why is nurturing the self not automatic? | Special Haelen Retreat

by Gisele Theriault February 10, 2019

why is nurturing the self not automatic? | Special Haelen Retreat

Well, panchakarma is finished for another year. Three weeks of a program designed to bring the body back to balance. It is a big commitment. Some of it is an extraordinary piece of heaven. Some practices are given to nourish what is depleted, some to help you purge the toxins. 2.5 - 3 hours of body work daily includes an hour of hot oil full body massage done with the feet, then there are sessions of being bathed with herbs, massaged with an herb powder, being bathed with herbed milk, eye cleanse, nasal cleanse, ear cleanse, and many treatments to relax the mind.

I got to sit with guilt that would arise during all these treatments, and believe me guilt would converse with me every day. It would never show up when there was nasty tasting herbs to take that would send you to empty out as part of the program. lol. The voice would be "who am I to deserve such treatment?" I think this roots back to growing up in a Cape Breton large poor catholic family where you did the best you could with little and you not only never complained, you were grateful. 

There is a quote from Lao Tsu dating back to the 14th century that says "rest is not a luxury, it's mandatory." This quote stayed with me because I was a working machine from when my eyes opened to when they couldn't see anymore.  Even in the depth of exhaustion I would think rest is a privilege and somehow for others. Even after getting sick and making radical changes with how I am in the world, the ghost of guilt still comes. 

Now I exercise calling what arises by name. They all blanket under one moniker, "hello old friend." A greeting shared by Thich Nhat Hanh's gentle voice in a dharma talk in Plum Village.  It applies to what arises in both aversion and joyful surprises. If the voice of guilt or unworthiness, anger or fear stops you from being in a place of loving kindness towards yourself, remind yourself that from a place of deep kindness and understanding for your life comes beautiful love and gratitude for the world around you. At this point even life wins.

A special invitation.

I'd like invite you to a different kind of get away. Not a Panchakarma but a special retreat in Ireland with Michele Chaban MSW, RSW, PhD, in September.  If you've not had an opportunity to work or study with Michele, she is a force in community for mindful and social change. She is the Founding and Former Director of the Applied Mindfulness Meditation Program at University of Toronto, Canada and the Founding and Former Director of the Temmy Latner Center of Palliative Medicine at University of Toronto, Family Counselling Program.

The retreat: HAELAN

Haelan - to heal and make oneself whole by exploring and gathering all the resources available to us in any moment in time, through our opening and broadening awareness.        

Join me and special guest Dr. Michele Chaban as we cultivate a refuge from the panic of life that surround and abound our everyday.  

Experience Ireland not as a tourist but as kin to the land and the journey.

The Haelan retreat will focus on the concepts and cultivation of self-care, inner compassion, and strategies to beckon oneself to be-come more whole in a world where individuality is coveted as a right, while self is often denied, if not inexistent. We will explore assumptions that accompany these intentions and explore personal and collective pathways to haelan.

The intention of haelan (to make whole) is to release us from the illusion that any of us are separate from each other, the relationships we hold, and the world we live in. Come explore the collective and boundlessness of this practice of mindfulness through thought, word, deed and practice.

Together we will:


  • Replenish body, mind and spirit in the mystical Burren.
  • Cultivate the opportunity to deepen y/our meditation practice, sitting, walking and embodying.
  • Forage from land and sea to table with David Donohue, author and songwriter who is passionate about the wild organics of Ireland. This evening we share the meal we create with some extraordinary locals at the house. A day that is fulfilling on so many levels.
  • Integrate restorative yoga with music, on and off sites with Irish folklorist/archeologist/singer-songwriter/yogi Jack Harrison, author of Celtic Yoga. Should I go on? ;-)
  • Recalibrate in restorative yoga with Helga Himmelsbach, founder of Burren Wellness Centre and Yoga Studio.
  • Re-member ourselves about the simple joys of contemplative creative play at the Burren College of Art in a jewelry making project with Gisele.
  • Explore sacred sites, wondering and wandering the land.
September 1 - 7, 2019  or September 8 - 14 (depending on attendance)
€1500. (Which is currently about $1700 USD).  Airfare not included.

Registration deadline is March 15, 2019.

To ensure an intimate and sacred experience we will be accepting a max of 10 people

Contact me, for more info and to reserve your spot.


Yes Rumi, Only through the heart can you touch the sky.      

Please stay in touch.. Sending love, a lotus and a smile from the profound and taxing Mother India,


PS The heart rock necklace collection SALE ends midnight February 14th. Visit and use the code shareaheart at checkout.

Gisele Theriault
Gisele Theriault


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