Our Holistic Hero on Breaking Down the Barriers

At the end of last year I went to Wales for the Path of Love (pathretreats.com), a powerful week-long spiritual and emotional journey. It’s an extraordinary process and one I recommend with every beat of my heart. One of the key techniques is The Burn – an intense active form of meditation that helps you break through the barriers you put up around you, and helps you remember how to be your true self. The idea comes from the Sufi tradition that speaks of burning through the illusion of separation.

Not many retreats have their own DJ but the Path of Love certainly does. He plays music, not for mere enjoyment, but to trigger an emotional response. This isn’t about dancing nice or pretty or sexy; it’s not even about dancing – it’s all about allowing the music to break through your defences, to bring you into your body, to wake it up, to give it the chance to release old pains, hurts and repression. “There are no right or wrong ways to do this,” Rafia, one of the course leaders, reassured us. “Just follow the longing of your heart. Let your body do whatever it wants to do.”

For the first session, all my body wanted to do was to sit sobbing, reliving all the pain, grief and rejection I’d experienced throughout my life. I knew I still had oceans of sorrow to express but I hadn’t realised just how much I’d shut down my heart, terrified of being hurt again.

I spent the next Burn mainly screaming and yelling, plucking away at the old traumas, connecting with the toxic legacy dealt out by previous generations of my family.

“I pounded and punched a thick pad held by one of the staff, and hurled myself hard at him”

Then the anger came. I never thought I had anger in me but, powered by the loud, relentless, driving music, my fury was unleashed. I pounded and punched a thick pad held by one of the staff and, when that wasn’t enough, I hurled myself at him, so hard that he needed backup to stand firm. He didn’t retaliate in any way – just stood there as I fought and fought until finally I collapsed in utter exhaustion and dissolved into floods of tears.

A pair of arms came around me and he sat there for what felt like hours, just holding me – strong, protective, gentle, with absolutely no judgement. Pure unconditional love. It undid me, cracking my heart wide open.

From then on, the Burns became a chance to dance wildly, to move sensually, or to sit quietly, just being myself. They showed me that I can be a strong, wild, powerful woman but, equally, I can be soft, gentle, vulnerable, open. They also connected me back to spirit, to a deep yearning for connection to the divine. Total bliss.

You can get a flavour of it at home. Simply make a playlist of music that triggers emotion in you and then let your body go where it wants. We all know the tracks that undo us – just play them and let the emotions come up. Burn, baby, burn!

Please note: if you know you have deep issues or any psychiatric condition, don’t try a Burn unsupervised.


Jane is the author of Wellbeing & Mindfulness, The Energy Secret, The Weekend Healer and many other wellbeing titles. See her Amazon author page. 

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