Archive for the ‘Leaders’ Thoughts’ Category

Living Into Loving

July 13th, 2013

summer festival no text crop

“Living into Loving” is the theme for the 2013 Summer Festival at Shalom Mountain.  People of all ages are invited to join us in Living into Loving, August 8-11.

By Natalie Picone-Louro

Today, I watched BellaSky meet and play with another child at the playground. I witnessed the two minutes of her feeling out this other being shift into laughter, and hide-n-go seek.  My favorite part was their wonderful exchange of the pleasurable hug goodbye.

 

 

Picone-Louro Family

As children, there is this pure innate ability to love and be loved. The ability to love openly with out judgement, with out needing permission. For them, love, is just love. Period. Love was not time bound today for these two young beings. They knew it and felt it in their body. They know this as much as they know the sky is blue and the clouds are white.

As we grow up, we see love through a different lens. If love is derailed, broken, taken away, or betrayed, we then learn to survive. We protect ourselves. We resist. We become guarded.   We limit our love-how much we give it and how much we receive it.  It is a journey going back home to where we can trust, be fearless, big, and lovingly open…..

Children already know how to do this. It is up to the bigger people to support, embrace, and empower them. To give them guidance, language, modeling integrity, and healthy boundaries. Just to name a few. Isn’t that what we are learning for ourselves? We can learn so much from them. They are closer to what we all long for. LIGHT and LOVE

We come to Shalom for just that. We come to Shalom to heal. We come to Shalom to be seen. We come to Shalom to be held. We come to Shalom to celebrate our birthright to love and be loved.

Children, Teens, Young Adults, Adults, Wisdom People, we invite you to Live into Loving. Tap into your magical play within yourself, “young and young-at-heart alike”.  Come explore play, creativity, movement, and most importantly…love.

The Summer Festival will offer creative exercises, workshops, talent show, free play, and more… It will be filled with laughter, joy, and nourishing connections to self.  It will feed your soul.  Make new friends, and connect with old friends. Who knows, maybe you will experience little pleasurable exchanges of love throughout the weekend…As love is truly a gift.

In love and in light,

Natalie

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The Summer Festival is a new offering in 2013 at Shalom Mountain.  We are excited to offer this time to celebrate in love and play.  To register, call or e-mail   845-482-5421 or email@shalommountain.com.  You can register online here

 

Eros Blooming

April 5th, 2013

 

by Vyana Bergen

Yesterday, I saw a crocus in the front garden of Shalom Mountain . . . no buds yet, just a green shoot of things to come, a glimmer of spring. I love that spontaneous surprise, after the long winter wait, when a fresh, newborn causes my heart to sing with joy. This season reminds me that each moment holds the potential of rediscovering the wonder of life, like the crocus which reminds me of the vulnerable beauty of the whole planet.

Gazing into a beloved’s eyes, seeing depth of their soul and the reflection of my own is another way to spontaneously awaken to the sacred. Throwing a ball for my eagerly bouncing dog, who has boundless energy to fetch, teaches me that the whole game of life is actually for play and fun. Calling a friend in need to offer consolation and warmth, and discovering it was me who was in need of giving love because my heart was feeling so full.

These are examples of opening to eros – the powerful force of love – in each moment. The erotic is not something that is meant to be limited to the bedroom, rather it meant to be discovered throughout the day . . . in every part of our lives. To build an erotic partnership is to practice and deepen with one’s beloved so that we can make love to each moment, to each crocus with our hearts, to each fetching dog with our laughter, to each friend with the warmth of our souls.

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If you are interested in exploring the erotic in your life and partnership, consider Erotic Partnership:  A Sacred Sexuality Retreat for Couples, May 2-5, 2013.  Led by Vyana Bergen, Cristian Graca, Shelly Reichenbach and Jeff Hilliard a sacred space will be created to explore Eros and the Divine through sacred partnership.  Call or email Shalom Mountain:  845-482-5421 or email@shalommountain.com with questions or to register for this couples retreat.  Shalom Mountain is located in the Catskill Region of New York.

Piercing the Veil of Dogmatic Belief

May 29th, 2012

John Bottone interviewed Tom Goddard to get a glimpse into his emerging leadership for the upcoming Path Of The Mystic retreat in July with Nance McGee.  Tom provided a fascinating history of the significant steps of his personal mystical journey and his perspective of the mystical path at Shalom Mountain.

