Relationships can be your biggest gift, your biggest source of joy, and of course on the flipside, your biggest source of pain. We often envy friends or colleagues who seem to have a perfect relationship, but does such a thing even exist? For me, it is finding a relationship in the first place that has become the issue. Having had several failed attempts at finding Mr Right, yet still believing he is out there, I find myself single at the age of 39 and, frankly, somewhat despairing.
So when I heard about a Relationships in Freedom seminar, designed to teach people how to form long-lasting relationships, or maintain the ones they already have, I jumped at the chance! Surely it was worth a try, to help me to break through the invisible barriers keeping me from the life I want….or at least offer me some tips for maintaining a relationship when it does arrive. So I booked myself onto a 3-day experiential seminar in Holland with self-help organisation The Journey.
The Seminar was for anyone, in a relationship or single and led by Brandon Bays and Kevin Billet, founders of Journey Events. Brandon has taken her own learning from personal experiences – she recovered from a basketball-sized tumour in just 6 1/2 weeks back in 1992 – and has developed what she calls The Journey Process to facilitate others in healing from their issues. Kevin has used Journeywork to heal himself from life-long depression. The pair first became business partners and then life partners, as they formed a relationship over the years.
Having been together for 20 years teaching Journeywork, the Relationships in Freedom seminar was the first they have given focusing specifically on relationships. The aim of the seminar was to clear and let go of the unhelpful, unresourceful, limiting ways that we hide or play games, even in our most intimate relationships, leaving us free to be ourselves and have relationships built from wholeness and authenticity. It may sound like a tall order but I had read testimonials from attendees at other seminars and it all sounded positive enough to be worth a try!
Coming from all over Europe, in the group I joined we were all there to improve our relationships in some way or another. It is a pre-requisite before attending the relationships seminar to attend a ‘Journey Intensive’ introductory seminar so you have the basic tools and process work necessary, which I duly did.
The Journey process is designed to help clear your blocks in life, from depression, anxiety, physical illness, or simply feeling stuck or knowing there has to be more to life. The process allows you to clear blocks at the root, through letting go of your memories stored at a cellular level.
So what is this journey? Brandon describes it as your journey home. In essence, each of us is a ‘shining diamond’ as she puts it and the journey process helps us to uncover this part of ourselves, waking ourselves up to our true potential. The process is something that anyone can do.
The introductory Journey Intensive seminar is a full, experiential and in-depth introduction to Brandon’s journey of pioneering and refining the process over the last twenty-four years.
The seminars are a mix of teaching through stories, metaphors and direct experiences and hands-on work in pairs and small groups and time to share your experience and ask deeper questions during a Satsang – a traditional Sanskrit word that means “in the company the truth”. In order to include all sensory elements, there is chanting and singing as well as massages trains, dancing and gentle yoga-like stretches to help the body release stored emotions and toxins.
What is particularly lovely about the course is the care and attention to detail. The environment is designed to be as supportive and healing, and smiling helpers are constantly on hand to keep the space clean and assist you while you undertake your tasks.
When I started I was expecting to learn specific truths, but this was not a workshop about gaining knowledge. Brandon and Kevin shared their personal stories and encouraged us to do the same. The opening statement struck me most profoundly- that the weekend was not about finding or being with one’s “other half” (a saying that has always rankled with me), but in being whole within oneself and then sharing that with a partner. Dancing in Freedom means allowing your partner to be who and what they are, held in the vaster context of knowing who you really are. So, in a relationship or otherwise, your primary focus is your relationship with yourself and being authentic as you go through life.
We did covered many angles during the three days. Topics included our expectations of others and how we shut down to intimacy. What really stood out for me was seeing how I felt in visual imagery, for example being ‘lost at sea’, followed by the touching sense of being supported and literally led to dry land. I also really saw how I had shut down when faced with strong emotion. Memories came up, such as being left behind by friends at age 16 and feeling hurt, but just shoving it back down because I didn’t know what else to do. A strategy that, more recently, kept me stuck in a negative relationship for longer than I could have been, had I been able to process my feelings more fully. I really experienced on this weekend what I had known cognitively – that shutting down my heart and my feelings was a coping strategy I had developed, but the cost was, it kept me unable to deal with difficulty effectively. I saw how the overall result was that I was somewhat shut down from life. Part of this was also the whole network of negative beliefs I held about myself. These were released and replaced with more helpful, truthful and empowering ones. Then there was the lightbulb moment and at one point I really got it. That by connecting with the essence of who I really am, I could become a happier person and a better friend. And that you don’t need to work to become better, you just need to relax into your true essence.
As I left the course I didn’t take with me any ideas about how to get the loving relationship that I really want. But I did leave with greater clarity and insight into behaviour patterns which may hold me back, and with a clearer idea about how to nurture the seed planted inside this weekend – to nurture my relationship with me. What I have developed is a process, a method that I can use repeatedly, to help me fully feel my emotions and to reconnect with my true essence. So in six months time, I hope to be the happier me that I saw in my process, with or without a partner. And when Mr Right does arrive – and I truly believe that he will – he will surely get the benefit too!