During my 2018 Spring Equinox retreat in Glastonbury, in the United Kingdom, I had a very bad experience. It went under the auspices of “bodywork,” a vague treatment on the detox regime. All I knew about this was that I had to wear a ‘strappy vest’ without a bra (I had received that very specific instruction three times, before and during the week). I had to be silent during the “bodywork” session and not know what was coming next, in a dirty room, in an old house, with a tired and distant weird old man. It was a grim experience. When his hands were moving around and over my breasts, and when his hands were around my throat, I could feel my soul say ‘no!’ And when he tied up my hair in silence, with a grubby rubber band, I could feel my horrified soul spread it’s wings and take flight out of that room that hadn’t been hoovered for a many number of moons. I have never tied my hair up in a rubber band! Why would I do that to myself? I buy soft, silky hairbands and nobody ties it up but me!!!! THAT’S THE RULES. It made my saliva curdle and my bellybutton hairs stand on end. When I was squished into the floor, feeling exposed and vulnerable, I spied a pile of spider bones and long-dead daddy long leg carcasses that made my eyelashes curl inwards. I called ‘time’ on the experience when a sudden move threatened to expose my entire right side. I just could not fathom what on earth all of this was doing to me – where were the therapuetic benefits in feeling powerless and scared? The hands around my throat, the hair tying and being made to wear a grubby strappy vest that a number of people had worn in the past six months by the thickness of the dust embedded in it, was not ok by me.
“Because I feel disgrace because you’re all in my face.”
I respected me too much to carry on with whatever was coming next. It wasn’t sexual – it was the complete lack of any space for my true, loved and respected self to be in that room that made the expereince an assault. I was nothing in that room, I was the dirt that was ground into the carpet each day. The other disturbing things he did was to oil me up from a very grubby bottle. And he was wearing grubby tracksuit bottoms – obviously those were his “bodywork pants.” I could see from those tracksuit bottoms that he’d done a lot of bodywork in his time. Using the washing machine is a burden on environment but clean clothes make a good impression, right? I felt like I was submerged into somebody else’s fantasy, I was being forced to play along with his weirdness, his sickness. Up, chuck! And, his breath stank of something pungent. It was an odious experience. His hands were not clean either. When he was running his lubricated fingertips through my hair (again, what is the therapeutic benefit of having your hair played with?) his large gut was bumping up against me. I am not a person who strives for ethereal perfect cleanliness by any means or perfection in any other form. I respect authenticity and truth. And I love dirt (because I have spent most of my life in it and acknowledge that dirt is good for our immune system and gut health). Yet, ugggh! What a rank experience. It put a real wave of shame on the week’s retreat. The next day his wife came to me to say that her husband, the predator, was feeling ‘vulnerable’ and that they often had complaints from women about the ‘bodywork’ sessions. I said that his hands on my chest had triggered an emotional response because of the tattoo I have across it and it’s symbolic meaning, I lied about that. The other part of this experience that was distrubring was that he was trying to shift an emotion/energy rom my throat without my consent -that’s not ok. My protest was spiritual, and he knew that. I know my metaphysical limits and hate to see them pushed by alternative practicioners. I get sick if too much old pain is released; I know me.
I know that I can measure this experience against two shiatsu massages I had (by women) in the same room. The chemistry and air had changed. The women worked with me, and I was fully present with them and fully on board with the experience. Respect and mutuality, equality, and empowerment were very much at the forefront of the shiatsu massages. The connection was entirely different. I was moved by those experiences. And I am very grateful for that.
I went to Glastonbury. The mecca of weird. I went searching for the esoterical. And I found a sad and sugary old detox regime that left me feeling like I did when I had gastroentiritis in my second year of University.
There were magical moments within the vortex of colonics, vegetable juice, and bentonite clay apple juice drinks. I was having a cup of green tea one morning and a deer came by the window, we shared a few long moments together, minding our own businesses, wondering into each other’s gaze, thoughts, and telekentically sharing our to-do-lists-for-the-day, ‘oh, I have loose plans for an afternoon nap too’. Hello my power animal? Or was that a message on my machine to tune into my graceful power? At that point I didn’t know how much I would need it.
The other thing that I noticed was that the week’s retreat was based entirely on Dr Jensen’s Guide to Better Bowel Care. The nutritionist I went to see, years ago, also based their guidance/advice on this book. It’s a £tenner on kindle! I might buy it, call myself Bernard and set up my own shanty nutrition business.