Sometimes it takes a long time to process an idea. Other times, in a few moments the decision takes hold and nothing can change that. For me, I read about the A.R.E. Wellness and Rejuvenation Intensive week held last spring and I called immediately to book my appointment. Normally I would have weighed all sorts of options before I invested in a program such as this, but this time there was no hesitation. This holistic weeklong event proved to be more than I had hoped for and I am already planning for my next year's options.
On the opening day 11 of us like-minded seekers gathered in a delightful sun-filled room waiting expectantly for the start of this spa retreat. The group was a mixture of different ages with 10 women and one man participating. It included Angela Birk and Brigitte Bonnet, both from California; Cynthia (Cindy) Deems from Maryland; Emily Grossman from Connecticut; Alice McClaughry from Florida; Rebecca Lineham from Delaware; Rosemary and Wayne Proffitt from Virginia; Kathleen Somano from Texas; Sally Baker from Illinois; and me from Rhode Island.
|The “Wellness and Rejuvenation Retreat” group
Some of us had a deep understanding of the Cayce work. Others had some metaphysical background with a light understanding of Edgar Cayce and his readings. And one of us turned out to be the "new-bee." You would think that this varied grouping would create an off-balance of ideas and currents, but as the universe says "yes" to an idea, it also said "yes" to the blending of this group. Cindy, who is a massage therapist, said of the program, "This is the ultimate mind, body, spirit experience." Wayne, the only male attendee, admitted, "I am new to this whole thing and I had no idea what would unfold. I do not like to be in situations where I am expected to share. I had some health issues and as it turns out the timing was perfect." During the first few days, Wayne rejoiced with a new understanding and was glad his wife, Rosemary, suggested they both attend. Actually they decided to give each other this gift of health in order to celebrate their 25th wedding anniversary.
Each day we celebrated our special energies with the expert resource personnel leading the intensive. With their help, along with experiencing the different scheduled modalities, we were able to create a blueprint for each of us to follow during the week and then after. It was the "after" that worried me, because it is back on home ground that I lose my incentive.
Some participants felt they needed a boost before they even started. Kathleen received that nudge from her brother, Michael Reidy, a long-time member of A.R.E. and a resident of Virginia Beach. He heard her sobs one day while talking with her on the phone. She says she always has a smile on her face but cries on the inside. "I am a master at pulling it off and showing I am happy, but I am not," admits Kathleen. Michael quickly came to her rescue and she became a part of the group. With the help of Mary Elizabeth Lynch, one of our A.R.E, program leaders, Kathleen saw that little spark within and began to feel better and better.
"Mary Elizabeth and I talked privately and then being a part of the joint energy sessions, I saw there was a light at the end of the tunnel," said Kathleen. Mary Elizabeth inspires confidence and offers a new way of looking at one's self and one's issues. I, too, appreciated my exchanges with Mary Elizabeth.
The group dynamic energy sessions were intense, but proved to hold beneficial lessons to all. Different ways of delving deeply within included varied ways of meditation, addressing individual challenges, freeing creative energies; group movement and exercises designed to release unhealthy thought patterns. This sounds like a lot going on in one week, but everything resounded in perfect harmony.
Daily physical exercises were led outside early in the morning by A.R.E. group exercise leader Peter van Daam. He describes these gentle and accessible energizing routines as "metaphysical" exercises. Everyone gained a general "feel-good" experience by completing them. Brigitte, who is a chiropractor, said she noticed a definite difference exercising with Peter every morning. Alice started with Peter at another workshop the previous year and has kept them up every day since. She feels that originally starting out with two repetitions kept her on track and agrees that doing it that way for beginners is important.
Because of Alice's experience as a life member of ARE she has been on track learning much about exercise, food combinations, and planning. "When my body is healthy with diet and exercise, I find I do not suffer any emotional problems," says Alice. According to the readings of Edgar Cayce, "Through diet and exercise the greater portion of all disturbances may be equalized and overcome, if the right mental attitude is kept." Edgar Cayce ready 288-38
Emily has studied the Edgar Cayce program since 1974 in several study groups, one of them for 12 years. "During that time many of us became close intimate friends," she said. Also during that time, she discovered how important it is to support oneself nutritionally and spiritually. "I am very happy about the food plan. Generally people do not eat this way," says Emily. One evening we were all invited to dinner with Charles Thomas Cayce and his wife Leslie. It was strawberry season - I never tasted berries as good as his. Organic food is the way to go. The evening was bracketed around an exceptional dinner and conversation. Charles Thomas filled us with good information and entertained us with good stories. "It was just nice to sit and listen to him talk. He is a great man," said Wayne. Cindy added, "I like what Charles Thomas said about take what you think is important. There is a lot of information here and it will take time to process."
