I initially came to Alain as a volunteer and after the summer retreats ended I left feeling connected to part of something bigger and having a soul family.
My journey to find Alain is probably different to any normal volunteer experience, and to work with Alain indeed was not any normal volunteer experience!
When I found the opportunity to come and work for Alain I was, to be honest, at a loss. I’d been experiencing depression for a number of years which now looking back I would probably call more of an intense, soul sadness. I felt disconnected from the society in which I’d grown up in, feeling unable to reach the expectations of family, exhausted by the ideals and limiting beliefs I had learnt through childhood and built up around myself over the years. However, I had persisted, trying to fit in and play along with the game of life none the less.
I tried many things to overcome the depression. Self-medicating through drinking every night from the age of fourteen to dull the intense sadness and loneliness I felt inside. I took many different types of drugs with friends on nights out, but mostly alone on nights looking to feel for a moment, a sensation of ecstasy and happiness before drifting off to sleep.
I also tried many traditional western medicines; anti-depressants, anti-anxiety medication, herbal medicines, counselling, cognitive behavioural therapy, mindfulness and read a great number of personal development and positive thinking books, as well as training as an NLP practitioner to try to ‘retrain my brain’.
After many years of trying to keep up the façade it slowly started to chip away at my self-esteem, causing me to repress my own needs and wants, until ultimately, I felt like I didn’t know who I was anymore. During this time of course, I wasn’t having the best relationships and over the years I had pushed away many partners, close friends and family for fear of letting them know the truth of how I really felt inside – which like a catch 22 only added to my feelings of loneliness and depression. I tried to share these thoughts and feelings with family and friends over time, which for brief moments felt like a relief as I would feel less alone, and then they would try to help me take my mind of things by doing something fun together, which would work well for a while as a distraction, but deep down the feeling of disconnect was always still there.
In the last year especially, my mind and body started to shut down as I lost a lot of weight, my appearance changed and I started to become extremely anxious and over-controlling in everything around me; from home life to work, desperate to hold on to anything as I felt so empty inside. Deep down I knew things had to change, so I started by quitting my job and life in London to go on a journey to I wasn’t sure where as yet.
It was the personal development path which then led me to try more alternative methods such as yoga, meditation, hypnosis, reiki, crystal and energy healing, shamanic journeying and transformational breath. I finally asked for the support of my family but which for many reasons, didn’t work out either.
When I searched online I felt like I had exhausted all other options for help. I knew I craved nature, connectedness and more than anything I felt I needed to serve, my soul knew where to look and I found Alain.
As soon as we met in person I knew quickly that I was in the right place. Using his pendulum he immediately started channelling messages from spirit which I understood as clear as day. Alain has a strong connection to his intuition and an amazing ability to channel messages of spirit and you know whether it is that which is talking to you. Coming to join him on his retreat felt like, in a sense, coming home.
Although, soon after arriving I felt like a fraud, the exhaustion of living half of my life in sadness weighing heavily on me, I couldn’t pretend that I was there just as a volunteer to help him but that just like all the other participants, I needed healing too. Luckily, he recognised that and welcomed me with open arms.
Over the weeks at the retreat as I gathered tomatoes with Adam the other volunteer, helping to co-ordinate meals for the groups and assisting Alain through some of the exercises, I felt a sense of calm and warmth building in my heart that I hadn’t felt in years. I felt privileged to watch as participants came and went, looking lighter and brighter and more connected bonding with others who also felt the need for healing in their lives. Each day we followed Alain’s intuition-based retreat program and all together we enjoyed the calmness and silence of the valley and took pleasure in forgetting about the outside world.
Through a variation of different heart-warming and grounding physical exercises such as; meditation, tao walking, midnight walks, healing yoga and sun salutations, as well as many thought-provoking discussions and insights. Alain will teach you to reconnect from your head to your heart, encouraging you to surrender your fears to the universe and trust that everything will unfold as it is supposed to.
I also felt privileged that he encouraged me to share activities with the participants that I was already practicing in my personal life such as; meditation, yoga and mindful dance movement. This helped increase my confidence and encouraged me to now pursue these activities further in my life going forward. It’s also now through the simple act of finding out and following the activities which I enjoy – without fear of judgement from what society or my family thinks, but mostly of course, from my old self, that I have now started to find more like-minded souls and feel more purposeful and connected to my life here.
Over the weeks with Alain and the participants of the retreat I started to feel more and more whole through the opportunity to serve as well as heal. Initially, I was anxious in returning back to life from the valley, but deep down I knew life had to go on but I felt calm in the knowledge that I had a new family Alain, his wife Massiel and daughter Chantal, a new sister, and ultimately a place to return to in order to feel safe and whole again.
Thank you, Alain, for all you shared with me and for trusting me to share and work closely with you.
Claire, retreat volunteer, healer in-training and contemplative traveller