Walking the Path

A transformative and life-changing seven-day retreat is fast becoming a worldwide phenomenon. Is it for you?
Joanna Webber fills us in.

December 19, 2018
Rebecca Murphy

Rebecca Murphy

December 19, 2018

A week long self-development retreat that’s gaining momentum around the globe right now invites you to delve into your psyche and change the relationship you’re having with yourself and the world.

Called Path of Love, the course was founded in India in 1995 and is now held in 14 different countries. The website calls it “an intense and effective developmental process that can improve relationships, release fears, boost confidence, increase feelings of self-worth and restore a level of trust in the world and other people”.

One journalist from Britain’s Sunday Times describes it as “the equivalent of two years of therapy in one week”. Another, from The Sydney Morning Herald, says it’s “bootcamp for your emotional life”.

The process is physically and mentally challenging, but it’s also exciting, revealing and potentially life-changing. Is it for you? Here’s what you need to know…

What is it again, exactly?
Path of Love is a seven-day residential retreat that combines western psychotherapy with eastern spirituality. The process supports you to take a courageous journey inside of yourself – a journey out of separation and fear into connectedness and love.

What actually happens?
From 6am to late in the evenings, the daily schedule includes meditation, group therapy, role-play and self-reflection as well as lots of exuberant dancing. Most of the process happens in silence – you talk only during therapy sessions.

Sorry, did you say exuberant dancing??
This retreat has its own resident DJ and music is used as a therapy in itself. From gentle acoustic to doof-doof dance beats, the music at Path of Love inspires you to connect with your feelings and release emotions that have been bottled up for years. If you like to dance and move your body, this is the juiciest part of the week.

What will I have to do?
Be prepared to face your fears, expose your feelings and revisit some of the deepest, darkest experiences of your life. It might sound scary – a little crazy even – but you’re held in the safety and support of experienced therapists, facilitators and staff generally equal to the number of participants. Someone is always at your side, attentive, compassionate, loving, supportive, and fully comfortable with the process.

Where will this inner journey take me?
As the week unfolds, the difficult feelings that surface give way to peace, gratefulness, acceptance and, eventually, to unbridled joy. You arrive at a place where love is at the centre of everything.

Is it religious?
The process draws on a range of spiritual traditions, including eastern mystics, inspirational teachers, poets and philosophers, but it’s not aligned to any religion.

Who is it best for?
Anybody facing a crisis or suffering from stress, anxiety, loss and unhappiness, and anyone who’s curious to go to the edge of their inner world and face what’s really there.

Who doesn’t it suit?
This isn’t a gentle, relaxing retreat with lots of quiet meditation and yoga. The work is rigorous – both mentally and physically – so you should be psychologically stable and reasonably physically fit.
All applicants are screened via an online interview and a thorough and probing questionnaire. But if you’re someone who doesn’t like music and prefers to avoid confrontation, this could be a challenging week.

What do I pack?
Comfortable clothes that allow you to move easily; walking shoes; soft shoes or socks for indoors; a water bottle; some healthy snacks and coloured pencils.

What shouldn’t I take?
You’re asked to say goodbye to stimulants like alcohol, cigarettes, caffeine and sugar for the week and encouraged to leave your phone and laptop at the door.

What happens when it’s all over?
On the last day, you’re given exercises to do at home that are designed to help reintegrate you back into your ‘real’ life. After-care support includes online forums where participants can get together and share how they’re faring weeks later.
Strong connections are made at Path of Love. People who were strangers at the start of the week end up knowing you better than most of your family and friends by the end.

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