We had a conversation with Kristen Oliver about her recent work and retreat, Take the Leap. “Take the Leap – A Women’s Retreat of Self-Discovery and Transformation is all about becoming the woman you were created to be. This program helps us identify what in our life is keeping us from our authentic selves, and gives us tools to overcome those obstacles. It guides us towards deep and lasting change, helping us rewrite our stories. Kristen Oliver, author, transformational coach, and the owner of Creative Connection, PLLC, created Take The Leap to share what she’s learned on her own journey to health and happiness.”
Kristen Oliver on Feeding Yourself First
When you get a group of women together, the experience is truly powerful. This retreat creates a space for women to feel safe, open up, and dig into their old stories and patterns. Being away from the routine of home is one of the best things about the retreat, and it’s one of the most important things people can do in any self-care practice. Before you can feed anyone else, you have to feed yourself. It’s hard work, but that’s what retreats are all about.
This program is not a fluffy, sugary experience. It’s difficult, but it’s rewarding. It would be so much easier to briefly escape life’s challenges with a spa weekend or a few days camping in the woods. Although I appreciate both of those experiences, this weekend was about deep inner work and being actively involved in one’s own transformation.
Rewriting Your Story
During the program, I share a few cornerstone concepts that I’ve developed to help participants identify the subconscious beliefs and patterns that work against them. Most of these patterns are rote – we do what we’ve always done – and involve feeling stuck and small. Because if you do what you’ve always done, you’ll also get what you’ve always gotten.
If you don’t release old patterns, it’s very difficult to change behaviors.
In this program, we learn to show ourselves compassion, to realize that these ways of being are just stories we’ve told ourselves, nothing more. We explore specific strategies and techniques to help us alter those patterns and create new stories for ourselves. Only five percent of your thoughts, actions and beliefs come from your conscious mind; often, willpower isn’t enough to create real change. You have to access your subconscious mind and change from within. We do this through meditation, breath work and other techniques. Many strategies we use are based in neuroscience and drawn from my own 13-year journey of inner growth.
The Science of Meaningful Change
Many years ago, I experienced some extreme health issues. Despite much exploration, Western medicine didn’t offer the help I needed. I then tried integrative medicine. I improved a bit, but ultimately remained sick. It wasn’t until I realized that our thought patterns have an intense effect on our health that I started to experience the healing I’d been seeking. I researched the neuroscience that supported the benefits of meditation, explored various spiritual practices and landed on a combination of approaches that worked for me and my clients.
In our early years, our subconscious mind is open to everything. Because we absorb everything as truth, we believe the stories we hear about ourselves. Instead of embracing our infinite potential, we live by these stories well into adulthood. We subscribe to our prescribed roles and believe that those roles make up our identity, but our identity goes beyond that. We are infinite beings of possibility and light. By doing this deep level of inner work, we discover what that looks like as well as what it feels like. Being your true self is learning to show up without that programming and, instead, showing up as the love and light you were created to be.
Finding Peace Through Perseverance
One participant of my retreat noted that she thought she was attending for one specific reason but that the real reason revealed itself once she was there. This is not unusual. Through the process of my program, people very naturally find their way to the root causes of their unhappiness. It’s an intense and amazing experience. We instinctually identify what we need to change in order to move our lives forward.
Before developing the framework I teach in this program, I was in the depths of despair, living out all of my limiting beliefs. During my journey, I learned to release my negative patterns and beliefs and shift my life. Now, I embrace life’s challenges because I have the tools to move through them. I love my life. I feel peaceful and relaxed and in a state of calm and abundance the majority of the time. I’ve rewritten my experience, and I strive to help others in this program do the same.
At a certain point in my own healing journey, it became clear that I was meant to share this work with others. I’ve streamlined the process to the point that what happened for me over a period of years can happen for others in days or weeks. The feeling I get watching people go from inner turmoil and outer chaos to being completely empowered is amazing. It’s what I’m here to do.
Kristen Oliver is based in Charlotte, NC, and has just launched an online video series. Kristen Oliver’s first book, The Connected Parent will be available early 2017. Go to www.KristenOliver.com for more information.
Interested in learning more about programs at the Art of Living Retreat Center? Check out our annual catalog here.