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John: What are you willing to share in terms of your own mystical journey?

Tom Goddard

Tom: I think the path of the mystic began for me with the recognition that dogma and various belief structures have their limitations, and once you let them fall away, one can actually encounter the sacred directly. This goes back to when I was eleven, and I was living in Turkey, which is almost entirely Muslim;  and a Baptist Sunday School teacher taught that if you are not saved by Jesus Christ, you will go to hell and burn for eternity.  Here I am, surrounded by wonderful people for whom that made no sense.  I went home and asked my mother, “Can this be true?”, and God bless her, she said “No, that’s not true”.   Once I did that, then, all of a sudden, Christianity stopped being a dogma, because I couldn’t interact with it at that level.  I had to interact with it at the level of the Cosmic Christ instead of at the dogmatic Christ.  Since then, it’s been a 4 ½ decade adventure in piercing the veil of dogmatic belief and seeking out the direct experience of what Jewish mystics call “being inside the face of God”.

John: Say more about some of your major turning points, steps or openings.

Tom: I would say a big turning point for me, John, was when I encountered, in my senior year of college, Buddhism for the first time, and particularly, Zen Buddhism, which is that subset of Buddhist thought which rejects dogma.  By the time Zen was created, Buddhism was a thousand years old, and saddled by dogma and meaningless ritual, as any religion can be after a thousand years. The Zen Buddhists came along and said, what we are really interested in is a direct, embodied  encounter with Reality.

John: Is this direct encounter with Reality what is commonly called “Awakening” or “Enlightenment” and what is your perspective on the nature of these very commonly used terms?

Tom: I would say “Enlightenment” is a level of realization of the identity with God, and what I’ve come to realize in my more adult years, quite recently in fact, is that “Enlightenment” has at least a couple of meanings that relate to this relationship with God. The eastern “enlightenment” is about the realization that there is no separation between me and all else; there is no distinction that has any particular meaning between me and God, or between me and you; that it is all seamless. The more recent realization, facilitated certainly by the Unique Self Enlightenment teachings of the Jewish mystics, including Marc Gafni, is that in addition to that, not only is there no separation, but there still can be uniqueness.  I may not be separate from you, but my vantage in the Universe is unique, and is different than yours even though you and I are not separate.  So, for me, “Enlightenment” or “Awakening” is simply awakening to what IS so, and has always BEEN so, that there is no separation, and that I occupy a unique perspective in the Cosmos through which God experiences all else.

John: In my own excitement, I think I jumped ahead of what where we were going, and I’d like to get back to the progression of personal stages you experienced in your mystical path.

Tom: Sure, sure.  Well, I studied and started practicing  from a Zen perspective from my 20’s into my early 30’s, but, truth be told, I was really far more focused on the making of a living, finding a bride, making children, the kind of activities that young people get involved with.  It wasn’t until I was in my mid-thirties that I really re-engaged with the “Great Question” as my Zen teacher often called it.  And it happened that I joined the church of long-time Shalom attendee Robert Close, who had a Presbyterian church in Northern Virginia.  Robert’s Sunday School classes were not at all about teaching dogma, they were about engaging directly in our own embodied experience with the relationship with God.  What I didn’t realize at that time, because I had never been to Shalom Mountain, was how much his work in that Sunday School class was informed by the work we do here (at Shalom).  It was where I first encountered the poetry of David Whyte, Mary Oliver, and Rumi.  It was where I first encountered embodied practice other than sitting on a cushion in a spiritual context.  It involved breath, it involved guided meditation, it involved music, and it was like no other Sunday School class I had ever encountered.  It was also a community experience.  It was a tiny church with only 200 people or families, and 40 people every Sunday would be in Robert’s Sunday School class. We would start with Biblical texts and then move quite easily and immediately to questions that were life transforming like “What is the nature of Love?”, “Who am I in all of this?” and “What is my relationship to God, personally?”.  That was the big turning point.  I recognized in Robert’s class that I was fundamentally a material man with a spiritual life, and that my deepest yearning was to fundamentally be oriented around being a spiritual man who also operates in the material world.  By declaring that to the community, I started a process two decades ago that is still ongoing.

