The Centers’ Gathering began very informally in the mid 80’s with a weekend get together of some of America’s major centers at the Tarrytown Conference Center an hour north of New York City. Participants included program and executive directors from the New York Open Center, Esalen Institute and Omega Institute. A clear sense quickly emerged that there was genuine value in the Centers meeting in a relaxed and friendly spirit of collaboration.
Participants came together to exchange insights, information, best practices and, equally importantly, a feeling of mutual support and friendship as Centers emerged increasingly as focal points for the new holistic, spiritual and ecological worldview. In the late 80’s the Gathering took place once or twice a year on both East and West Coasts with each Center taking turns to act as host. A lot of learning took place simply by seeing how each Center functioned in its own unique manner.
A Global Phenoneom
Each Gathering found its own unique balance of sharing information and experience on the one hand and forging friendship and spiritual connection on the other. There was a sense that each Center was part of an emerging ecology of consciousness, a piece of a greater picture in which impulses of renewal and transformation were entering both individual lives and the society and culture at large.
It was also clear that this holistic impulse was certainly not confined to North America and was, in fact, a universal phenomenon. In recognition of this fact, the Gathering was held in Europe for the first time in May 1990 at the Association Les Courmettes in the hills of Provence above Nice, France. It returned to Europe in May 2012 as part of the Findhorn Foundation’s 50th birthday celebrations in Scotland. With representatives from five continents – Europe, North America, Africa, Asia and Australia – it was the most global Gathering so far.
A Peek behind the Scenes
The movement reached a pivotal point in April 2013 when Esalen Institute, which also began in 1962, hosted the Gathering for the first time. The five day event was followed by a weekend workshop ‘A peek behind the scenes – discussions on starting, running and growing a retreat center’. Six people (from Esalen, New York Open Center, Findhorn Foundation, Breitenbush Hot Springs and The Haven) co-facilitated the workshop for twelve participants and it was an inspiring exchange of experience and ideas.
In 2014 The Haven on Gabriola Island, BC, Canada hosted the Gathering, followed by the Peek behind the scenes workshop. Unbeknown to us at the time, this gathering would open the gateway to Asia. It is our vision that the Gathering will return to Europe more often, that regional Gatherings will develop around the world, and more workshops and events will evolve to support emerging centers. In 2016 we introduced the monthly webinars to create more engagement and connection in between the annual gatherings. These are building in participation and we’re now developing online courses.
Our first Gathering in Asia
2015 was a unique year with two Gatherings held, one in Europe once again and one in Asia for the first time. In May participants gathered on the Mount Pelion Peninsula in Greece, hosted by a partnership of Kalikalos, the Pelion Network, and Alchemy Associates. In October the Beijing Gathering was followed by a three day conference for the general public and travel and tourism industry to attend. The events in China were hosted by the Haiwen Community, the sister center of the previous year’s host – The Haven in Canada – in collaboration with the House of I.
In the following years the Gathering has returned to Canada and the US. In October 2018 HCN co-hosted the first International Holistic Wellness Forum in Beijing with Bene Wellness with over 700 participants from around China. As interest grows, we’re planning more regional gatherings and events around the world.
To view the timeline of the Gathering please click here