Retreat to progress

And…. breathe. 😊 I am writing these lines on a train as I am just coming back from the retreat module of my facilitation training program. What a week that was. We gathered in a small hotel up in the mountains close to Salzburg, a wonderfully peaceful location with a swimming pond, excellent food and a workshop room that makes you feel like you’re working in the middle of a garden.

All other modules of the curriculum take place in Berlin. It did not take me long to understand why this module needs a different venue. The type of work we did here was different: Deeper, more intense, and more slowly paced than the first two modules.

I am sharing here my reflections after 5 days that felt truly transformational, hoping that I will be able to carry the sense of wonder and mindfulness from the alps into my everyday life.

Lesson 1: Setting an intention is a powerful way to foster development

We started the week with reflecting on what we would like to get out of the experience, and in what kind of state of mind we want to leave. “Energy flows where attention goes” as they say and so it does help to start with an image of the end in mind. My symbolic image was an apple. For me, in that moment it represented to me pristine simplicity, freshness, integrity and wholeness. Looking back now I sense some of that apple-like quality. It feels like I have become more whole and rounded (not in body shape though, quite the contrary thanks to the healthy meals 😉). I think that when it comes to personal development, this kind of learning requires a different state of mind, a notion that growth or transformation is not something you can “chase” or achieve but rather something that comes to you on tiptoes and quietly says “hi” when you’re ready to receive.

Lesson 2: As a facilitator, your body is just as important as your brain

We often neglect the powerful source of information and wisdom that is our own body. Thanks to yoga, I thought I already had quite a good sense of the signals I am receiving, e.g. from my stomach then clenches when something does not feel right or from the muscles in my neck tensing up when I feel under pressure. Little did I know how much more there is to discover in terms of how the body and the mind influence each other. I learned about how essential it is as a facilitator to be really and fully present with what is. Holding the space for what is as a prerequisite for anything that wants to emerge, without pushing or wanting to influence.

Lesson 3: Acknowledge what is – and don’t shy away from “difficult” feelings

This week I understood that dedicating more time to acknowledging what is can be much more powerful than jumping straight into solution mode. Now, this is a big lesson for me because finding solutions swiftly has been my tried and tested mode of operation so far. This will take a while to sink in and fully integrate and it is closely linked to being able to face discomfort. Feelings need to be felt so that progress can happen. They should not be shoved aside or put into a box as I all too often did with my own and my counterparts’ “darker” feelings like fear, anger, regret or sorrow.

Having an uplifting quality does come with a catch

I am known as a bundle of energy and the kind of energy I have can feel very uplifting for others. As much as this can be used as a gift, I have become more aware now that there is a fine line between being positively contagious and brushing aside things that need to be heard or seen in order for true breakthroughs to happen. I have been trying to avoid short-term discomfort by not having that potentially painful conversation or by avoiding speaking up about a truth that might hurt someone. And by doing that I have probably inflicted more pain on myself and others than the thing I wanted to bypass in the first place could ever have caused.

How to learn the art of “being with”?

This has been a development topic for me for some time now and as with so many other things, it’s a matter of practice with two steps forward and likely one back from time to time. I will now make a more conscious effort to practice being with feelings and I will start with the ones I find easier to deal with, then slowly working my way forward from there. An important first step in this process for me was to acknowledge and fully feel my own feelings. There was plenty of room for that during our retreat. Some of what popped up there had been locked up for months. Oh yes, there were tears as I allowed myself to fully feel what needed to be felt. What also helps here is to consciously make use of different levels of listening and exploring. Being fully with your counterpart, adopting a neutral fact-based perspective or diving into your own perceptions and images – each perspective is valuable. The elegant dance between the three of them is what ensures mutual understanding on cognitive and emotional levels which in turn is the basis for any fruitful collaboration.

The collage that I created during a presencing session as part of the Theory U experience on day 3. The intention was: How can we enable people to feel what the world feels and use that to create a powerful utopia?

The joy of having found my place in the world

I am now travelling home via Munich, visiting friends which I am looking forward to. I am feeling flooded with gratitude. For one, I am glad that I can gift myself with experiencing a week like that without having to ask a manager for approval. Secondly, I am grateful for the changes that are happening as I am becoming more versatile and grounded in what I do. Moreover, I am glad that I have a bunch of amazing colleagues to share with and learn from. And most of all, I am grateful for having found the most awesome profession I could ever have imagined.  This is my work: I create and hold spaces in which wonderful things can happen. This feels right for me 100%.

In case you’d like to learn more about this training program called “Sensing the Essence”, I suggest you visit their website – the program is in German and they’re enrolling now for the next class to start in autumn.

I am sending you warm greetings wherever this finds you and hope you’re enjoying the summer somewhere beautiful.


  1. „… Feelings need to be felt so that progress can happen …“ – that‘s IT ❣️
    I enjoyed reading your experiences very much.
    On we go in our lifes, in our learnings and in our profession.

    Liked by 1 person

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