Reach Out

What Most Inner Work Retreats Don’t Do But Should

communication inner work retreats Nov 08, 2019

I had a question come up regarding my retreat methodology that I wanted to answer here. 

Why are there 2 group video calls before the retreat? Seems like a lot!

Great question.

As an Enneagram teacher, my goal is to give you a life-changing experience.

The 2 video calls are the secret ingredient that takes the retreat from really great to life-changing.

Why is that?

I’ve been to a LOT of retreats on “inner work.”

Most retreats are structured so that you meet everyone for the first time at the retreat itself. 

But there are all sorts of interpersonal dynamics at play when you meet people for the first time: caution, suspicion, “feeling each other out,” etc. 

I hold 2 video calls to help get everyone past that initial hump. When we arrive for the retreat, everyone already knows each other.

In the calls, you get a chance to share what’s going on in your life and how your Enneagram discovery journey is going. (Importantly, all sharing is voluntary, so there’s never pressure to speak. Just your presence on the call is enough.)

I’ve also found that because the retreat is highly introspective, the calls leading up to it create a nice “introspection on ramp.” 

The calls are spaced out to give everyone more time to learn about your type and marinate in the first bits of content.

The calls are also where I first introduce our guidelines for soul-safe communication, which are the most important part of the program. Things like: no advising, no fixing others’ problems, and honoring silence.

As extraordinary as the Enneagram is, it does not come alive unless explored in a soul-safe container.

And actually… I’ll go a step further.

It’s not just that soul-safe communication multiplies the transformative power of the Enneagram. It’s also that without soul-safe communication, the Enneagram loses its transformative power. 

I would argue that learning soul-safe communication has revolutionized my relationships more than the Enneagram itself. I would even go so far as to say that soul-safe communication is a key competency that our species needs to learn to survive the century.

So — back to the calls — they’re great not only because they help people to get to know each other, but because they set the tone for soul-safe communication. That way, when it’s retreat time, we’re good to go. 

Some attributions: 

The communication guidelines are inspired by Parker Palmer’s idea of “Circles of Trust,” which you can read about in his phenomenal book, A Hidden Wholeness. 

I owe both my awareness of soul-safe communication and the idea of having two prior calls to the Educare Unlearning Institute, which is where I took my first Enneagram class that changed my life. I attribute the power of that class to the thoughtful way in which Sandy, the instructor, set it up.

Sandy, if you’re reading this, I would like to publicly thank you for the gift of your example and the impact that you and your classes have had on me personally. My current work is hugely inspired by you, and I consider it an honor to provide others with powerful experiences in the the Educare style. 

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