Last time, it took me till days before our last Retreat to review the two previous ones (Jan + May). Spring through Fall were awash in changes: kids preparing for international travel and Spoken Word competitions; much-needed home repairs running into complications; and the dropping in our lap of a huge opportunity to reach a whole new audience - the Portal Crystal Gallery was born - which took two and a half months to renovate to its current (and welcoming) appearance.
Now we've been open literally 2 months - but since my last big "out" shows of the season are done, and I've just announced our next Gathering as 2 months from yesterday - I wanted to (just over a month since it happened, 10/15) capture a sense of what our "G4" (our 4th and first-year-since-our-kickoff-retreat anniversary) event was like.
To begin with, it was the first in our new space. We closed it to the general public, since we find it's always too distracting to have people coming in willy nilly, while a class or event is going on (trust me, it doesn't work). Whatever the loss in revenue - or disruption to our predictable schedule (we're open 7 days a week, from 12-6) - it's worth it for the privacy...and these types of quotes!
"This is a safe place for you to explore and get in better touch with yourself, to meet up with other like-minded people, and to help yourself become a more authentic version of you!"? - JD
"Here's an opportunity to leave the everyday stressors that are detracting from you happiness and well being. Crystal Wisdom + Wellness is like a reboot for your soul, a one day vacation."?- DG
We do begin early (8am) - too early for some - but it's worth it: first to have an opportunity to move before breakfast, to enjoy dining together, and to allow for a long and productive morning session.
Let's begin with the Central Layout - this photo shows what it looked like as I began to build it - the previous night. From the outside to the inside: Nephrite Jade; Chryso-chite (naturally occurring Chrysocolla with Malachite); Blue Prehnite; Carnelian; Smoky Barite; Milky Quartz; Jet; Snowy Carnelian; Pink Fluorite; Sea Bean pod; Herkimer Diamond; and Petrified Wood.
Once complete, the Central Layout is covered up, not to be seen by the attendees until after breakfast. Otherwise, it's just a distraction. Plus, it's nice to hear the oohs and aahs upon its unveiling, later.
Preparing the store is not without its work - we have to clear the front table - chairs are set around it for our various banquets. Other fixtures are moved to the side, and the floors are cleaned thoroughly (so people can walk barefoot and feel good about lying down on their yoga mats).
We bring up backjacks, spend days in advance shopping for and preparing the meals, it's not like rolling out of bed and showing up.
Still, it's a relief to be doing it in our own space - 'cause even though the stones have to be aggregated and brought up to share from "the back room" - it beats having to bring everything to a remote location, as we've had to in the past.
This time, we got off to a bit of a late start - at 8:45am - but it was worth the wait (really, just socializing time, settling in). Nina prepared for us something entirely new - a composite from Yoga and other movement modalities she's been exploring recently - she calls it "Body Current Movement," and it's powerful.
Basically, Body Current Movement is a way of doing what works - what works for your body - however far (or not far) you want to "push" it. Nothing's strenuous, nothing could really go wrong, in terms of straining your body beyond its capacity. And although everyone present worked from their yoga mats, one could have participated from a chair (as has happened in the past).
A lot of us found it so refreshing, that we begged Nina to start a weekly, or monthly, anytime really - class for us - so we could come get our synovial fluid (between our joints) moving. Our heart rates increased, but it was not like we were doing jumping jacks or serious repetitions.
I guess any type of movement you're not used to, however gentle, opens new energy pathways (and that's a good thing). All told, our morning movement lasted an hour, including our warm down (lie on the floor) Yoga Nidra at the end. It was 9:45 and time for breakfast.
On the menu was home made (grain and gluten free) granola and fruit salad, with dairy free smoothie. It's nice to work up an appetite for our morning meal, rather than just eating for the sake of eating, in order to "get on with" our day.
Our Morning Session - as has been the case these last few times - was split in two, which proved particularly useful (and meaningful) this time around. The first 90 minutes (10:15-11:45am) was devoted to Introductions (and Guidelines); a statement of our Mission (and Plan) for the day; Journaling; and Deep Sharing (which I started).
The idea - explored in Meditation, to facilitate the Subconscious speaking Truth - was to do a moral inventory, to seek out some issues we wanted to tackle (and maybe resolve)...something from our past that needed Healing and (maybe that same thing)...something we also felt comfortable sharing with the Group.
Bringing forward our own pain can be very relieving, if done in a Sacred Safe Space. Of course childhood stuff came up, negative ideas or experiences we'd had, which had set our lives onto a trajectory that included suffering and self-doubt - for years - and in ways that have prevented us from fulfilling our full potential.