About 8 years ago, there was a lot of turmoil in my personal life that Shalom Mountain seemed perfectly suited to continue my spiritual education, so I shifted my energies to Shalom Mountain.  I continued the bulk of my spiritual practice at Shalom, but not all of it.  I continued with Vyana and Rudy’s Tantric classes, and started diving more deeply into the work of Ken Wilber, which I encountered in my late thirties and early forties.  Getting involved with Wilber and the Integral Community was a big deal because it allowed me to  weave together the Eastern and Western traditions that were by now, deeply in my body and in my practice.  The Integral model helped me to see they were not at war with each other.

John: At what point did you get involved with Genpo Roshi and the Big  Mind work?

Tom: That was part of my immersion in the Integral world.  I was involved in the founding of the Integral Institute 10 years ago, with Ken Wilber and a bunch of other folks, and shortly after that, Genpo Roshi unveiled his advances on voice dialog into the Integral world.  Basically what he did was take Hal and Sidra Stone’s voice dialog work and turn it into a vehicle for transcendence of egoic structures into the unitive, non-dual experience.  What I did was, I found him online, in a series of Integral Institute  sponsored videos doing the process, so I sat down, and wrote down every word he said in leading the Big Mind process, and then I started leading the process myself.  I did it with friends, I did it with a group of Shalom people in the Washington area who started the Community for Spiritual Living (CSL), at a Men’s Gathering with 65 men at Shalom Mountain, and since then I’m done it a whole bunch of times.  And now, I consider it an important part of my practice, an important part when I do counseling, it’s an important tool and I continue to lead what I now call “Boundless Heart” – which is my own now, because I do it my way and not his way. And it is a non-dual experience; it provides an opportunity for a direct experience of unity with the Divine.

John: So where are you now?  What would you say is the nature of your journey present day?

Tom: The big and most recent turn happened 2 years ago.  I first met Marc Gafni several years ago at a conference in Denver that Ken Wilber hosted, and we corresponded sporadically over the intervening years, but I attended his July/August of 2010 Shalom Mountain Wisdom School offering that weekend, and knew by Friday afternoon that the dharma that was unfolding in that weekend was utterly perfect for where I was in my path, and as profound as I’d ever encountered.  By Saturday, I knew I was going to be asking him to take me on as a private student.  By Sunday, which was my 55th birthday, I asked him, and he said, “Yes”, which was as good as a birthday present I could have asked for.  So, I’ve been studying with Marc since September of 2010, and moving into what he is calling Unique Self Enlightenment.  It moves beyond Eastern enlightenment, which realizes we are not separate, and into the deeper reality that says, “Yes, I am not separate, AND the perspective I have is unique”.  The significance is, that as I walk around, I realize I am God having a Tom experience, as Marc might put it.

This is the nature of the unfolding, the nature of the awakening that is present for me in my life currently.  My daily practice is rooted in that orientation of Unique Self Enlightenment, which has a deep Judeo-Christian lineage for me, and I am studying the Kabbalistic  masters from hundreds of years ago.  I am connecting more fully to my own Christian upbringing and integrating all the Eastern, Tantric  and Buddhist learnings over the last 35 years.  And Marc and I are co-authoring a book about practice from this perspective: Unique Self Enlightenment Practice.  So we’re engaged in a deep dive into practices, because that has always been my focus, even back to high school: “What are the practices?”  I am far less interested in the texts and the dogmas. I am far more interested in “What do I need to do?” This is the question I remember back in the 1970’s and it’s now becoming a book we are calling “The World Spirituality Practice Guide” that we hope to publish in 2013.  So that is a lot of the focus of my practice, and a lot of my focus in the world these days.

John: Since you are leading the Path of the Mystic retreat in July with Nance, I have 2 questions for you:

1-      What is the nature of the mystical journey work at Shalom?

2-      What would a participant be entering into on this retreat?  What would that be like?

Tom: The precious gift that Shalom Mountain offers which is perfectly suited to mystical exploration is that Shalom has a fundamental structure built around love, and a clear understanding of the Skills and Principles of Loving. It is my belief that the mystical journey is really the journey of the evolutionary lover:  how can I learn how to love and to know my identity AS love more completely?  The fundamental, even psychological underpinnings of Shalom as a structure for fostering the evolution of love is perfectly suited for mystical work.

