cielo, the staff are trained to do two things:
We are seeing so many changes at so many levels and my own healing has continued or, perhaps, accelerated.
I had the great pleasure and privilege to teach a one-day workshop and give a talk with Dr. Gabor Mate in Vancouver. He is an internationally recognized pioneer and expert on addictions and being on ‘stage’ with him was, well, a blast.
The event was also evidence for the fact that while at one time we, Choose Again, were
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