Dede Stefan, 4th year Radical Aliveness Institute student
Healing the Sacred Mother Within was awakened from a deep place of longing within me. It was the flow of life that gave me both many experiences surrounding the disease of addiction and the persistent nudging to seek healing for my issues stemming from the disease and other life influences. Radical Aliveness gave me the space to work with all of my feelings and the support and love that enabled me to heal. With deep gratitude for Radical Aliveness and a desire to provide a similar space to others, Healing the Sacred Mother Within was conceived.
My invitation was to mothers whose lives have been impacted by their sons’ or daughters’ struggle with the disease of addiction. I reached out to the women via fliers posted around town and a private Facebook group called The Addict’s Mom (TAM) which currently has over 70,000 members. Five women came to my first one day workshop. The day was spent in a small circle. The Moms shared their love for their children; their grief around their child(ren)’s suffering and dreams lost; and their deep feelings of isolation and loneliness due to the stigma surrounding the disease of addiction. One mother’s son died, and her sad comment was that “no one even brought her a casserole”. Most of the women returned for the second workshop. The sharing continued with a taste of core energetics. But, I feel that the thing that brought the most healing was holding the energy and principles of Radical Aliveness. This included allowing the participants to share anything, expressing in whatever way felt right for her, with no judgment and no shame.
It would be my honor to continue working with any mom, with any family member, or an entire family unit who is suffering in silence and shame as it relates to their struggle with the disease of addiction.
David Singer, 4th year Radical Aliveness Institute student, now practicing in Toronto, ON, Canada
I gathered nine entrepreneurs for a two day workshop to examine what holds them back from becoming wildly successful. Using the principals and process of Radical Aliveness, we looked at what was not working in their business and how this was affected by the whole. Through examining our personal beliefs, family of origin, cultural influences and who we truly are at our core, we gained greater consciousness towards what limits our success, and what makes us successful.
As a group facilitator I have a deep longing, and intention to bring awareness to the whole – in individuals, the group and the business community at large.
This project was not the beginning of my entrepreneurial adventure, but it has been one of the most meaningful. I will surely continue as I bring the principals of RA into my own company and continue running workshops to help others.
The name of the five-day workshop was “Leadership & Emotions” and was attended by 9 females and 8 males ages from 19 to 21 years old. The first day was 8 hours long and the remaining four days were 5 hours each.
“The challenge of working with the young people revolved around the realization that in my country, emotions are not openly expressed to people we do not know. There is an expectation to be polite and not express anger openly. I had to be more subtle in presenting ideas and helped them to open to their emotional world. Through a less confrontational style and getting them to participate by drawing their family of origin, role-playing and other exercises, they got to know each other better. This really assisted them to let go and begin embracing their intimate thoughts, feelings and body movements.”
“I was both surprised and pleased to have two of the participants privately share with me how they were deeply struggling and one of them asked for help to seek out some counseling support. I was moved and honored to be with all of these courageous young people.”
“Initially, when my friend asked me to bring Radical Aliveness to her college, I had a lot of feelings for which I had to have supervision sessions. As a young person, I had been a student at this Institute and due to differing views, I was expelled from the school. Going back to share my Radical Aliveness skills and open new doors for the young people truly helped heal this earlier wound and became a catalyst to coming full circle back to myself and my goodness.”
Ellen Henderson, 4th year Radical Aliveness Institute student
My mission in Outdoor education has been to cultivate resilience, leadership, connection and compassion through inspiring and challenging journeys of self-discovery in the natural world. Although I saw the trips as so much more than acquiring technical skills such as rock climbing, back packing and sea kayaking, I felt so much better about my ability to pass on those hard skills. Soft skills (as we call people and emotion based skills in the industry) such as how to help individuals and the group open up, solve conflicts and integrate the experience seemed very stilted and formulaic in my hands. I was really uncomfortable about getting vulnerable so would fall back onto models where I could feel in control. And yet I could so clearly see how the intensive experiences of the program put big cracks in people’s armour, there were already big emotions just waiting to be received in a way that could help students dive more deeply into personal development but the container just wasn’t there . . . I couldn’t help but feel there was so much more that I wasn’t touching. The more I did my own personal work in the first two years at RACE the more I was determined to try and see what I could incorporate and to explore what it could look like and if I could grow myself enough to work with the program with more heart.
Ellen’s project aimed to:
- Expand personal growth tools and container building skills in her Outdoor Leadership courses with teens as a high school teacher.
- Help her open her heart with her students
- Bring Radical Aliveness and Core Energetics into her newly developing coaching practice with the teens in her program.
- Explore bringing Radical Aliveness and Core Energetics into a high school setting in a way that could be supported by the admin.
“I met with 8 students for 4 one hour coaching sessions over the course of one school year. I also used the group skills on 8 three day overnight outdoor trips including snowshoeing, hiking, rock climbing, sea kayaking.”