Another fundamental orienting principle around Shalom that works beautifully in concert with mystical retreat is its emphasis on embodied process.  We are a process oriented community, we don’t do lectures!  What we create is opportunities for people to step into their bodies; step into the energy of their lives, and learn about themselves.  That is ultimately, as Robert Close once said, it’s all a question of identity, and we’re not going to get our identity from someone telling us how things are.  We’re going to discover our true identity, our true selves, by experiencing ourselves in our fullness, in our full glory.  And, of course, that’s what this community has been doing for years in both mystical and non-mystical retreats.

The distinction between the mystical retreats and the more psychological retreats, which have profound importance – it’s very difficult to do the mystical work if you’re still crippled by psychological wounding that you haven’t dealt with.  But the distinction (between the two) seems to me to be the focus.  The mystical retreats really do start to focus on the question of “Who am I?” and “Who am I in relationship to God?”, or for those who are uncomfortable with the word “God”,  “Who am I in relationship to this Cosmos, this Universe in which I live?”

In terms of my own leadership, what I have always strived to lead has always been entirely mystic retreats, whether it has been Integral Intensives, more recently with my work with Jerry Jud in the 2011 Science and Mysticism retreat, or at the Men’s Gathering.

John: What would you say to someone who might be reading this and is curious about the Path of the Mystic retreat, to entice them to come?

Tom: Like so much of the work at Shalom, it is open to everybody, and not for everybody.  I’ll tell you who this is for.  This is for those who feel a deep call to an intimate relationship with God which is still in the flavor of yearning … I want more of this … have tasted the sweetness of what it is to be alive, and want to go further into that sweetness, and are not quite sure how to do that.  For people who experience the yearning to live their life with “juice”; with juice and ease; that being alive can be like tasting the most glorious meal, or hearing the most glorious music you can hear.  This is a laboratory for exploring yourself in relationship to God.

John: Beautiful… wonderful.   Thank you, so much Tom.

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For more information or to register for the Path of the Mystic retreat, July 3-8, 2012, call or e-mail Shalom Mountain:  845-482-5421 or email@shalommountain.com  You may also register at our online registration page.


Tom Goddard has been a member of the Shalom Community since 1997, and co-leads the Men’s Gathering, the Path of the Mystic, and retreats on consciousness at Shalom Mountain. He serves as Director of Land Use and Development of Shalom Mountain. Tom is the CEO of The Integral Company and Integral Healthcare Solutions. Tom is a Vice President of the Center for World Spirituality. He received his doctorate in psychology from George Mason University and his law degree from the University of Arizona.

What’s So Great About Respectful Confrontation?

May 29th, 2012

Tom Goddard

By Tom Goddard

I’ve been reflecting on the upcoming retreat to be held at Shalom Mountain May 31-June 3, Respectful Confrontation, led by Joe Weston.

My experience with Joe’s work goes back about four years, when I served on what was then called the Shalom Leadership Council. Joe led twenty of us in short, powerful retreats that changed the way we worked together.

The profound work we did in those brief workshops was so amazing that my friend of 20+ years, Barbara Wrigley, and I set about bringing Joe to the Washington DC area where we lived. We wanted everyone we knew to have the benefit of Joe’s remarkable teaching.

What’s so great about Respectful Confrontation? Don’t we loving people want to avoid confrontation?

As it turns out, there’s the problem. Most folks confuse confrontation with conflict, and, as a result, cut off important opportunities for vulnerability and intimacy, the very things we want most. (Remember, “more than anything else, we want to love and be loved,” as the sign on the wall of the Shalom Room reminds us).

At the risk of oversimplifying a profound distinction that emerges when one engages Joe’s model, while conflict is interpersonal clashing with the intent of disempowering the other, confrontation is actually an act of deep vulnerability and openness that, when done with skill and motivated by love, is designed to create the very intimacy we seek.

Huh? How can this be so?

Exactly. This is a stunning teaching. It counters much of our upbringing, our cultural context, and even our understanding of our own language. And yet, what we learned at Shalom Mountain four years ago was that we veterans of the Skills and Principles of Loving had much to learn about how to be open and vulnerable with one another.

