If you close your eyes and envision the necessary ingredients to create a truly transformative retreat, what do you see? Most likely you imagine beautiful landscapes, delicious food, and wonderful people. But on a deeper level, can you identify with a core need for safety?
Maybe. Maybe not. Teachers and therapists over time have witnessed this need and have learned to create an environment that truly lets seekers drop in to trust.
Rose Tol, founder of Secret Garden Retreats in Andalucia, Spain, is one of those facilitators who is incredibly intentional about this. In a conversation with Retreat Guru, she shares why safety and trust are so important for deep healing.
“Safety is a very important ingredient of the space that we create here. Safety and that feeling that there’s true care, and unconditional love, so that we can open up to each other and we can trust each other,” she explains.“The kind of safety that is created here, at Secret Garden Retreats... is because [particiapnts] can feel that gentleness, authenticity, the depth, and unconditional love... because of that they can risk to share things about themselves that they might not ever have spoken about before, that they might not feel proud of, that they feel embarrassed about, that they feel guilty of, ashamed of. All that stuff that is somehow preventing them to have the level of connection that they want to have with themselves, with God and with each other. And those things need to come to the light. It doesn’t have to be in a group, but a group is very helpful in many ways... to bring things up that you might not even know that were there.”
Rose, and many other teachers believe that the shadows must be welcomed into the light to be healed. But if the space feels threatening, judgemental, or otherwise unsafe, it is unlikely that one would feel safe enough to reveal such hidden, painful elements of human experience. The fear of being hurt, shamed, or cast out is too intense.
How did Rose come to her own relationship with this sense of safety and trust? She counts herself fortunate to have found a teacher who invited her onto the path. “I think I was just really lucky because I met a spiritual master that looked at me and said, ‘What you want more than anything is to surrender it all, and surrendering means you surrender to the highest, to the supreme of all which,’ she said, ‘I call God’. There was the word ‘god’ and she was telling me this relationship you have with God is so personal, which made no sense to me because in my meditations from the east and my practices I was so focused on the impersonal no-thoughts source.”
This is a space many seekers find themselves inhabiting: eliminate your thoughts, conquer your ego. But the question of what to do with this deep longing of the heart, this human experience, remains a vulnerable, tiny voice within.
“So, she brought me to peeking my desire in my heart that there’s a part of me that wants to have this personal connection. And she said, ‘Rose if you and me as friends can have this amazing, emotional feeling of connection - so personal - don’t you think you and your maker can have that same relationship?’ And I just cried and I cried and I cried. And I realized that it was something so deep from my soul. So, I think what took me really there was my desire.”
From her own inner knowing of connection to the Divine, connection to Self, she was able to ask the Big Questions: “Who am I? What do I want from my life? What is my highest intention for my life? And, does my highest intention match how I live my life at the moment?”
Her answers are her own, but the journey now informs how she facilitates her retreats -- a role she is so joyful to inhabit. “I create a space where people can really feel encouraged to trust themselves and specifically trust their desire, that heartfelt, soul-felt desire that comes from the bottom, bottom of their soul. If they start to connect to that, all the doors open within. And the techniques get shown within how they personally are able to go deeper and further inside of themselves. And that to me is ecstasy, to see, wow! That everybody has their own way.”
Let your desire bring you to the safety of the Divine. Take your own path. Trust yourself. Rose’s message is a sweet drop of wisdom for us all.
Rose, together with her partner Ian, have created Secret Garden Retreats in the mountains of Andalusia Spain. A beautiful paradise, offering personalized transformational retreats, where you can unplug, deeply relax and receive support to have breakthroughs and transform. Rose believes this is the best place to come to and find out what your life purpose is. Visit Secret Gardens center page to learn more.