Josée Martel, 4th year Radical Aliveness Institute student
My intention, with this experience, was to offer a space where parents could share their truth in all ways possible. They could bring their vulnerability, their fears, their doubts, in short all of their feelings, even those that may be considered as bad feelings. I created with the group a safe and supportive environment which allowed and helped them to become more present, to make more space within themselves, to be who they really are, to step into their true power and greatness. This safe and supportive container allowed us to work on the letting go of the idealized image of the parent, as well as the idealized image of the child. The purpose of this process was to use Radical Aliveness Core Energetics techniques to help them feel and observe their bodies, their emotions, their beliefs and to find actions, decisions and declarations that could help them to address a more fulfilling and rich life with themselves and their children.
This experience was offered to all parents, men and women from different Montreal neighbourhoods,different social classes,different economic situation and educational background. I had 11 parents at the beginning of the project, three men and eight women. The group was composed of both french speaking and english speaking parents which is, in and of itself, a challenge.The parents also came from different religious backgrounds. The complex nature of the parents in the group reflected and mirrored the complexity of their children, some who were autistic, some who had ADD and handicapped and also your more typical child.
This project was initially a five week process group, each session being three hours in duration. After the fifth session the group asked to continue and then the project became an 8 week project, totalizing 24 hours. I began in March 2015 and ended on June 10th 2015.It took place bi-weekly on a Wednesday night from 6h30pm to 9h30 pm .
I wanted to contribute to a better way of life. Let me explain. I really believe that a change is needed in this world, in the way we behave, the way we express ourselves and the way we acknowledge and feel our feelings. It would be wonderful if we could learn this as children. In my experience, it is difficult to do this work in a deep way with children. I believe that the impact of this project, therefore, is that change can take root through those parents who are more conscious and aware of their feelings and emotions, through those parents who are empowered, grounded and present. If parenting comes from a place of leadership, their children, will have been given the space to grow into their leadership.
Jody Holmes, Ph.D., BIW, BHSP, 4th Year Radical Aliveness student
- building the supportive network, infrastructure and skill base for a Radical Aliveness Vancouver community hub which is connected to a global Radical Aliveness movement;
- delivering Radical Aliveness offerings in Vancouver including a Community Evening Introduction to Radical Aliveness (co-facilitated), a Women’s process group (solo facilitated), and individual process sessions.
- systematizing my learnings and creating a Resource Binder as a “low threshold for entry” to support Radical Aliveness Institute students and new Radical Aliveness practitioners to create more Radical Aliveness communities around the world (available upon request).
The remainder of this summary is solely focused on the Women’s process group. I believe that many of our current crises including climate change, economic disparity, environmental destruction, racism and wars arise from our unwillingness to feel ourselves, each other and the natural world. The Dalai Lama’s comment that women are likely to save the world arises because women are biologically inclined to feel deeply. Their capacity to act on these feelings, however, is often muted by systemic disempowerment, trauma and violence. My desire was to empower women to support each other to find their voices, leadership and embodied wisdom in service of planetary scale healing.
The group included fifteen women aged 26 through 61 who came from a wide range of socioeconomic and educational backgrounds. The women were evenly divided between gay and straight and about a quarter of the group were people of colour. More than half the group had a history of sexual or physical abuse. The group also included 2 medical doctors and four therapists/counselors. We met weekly on Tuesday for 3 hours (7 to 10PM) over a 6 week period (18 hours) in early 2016. I also did 12 hours of individual process sessions with participants.
I used Radical Aliveness, Core Energetics and Brennan Integration Work energetic techniques to support participants to become aware of what they were feeling in their bodies, to build their capacity for presence/intensity/aliveness and to learn to follow their authentic impulses. My intention for the group was Passion, Power, Purpose, Presence, Pleasure. We worked on: letting go of our images of ourselves as an idealized woman, building awareness of when we are in mask, resistance, claiming and expressing our lower selves, negotiating healthy conflict and competition with other women, claiming healthy sexuality and pleasure and healing sexual trauma and shame, trust and surrender, higher-self qualities (claiming our own and reflecting others), and goodbyes/endings with embodied presence. I encouraged participants to use the group as a living laboratory, claim their breakthroughs, commit to new actions and behaviours between sessions and report back in weekly written feedback forms. The participants reported dramatic shifts in how they were claiming their voices and willing to challenge the status quo at work, in their personal relationships and when they witnessed wrongs being perpetrated. They also felt more embodied, aware of when they contracted out of pleasure and able to consciously choose to relax into pleasure – one participant coined the term “feeling RAW!” (radically alive woman) to describe this. Most importantly, the participants felt a deep sense of belonging in the group, were willing to take big risks and were committed to supporting each other’s growth.
I learned that as the facilitator you are the instrument – you set the tone by the transmission of your authentic embodied presence, you can use your body to feel what is happening in the group field, and you allow divine inspiration to move through you. I also learned that a group may initially test your capacity to be a Rock of Gibraltar, may activate many of the same issues that you have with your mother and that facilitating Radical Aliveness process can be very intense and benefits from regular supervision and peer support.
I felt tremendously honoured to have facilitated for such a powerful and courageous group of women. They deeply nurtured my belief in the potential for a positive planetary future.