Joe’s work fits seamlessly into Shalom Mountain’s body-centered process approach. Using only a modest amount of didactic teaching to help build the Respectful Confrontation framework, Joe teaches through the body. In one exercise after another, we learned deep lessons that help us avoid conflict and encourage the loving act of vulnerability called confrontation. In the more advanced teachings, we learned how to deal with other people in our life who seem hell-bent on conflict, not confrontation.

Undergirding all this teaching is Joe’s teachings about the Four Pillars of True Power. It is from a place of grounding, focus, strength, and flexibility that we can encounter our fellow human beings with clarity and stability that allows us the freedom to be vulnerable, express our needs, and withstand the thunderstorms of interpersonal interaction.

In my life, the value of Joe’s teachings have been plentiful. Both in intimate personal relationships and in relationships with clients across the globe, my capacity to come from my center with love and compassion has grown enormously. I still have much to learn, and will continue to study and practice Joe’s teachings in Respectful Confrontation.

I hope to see you here at Shalom this week for Joe’s workshop!

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To register for the upcoming Respectful Confrontation retreat, May 31-June 3, 2012 at Shalom Mountain, call or e-mail the mountain at 845-482-5421 or email@shalommountain.com.  You can also register at the Shalom Mountain website.

Tom Goddard has been a member of the Shalom Community since 1997, and co-leads the Men’s Gathering, the Path of the Mystic, and retreats on consciousness at Shalom Mountain. He serves as Director of Land Use and Development of Shalom Mountain. Tom is the CEO of The Integral Company and Integral Healthcare Solutions. Tom is a Vice President of the Center for World Spirituality. He received his doctorate in psychology from George Mason University and his law degree from the University of Arizona.


The Intimate Dance of Love and Compassion

April 27th, 2012

Joe Weston

By Joe Weston

I have the deepest respect for Shalom Mountain and the simple yet powerful mission it has held with sensitivity and fierceness for decades now. How many places on this planet consciously cultivate the power of love and loving relationships? So much can be transformed and healed when the mindful, empowered use of love is present.

Two times in 2008 I introduced and shared my philosophies and practices of Respectful Confrontation to the leadership team of Shalom Mountain. What we discovered is that Love can be even more powerful when she is accompanied by her first cousin, Compassion.

For many of us, we have experienced relationships where we thought that to love someone meant to give completely and unconditionally. This is fine on the honeymoon and in a retreat space where the boundaries are clear and the hearts of all involved are open and generous. But what happens when we engage with people at work who don’t know the principles of loving community? Or when you and your partner are just having a bad day?

What happens when the boundaries are not clear or when you are in your reactive, unconscious behavior? Will being nice and loving solve the challenges in relationship? Not always.

This is where Compassion and Respectful Confrontation comes in to support, guide and Love. Yes, it is appropriate to love someone deeply and still claim your space and state your boundaries. Yes, it is possible to say no in a way that still encourages further discussion and connection. When Love is propelled by Compassion, you have the courage and confidence to have those “difficult” conversations and still stay in an openhearted, respectful, juicy place.

In fact, it is BECAUSE of having the difficult conversations that you drop deeper into intimacy and the magic that comes from merging and mutual transcendence. When “unconditional” feels safe there is nothing more profound and beautiful; when it doesn’t feel appropriate, unconditional can be replaced with “acceptance” of your and the other’s limitations, boundaries and finite self. The practices of Respectful Confrontation help us to shine a light on the sometimes confusing and misty realms of love, relationship, feelings, wounds, and expectations.

Respectful Confrontation helps us to navigate and unify the seeming polarities and contradictions. By asserting your “no” in an openhearted way, you open to more “yes”. By setting and clarifying your boundaries, you expand into a deeper level of yourself and relationship. By having the courage to express your feelings and needs, you open to a vulnerability that allows your True Power to be revealed.

So, join us on the Mountain May 31 – June 3 and let’s explore the dance of Love and Compassion, of giving and receiving, of the infinite and finite. Let’s together unravel the mysteries of Compassion and tap into the power that resides there. I look forward to it….

