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2007 International Pathwork Conference
INTERNATIONAL PATHWORK CONFERENCE – IXTAPA, MEXICO
Attendee report by Isabelle Meulnet, HDP 3 student, Pathwork Vermont
On March 6-11, 2007, Sahra Aschenbach, Mary Jane Ihasz and Isabelle Meulnet, from Pathwork Vermont, traveled to Ixtapa- Mexico, to attend the 2007- International Pathwork Conference, called “Building Bridges on the Path”. More than 300 Pathworkers worldwide gathered to learn, share and challenge one another in our understanding and experience with the Pathwork teachings.
The conference, presented simultaneously in Spanish, English and Portuguese, had two parts: a leadership part and a general conference part. It was created and expertly orchestrated by three teams: the Mexican, the International Pathwork Foundation and the Design teams.
A. First three days: Leadership Conference
The first three days of the conference brought together 60 worldwide leaders, who gathered to present, assess, explore and challenge the state of Pathwork around the world.
The unveiling of Pathwork Mexico
~ two beautiful ceremonies ~
1) ”In the Alchemy of the Crucible, Pathwork Mexico was born..."::
This opening ceremony was led by Andre Leites, founder and director of Pathwork Mexico. Andres told of his 20 years long, and at times difficult, journey to bring the Pathwork teachings to Mexico. He shared the history of Pathwork Mexico: how it came out of the split from the Phoenicia Center after Eva's death; its struggle to stay alive; the conscious choice, ten years ago, to separate from the rest of the Pathwork world and the isolation that followed; its current state of 84 helpers, 20 teachers and 600 students; the longing of its members to reach out and re-connect with the Pathwork worldwide.
2) Stepping down Ceremony:
In this very moving ceremony, Andre Leites, stepped down as founder and director of Pathwork Mexico and passed over the leadership “baton” (it actually was a ancient and majestic gong) to the upcoming leader, Olga Tanaka , and her executing team, Perla Barabak and Yolanda de los Reyes, all from the new generation of Mexican Pathworkers.
Pathwork in the World: Connections and Relationships
1) Bio-dancing with Amanda van Bowen, president of the Foundation:
Amanda taught us the simple art of creating intimacy without words. Through gentle movement, music and eye contact, held by the universal language of the heart, we experienced deep contact and love with one another.
2) Exploring the Evolution of the Pathwork: “Who are we today? Who are we becoming? What does the world need from us?”
This group discussion and brain storming session was led by Michael Roblee and Gene Humphrey, two long-time Pathworkers from Michigan and California.
During that time, we also explored the meaning and the importance of strengthening our ability to name and hold “our tension fields”. A tension field arises when our healthy adult ego is able to name that our child consciousness / lower self has been triggered and is in an emotional reaction, while, at the same time, maintain its own alignment with the God-Self/ Higher Self within. Holding a tension field, with integrity, patience and without forcing an outcome, allows an organic healing process to emerge.
During this section of the conference, we collectively created and held an incredibly charged and potent tension field. This field had been over thirty years in the making, and had arisen out of the unresolved splits and pain of exclusion held by many of the original Pathworkers (before and after Eva’s death.) At the beginning of this session, Mary Jane and I (both graduates from the Barbara Brennan School of Healing), and 4 others, had volunteered to hold and ground the boundaries of the group. In the safety of this sacred container, a tension field emerged and grew steadily, energetically charged by all our unconscious and unresolved issues. As the group’s Lower Self was released, a lot of negative and painful energies lashed out all over the place. In the end truth telling, sobs, tears and every one’s willingness to own their part brought about a remarkable healing for all involved.
3) Pathwork in the 21st Century: This leading edge discussion-meditation was presented by Brooks Greene-Barton, from California.
Brooks talked about the evolution of humanity and of the opportunity for Pathwork to be a leader in the 21st century. He asked us to meditate on the question“How do we - Pathwork - want to be seen by the world?” and feel into what it would be like to take full responsibility for how other people experience who we are. He described the importance of finding unity within us, among us and with Higher Consciousness /God. He showed us how this task was essential for the survival of humanity and how a positive future absolutely depended on it.
The first part of this conference ended on two profoundly moving and hopeful notes: the reunification of the International Pathwork Foundation with Pathwork Mexico and Andres Leites on one hand; the telling of truth and reconciliation among some of the original participants of the first Pathwork Helpers class / community on the other hand.
B Last three days: General Conference
The last three days brought an additional 250 participants, one third Mexican students and the rest Pathworkers from as far as Brazil, Uruguay, Argentina, Chile, Colombia, USA, Canada, Majorca and Israel
Opening ceremony (Similar to the Unveiling of Pathwork Mexico from Day 1 of the conference)
This was a festive, exciting and moving ceremony among Mexican Pathwork teachers, leaders and their students and the rest of the world! Sahra, Mary Jane and I participated and Pathwork Vermont was honored as one of the representatives from the United States. What an amazing and beautiful demonstration of love, passion and heart connections among all! It was truly a joy to witness.
