On our first morning in Mexico, my husband and I stepped out of our cabana to witness an osprey plunging into the ocean and catching a large colorful parrot fish. The fish was too heavy for the osprey to take off, and both the bird and its prey were being tossed about in the surf. With much effort the osprey struggled to safety on top a nearby rock, only to be abruptly dethroned by another wave. This drama repeated itself several times before the weary osprey let go of its burden and flew away.
Little did I know what an ideal metaphor this wildlife drama was for the week that was to unfold. My husband and I were attending an Internal Family Systems Retreat/Training for therapists and their spouses. IFS is a therapeutic model in which different aspects of one’s persona are revealed to the Core Self and healed through the unburdening of their trapped emotions and limiting beliefs.
I always feel a great unburdening on many levels whenever I am on a retreat.
First, I find immense relief just in being unplugged from phones, computers, and the constant media onslaught. In their place, I immerse myself in the natural world and awaken all my senses to the sun, wind, and landscape. Inevitably, this restores my soul and makes me feel fully alive and renewed.
Second, a retreat means leaving behind all my roles and responsibilities and reconnecting with who I am without these layered accoutrements. When my Self gets lost in all the doing, I know the quality of my labors decrease exponentially. The essential Me needs the time and space to breathe and fortify itself.
Third, for me a retreat is never complete without some quality soul-searching. I try to select programs that will open my eyes to a new way of perceiving the world and my place within it. On this retreat, there was a blessed extra unburdening. I was given the opportunity to be the client for one of these wonderful therapists. Through the IFS process, I was able to get in touch with the vulnerable little girl who felt there was no room for her emotions, always afraid she would rock and sink the family boat. My Self was able to witness her fears while reassuring her that these emotions would not unleash a devastating tsunami.
Like the osprey, part of me was holding onto this childhood belief and it was preventing me from soaring to greater heights. It was important to recognize how this was dragging me down, to acknowledge that I didn’t need to be afraid anymore, and to make the conscious decision to unburden myself of this weight.
Working with the IFS model also clarified for me that my passion as a Life Coach and Retreat Leader was to cultivate and empower the Self in others. My work is to be a Believing Mirror so that others can discover the healing powers they have within themselves.
We never did see that osprey again, but later we enjoyed watching numerous Magnificent Frigatebirds soaring above. Wings spread wide, freely gliding on the wind, they are able to remain aloft for weeks on end–an appropriate new metaphor for moving on after a great unburdening.
Retreat Coach Karin Marcus | Stepping Out