Cultivating Community

by Jasjit Sangha

I came to the Edge on a cool autumn afternoon this year to experience the Heart Wood Retreat. I was drawn to the Edge as the Way of the Circle teachings resonated deeply with questions I was pondering in my own life: What does it mean to truly live in my heart? How can I listen to my heart and allow her to guide me? Over the past couple years of pandemic isolation, uncertainty and stress, I was feeling disconnected from myself and I was hoping that the retreat would help me “reset” and feel nourished.

What I experienced at Heartwood was beyond my expectations. Although I had a strong feeling it would be a special experience, I was surprised by how deeply the retreat impacted me.

Trying to capture my experience in words can feel like a challenge, because it was fundamentally a feeling, that shifted my perceptions of myself. A feeling of being seen and heard, of noticing and really connecting with the nature around me, interacting with other folks who were open and kind-hearted and on a similar journey and being led by mentors who seemed to intuitively know what learning I, and the group, needed.

I began most mornings watching the sunrise over the water while learning Qi-Gong on the deck, followed by a scrumptious breakfast and our morning activities. The facilitators cultivated a sense of spaciousness with our programming, so we had time to explore and also enough structure to never wonder what was next. They were thoughtful, experienced, fostered personal connection, and truly cared. One of my favourite activities involved releasing our self-doubts in the sauna while embracing our new, empowering truths.  I braved a cold water dip in the lake afterwards and literally felt giddy with joy!

The evenings often incorporated music, singing, drumming, or restorative practices. I loved the heartfelt singing, the way the drum seemed to be in line with the beat of my heart, and the feeling of community that was cultivated in that space. One song that really resonated with me was Martha’s song “Coming Home” that she sang for her mother as she passed.  Coming to Heartwood for me, felt like “coming home”.

I thought I was coming to the Northern Edge to have a break from the stress of life, but I was actually there to grow and transform. The “me” before the Edge and the “me” after the Edge are still the same person, but with a new lens, a new view, a new opening of my heart to myself. The special gifts I freely received from other folks in the retreat, are in my home, reminders of my time at the Edge. I look forward to coming back in the New Year and continuing to deepen my journey within myself!

Our next Heart Foundation Retreat is coming up soon!

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