Les Labadous, Summer 2018
I had the completely enviable task of co-facilitating all of the workshops in France this summer—two in June and two in September. What a summer! I’ll try to summarize the highlights, but every day was a gem.
Les Labadous is situated in the unspoiled foothills of the Pyrenees in the valley beneath the picturesque and mysterious village of Rennes-le-Chateau. It is surrounded by rolling hills, limestone crags, castles, abbeys, fields of grazing cows and spectacular views in every direction. In June, it was the wild flowers and butterflies that took my breath away, as well as the chorus of birds at sunrise. In September, it was the sunsets, blackberries and figs along our walks and gloriously sunny days. It is difficult to imagine a more perfect location for a healing workshop.
Each of the workshops included a daily walk in the area, each to a different location, and one longer out trip by car. This year we experienced a new outing—to Chateau Puilaurens, high on a hill, which displayed several well-preserved defence mechanisms (not unlike the ego). We took a detour back through the gorge de Galymus and visited the cathedral in the cave there. Another highlight was the day we went to nearby abbey St. Hilaire, and one of our participants sang from the pulpit with the voice of an angel.
Each workshop had a different flavour, but all shared the common goal—healing of mistaken beliefs in a supportive environment, and all achieved that purpose. It was a true privilege to witness the changes, both physical and emotional, in the participants from the first day to the last. Each group of strangers became a tight knit community within hours of being together. One participant commented that it was the first time she had been part of a group of people that she had been with for an entire week and yet she had no idea what anyone did for a living. She found that very refreshing. Unless it happens to come up in circle, there is no need for that kind of conversation, which is merely chatter between egos.
Fabulous breakfasts around the dining room table discussing the cards (short sayings from ACIM), and metaphysics went on till it was time for the morning circle. The circles provide a safe space for deep processing and always a lot of laughter. There were many highlights, but you never know what’s going to happen. Freddy’s impromptu performance as ‘God’ with one of the other participants was particularly memorable.
This year was the first year that Diederik was not able to attend the June workshops, but with Gadi at the helm, those workshops received high praise from participants. Diederik was able to be there via Skype to answer questions and respond to individuals. Diederik was also able to step back from leading all the circles in September, allowing others to step in to that role.
A number of co-facilitators cycled through this year’s four workshops and all had wonderful contributions to make. Saskia Wolsak added a touch of magic to the holotropic breathings, introduced experimental evening reflection salons, and led a ‘stalk walking’ meditation outside barefoot in the morning dew (to be experienced!). Christine Riedtmann stepped in as a circle facilitator contributing her strong clear leadership. Eric Andrew was the voice of yoga nidra. Martin Engi led most of the outings and contributed his vast knowledge of the geology of the area and his infectious enthusiasm. Gadi, Freddy and I all led circles and acted as a tag team as needed.
Martin and Christine, our hosts, have poured so much love into Les Labadous. They participate in everything as fully as they can. This year we had a new cook – Yvonne, who thoughtfully and creatively took care of the array of dietary restrictions amongst the attendees, producing delicious dinners that everyone could eat. Aafke, Marie-Laure and Axel round out the Les Labadous staff and they make us feel at home during our stay.
The dates for next year’s workshops have been set, so if you haven’t experienced the magic that is Les Labadous, it’s time you did. Make it a priority and go. You’ll be glad you did.
Anne Andrew is a Parenting Coach, read more about her here.
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