The Magic of Virtual Retreats
© Elia Pellegrini
On a dreary Saturday morning in September, after yet another night of restless sleep, I found myself tapping a series of spots on my body – my forehead, temple, chin, collarbone – as a calmness washed over me and my mind became quiet and still. Led by the soothing voice of Sharada Rumi, a diminutive Thai woman whose soft, kind eyes shone through my laptop screen, I tapped in rhythm with around 15 other people from around the world on a Zoom call – my first time experiencing this EFT therapy during a virtual retreat.
For those of us in North America, the day was just beginning; attendees in Asia and Australia, where Sharada broadcast from, were winding down their evening. But despite the distance and the digital nature of the event, we all felt connected by the time the three-hour online healing retreat was over. I left with new tools to help me feel centered and grounded in a world which has lately felt anything but.
Why Virtual Retreats
When the novel Coronavirus turned everything upside down earlier this year, Healing Hotels of the World co-founder Anne Biging saw a need for people to learn about healing modalities that they could use at home to help them navigate a world that suddenly didn’t make sense. With people unable to travel to Healing Hotels, Biging decided to bring the healers to the people. Using her decades of knowledge and experience, she reached out to some of the most well-regarded healing practitioners in the world, and designed a series of virtual retreats, the first of which was held this spring. The virtual retreats have proven so popular – about 80% of attendees come back for a second one – that they’ve been expanded to accommodate various international time zones, and plans are to keep them going for the foreseeable future.
“Even before the novel coronavirus crisis, loneliness, stress, anxiety, depression, obesity and other chronic maladies were on the rise – but now the entire planet has awakened to a new global awareness,” says Biging. “It has become clear that humanity will need to cooperate with the Coronavirus. So instead of thinking about post-Corona efforts, we should instead focus on establishing a ‘co-Corona’ culture. We want to support people in their search or need for hope, and help them to receive healing in a time when they cannot or do not want to travel.”
Creating Peace of Mind and a Sense of Connection
Even though they’re held online, the virtual retreats are intimate experiences where attendees have a chance to connect with others as well as with themself. Healers have included a vibrational therapist, energy alchemist, life coach, yogi, meditation teacher, movement therapist and more. And while the sessions include interactive healing sessions, attendees also take away new tools to help them better cope with the unsettled world around them. Biging says the retreats have attracted a mix of people of different ages and nationalities, all of whom have a sense that the old way of navigating life is not working anymore. “These are people who have understood, in a way, that life is not a window, but a mirror,” she says. “People who have a notion that change – which is always happening, as it is the law of the universe – needs to be understood first from the inside.”
Biging says she hopes attendees will come away from the events with peace of mind, a deep connection with their inner self, and a feeling of inner strength and balance – all qualities which are especially important when the outer world feels as if it’s in chaos. Fedra Mainetti, who attended the first retreat from May 30/31, called the event “magic.”
“I shared two days with people full of positive energy,” Fedra explains. “The meditations on intentions and the work done on how to defeat fears and transform them into the energy of hope is still so present in my heart and mind.” Attendee Sushmita Sarangi not only enjoyed the new techniques learned, but also the connections with other attendees. “It was so calming and peaceful to be amidst like-hearted folks, all coming together with one purpose,” says Sushmita. “I really felt like I was in an intimate gathering with close friends.”
The Future of Virtual
And while we’re all hoping to connect with people in real life once again, and to travel freely like we used to, Biging says she’s been pleasantly surprised at how well the healing sessions have translated to the digital world. “Healing happens in a form of energy that knows no space or time,” she explains. “Quantum and energy healing don’t need the element of human touch.” Self-healing techniques and a strong focus on communication and interconnection also help to make for a successful event. Biging says she expects the virtual retreats to continue for some time.
“Travel behavior will change massively,” she says. “People won’t travel as much as they used to, and if they do, they will do it very consciously and mindfully. So if you are in need of healing and self-love, we can provide the space to care for yourself without the need to travel.”