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If you are interested in exploring the philosophies and practice of Respectful Confrontation,   you might consider joining us for the Respectful Confrontation retreat, May 31-June 3, led by Joe Weston.  For more information or to register, call or e-mail Shalom Mountain:  845-482-5421 or email@shalommountain.com

Joe Weston is an international workshop facilitator, author, consultant, personal life coach, creative social activist, and advocate for peace. He is the author of the fast selling Mastering Respectful Confrontation and the founder and presenter of Respectful Confrontation workshops and lectures. Joe brings a wealth of insight to his work based on many teachings, including Tai Chi Chuan and a variety of spiritual traditions—plus his experience in theater and various organizational trainings. His clients and students include the Dutch Consulate, NASA, political refugees in the Balkans, inmates at a California prison, corporate and non-profit employees from every continent, social activists, artists, middle school children, teachers, and parents. He also volunteers for the Liberation Prison Project, teaching Buddhism to inmates and is the founder of the Heartwalker Peace Project.

The Eros of Spring

April 6th, 2012

Vyana Bergen

by Vyana Bergen

Yellow daffodils dance in the woods behind my home, the myriad of birds bring a cacophony of song, and the frogs have already begun their peeper mating cries – it’s spring in the Catskills! Someone said to me that it felt like spring had arrived in a sheer explosion of sight and sound this year, a sure reminder of Eros moving its life force through the manifest world.

Merriam-Webster’s dictionary reminds us that the word Eros has Platonic roots and defines it as “a fundamental creative impulse having a sensual element.” Sight, sound, smell, touch and taste drive our lives as we move through life in these bodies created to explore being alive.  So why when we hear something described as erotic do we automatically think of sex? Perhaps it is because sex contains some of the greatest teaching for being fully engaged in our lives.

Marc Gafni describes sexuality as a place where our erotic nature is at it’s most intense, but this potency of the sexual realm is only pointing toward something  much more universal and essentially sacred.  Here are some of the faces of Eros that Marc distinguishes:

  • Interiority, which is to be deeply connected to oneself – to really experience the divine presence within. In this place, we loose the distinction between ourselves and God and we are one with the divine.
  • Fullness of presence, which is to be really awake and alive in the moment. If are with another, we might attempt to see who is really there, hear what is actually being said, honor what the other is thinking or feeling, we might commit to really staying with the other’s process (hmmm .  .  . sounds familiar).
  • Yearning, which is really our desire to love and be loved (again, I think I have heard this before somewhere). Our desire in its deepest form is sacred and we can trust that it will take us to God.
  • Interconnectivity, everything in the universe is connected, we are part of a larger whole.

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If you are interested in exploring how your sexual desire and erotic nature can inform and transform your spiritual journey, whether it is with a partner or with the divine itself, you might consider joining us for retreat on sacred sexuality.  Two retreats are upcoming on our calendar.  The first is  “Erotic Partnership:  A Sacred Sexuality Retreat for Couples” May 3-6, 2012 led by Vyana Bergen, Cristian Graca, Shelly Reichenbach, and Jeff Hilliard.

The second opportunity is the Sexuality and Spirituality retreat, June 18-24, 2012 with Vyana Bergen and Cristian Graca.

For more information or to register for either retreat, call or e-mail Shalom Mountain:  845-482-5421 or email@shalommountain.com.

Holy Unknown

January 23rd, 2012

Roger Cramer

by Roger Cramer

I came to Shalom Mountain in shambles, locked into work and expectations that totally exhausted me each day.  If there was a key to get out of this prison, I had no idea where to find it.  The therapist who suggested I go to a Shalom Retreat said that the work I would do and experience at the Mountain would be the equivalent of 100 hours of talk therapy.  It would spring me forward in my spiritual and emotional journey.  The thought of it scared me to death, – and yet, and yet what alternatives did I have?  This dark cave of apprehension coupled with the urge to spring forth reminded me of Anais Nin’s words “And then the day came/when the risk to remain/tight in the bud was/more painful than the/risk of blooming.”

That was 12 years ago.  And since, I have found the community and work of Shalom Mountain to be a delicious, deeply loving springboard into a new and creative life.  The community that gathers at a Shalom Retreat or a Winter Mystic, or a Men’s or Women’s Gathering is profoundly supportive, loving and challenging.  The processes used in the service of healthy life are stimulating and eye-opening, the leaders are charismatic and yet genuinely personal.  Each gathering seems to be a labyrinth of energy in which the whirlwind of Spirit moves in daring ways and people come alive to their own essence in ways that are almost beyond imagining.  It’s an amazing journey of self-discovery and self-love, where individuals and couples learn to honor themselves and find joy in the love of others.

