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The world around me is a different place since I came back from the Awakened Life Project. Undergoing the Transformation Intensive literally transformed my perspective on the world.
Five years ago I went into recovery from addiction having reached a crisis point where I could only, paradoxically, regain control of my life by totally surrendering to the programme of recovery. I came face to face with the consequences of my behaviour, I became willing to take responsibility for my actions and I stopped blaming others. There is liberation in owning that everything you do, you alone are responsible for, no one else. This understanding was taken further and deeper at the Awakened Life Project as our group were taken on a spiritual journey of discovery with Pete and Cynthia to a point of profound awakening and liberation.
I came to the Awakened Life Project at Quinta da Mizarela with two goals – one being to participate in the Transformation Intensive and the other to observe and record as a researcher, collecting data for my MA Social Anthropology project. My two goals, which seemed clear and separate before I went, became intertwined as my research increasingly involved my own experience of transformation. The knowledge I have gained is not just objective; my subjective knowledge, about the nature of my ‘self’ has also deepened in a way I truly did not expect.
I knew there was value in meditation, but it wasn’t until I was both practicing it daily and discussing it that I now see how important it is. We meditated every day before breakfast and the evening meal, which I found really difficult in the first week. My body offered a lot of resistance, but the chance to feedback on our experiences helped me to stick with it. I experienced that meditation allows us to sit with everything that is going on. The thoughts, feelings that arise do not need to define us, we can observe them, accept them and ultimately let them pass without being drawn into them. This allows for distance and perspective to be created which frees us to overcome identification with feelings such as fear, resentment and anxiety. They are just objects, as are the birds singing outside the meditation room! What a fantastic revelation!
The self, released from identification from limiting thoughts and feelings is thus free to converse on a deeper, more conscious level which we were able to practice in our weekly ‘Awakened Communication’ sessions. Each week, we came together to express what is happening, right in that moment, to listen deeply to what the other group members are expressing and to unite, in that moment, with each other, to reveal the essential unity of our collective consciousness. This is about really leaning forward into the present moment and our communications led us through wonderfully imaginative descriptions about who we are and how we are connected.
What is remarkable about the Transformation Intensive is that everything that is learned is practiced and everything practiced is reflected upon so that real change is inevitable. All of us on the Intensive were held and challenged the whole way. Each one of us was encouraged to really face our individual blocks, fears and insecurities and to support each other through the process. A unique and special bond was created amongst the group and support was not in the form of being ‘nice’ or agreeing with each other, but having the courage to reveal to each other the behaviour patterns that we may be stuck in that are preventing our liberation from ego.
I have made new friends for life with the women I did the course with and we had so much fun! We learned how to prepare and cook amazing, healthy food, we became physically aware with Raquel who took us on a strengthening yoga path and we explored the beauty of the natural environment with Laura who took us on meditative nature walks. All of these activities fed into each other to help us appreciate, not only that beyond the limitations of the fears and blocks of our ego is our true self, but that our true self is not separate from the consciousness that beats through all of us and all of life around us.
I am preparing to embark on a lifelong dream, to do a PhD in Social Anthropology, and my combined experiences of transformation and study at the project have increased my motivation as well as my understanding of the nature of new, radical social movements. My further studies into activism for my PhD will be informed by what Pete revealed to us in the notion of the evolution of consciousness and the essential sacred dimension that is needed within globally diverse forms of activism.
I can’t recommend a stay at the Awakened Life Project enough. It is a true haven of insight into human responsibility to the planet and each other as global citizens and the infinite possibilities of human potential; I really saw that I am the universe and that I can do anything!
Tree Kelly, UK