Luiz, 2017: I learned how to deal with my emotional and physical limitations with equanimity, accepting them as they are, trying not to create any aversion or attachment. I learned that leadership is about empowering people. And I also realized that we are all leaders and followers in life, some days we follow and some days we lead. That’s why is important to be in both positions and aware how they affect you and the group, it develops humbleness.
Jamie, 2017: I have gone to therapy off and on for about 15 years and nothing has given me this profound of a cellular change as walking in nature and receiving the messages needed in order to heal. I still feel the trail in my everyday life. In my steps throughout the day I feel a heaviness that I have not felt before, to me the feeling is of being grounded. I often would struggle with feeling airy or feelings of dissociation but now I feel complete embodiment of mind, body and spirit. Completing the trail has ignited a flame brightly inside of me; it was always there but just a dim light. I feel more focused on my path since the trail and aim to gain the skill sets needed to help facilitate group work.
Casey, 2017: The program gave me the space and time I needed to disconnect (positively) from so many of the patterns and processes in my life, most of which exist and operate habitually, sub-and unconsciously, and most of which no longer even serve me. To be able to see those from a distance rather than be stuck living them was an invaluably informative perspective. Being able to witness others in that process is as much of a gift. Besides all the “facts” I learned about others, I learned more about how to treat people, how to be patient, how to listen and support, how to remember that we are all trying, and most of our bullshit is just the way we hide our fears and protect ourselves - in that, no one is alone. In this way, the program was also such a huge affirmation of my own passions and my own work - the deep belief I have that “healing” is a collective process that involves mutual vulnerability and trust. From this program I learned how to better participate in this process.
Marina, 2017: Through the process of hiking the trail I found more trust in myself. I found my voice and came to appreciate what I had to say and how I shared it. I learned a lot about working and living within a group - holding space for others and speaking my truth when the time called for it. I learned how to hold myself with love and care better. I learned how to bring ceremony into my healing process as a way of working with trauma and grief. I learned how to live in a small group and show up fully, not hiding behind my old stories but vulnerable to being seen by my fellow participants at all times. I learned how to lead a group in the wilderness and facilitate group circle sharing. I learned to give myself permission to make mistakes, and to take care of my needs. That was enough.
Since the completion of the trail I am living with much less fear; I am speaking more honestly and feel much more inner strength that is propelling me towards movement. I am taking a lot of accountability for my actions and my language. I am more accepting of where I’m at and am trying to bring in more acts of self-love. The program inspired me to work with groups like the one I participated in, hoping to hold space for work like this in my future. I want to help people experience the kind of groundedness and expansiveness that I felt over the summer. I would like to apply the work of ceremony and ritual into my communities to help others connect more deeply with soul and spirit. I feel I just scratched the surface…
Bree, Relational Leadership Intensive (2016): The trip was unforgettable and absolutely has altered me and my life in such a positive way. I feel strong, confident, healthy, happy, and touched in a soul way that will never change. The Montana mountains are some of the most breathtaking views I’ve ever seen, and I really believe I will return to them many more times throughout my life…
Sean, Relational Leadership Intensive (2016): The time spent out on the land in good company is best compared to that of a river, flowing free of dams, locks or obstructions with all the temperament that a course can provide. Much like a river the trail was at times patient and smooth, other times wild and turbulent though always moving, never stagnant.
The Sacred Door Trail afforded me the chance to explore myself, the stories to which I have grown with and relied on and my place in community amid the world we live. Challenging both physically and emotionally, the trail is a rare chance to spend ﬁve-weeks together in the wilderness sharing space with one another as we each dive into who we are, our history, our feelings and beliefs peeling off the layers, exposing oneself in order to look deeply at ourselves. We, a group of pilgrims relying on one another for safe travel and as fellow vulnerable human beings looking for a true expression of self.
Peery, Relational Leadership Intensive (2016): To say it was a good experience is being awfully humble, since it changed life. I learned to love myself and how to hold a loving, reflective space for others. I learned to trust myself and to always turn to nature for guidance. I am immensely proud to have Weston Pew and Shannon Ongaro on “my team” as mentors and as friends. They have pushed me physically, mentally, and emotionally in ways I did not think possible. This program helped me reveal my greatest capabilities by continually debunking the myths I have told myself for years.
Samuel, Relational Leadership Intensive (2016): Months before hearing about the opportunity I had realized I was unhappy with many parts of my life and had the desire to leave. Leave anywhere that would get me away from my problems, angers and my fears. And just when I had decided to leave, I was granted the opportunity to be a part of inner wild. I don’t know exactly how my summer would have turned out if I wouldn’t have decided to go on this journey but I know that this experience not only gave me the gift to express my problems, angers and fears but also deeply explore them. I honestly wish I was better with words so that I could fully express how grateful I am for the opportunity to be a part of such a powerful experience.
Elizabeth, Relational Leadership Intensive (2016): My time in the mountains was a life changing one and I’m sure I will carry the experience with me forever. Weston and Shannon are incredible teachers and within the community they built I learned more than I thought possible about the environment, wildness, people and even myself. They provided a creative, free and fun landscape in which we could all grow into wiser and more loving human beings.
Robyn Trivette, Relational Leadership Intensive (2016): Being removed from my environment: the shuffle, the clouded and clogged thoughts, the stagnation… in it’s simplest form: opened and welcomed new thoughts, new pathways, new possibilities. Combining this sense of relief and uncharted opportunity with the enlightening illumination that nature so easily provides, brought me to a whole new level of peace.
Emily Wheeler, Relational Leadership Intensive (2016): I often hear the word ‘expansive’ to describe the western landscape. I also think of the word ‘expansive’ to describe my time in Montana—expansive in so many ways and for so many facets of myself, my inner landscape. Weston and Shannon facilitated a truly dynamic and transformative journey for the eight of us participants who now feel like life-long friends!
Maggie Hansen, Relational Leadership Intensive (2015): When I remember the beauty of the trail and the overall experience of being one with nature I become calm, introspective, appreciative of what I have and feel a sense of inner peace. It was a life-changing experience for me in so many ways. I learned the importance of ceremony and how it has a long history in so many cultures. I became more aware of my mind, body and soul when backpacking and interacting with those I was living without in nature.
Acceptance of the here and now was an overarching theme for me. I learned to trust people I did not know before our gathering. Most importantly, I bathed in the utter beauty of nature and relaxed into accepting who I am…perfectly imperfect. I highly recommend this journey and look forward to participating in other programs Weston Pew organizes in the future.