One dimension of Shalom Mountain work that has been powerful for me over these 12 years is the Mystic Retreats, – Mid-Winter and Summer.  I came to the Mountain feeling constrained by elements in my faith that did not seem to match both the Light and the Doubt that I was experiencing within.  How could I give up beliefs, then crumbling, which had anchored me for so long, and been the legacy of my family, and yet were slipping away?  What I experienced on the Mystic Retreats was permission to explore new expressions of the spiritual life, learn from other wise journeyers, dance my spirit rather than think it all the time, dive deep into the Holy Unknown, find comfort in the loving embrace of community.  It has made all the difference in how my spirit grows today.

This next weekend, January 26-29, Nance McGee and I will lead a new Mid-Winter Mystic Retreat entitled “Gloriously made, yet stumbling toward home.”  It will be another rich opportunity to plumb the depths of Spirit and Joy in our lives.  Give a call, and come and join us.  At the Mountain the daring dance with God is like bread for the feeding of all who care to gather.

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Roger Cramer is an Episcopal priest, in retirement, living in the wild lands of his life’s transitions. A self-professed Mystic wannabe, for more than 30 years Roger has led spiritual processes and rituals, has been a spiritual director to many people, writes poetry as well as being a talented studio potter by avocation. Roger is a long time member of the Mystics community at Shalom Mountain and is delighted to continue to participate in this community through his leadership.

For more information or to register for the Mid-Winter Mystic (Jan 26-29, 2012) or Path of the Mystic (July 3-8, 2012) retreats, call or e-mail Shalom Mountain:  845-482-5421 or email@shalommountain.com.

A New Chapter for Women Loving Women

December 2nd, 2011

Stephanie Roy

by Stephanie Roy

In October of 2011, LJ Wooden left a message on my voicemail asking me if I had any interest in co-leading WLW Retreats with her at Shalom Mountain.  It only took a moment before I heard a deep and resonant “Yes” in my heart.

I’ve always been something of a late bloomer and coming into my authentic sexuality was no exception. In many ways, I have the Shalom Process and the incredible Shalom community to thank for my own awakening as a woman who loves women.  I first came to Shalom in 1991, with almost 3 years of sobriety, to work on (what else?) unfinished business with my mother.  In the ensuing years and over the course of retreats too numerous to mention, the Shalom process held me as my soul attended to the broken places with my parents, my perpetrator, my ex-husband, my Creator and ultimately of course, with myself.  This amazing community gave me a perfectly imperfect place to re-play some of my oldest stories to entirely new conclusions. I came ‘of age’ at Shalom, discovering and exploring my boundaries, gifts, power, femininity, and sexuality with some incredibly amazing playmates and teachers.

As I gradually returned ‘home’ to myself, journeying out of my head and down through the chakras into my voice, my emotions, my power, and my sexuality, I found that my heart opened the most deeply to women.  And finally, all the questions I’d been pondering about my sexual orientation were fully answered in the spring of 2004 when I began my relationship with Beth, who is now my beloved wife. We celebrated our 5th wedding anniversary this past October!

From the very beginning of my healing journey I’ve also been called to both study and pass along what I’ve learned. I was part of Shalom’s first “Wizard School” in 1996 (a seed which eventually blossomed into the Shalom Leadership Training Program), attended two rounds of Process Therapy training with Carol Jud, and was among the original four who participated in the first Internship Program in 1997.  Since then I’ve facilitated numerous Shalom & Unmothered Daughter Retreats, workshops on a variety of topics (including “The Work” of Byron Katie), and maintained a private Process Therapy practice. (Note: Bonnie Moore and I also have an Addiction & Recovery Retreat coming up August 9-12, 2012 .)

Stephanie Roy & LJ Wooden

I can’t tell you how much I’m looking forward to co-leading the WLW events with LJ.  I have enormous respect for her as both a retreat leader and a fiercely committed journeyer.  We each bring a very different set of gifts to the table and together I think we’ll make a fun, exciting and powerful team!  Please support us with your open, loving hearts as we explore and develop this new chapter in the on-going story of Women Loving Women on Shalom Mountain.

