We started out in a living room.
A group of friends sorting through the transitions and dilemmas arising in our lives.
We’d begin with a few moments of mindfulness to help us attend to each other and find our own thoughts. And then, we’d read a little text or poem that offered a window into the changes we were facing. A little time to reflect silently on what we had read followed.
Some of us wrote, others sketched, a few just looked out the window.
And then, we’d share.
Not the sort of sharing you might enjoy over a cup of tea.
This was different.
It was structured, like this:
Partner up. One person spoke. Say what they needed to say. The other, listened.
When the first person was finished, the other might offer a simple question.
No advice, no suggestions, not even a “ya, me too.”
Just an honest, open question that might open up some deeper thinking.
And you know what?
It was kind of magic.
We didn’t just find a fresh perspective on our own questions and quandaries.
We learned to listen, deeply, to each another
That’s what was different.
We came back to the group feeling heard, witnessed, and clearer in our own hearts.
Heartened to keep going.
We closed with comments about what the evening meant to us, rounded off the evening with a poem.
That was five years ago.
When the pandemic hit, we went online.
The structure held and helped us live through the uncertainty and confusion.
Soon, we were drawing others in, online and outdoors. And The Inside Outside Retreat Centre emerged.
Twenty-five retreats and 235 participants later, we’re still at it. Online, in-person, inside, outside. Still following the simple, gentle structure we started with.
We’re grateful you’ve joined us in this story.
Winifred & Leslie
We are settlers on Treaty 13 Land, the traditional territories of many Indigenous Nations including the Mississaugas of the Credit, the Anishnabeg, the Chippewa, the Haudenosaunee and the Wendat peoples, and home to many diverse First Nations, Inuit, and Métis Peoples from across Turtle Island. We are committed to honouring the history this land bears witness to, responding to the 94 Calls to Action of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada, and walking lightly on the Earth. A portion of proceeds from all our offerings are sent to: The National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation and The Nii’kinaaganaa Foundation.
The Inside Outside Retreat Centre, Centre for Social Innovation (CSI), 720 Bathurst St., Toronto, ON, M5S2R4