Although it was a bit more expensive this year, when the anniversary week rolls around like it did recently I’m at my happiest. And no, we didn’t get our freak on all weekend long, but that’s not what anniversary weekends are all about for Michaela and I anyways. So as a follow up to my posting last week, I want to share some pretty cool things that we did, I think it can definitely be related to UC.
Let me start of with saying this isn’t a “married people only” post, and you definitely don’t need to have a boyfriend or girlfriend or anything like that either.
So here’s the deal, we left last weekend and shoved off from our apartment in Berkeley to hit up a place called Esalen down in Big Sur, California. Esalen is a pretty famous place, and it has been that way for a long long time. The Esselen Indians were there before anyone else and they thought it was pretty cool over 6000 years ago too. So what the heck is “Esalen?”
Well, some of you might call it a resort, others might call it a Hippie Hangout, others might think of it as a place where hundreds and thousands of people tripped out on LSD back in the early 1960’s. And then, some people might think of it as a Holistic Healing and Mind & Body retreat. I’m still not exactly sure how I’d describe the place, but I’ve been telling all my friends about it ever since we came back last Sunday night.
Over 10,000 people visit Esalen every year. And let’s just call it a resort to make things simple. Most people come for either a full week or a weekend like my wife and I did. AND, just about all of the guests sign up for “workshops”. The workshops can be either 5 days long during the work week, or a weekend workshop. We did one of their Friday-Sunday weekend workshops. When I called two weeks beforehand, I noticed they had a workshop for “Couple’s Massage” and that sounded super interesting. Come on, think about it, Friday night, all day Saturday and Sunday learning about how to give some nice massages to my wife. And maybe she’d learn some new moves too!!! Sounds like the gift that could keep on giving. Unfortunately, that workshop was all booked up. The leaders ( a man and woman who are internationally known and considered bodywork gurus) have been doing the class for a while and it fills up super quick. But that was alright, there were a few spots left in the ITP workshop, so I told the woman over the phone to sign us up.
Who’s heard of ITP?
Well, I thought it was something to do with Internet Transfer Protocols or something…NOPE. I found out later that I was way off with that guess.
An added bonus of our Esalen experience was how the place is super international. By that I mean there was a woman who was in our group all by herself from China, another woman came all the way from Germany, and another person in our group from Poland, and a guy who was from Australia. So don’t start thinking this is some crazy American thing… AND, if you’re gonna try to book a trip there, call in advance. You see I kinda forgot about our anniversary and this was my year to plan everything. Because we made our reservation so late, they did not have any sleeping accommodations left for us. We got stuck staying at the campground 15 miles north each night (which was just fine, and quite a bit cheaper, but to not being driving all weekend would have been great too)
So let’s talk about ITP.
ITP in the land of Esalen and most other parts of the world stands for Integral Transformative Practice®. We were doing quite a bit of yoga, meditation (one of my favorite parts) talking in small groups, and some other fun stuff.
The booklet all 20 of us in the workshop received defined ITP as: a pioneering program for transforming body, mind, heart and soul through comprehensive, long-term practice. This is a holistic approach to cultivating healthy growth, personal transformation and positive social change.
If anybody is wondering if I was given some LSD down there last weekend, I’m pretty sure the answer is no. If you are wondering how this is related to ulcerative colitis, you’ve got to hang on for a bit. I’ve been feeling really great lately, and the intent of our trip was not to meet some Voodoo Daddy spiritual healer to cure my UC for good. But there were some ways that UC slipped into the weekend that I think some lucky UC’ers might benefit from.
For anybody who wants to learn more about ITP, I’d encourage you to visit their main website: www.itp-international.org But for now, I’d like to get into some big ideas that are ALREADY HELPING ME and I’m sure I won’t be the only UC’er to benefit.
Just like all the other workshops that were going on that weekend, our ITP group met up from about 10:00-12:00. And then from 4:00-6:00pm. And then our final meetup was from 8:30-10:00 each night. We had meals in-between.
Walk Like a 7 Year Old
During one of the outdoor classes, our group leaders who are the Guru’s of ITP (Barry and Pamela), instructed all of the 20 or so of us to roll back in time to when we were very young. Maybe back to when we were 7 or 8 years old. Sounds crazy right… Well, I kinda thought so at first, but sure enough, we can all do it (there were 60 and 70 year olds in our group doing it). It’s not too hard. NEXT, they told us to simply go for a walk for about 10 minutes around the 110 acre property. And all along to keep your eyes open, listen with your ears, and act as though you are on a walk as a 7 year old. I friggin LOVED IT! Within seconds, everyone in the group was off on their solo walks. I found myself walking off the paths that they had in the gardens, cutting over rows of plants (stepping on plants) touching flowers, collecting ladybugs, doing all the things I used to do. It was great. This simple part of last weekend was a highlight for me. Sure it was pretty spectacular being in such an awesome location overlooking the Pacific Ocean, but that’s not what made the moments so great. It was the feeling of coming back to a full state of awareness, and using all the senses again (smell, hearing, seeing, touching etc…) without worrying about anything else. Way too often, we get caught up with constant problems that are nagging at us. Cell phones ringing, homework, bills to pay, errands to run, TV to watch, fears and worries about Colitis Symptoms coming back to name a few possibilities. To take a few steps back to when you were 7 years old, and to try and experience life as you did back then can be a great, easy, fun, and dirt cheap experience. Give it a try.
It’s been almost a week since we left Esalen, and I’ve been on walks everyday. When I remember to take a few moments and move and think like I was 7 years old it always leaves me feeling much better and more relaxed. I’m positive these walks are instant stress beaters too.
And we all can lose some stress right?
I very well might walk more than most UC’ers as I do about 25-30 miles per week all over San Francisco for my job, but certainly everyone following the site does some walking…right? So everyone can give this a practice or two. If you like it, you just might want to mix it into your routine. Nothing wrong with telling your boss at work:
“Hey boss, I need to go on my 7 year old walk for 15 minutes, I’ll be back in just a little bit”
It’s all up to you.
There’s quite a bit more to what went down last weekend. If you’ve heard of Esalen, you know about the natural sulfur hot springs where clothing is optional, and I’ll get into that in a future post. Until then, good luck to everyone with your UC, and I’m dying to know if any UC’ers or family members are currently practicing ITP. Also, Esalen has a fabulous work/study program, so if you’re interested in getting more involved with an organization on the cheaps, you should check their site out.