Thoughts on a Train: Returning from an 8-Day Radical Honesty Retreat

I’m sitting on the ICE train in Germany that’s taking me from my recent stopover in Berlin to my home in Austria. I’ve decided to get out of the train a few stops earlier and spontaneously visit my family at my sister’s new home in the Bavarian forest. It’s been ages since I’ve seen them (before corona) and I imagine how my nieces have probably grown miles in this time of being locked out from each other and locked in together. I can see towns, houses, and fields speeding by outside the window and the passengers with their mandatory facemasks sitting (im)patiently around me. I feel fullness in my belly from the oriental wrap I picked up and scarfed down a few minutes ago at the Berlin Hauptbahnhof. There’s a thin layer of sweat on my forehead, leftover food in my teeth, and the coolness of the train’s air conditioning on my shoulders.

I just spent eight days at the advanced 8-day intensive Radical Honesty retreat hosted by Honesty Europe. I’m imagining that I’m screwing up this article by starting too many sentences with ‘I’, that you probably won’t be interested in reading any further. I’m enjoying feeling my fingers moving on the keyboard and seeing words and paragraphs form across the screen of my chromebook. There are holy-looking steeples rising from unknown villages in the distance.

Reflections on the Retreat

This week I lived together in a villa on the island of Fehmarn with 16 other souls; some strangers, some acquaintances, some close friends and mentors of mine. We came together to tell the truth, feel our bodies, speak ourselves out loud, dare to ask for what we want, to cry, to laugh, to scream, to dance together. We cuddled, cooked, coached and were coached, and put on performances for each other. We took off our masks and allowed ourselves to be in the rich, warm, presence and company of the other. We shook our booties, bared our souls, hid, slept, swam in the sea, sat in the sun, meditated. We went inwards and outside of ourselves and upside down. We abstained from sugar and caffeine and other drugs. We got high on each other and the thrilling rush of being seen. We fell in love with ourselves and each other. We shared our judgements, desires, fears and stories. We lived out loud. We shared our shit and got over it. We composted that shit into flowers! And we’re still composting, fertilizing our garden with tears and sweat, adrenaline and clenched fists and soul-wrenching bellows from the depth of our bellies and from the top of our head.

We spoke loudly, we shouted angrily; we resented each other quietly and meekly when that was all we could do. We let our voices crack as we fought back tears and finally let go of control. We sang and danced as we prepped veggies for dinner and did the washing from the day’s Mittagessen. We chanted ‘Amaram Hum, Madhuram Hum’ at my suggestion. Mostly, we sat in a circle and stared at each other and experienced what happened next.

I made myself bored and nervous and excited and aroused and happy and sad. I made myself jealous and shy and small and then big again. I hugged new and old friends tightly hello and then goodbye. I came, I saw, I showed, I witnessed, I participated, I head back, I conquered, I connected, I contributed; and now I retreat back to ‘normal’ life; business as usual.

Everytime I do this I wonder if life will ever be the same again. If I will ever be the same again. Certainly not, I imagine. It must be impossible to ever be who you once were again.

I see the sky out the window. It appears blue. I imagine that it’s always there and never the same. And always the same. Just like me. Just like you. I imagine I am being cheesy now. I want this article to be good and I am not taking it too seriously. I imagine I am going into poetic storytelling now, which is not really the purpose of this blog post. It’s been about an hour and a half since I started writing and I imagine that my inspiration is leaving me.

These are the thoughts I wanted to share with you today, plus some extra and minus some that got conveniently left out. I want you to ask me about the retreat when you see me again. If you have questions about it I want you to contact me and share them with me. Will you do that? And I would love for you to try out a Radical Honesty workshop or retreat in the near future. Let me know if you do!

Hugs from somewhere in Germany,

Chelsea


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