Our inaugural Virtual Gathering of Holistic Centers has been a heartwarming and inspiring experience, strengthening connection, communication and collaboration throughout the network. Over the course of the gathering, we noticed an element of surprise around an emerging idea… sharing love and connection IS, indeed, possible in the virtual world. Online events will never replace the in-person experiences we love and value. However there IS a loving harmony to be found between humans, nature, and technology. In fact, this is one of the most powerful ways to increase impact, connection, and revenue for centers around the globe.
This discovery was a beautiful antidote to the challenges named in the opening keynote by Terence Gilbey, General Manager and CEO of Esalen Institute. The original host of our 2020 in person Gathering, in the pre-pandemic days. “Despite digital connectivity we are more disconnected than ever before, from self, each other, and the natural world around us. Covid-19, Social distancing, economic downturn are all posing existential threats to the way many of us think about place, community, connection and transformation.”
Terry posed the belief, “The role of our centers has not changed. HOW we fulfil our missions is in question.” This enquiry set a strong tone that continued to deepen over the following days. If you missed the live webinar you can enjoy the full conversation below.
Rather than being together in person, Ling Lo, Program Director of Hollyhock referred to us all as “Little stamps” as we met each day via zoom. Cameron Wenaus, co-founder of Retreat Guru, took the metaphor one step further, “On the postcard of awareness… ” On the journey of awareness we all become familiar with the wisdom of the Buddha, “The only constant in the universe is change.” So why, asked Terry does this change feel so different?
Our mission statements might stay the same (or we recognise the need to review), our values might stay the same (or we explore them more deeply), our impact might stay the same (or we find new pathways into greater impact). However the context changed for us all overnight (travel, gathering, physical connection and more).
Together we explored three key questions;
- What is the role of our centers as we emerge?
- What is different after Covid-19?
- What are we responding to?
Terry shared three possibilities to how Covid will unfold and expanded on what our new ‘normal’ will look like:
Covid 21 – in person gatherings end and we never regain the consumer confidence for people to return in similar numbers.
Rubber Band – everything becomes hyper normal with a renewed purpose for transformation as healing
The Flip Flop – the pandemic is on again and off again, we move between being able to gather and then not
Which is most likely, how do we prepare, what is the wisest way to respond?
It is clear, we need new ways to connect and with new audiences too. We have an opportunity to #emerge stronger and build on the trust the world places on our transformational centers. Throughout the five day gathering and beyond we continue to explore and embrace the opportunities that present themselves. As the world pauses, all aspects of life as we know it are presented with the moment to re-invent the future. Courage and curiosity became emergent themes within the journey of Meeting the Moment.
The keynote ended with one of Terry’s favorite quotes from Winston Churchill. “It is not the beginning of the end – it is the end of the beginning.” Enjoy the full webinar with Q&A via the replay above and join us as we co-create together…
Terry, what has surprised you most about what you have learned in the past weeks?
I’m curious as a traditionally place-based center – how are you thinking about what Esalen is now that you don’t have your physical campus for gathering?
What has been the hardest personally for you and your senior team through this period?
I am curious about what you learned in your 2017 shutdown that you are applying now?
How do we best prepare ourselves to reimagine what’s next, to be intentional about falling forwards?