Creating New “Families"
In this exercise we were divided into 20 groups of 15. All fifteen members of each group came together as a family. Each family had the same family names (" random" names picked out of a fish bowl). Some appointed time each day was spent in our individual family with the tasks of connection, communication and relating. Sahra picked the "Power" family; MJ, the "Spirituality" family and I, the “Positive Intentionality" family. One of our tasks was to talk about "why we picked this particular name/family!”. Another challenge was to communicate: tough task within family members who did not necessary speak the same language!!! From this simple exercise came an opportunity to learn about our specific place and experience in our own family of origin.
- “Writing a love letter to your frightened child/fear”, with Barbara Azzarra, from California Pathwork.
We had the opportunity to hold and embrace, from our God-Selves, the “frightened, tender little one within”, who had just learned that s/he was now a part of an unfamiliar family which did not speak his/her language. For many of us this further deepened our connection with “family of origin” work…its wounds and the healing of the wounds.
- “The heart dance/ meditation”, with Peg and Gene Humphrey, Pathwork California.
This moving meditation was powerful. For me, it brought up insights on many levels. The dance was done four times, each time facing one of the directions: East, South, West and North. Each direction connected me to 1) the future and what is possible; 2) the past and the teachings of my ancestors; 3) the present and the teaching of what is present now; 4) the center and the teaching of my heart. This meditation also helped me to feel at the cellular level the power of my own heart. I deeply listened to and heard its rhythm in its expansion and contraction phases. Through the opening and closing movements of my arm and heart I connected to the experience of giving and receiving of love. I saw the choice I have, every moment, to say YES and NO to life.
The repetition of the simple movements of this meditation brought about a trance-like feeling. It forced me to let go of the mind and connected me to my heart and the ultimate simplicity of life. It reminded me of the truth around giving and receiving: that the more you give the more you receive. This heart chakra meditation done by 300 people all gathered in one room doing exactly the same movement, at the same time, brought forth the experience of one heart, one breath, one movement, one focus, one humanity. Within 15 minutes, without one spoken word, among 300 other beings, I knew unity; I remembered Oneness.
- "International Dancing" with music from all Pathwork countries. Similar to Bio-Dancing, this dance was done among all of us: no words; just movement, music and heart.
Panel discussions and workshops
- Presentation from various Pathwork Centers: Brazil, Uruguay, Holland, Mexico and others presented and answered questions about how they began, what worked and what did not work
- Pathwork Workshops: One dozen various Pathwork workshops were offered in the afternoons during the last two days of the conference. Sahra Aschenbach and Madeline Dietrich presented one called “The Challenges and Opportunities for Building Community in small Chapters and Groups”.
Workshops attended by Pathwork Vermont attendees: “Pathwork and the Kabbalah: The Great Paradigm of Relationship”” presented by Iris Markham", a helper and teacher form the Great Lakes Region. AND ” Create and Believe” taught by Olga Tanaka and Perla Barabak is the workshop I attended: more than anything, I wanted to experience “the Mexican touch”.
International Pathwork Foundation (IPF) - Ceremony
1) Intro / Presentation, with Amanda van Bowen and most of the Trustees. They presented the history and functions of the Foundation, and described its current vision: “To create a spiritual container for the worldwide Pathwork that helps us to live the teachings and bring them out in the world.” They invited us to participate in designing its future role, and mission.
2) "Stepping Down" Ceremony, where Amanda stepped down as president of the Foundation. This was a beautiful and touching ceremony where Amanda recounted her calling during the 2004 International Pathwork Conference in Brazil to step forward and become the president of the Foundation. She described her journey of the last three years, what she had held, “birthed” and what she was leaving behind (“this beautiful infant!”). She introduced the trustees, her support team and ended her heartfelt presentation with her current call to step down.
In these small groups discussions we explored how we could, individually and collectively, best “Build Bridges on the Path”. Eight groups were formed and brainstormed on what was needed to spread the teachings of the Pathwork worldwide. In our English-speaking group we summarized our exploration into three words: Cohesiveness (through the Guide Lectures), Connection (through love) and Communication (through the Internet). We created a mantra out of what we had learned, and Linda Farrell, from Pathwork Vermont and Pathwork Michigan added an energetic- movement component to it .I was impressed by the creativity, diversity and uniqueness of all presentations!
Closing Ceremony : Making bridges out of balloons
At the end, we energetically integrated the material of the conference by building symbolic bridges out of balloons, goodwill and a lot of laughter. Pathwork Mexico had welcomed and received us well! We returned home, uplifted, enchanted and filled to the brim with generous gifts of connectedness, expansion, love and inspiration.
C. What I learned
On being a leader: After the first two days at the conference my first realization was that I was among peers. I was a leader. After many years of studying and learning from the Guide’s teachings it felt empowering to stand up and own this leadership. I realized that my Pathwork training had been first class, and that the programs that Sahra Aschenbach and Ingrid Schirrholz had designed for Pathwork Vermont were truly the top of the line! I learned I had moved through the three Pathwork stages. From 1) being nurtured, I had moved into 2) learning self-nurturing and was now in 3) the nurturing of others.