The mineral context for all this was as follows - each person had a long strand of stones leading towards them from the middle of the Central Layout - first Nephrite Jade (preferably river worn). Why? Because it's Gaia, or Mother Earth, and is here for us always (even if our own parent(s) were not).
Next was what I call "Chryso-chite" - or Chrysocolla that has Malachite in it - generally from Africa, which is blue and green and soft to the touch. It's function (for us) was to open up a humble dialog, in the context of Self-Forgiveness and Speaking Softly, without judgement, about our experience.
Last (for this segment) came Blue Prehnite, which is a dead ringer for Blue Topaz (which I don't have enough big pieces to have for everyone to use). These stones act as Truth Serum - an internal channel of Openness and Understanding - Body Wisperers if you will...how we communicate within, to our physical being, primarily through the intricate web of "waterways" that is our Nervous System.
By bringing into play the metaphysical qualities of these powerfully metaphoric Power Stones, we were able to set the stage for our own personal "reveals" in a way that we could feel prepared for, and secure about...not vulnerable, or too quick and without an appropriate context, or backdrop...it's so important (every step of the way) for people to not feel vulnerable, and to feel supported by those around them.
As Nina said in her Guidelines, we are allowed to and encouraged to feel our own feelings fully, without responsibility for specifically responding to, "fixing," or "making better" anothers' process.
Some tears were shed, to be sure, but this experience wasn't about being triggered or reliving trauma.
At the end of this segment, we partook (I poured little "shot" glasses for everyone) of a libation, our first use of Crystal Elixirs.
I had resisted for years, preferring to hold Crystals in-hand rather than imbibing them. But weeks earlier, in the context of opening the store, we purchased glass pitchers with an inner tube, enabling stones to sit with but not in the surrounding water (to infuse it with their energy). Nina and I had done a blind taste test, and were both surprised and impressed by the difference between these enhanced waters and plain water.
Engaged were more pieces of Blue Prehnite, intermingled with Blue Topaz, just to clear the passageway within, and to soothe the process of introspection and self-exploration.
Morning break (and snack!) happened between 11:45 and Noon, after which we launched into Part Two of the Morning Session, using Carnelian to go further into our own visceral experience Carnelian is the primary Belly (or 2nd Chakra) stone, and "governs" all internal functions: those things that happen without our knowing, or conscious control (like digestion, the circulatory system, lymphatic...all of that). Nina led us through our own Body Memory Meditation, taking us back decade by decade, to witness what happened first, then next, then next...moving up to the present.
Partners headed out into the main room to lie down on body-sized pieces of paper, and have their outline drawn, twice (the second one would be for the afternoon).
More meditation had us sink into what it was we wanted to project, to take out of our personal experience, and draw onto the surface of our own body outline.
All of this had given us ample context to safely explore these topics - share what we were comfortable sharing - and go in further, to figure out how to let our right brain, creative side bring it out onto paper.
And then people began to draw - each with a box of markers - and many colors came out.
There were fractures, ruptures, words, feelings.
"My Body Carries t he Wounds of My Soul" - "I Honor my Past, Present, and Future" - "I pull this pain forward now, and out forever."
Extraordinary statements - stunning images - but all so very important to bring out, and put down on paper (so they're not trapped inside anymore).
Not everybody was so verbal - sometimes just a few words came out - and there was mostly drawing...without expectation or comparison...simply self expression (unbridled).
Mind you, grounding Hematite was placed on each of the 4 corners of everyone's pictures, to root and provide age-old stability and context for our insightful creativity.
And then each shared with the other partner what was on the paper. In just a few minutes, it was possible to explain - and to really listen to one another - follow the process of expression through to its conclusion, its statement, and it's successful release (or at least expression) of deep-felt sensations and life-long perceptions.
After rolling up our drawings, we gathered in a circle to hold hands and both honor and appreciate our accepting connection to our often troubled past.
Lunch happened between 1 and 2pm: another home run of natural cooking and unadulterated goodness (thanks to Nina). It's so critical to not have to worry about food, having it simply be there, and for us to not have to worry about its ingredients or healthiness.
Next time, we're planning on eating out at a designated wholesome restaurant near us - which is opening just for us - on a Sunday (they're normally closed). As cozy (and time efficient) as it is to stay on premises, it's a weeklong process to actually prepare breakfast, lunch, and snacks for us (and particularly Nina). Then the transportation, keeping things cool or hot, serving and cleaning up...it's a lot!
