Answers to Frequently Asked Questions about my Spiritual Intensive Retreat
Why do I call it a “Spiritual” journey or retreat?
1. I got to call it something.
2. Spirit means Life, and this is part of the Life journey.
3. Spirit means Love, and this is part of the path to Love and Happiness.
4. A Spiritual experience is about Connection, and that begins with connecting with one’s self, in a way of love and respect, and then extending that connection to others, and to all living things.
5. All of the above.
Is it dangerous with all the drug related issues?
NO. And yes that is a capital NO. If there were any likelihood of danger for people in a group I am guiding I wouldn’t be going. Heck,, it’s more personal than that. If I thought I was personally going to be in danger I wouldn’t go myself. We fly into the Mexico city International airport where there is plenty of security. We take our own van with a private driver to our own hacienda/retreat center located next to the old city ruins. The small town that we stay in mostly sustains itself from the tourist and artist business in the area. So,,, after having travel to this area regularly over the last 17 years I have no reason to believe it is dangerous. It is more likely that the scary things you will face on this intensive are your fears and own inner demons.
How many people will be going?
We won’t know til the last week or two. Last year’s group was 18 in size. I’ve done trips as small as 6 people and as large as 40. When it was 40 people it was combined with other teachers. There are reasons to really like a small group like the closeness and amount of personal time, but we lose out on some of the diversity and richness of personalities and insights that that happen in a larger group. With a larger group some activities like ceremony and group meditations are strengthened with numbers. So by my standard the ideal number is the number that show up.
Is there time for personal interaction?
Yes. There is time during meals which we all have together and walks to and from the grounds. There is also personal relaxation time in the afternoons before evening class. For me sometimes the personal interaction is the most enjoyable part. It’s not just a facilitator and participant relationship. We get a chance to share, know each other as equals, joke, laugh, and create a more well rounded relationship. Some people that have worked with me over years have become good life long friends. And that’s not just true for me. You also meet others on your trip that are of a like mind that you may stay in touch with well after the retreat.
What kind of people go on these trips?
My trips are generally pretty balanced between men and women. Most are college educated professionals. Some are starting out in a process of working through emotional reactions that have recently arisen. Others have worked through those basic stages and discovered there is a lot more love and happiness to experience. They return numerous times seeking deeper levels of truth and understanding of the world, and to experience deeper and more expansive love, compassion, and freedom in their lives.
I tend to attract people who appreciate my common sense and logical approach to love happiness, and changing beliefs and emotions. Last years group included two doctors, two PhD researchers, an auto mechanic, a dentist, a stay at home mom and an investment manager.
Is this process associated with any religious group?
(Sometimes read: “Is this a cult?”)
I do not adhere to or limit myself to any single doctrine. The essence of all spiritual traditions is the removal of emotional suffering and unhappiness and replacing it with a feeling of love, happiness, and connection. So I embrace the fundamental truths in all traditions. The process actually mixes and changes each day. The morning might start with a Shamanic journey into dreaming, and in the afternoon we engage in a whole hearted forgiveness exercise based in a Christian perspective. That evening I might use a story from the Hindu perspective to help in making a point. What I care about is using these teachings as practical tools to guide people out of emotional suffering.
What you will find is that I am respectful of each person’s belief system. I’ve had people attend my programs and done coaching with me that are Orthodox Jews, a Christian Seminary student, an atheist, Catholics, Buddhists, and others. What I teach about is personal belief systems, perspective, changing emotions, and Love. I also teach it in a way that respects each person’s religious beliefs.
And as far as the cult thing? No. I try hard to avoid suggesting to people what they should believe. (You might notice a great void of this in my website and audios.) I tend to leave people’s personal choices to them selves, even if they ask me for suggestions. (which they often do). Instead I guide people to become aware of their hidden beliefs, be aware of the emotional and behavioral consequences, and then decide if they want to stay attached to those beliefs.
Isn’t the place with pyramids in Mexico where they did human sacrifices? Is that part of this teaching?
Human sacrifice is not part of what I teach. What I point people to inquire about is themselves, what they believe, and the emotions they feel. I then engage them in practices and processes to change those negative states of emotions.