Tom Dewey prepared wonderful breakfasts, lunches and dinners based on the Cayce methods. Having grown up with it since he was a youngster, Tom is an expert on food groupings and the entire Cayce program. Some of the food groupings eluded me but my intention is to capture as much as I can and incorporate these ideas in my food plan. I also never realized how much I drink with my meals. Usually it is water, coffee or tea, but with the Cayce program it was suggested we wait until we finished our meals. This helps with digestion. I also like the idea of drinking a warm glass of water with lemon juice first thing in the morning and a small glass of diluted grape juice 20 minutes before each meal to help with weight loss.
Rebecca has known about Edgar Cayce since she was a teenager but always felt too busy to implement his ideas. "I always thought they were a bit too unrealistic to use in my everyday comings and goings," she said. "Then I came to the point when I knew I had to make a change for my health and my well-being. I took a serious look at the programs and when I saw the Wellness intensive, I knew this was the one for me." Her intention is to get more physical and she now understands that having an alkaline body is key to good health.
Angela, too, has been working with the Cayce methods for over 20 years. "But I know now how better to apply them in my life," she says. To participate in all the modalities helped her to fill in the missing pieces. "But I love the massages," says Angela, enthusiastically. "If heaven is a massage, then there I will go."
Along with massages and steam baths we all were introduced to different principles and techniques from the Edgar Cayce readings. We all gathered in the former Cayce Hospital building and stretched out on our own beds waiting with anticipation. The first treatment was a Potato Peel Poultice and we watched the spa retreat coordinator peel the potato, mold the skins in mounds and then place them on our closed eyes. It was wonderful and cooling and I have included this in my schedule to do at home. This therapy is intended for cataracts, poor eyesight and eyelid infections.
The next treatment was inhaling the fumes from a charred oak keg, which is recommended in the readings as a purifier and a stimulator for the circulation. "I spent a fortune in the bookstore," said Angela, "but I have to go back and get my keg," I understand that Rosemary bought a keg as well.
I was just going to say that my favorite treatment was the castor oil pack, but actually they are all my favorites. Everything was done in a caring way and we were equipped with good information and the necessary supplies to help us move on our way. So what is the castor oil pack? It is an external application of castor oil to the body to improve assimilations, eliminations and circulation. Reading 1523-15 compares it to lubricating oil used on a hinge to make it move properly.
Another treatment was the Glycothymoline pack for sinus infections. By applying this wonderful product directly on the closed eyelids and sinus areas of the face stuffiness is alleviated. For kidney and bladder infections one of the simple treatments was the turpentine pack. This calls for 1 teaspoon of spirits of turpentine in four cups of hot water Wring out a small hand towel of sufficient size to cover the kidney or bladder area and place it directly on the skin.
Rosemary and I were out walking one day and she said that she felt that everything we did made sense to her. It was well planned and she added, "It put me in a place of quiet understanding. Now I know my body has the wisdom to do what is beneficial for me. My vision is of three strings within me. Each one has a different wiggly shape and as I move more into my being, these strings are humming in sync."
On the last day we set up an individual plan for ourselves. The first thing Rosemary was planning to do was to move her furniture around. "Instead of feeling attached to a particular routine, I want to have the freedom to go with the flow," she said. "Moving the furniture will remind me that things are different now."
Kathleen said, "This entire experience made me come alive. Not just one thing, but the entire spa retreat. When I get home I plan to take more time for myself. I will continue with the organic foods, I will do the castor oil packs and, I will be back here next year."
Brigitte wants to make sure she incorporates the exercise program each and every morning. She also felt she would like to send her children here to a camp or an overnight some time.
As far as I am concerned, there is one thing that I would like to remember to include in my days for the rest of my life. That is meditation. The readings says, "Meditation means the entering within self to seek for the Creative Forces; or to seek that God may make for the using of the body - mentally, physically, spiritually - as a greater manifestation of His love in and among men." 1020-1. I have meditated in my days before, but to meditate with this understanding reflects a far different comprehension for me. And from meditation comes the opportunity to use all the tools we were given and to clearly ingest everything into our lives.
Alice gave me another wonderful suggestion, which I plan on incorporating in my life. She suggested listing all our ideals on a spreadsheet - meditation, exercise, castor oil pack, Glycothymoline pack, etc. And then include the days of the week on the top of the spreadsheet. Every day I will have the list in front of me and I check off what I plan to do on a particular day instead of getting overwhelmed and confused. This reminder will be like looking into a treasure chest. All I have to do is sneak a peek each morning and my days will open up like sparkling jewels.
Charlann Walker is an ordained Interfaith minister, spiritual counselor, author, producer of and member of an award-winning documentary, Survivors of the Streets, that focuses on success stories of formerly homeless persons.
This article originally appeared in the May /June 2008 issue of Venture Inward magazine.