At our retreats, we meet with every single couple privately. We want to get to know you personally, and support you from one retreat to the next.
This quickly leads to the next question, ‘what happens during the private sessions?’
Routinely, we begin by asking how we can support your erotic life. A simple, opening question that allows you to guide the conversation to where you are comfortable. You decide whether you want to explore what is coming up during the retreat or something more long-standing.
Some people jump right in! Others need a bit of time to open up. It is natural to feel shy about sharing the challenges that are bringing you here. We want to reassure you that you won’t be judged, we won’t take sides, and we won’t try to diagnose you.
Halko and I have been at this for a while, and there’s very little that surprises or shocks us. We can’t say we’ve ‘seen it all,’ but we’ve seen and heard more than you can probably imagine. We also know first hand the struggles of long-term coupling. We’ve struggled ourselves with discrepant desire, and different preferences and arousal cycles. We teach this stuff because we know how hard it is to talk about sexual desires and to stay curious when reactivity is triggered. We know about menopause and illness, back pain and body issues. As a couple, we also do a good job of working through these ‘problems’ in ways that continue to connect us ever more deeply.
This is what we want for you; we want to help you connect around potentially divisive issues. We want you to feel safe sharing your heart’s desire and to talk openly about sex and body parts, even if you’ve never done so before. Most importantly, we will never ever push you to open up. We respectfully and gently meet you where you are. That’s the core of our mindful approach.
We don’t just talk in our sessions though! We actually start to engage in mindful experiments during our 1:1 time! We want to see what happens when one of you asks for what you want. We study reactions to touch and what happens between you when things break down. We may set up healing experiences to antidote wounds. Sometimes, we work with one partner more than the other. This can be heart and eye-opening for the partner who is observing and can foster a spirit of cooperation between you.
While our 1:1 sessions are one of the most important features of our Passion & Presence retreats, the next element has absolutely nothing to do with Halko or me because we aren’t even there for it!
While we are meeting with one couple privately, you get to meet with one or two other couples on your own. Couples really bond through this experience. Humans are tribal; we heal shame when we recover a sense of belonging, especially if we’ve felt separate and broken. Time and again couples tell us that they start to feel ‘normal’ because everyone is going through the exact same thing (even when sharing with couples of different backgrounds, ages, and lifestyles)!
These sessions are also free of judgment and advice-giving. During this time, couples share what is working for them; they laugh and sometimes cry together. Because it is vulnerable to do so, talking about sex builds intimacy. When people let themselves be seen they immediately feel accepted. Almost every couple tells us, “We never talk about this stuff with our friends!” One of our groups became so close at a Passion & Presence retreat that they are now planning a THIRD reunion for August 2019! This just shows how strong these bonds can be.
After these meetings, the whole group circles so we can hear what’s going on. Halko and I listen for themes and answer questions. Sometimes processing happens in the big circle as well. We frequently notice that a couple that was struggling the day before has experienced a breakthrough and someone else is now hitting a stuck place. The beauty of watching how people cycle through despair to hopefulness is that it shows that we don’t stay in one state forever. Living organisms are always in flux. The group reflects this life pattern, while also offering acceptance, understanding, and compassion to whoever is sharing.
These two crucial elements – private meetings with the leaders and small group time with other couples- create staying power. It’s hard to keep the practice going when we return to the insular bubble of our ‘don’t talk about it’ lives. A supportive community is what allows the experience to become a life changer instead of a one-time experience.
If you’re intrigued, then join us. I will look forward to getting to know you during our private sessions at our upcoming Erotic Presence retreat!