I haven’t studied the history of human sacrifice on this issue except to understand how people could fanatically believe in a dogma so strongly that the would take the life of a fellow human being. I think it is helpful to be aware of such things so we don’t fall into such practices. I am skeptical about the history, mostly because it is difficult to say what happened 1000 years ago in a society or why. There may have been a splinter sect of the teachings that distorted the things and became fanatical about their beliefs. I really don’t know. It wouldn’t be the first time that a small group of fanatics have seized power and ruled over a large group of people that just wanted simple freedoms and a simple life of happiness. These civilizations have thousands of years of history and I am not an expert on all of it.
Pointing to one part of the civilizations past and saying they believed in human sacrifice would be like pointing to the Spanish Inquisition and saying, “That is what Christianity is about.” Or pointing to a few Buddhist monks that set themselves ablaze in past years and saying, “That is the teaching of Buddha.” Nothing could be farther from the point. We wouldn’t look at the history of Rome and point to the most horrific of persecutions and conclude that is what they had to teach or is their legacy.
What it helps to be aware of is how our mind fixates on such issues that probably happened for a short period of time within the history of a culture and then ignores a thousand years of history. How is it that our mind fixates on such a negative and builds it up in our imagination so that it blinds us from seeing the beauty in the world? This is worth breaking free of and is the type of process that I teach.
Why do I go to the ancient ruins and Pyramids?
I go to the ancient city and pyramids because there is a rich history there of personal transformation. A large part of their culture for many centuries consciously worked through their individual beliefs and mental states of emotional suffering. A large city of people lived in peace and harmony within their own mind, and with the people around them. It is that part of the culture that is interesting to me. It interests me because if they could do it, then we can do it.
The city of Teotihuacan was built principally as a University for teaching conscious awakening. Where people became aware of how the beliefs, chatter, and negative emotions in their mind were causing emotional suffering, and they developed practices to free themselves from their fears, critical judgments, and negative emotional reactions. When we go to Teotihuacan we engage in the same types of practices that were successfully used for hundreds of years. In short, I take people there through these processes because they work. That’s probably the engineer side of me. I want things to be effective and work for people or they aren’t of much value.
Do you need to do anything to prepare for the Intensive? NO.
Often people feel they are not ready for a trip. They feel they need to study more, or do more of my on line Self Mastery course and develop some level of skill and accomplishments before attending a week long intensive. This is only a belief. Truthfully this is not so. My intensives are taught in a way that the material is accessible for the most basic beginner. It is not necessary to have read one book, or done my online course. At the same time there is plenty of depth for the more advanced students that have been doing personal transformation work for years. Some of the people on the upcoming trip have done several events with me in the past, even 4 or 5 intensives to Mexico. Each time they go the find more subtle, and sometimes more profound changes in their life.
Do I teach alone? Generally yes.
If I know it is going to be a large group, then I might invite someone to assist. If there is someone who is has been on several intensives before, I might call on them to share and assist at times. This benefits them because they get to step out of their role as a “student.” It also helps them integrate and deepen the material when they talk and share about it. By sharing they deepen their learning. I am discerning about the quality of the teaching experience that people get so I have a short list, but I am hoping to lengthen it. Some people have shared an interest in learning to teach what I do. In preparing for that these types of intensives are probably the best training.
Will we be required to share? No
You don’t have to share anything about your self or your process unless you want to. If you want you are welcome to do the entire intensive in silence. I’m not inclined to have a big group counseling session where we each air the dirty laundry of our history. What I have found is that long telling of our history can be time consuming and when done in a group can be a distraction to others. We don’t have to talk about our dark secrets in order to clean them up. What is important is that we clean them up. To do this we put our own attention on our own stuff in a constructive healing way.
Given that, I do invite people to share at times if they so choose. There is value in sharing. We can learn the lessons of others without having to repeat their mistakes. We can gain insights and different perspectives on what they did and how they did it to help speed our process. We get to find out that we are not alone, and not that different from others. This helps break down the beliefs that keep us feeling isolated. When sharing we can break the emotional patterns of hiding, and shame, that often accompany self judgment. There is something healing about sharing what is going on inside with a group of people and realizing they don’t judge you. It plants the seed that you don’t have to judge your self either.
So share if you like, or don’t if you prefer. I respect each person’s free will to do their process as they please.
By the same token, when you attend one of these retreats, intensives, or spiritual journeys, you are welcome to participate or opt out of any of the activities. Sometimes people opt to take the afternoon off and be by themselves. That is fine. I completely respect each person’s choices and their own process.