Personal Reflections on the
First Canadian HSP Gathering Retreat
The Haven Resort & Institute, Gabriola Island, British Columbia
September 23-27, 2006
by Kinga Kiss, Toronto, Ontario, Canada
The Island & Accommodations:
Gabriola Island is a little gem of an island, off the coast of Vancouver, and part of the Gulf Islands. It is difficult to get to. One has to take 2 ferries from Vancouver, or a 20 minute float plane ride. Once you get to The Haven on the island, one is greeted with a breathtaking oceanfront setting with a few islands off in the distance.
The Haven is a resort, seminar and conference center, and consists of a series of cabins, which one can rent by the day, week, or month. My little cabin faced an old growth forest, where I heard birds twittering to each other in the trees. The green-forest smell was incredible! I could feel the oxygen-rich air rejuvenating my lungs.
There was a small meditation garden with the Tibetan prayer flags draped over a line. The area also had a hot tub, an indoor & outdoor pool, a small library, and even Internet access. There were more amenities, but suffice it to say, even though you are in the middle of a small island, you are not cut off from society.
The meals were taken at fixed times, buffet style, and the food was excellent. You could sit with others, or alone, however the mood stuck you. This type of choice fit well with the theme at all the HSP Gatherings which is "Focus on Needs, Not Approval." At sunset, The Haven had a daily sunset ceremony ritual where they play “Amazing Grace” as you watch the sun go down.
Apparently, Mike Larson, one of the HSP participants put together a surprise video which he shared during the closing remarks. Unfortunately, I missed this part of the Gathering because of my travel arrangements
I heard it was another beautiful HSP moment and there was not a dry eye in the group. Mike's video not only captured the beautiful music used in The Haven's sunset ritual, but also had actual photographs of the sunset and other oceanfront scenes in the surrounding area. Additionally, he included inspirational quotes from HSPs collected over the years by Jacquelyn some of which were taken from her booklet, An HSP Collection of Thoughts, Feelings, Insight & Wisdom.
Now Mike and Jacquelyn are editing the video and creating a DVD which will be entitled "A HSP Sunset Ceremony." This DVD will be available in early January with suggestions on how we can use it in our own communities to hopefully connect with other HSPs maybe even creating "HSP Sunset Ceremonies" of our own.
I met the others & Jacquelyn, and felt a kinship with her. She has a warm, kind personality that makes one feel safe and accepted. I think many of the attendees felt as I did. As I came to know some of the others, there were surprising moments (to me), when I felt the other person knew just what I was talking about. The intuitive flashes between some of us were amazing.
Elaine Aron didn’t attend this retreat as she has been to BC many times before, and actually shared with us that she is not too fond of traveling because of the overstimulation it creates for her. We were told there would be a telephone conference, and we could ask whatever we liked about the HSP trait, and her experiences. The most memorable part of her conversation for me was when she compared HSPs to Non-HSPs in a vivid example of apple-picking.
"When non-HSP’s decide to go apple picking, they go out and pick apples. Now, when HSP’s pick apples, they first decide which apple orchard, & plan it out before hand, then they get there, & look at the apple orchard, & see that some trees have more apples, go to them, take a bite out of a few, notice that some with certain ripeness or feel, have more sweetness to them, look & see that the best apples appear to be on top of the tree, so they decide to shake the tree, but then they think, we must get something to catch the apples so as not to bruise them, decide how much to take, how many to eat…etc, etc."
We all laughed in recognition.
HSP Kinds of Moments:
I could give many examples, but here are a few:
- When we first arrived at the conference room, we all decided to move things around, turn down this light or that one, arrange our chairs in a better fashion… (much like the apple-picking above.
- There was a time when someone was overwhelmed with emotion over personal losses, and Jacquelyn asked us all to be silent, & send our good energy her way in a form of silent prayer. We all did.
- Some of us went sea-kayaking around the island, & paddled to a small outcrop of rocks where many seals were sunning themselves. At first we came too close…and they were frightened off. But then we circled the rocks and without anyone saying so, we stopped and were silent. All we could hear was the snorting breath of the seals as we looked at them, and they at us. It was an almost sacred moment.
So overall, it was a very enriching and memorable experience, one I would certainly recommend to any HSP. Although I missed the closing part of the Gathering due to my travel arrangements, this is a part of what I shared with the group via a letter Jacquelyn read:
"I would like for you to know that I was moved and touched by each
and every one of you during my stay here. There have been many soul
touching moments that I suspect will have a profound effect n me. I
wish I could express all that I've experienced here….but that will take time
for me to process. Until then, I'm content with having seen glimpses
of kindred spirits, and the vision of you was priceless.
In love and light,
Personal Reflections by Anitra Winje, Victoria, British Columbia, Canada
It was in this environment of kindred spirits that I learned new ways to cope. It was at the HSP Gathering that I felt unconditional
acceptance for the first time in my 33 years of life. I discovered that my "HSP-ness" is not only what's normal for me, but what is normal for a lot of other people as well.
It was in this environment of kindred spirits that I learned new ways to cope with the stresses and stimuli of everyday life. But perhaps
more importantly, I came to respect my sensitivity. We participants (who quickly became friends) were taught new ways to express ourselves, through EFT (emotional freedom technique), found poetry, touch drawing, and guided imagery. The serene setting, the informal atmosphere, and the masterful facilitation all contributed to make this gathering a profound experience.
I believe the support I received, the knowledge I gained, and the
confidence I grew during those five days allowed me to discover my Calling shortly after leaving The Haven. Attending this gathering was a gift I gave to myself.
I thank the other HSPs, Jacqelyn, and Dr. Elaine Aron, for giving me
the gifts of their wisdom, kindness and acceptance.
Reflections by Other Participants
What would you tell another person considering attending a HSP Gathering?
Don't put off attending. Jacquelyn's leadership was superb. It will be a life enhancing and enrichment of skills.
Trust yourself to go... you will not regret the experience.
Trust the process.
Be flexible re: scheduling.
These are our people.
What you liked:
I liked the interview by Jacquelyn of Elaine Aron. I enjoyed hearing about Elaine's newest book and her recent research.
I had deeper conversations and felt more bonded to people than in any other setting. I loved your openness and sharing. EFT was priceless. The learning and connecting fed my soul. I loved all of it. - Jeanne Valance
I'm fulfilled. I learned more about myself than I could ever teach myself. I will never forget hearing bag pipes and inspirational music while standing on the ocean shore watching the sunset.
I want you to know I really did enjoy the gathering. The people were great. I was in AA for ten years and never felt that feeling of belonging but I did feel that there at that gathering. - Dot Portera