Thirty Strangers in a Circle: ‘Coming Alive’ at the Haven

This year started out differently, very differently. At the suggestion of a friend, he and I and a couple of other friends registered with The Haven for a personal and professional development program called Come Alive. We had been wondering about new ways to explore some old patterns that were keeping us from consistently living with passion in our personal and professional lives. The program was designed to help participants experience life more fully by exploring the role communication, relationship and self-responsibility have in our well being and the way we engage in this world.

Deep Inhalations, Deep Exhalations

The Come Alive experience sits on a foundation of a few key understandings. One of them is breathing. Yes, breathing. If you don’t like to breathe, don’t take this program. You might breathe more than you ever have and you’ll do it with other people, often. On your own, in big groups, in small groups, one-on-one, you will breathe. You will explore the relationship breathing has with your energy and how it influences and sometimes determines your well being. You will breathe slowly, intentionally, fast and hard and you may as I did, be reminded about the importance of breathing in helping to connect with you energy of your life.

Great, I learned to breathe. Now what…?

Now that you’ve started breathing, you learn to communicate all over again. That is, you’ll learn one of the communication models the Haven has developed over its 25 year history to help people be more in relationship with themselves and each other. You’ll experiment speaking in a strange tongue of “I feel….”, “My intention is…..”, “I want…” all structured to help you build awareness about the impact language has with how we relate to others and ourselves. You’ll sound funny to yourself and others, but it begins to unlock some of our language habits that help keep us from more meaningfully connecting with others.

And…. keep Breathing

Okay, we’re breathing and talking. Great. Thanks for that. What’s next? Over the next 5 days of large group work, small groups and individual time exploring how breathing, communication and blocked energy in the body and mind build up over years of lives keep us living fully. Facilitators lead extraordinary sessions using body work, gestalt, psychodrama and Chinese energy to help participants break open, old, blocked experiences so that we might be more present in our lives and with others. Five days of many intense sessions, mixed with relaxed and joyful times of personal reflection and social time with others.

In these sessions, one of the more powerful parts of the experience comes from sharing and being present with others as they spend time in the circle exploring these blocked parts of their lives. The experience the facilitators call resonance. The experience you experience when being present with someone else’s experience. This for me could likely have been the most powerful part of the program. One in which you, while deeply breathing of course, bear witness to and in some cases, participate in helping to create a trusted space for someone to go deeply into old trauma and memories. The goal of which is often varied and complex, but for me appeared to be an opportunity to try and be more in relationship and awareness with these memories, rather than at their mercy.

Would I recommend this program to you?

Attending a program of this kind is a very personal decision. I couldn’t tell you after having been if it would be appropriate or not. I spent most of time there thinking that I shouldn’t have been there. That all of the personal work I had done in my life had actually prepared me well and I was being reminded while I was there just how well. But, I would say that if you have worked hard at trying to understand your experience in this life and your relationships with others you may feel like you are covering similar ground, at least in the early stages of this program, but it does pick up pace and deepen as the days progress and there are, even for the well practiced, opportunities for deeper self-learning and understanding.

Did I come alive? Will you?

Having done a healthy amount of personal and professional development work in the past 10+ years, the outcome for me wasn’t as dramatic for some, at least not that I could tell, but I did come away from time there having significantly deepened my relationship the friends I traveled there with and also for a renewed appreciation for life and my relationships. I’m bringing more and more awareness of what I learned to how I communicate with those in my life and I’ve had a sustained improvement in sleeping and peaceful well being as I continue to enjoy many of the breathing techniques we learned. So, simply; Yes, I would say that I feel more alive today than I did when I went into the Haven. If you’re looking for this kind of experience, one in which you need to move through old habits, I would recommend this program to you, if the personal work you are doing in your life now doesn’t seem to be helping you in being fully present in your life. Come Alive just might help you connect with that person you know that you are.

1 reply
  1. Linda Nicholls
    Linda Nicholls says:

    Christopher, I value your perspective and your willingness to articulate it in such a personal way. Sending my appreciation to you, Linda


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