We're going to experiment outsourcing the biggest meal of the day - it'll take us out of our cocoon - but the walk and change of scenery might bring in a wonderful element, which worked well at our very first Gathering (people went out for lunch). We'll allot more time for it, 'cause that first time we ended up behind schedule. It's really important that these days be spacious, not rushed, and easy for all.
After lunch (from 2pm) - we gathered around the Central Constellation - and delved into the rest of the Stones. First came Smoky Barite, a rare and wonderful combination (energetically) of Smoky Quartz and Celestite, designed to help us Forgive and Transmute the toxicity of our Past, letting it go to allow with Gratitude and Appreciation for what we do have, how strong we are to have made it through...and then following up with a strong dose of Internal Clearing with Jet.
Snowy Carnelian added a Healing Element, further drawing out Negativity and Realigning (or Resetting) our system; making room for Heart Healing (with Pink Fluorite); and New Beginnings with the Sea Bean seed pod.
Lastly (and all this came through my Guided Meditation) - and we'd been taking up these stones in series, in our hands - came Herkimer Diamond, for Health and Strength; followed by the Chi-activating light Petrified Wood of action and mobility, for moving forward!
There'd been some talk of revisiting our first drawings, for retroactive healing to happen, but consensus had us set out to do new drawings, fresh and full of possibility of what can (and what might be already) be coming into being.
There was laying on of stones - to paper - by which they participated in the Healing process of the artwork.
Sharing happened again - we switched partners to mix things up - and then folks were able to lie down on their recreated self-images.
It was a powerful exercise of re-Visioning ourselves, starting fresh, and stepping into possibility.
Between 4 and 5pm, we re-convened for tea, to Review, and Share once again (as well as filling our Evaluation Forms).
I'll leave you with some more images, because (as you know) a picture can be worth a thousand words!
Stones were integrated (laid out on paper and person) - the very ones we had been working with - to appropriately deliver the right energy to the right parts of our new and improved bodies.
Words came up like "Open to Source" - "Rich, Vibrant Life" - "Pure Connection" and "Clear Voice."
We asked (in our Evaluation Form) "What were your favorite parts of the day?" and got answers like:
"It's difficult to just name one part, because all of the parts made the whole day just fabulous!" - JD
"Delving deep into my soul to release, the feeling of overcoming the past while drawing on the last form." - RC
We asked, "What have you gained, or what's your take-home message from this experience?"
"Introspection. More understanding of my body and current challenges I face with it. Message: I can be healed!"?- RC
"My take home message is Clarity. I learned so much about myself and others." - DC
"Live healthfully, stop self criticism, you can control what you pay attention to and what guides your life" - DG
"Working in community, with the guidance and facilitation of Kyle, Nina + Linda provided the space and support for each of us to then work on healing ourselves." - JC
Lastly, "Can you briefly tell a prospective attendee why they should attend one of these events?"
"This is a safe place for you to explore and get in better touch with yourself, to meet up with other like-minded people, and to help yourself become a more authentic version of you!" - JD
"These events are incredibly relatable and accessible to anyone. I've spoken to many people who are searching for meaning in life (arguably, we all are) and the best advice I could give is to attend one of these events." - MF
"You will find new parts of yourself in a safe environment. You will give yourself a chance to get clarity." - MKD
"You will unlock doors you never knew existed within you until you came into the incredible energy of community, healing, and stones." - RC
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Although written by me (Kyle Russell), this blog is meant to include and represent all who made it possible, and participated in its fulfillment. Every event we put on is much more than what we'd planned for, and it's really true what one attendee said: "You will be uplifted, and a part of a spiritual community" - DC.
This is even more true now that we have a storefront anyone can walk into, and our work is being shared with a whole new audience, beyond our previously (and painstakingly) built mailing lists.
It's a joy to keep advancing this particular work, which has been shepherded by myself, Nina Manolson (of www.NinaManolson.com), and Linda Davis. We have tremendous plans for the future, including the next Retreat focused on "Ascension - finding our Vision - pursuing our Dream!" set for January 21st, 2018 (click through here to learn more and register). Extraordinary programs - offerings by many more practitioners - and resources on the drawing table right now show great promise for our clients and customers in the year to come.
Please visit www.PortalCrystalGallery.com for our upcoming metro-Boston events, and be sure to join that mailing list (if you're local) and this one (at www.CrystalConcentrics.com) wherever you may be. The Crystal Concentrics YouTube channel also has a steady stream of free and informative programming. Write Kyle@CrystalConcentrics.com for more information on any or all of the above!