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Stephanie Roy is a Process Therapist and Retreat Leader with 22 years of sobriety. She has a B.S. Degree in Human Services and extensive post-graduate training including two years of Process Therapy and two years of Retreat and Leadership Training at Shalom Mountain. She has facilitated workshops and retreats in the Northeast USA and Ireland and has maintained a private therapy practice since 1995.

The next WLW retreat led by Stephanie and LJ is January 5-8, 2012.  For more information or to register, call or e-mail Shalom Mountain:  845-482-5421 or email@shalommountain.com.

Slowing Towards Grace

November 23rd, 2011

Nance McGee

by Nance McGee

“To be grateful is to recognize

the Love of God is everything . . .

Every breath we draw is a gift;

every moment of existence is grace.”

~ Thomas Merton ~

I do well with planning and agendas and structure so even as I promised myself a few days of relaxation and connection with friends, in the preparation to load the car and get on the road I feel the pull to get one last thing done . . . and it seems “one last thing” begets one last thing!

Oh to just slow down and allow myself to notice ~ like the lingering scent of freshly made cranberry relish.   As I allow that scent to enter me, I feel the fullness of heart that this time of year inevitably brings.  The simple recognition of slowing down and noticing “every moment of existence”.

In this particular ‘moment of existence’, as I write this note, a small, black puppy demanding my undivided attention becomes my imperative.  So it is in this moment, as I resist “one last thing”, there is grace.

I wonder how often I am attentive to what is right in front of me demanding my attention and when I’m too busy with something else and miss the moment of grace?

So for this morning, I am slowing down.  I’m noticing the leaves have fallen from the branches and the natural world is moving toward sabbath and silence.  This moves me toward “meditation on a fallen leaf” . . . and then I notice 20 minutes has passed; my estimated time of departure has passed and though the urge toward getting on the road plays in the background, the voice I listen to this day is; “stay, just a little bit longer”.  And so I do.

As I prepare to travel on what is apparently the busiest travel day of the year (USA), I find myself slowing toward grace ~ breathing in the abundance of my life, knowing that I belong and practicing the sacrament of gratitude.

In this season of gratitude, may we all know moments of thanksgiving.

May we reach out to our beloved others in celebration for their loving presence in our lives.

May we embrace the coming season of sabbath and silence and allow the presence of grace . . . sometimes dressed as a small, black puppy!

In gratitude and grace,

Nance

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Nance McGee is the Director or Programs & Operations at Shalom Mountain.  Nance is a body-centered, process-oriented therapist in private practice and has led retreats and workshops at Shalom Mountain and in communities in the U.S. and abroad. Nance has extensive experience working with addictions recovery, family systems and has specialized training in the healing of complex trauma (Somatic Experiencing). She is passionate about the power of loving community, the joy of being a woman and in deepening the journey to God.

Brothers

November 16th, 2011

Gerry Rumold

By Gerry Rumold

I have been thinking a lot about the upcoming men’s retreat and pondering what it means to me.  What part of my soul is called to lead this retreat with Lawrence as well as the fears of what it would mean to fully take up my life.

I’ve often thought of myself as seeking and the journey of arriving at Shalom Mountain was certainly a part of that.  What I’m finding at age 61 is that I’ve been putting off searching and taking up living from my essence.  There is a puny part of me that distrusts the Universe, that if I really go for it I will fall to my face and be laughed at.

So this retreat is big for me.  A time for looking at my demons, and risking looking inward to get a clear enough picture of who I am and what that needs to be.  How am I going to live the rest of my life?  I’m looking for some brothers to hold my feet to the fire and be held themselves.

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Is this the time for you to explore your connections in the brotherhood of men?  Gerry Rumold and Lawrence Stibbard are leading a Men’s Retreat:  Search for the Holy Grail, December 1-4, 2011 at Shalom Mountain.  For more information or to register call or e-mail Shalom Mountain:  845-482-5421 or email@shalommountain.com.

Gerry Rumold is a Certified Core Energetics therapist and an experienced facilitator in Leader Effectiveness Training and Conflict Resolution. He leads Shalom Retreats, Men’s work and with his wife Sandie, Couples’ Retreats. Gerry has a private practice and is deeply passionate about his own journey and being fully alive in a committed relationship.