Each year, Healing Hands School of Holistic Health’s Founders, Paula and Neha Curtiss host their annual Holistic Living Retreat for students, Alumni, family and friends. The Retreat, which is scheduled during Easter weekend, takes place in a remote, undeveloped canyon in the San Diego area. The Canyon is filled with majestic trees, an abundance of native herbs and plants plus a serene waterfall and running creek that winds its way across the canyon floor.
The Holistic Living Retreat is an accredited course in holistic, sustainable living which also offers a variety of fun and educational workshops. Highlights included: an interactive ‘greeting ceremony’ in which guests shared their names, Program of study, and intentions for the weekend. A group ‘song & dance’ led by Paula Curtiss, that required participants to maintain eye contact while singing; an activity that promotes trust. Paula also performed a Native American ceremony called; The Blessing to the Four Directions. The ceremony attributes various virtues to the four cardinal directions; East, South, West and North, acknowledging each in turn. These activities set the tone for a weekend filled with authentic, meaningful communication, introspection and self-healing.
Paula and Neha were the ‘Tribal Leaders’, informing the participants of camping guidelines and Canyon rules to keep everyone safe and healthy. Paula handled all pre-event preparations and Neha transported camping equipment and supplies to the site. Together, the couple managed the out-door kitchen, supervised event volunteers, and announced upcoming workshops and activities.
Night one of the Retreat, guests were invited to experience a Sweat Lodge and Ceremony. Sweat Lodges, considered a holistic healing therapy, have been used for hundreds of years to treat a wide array of physical diseases. It may also be used as a rite of passage ceremony, allowing one to connect with the ‘Great Spirit’ to gain clarity during difficult or transitional times.
Another unique aspect of the Holistic Living Retreat was the observance of silence on Easter morning. This not only contributed to a tranquil, meditative atmosphere, it allowed guests time for introspection, journaling, and other forms of creative self-expression. The only sounds heard were those of young children giggling as they participated in the Retreat’s annual Easter-egg hunt. The ‘non-conventional’ Egg-hunt tasked the children with retrieving colored eggs hidden along the creek-bed. Rather than rewarding them with candy, their incentive was to retrieve as many eggs as possible so they could feed the retreat community.
Easter morning had a celebratory ‘family gathering’ feel to it. The smell of fresh brewed coffee and pancakes swept across the campground, luring guests to the buffet line. The outdoor dining area consisted of several picnic tables encircling a small campfire beneath a canopy of tall Oak trees. Upon entering the clearing on Eastern morning, guests were pleasantly surprised by Paula Curtiss strumming on her guitar as she sang a variety of humorous children’s classics to a wagon-filled with the youngest members of the Retreat. Paula’s performance along with the children’s playful participation was heart-warming to witness, and a treat for all in attendance.
Workshops offered at the Retreat included: Creative Writing with Owen Wilson, Yoga with Mary White, Trigger-point with David Warder, Vision-Boarding with Andrea Pinsonneault, Ask a Therapist with Amy Crowder, Breathwork with Jay Tiznado and Chente Ruiz, Fire Pudja with Faun Parliman and Herbal Plant Walk with Dennis Sharmahd.
Throughout the weekend, Paula and Neha inspired compassionate sharing and loving interactions among the retreat community. Through their caring words and deeds the couple paved the way for guests to experience an emotional and spiritual experience they won’t soon forget.
To learn more about Healing Hand’s annual Holistic Living Retreat, or any of the other 80+ classes offered, visit us online at www.HealingHandsSchool.com or call us at (949) 305-2722 in Laguna Hills, (760) 746-9364 in Escondido, or (858) 505-1100 in San Diego (Kearny Mesa).