On exclusion: I know that on one level, it was no coincidence that I happened to be present when this charged tension field arose in the leadership group and was followed by this powerful healing. As my personal tension field arose, I searched within myself how I had contributed to the collective human pain of “exclusion”. I examined how and where I excluded myself, first between the various aspects of my own self, secondly within the context of the Pathwork Vermont community, thirdly within the world at large. I connected to my own pain of having been excluded and excluding others. I became curious about exploring the ramifications of such original exclusion that began in the Pathwork of Eva’s time. I wondered how overtime, energetically, this pain had drifted down, and in subtle ways had affected all of the subsequent Pathwork regions. I understood then about the energetic creative power held in one’s family lineage, and how any unresolved emotional issue held within the “ancestors” structure will continually affect and bind all of its descendants until it is addressed.
On building bridges/on reaching out: Pathwork Mexico’s longing to reach out into the Pathwork world for connections was what fueled the creation of this stunning conference. For me this reinforced the power held in one’s intentionality, and how when we are aligned with our heart’s longing and follow it through “miracles” happen. I realized that I could use this theme of “building bridges” as a reminder to keep on connecting my Lower Self with my adult self and my Higher Self; as an invitation to reach out and keep on making closer connections and exchanges within my own community, and with Pathworkers worldwide; as a possibility of co-creating a “new Foundation” (i.e. as in participating in the upbringing “the “infant” left by Amanda) and establishing new, stronger ties with it.
On essence and form: As a body, energy, consciousness worker I am fascinated by the relationship between consciousness and energy. During the course of the conference I noticed how energy follows consciousness. For example I saw how becoming conscious of one’s longing (Pathwork Mexico reaching out to Pathwork worldwide) become the precursor to manifesting that longing (the creation of this conference). I also saw how glitches, mistakes and obstacles that occurred during the conference first had to exist in the consciousness, or most likely unconsciousness, of all participants before manifesting into form or current reality. I saw clearly, especially during the Heart meditation/dance led by Peg and Gene Humphrey, that form – i.e. we, in our human form- can re-member oneness, formlessness, by allowing our heart energy to guide us. I realized that to change the form- the creation- we first must change the consciousness; which is just what the Guide shows us how to do.
On holding the Feminine and Masculine principles: It was interesting for me to see how tension fields arose and dissipated from event to event. I was able to see how tension fields exist on many levels and how they are absolutely essential on our journey of evolution. I realized that on this earth plane, on the level of matter, consciousness seems to need two apparent “opposite” poles in order to manifest. I noticed that tension made up the very strength of the fabric of the conference; that every healing or growth that happened during the conference happened because tension fields were created and held between two strong “opposite” poles. For example, the structured pole (represented by Michael and Gene) was held alongside the unstructured pole (embodied by Amanda); the masculine principle was held with the feminine principle; the manifest (form) with the unmanifest (essence); matter ( humanity) with void (divinity). I realized then that it is by holding both poles that we actually hold unity. I finally understood viscerally what the Guide meant when he talked about “the sacred marriage” between the divine masculine and the divine feminine; and how this lead to the experience of God! I understood that the human journey is not about choosing or siding with one or the other side of any two” opposites”, as much as holding the tension field that arises, and allowing what needs to happen to happen. (Usually an energetic release!)
On the power of “holding the tension field”: During the important healing that took place during the leadership conference, I was challenged to hold and name my personal process, my own tension field, and the group process. It was intense. It was powerful. Sometime I could hold both poles at the same time, other times not. All the while however, I could watch and name my process. In the end, I felt privileged to have been part of such healing! (within me, and within the group). I knew I had witnessed a sacred and profound moment in the history of the Pathwork!
I have seen manifest how, with clear and sincere intentionality, most family’s unprocessed pain and inner split can be named and brought forth to truly begin its healing process. I saw that when we are able to identify and own our pain- both in its giving and its receiving aspects- and give back to our family what does not belong to us (the giving and receiving aspects of pain held by each and every other member of the family) we create an energetic container that becomes a potential portal for awakening and healing for all. I realized that the existence of tension fields provide the opportunity to explore our attitudes toward them, find the territories within our psyche that remain unexplored and continue our work of mapping the uncharted.
On the power of the heart: I explored the many levels of communications and connections held within my heart. Pathwork Mexico modeled a very important one: that of direct heart connection, of creation of intimacy without words. Throughout this conference I felt my heart expand. I experienced union: union within self, with other and with Oneness. I also experienced how, to avoid feeling pain, my heart contracts. My task is to allow this natural rhythm of my heart to happen, and to be aware of it as it happens. The deeper I am involved in this dance, the closer I pay attention, the more I am awed! I see clearly that as long as I think I have to choose one pole over the other, my “beautiful problems” surface. Only by remembering to insert feeling into the equation will a “beautiful tension field” arise, and, given time, organically dissipate of its own volition. The result: healing and growth of consciousness.