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A Love Beyond Gender That Reveals What Is Real

I have participated in all Retreat Men's retreats for 5 or 6 years, and they have all been powerful and amazing at various levels. But the last one I attended exceeded all others, far beyond any expectations. How can a Men´s Retreat of men be so special? This is what I will try to express in words...


Undoubtedly one of the most important aspects since the beginning of this group has been the delivery and guidance of Pete! The careful and careful manner in which he prepares and leads the retreats, putting his experience to work and deeper understanding and intuition, is constantly a source of inspiration. Mainly because of the way in which, more and more, it puts the teachings that it transmits to us in practice. I've known Pete for 9 years, since then he's been my spiritual teacher and he's always transcending himself and surprising me. And deep down is this the role of a teacher, to show us that another reality is possible here and now, beyond our ideas, limitations, and constraints, and that ultimately we do not depend on anything, no one, to live a free, happy and spontaneous life ...

Another aspect that has proved increasingly powerful in these retreats is the possibility of spending quality time with other men. I have lived a good part of my life to feel more comfortable opening up to myself, being vulnerable to a woman than to a man. Can you relate to this behavior? And what is behind it? Well, first of all our culture does not support the sensitivity and vulnerability in men. "Be strong as a man!" Or "Men do not cry!", If you are a man you have certainly heard these expressions several times. But is this how we want to live? The more I allow myself to feel and express what is truly alive in me, not only do I feel freer and more confident, but I also feel closer to others, whether men or women. And something that became even more evident to me in this retreat was that Love is always present! I do not mean an emotional or sexual love, I speak of a love that transcends the mind, the emotions and the senses. It is like a gentle breeze that suddenly appears and floods us with its exquisite fragrance, with an innocence, freshness and completeness of something that is familiar but also always new ...

This Love of which I speak is at the same time the revelation of beauty and depth of communion with the other, as raising the veil of the true potential of the relationship, as well as the recognition of the ultimate Union, the realization that the separation between me and the other is not real. When this apparent paradox falls apart, and this does not happen through the mind, but through the simplicity of a deep surrender and relaxation, when looking into the eyes of an "other," I see myself only, for nothing else exists! This is a Love that exists beyond gender, which is always present and that is revealed when I stop imposing what "I want", what "I feel", or what "I think", to then find out what It's already Real...

The other aspect that I would like to refer to in this small testimony is the way the entire retreat unfolded. In addition to the moments in which we indulge in many more traditional spiritual practices (such as meditation and silence, self-questioning, group exploration, etc.), there were also moments not so structured for fun and relaxation, nature walks, socializing and sharing . The presence of these apparent opposites in one retreat has made it even more real and close to everyday life. Now that I'm back to the "complexity of life after retreat," I no doubt feel more challenged at certain times (for example in interacting with my children, or even with my father), but there is something that remains intact , regardless of what is happening. The deeper and unmistakable recognition of who I truly am, beyond my limited identification with thoughts, feelings, and emotions. And there continue to be times when this recognition is not apparent, in which I act in an egoic way and from a point of separation. But I can see things more clearly and take responsibility for my actions. And this is where true liberation resides, by seeing clearly what is Real and acting in consciousness, from my deepest understanding and experience. 

Ricardo Goncalves

For information about the next Strong Spine & Open Heart Awakening Men's Retreat click here.

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About the project

The Awakened Life Project is situated in a beautiful and wild ecological reserve in the mountains Central Portugal. We offer volunteer programs, courses, events and retreats to support the liberation of the human spirit in a context of evolutionary emergence and communion with the ecological web of life.


Quinta da Mizarela
3305-031 Benfeita
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