Mark Thornton on ‘A retreat for the heart’

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Retreat for the Heart

Last weekend I attended a retreat on the Isle of Wight for three and a half days. I didn’t know what to expect, in fact I didn’t even know the agenda or programme so it was a big step into the unknown. As it turned out it was an amazing experience full of emotion unlike anything I have experienced before. Well what a weekend of breakthrough it was and the expression of emotions like I have never experienced before.

I describe the weekend as a retreat for the heart as that is where I feel the most change happened, but in truth it was also a retreat for the mind, body and soul as all mobiles, laptops, TV, and alcohol were barred! . With no agenda and lots of uncertainty as to what was to happen next, it was strange but exhilarating as I was truly in the moment at all times.

In order for this slow awakening to happen, you have to feel safe to express your thoughts and feelings and this environment was created by the leadership team from Celebration of Being. It also involves a number of subtle processes like meditation at 7.00 am, walking in silence and dancing to music. A sea swim at 6.30 was optional – I did it every day!

Enough of the waffle and let’s talk about what happened to me! I now realise that a number of factors beyond my control have influenced my life to date. My position in the family (I’m the eldest), my parents, my birth date and given name have all probably had a role to play. I also realised that as a man, while somewhat emotional, there was so much more I could do to develop myself on a much deeper emotional level. The weekend certainly helped me to understand to a greater degree why I feel and behave in a certain way. The experience has given me a much deeper insight into my feelings and I feel much more enlightened and empowered going forward.

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As a caring older sibling and business consultant, I found I was often trying to solve other people’s problems or issues while not actually listening properly and in many cases not feeling what the other people were feeling. I now understand that I was what some call a “people pleaser”. “People Pleasers” put others first and may not be true or honest with their own feelings. That was a significant breakthrough for me.

I realised I had deep hidden emotions that had long been suppressed and were just waiting to get out. Well boy did they get out over this weekend. I have to admit that I have never cried so much in all my life, nor did I ever see so many other people crying. The tears were a result of a realisation that there is another part of my life that it had been missing. It is unbelievable the impact crying and letting go of the suppressed emotional baggage from the past can have. It is very cathartic in many ways.

What will I do with all this “new me”? I realise there are many honest conversations I need to have with my loved ones and friends. I want to pass on to the next generation the need for greater understanding of one’s masculine and feminine side and that these aspects should be embraced and welcomed. When someone asks me now “how do I feel” – I will probably say “how long have you got”?

On the business front, my communication (as a trainer) has changed significantly already. I am exploring issues in a deeper way and with more emotion in the training and conversations (this is what real issues are about after all). I am using more challenging words to engage my audience and to get them to open up more in a safe environment, without judgement in order to get a different and better result! I am getting to the heart of matters quicker and more effectively now and it is being noticed!

It is easier to put the heart in business if you can feel it, live it and engage with it.

With heart,

Marc Thornton

Marc Thornton is a consultant and trainer and is an Associate at Heart in Business Limited and lives in Dublin, Ireland.

Marc Thornton