I’ve always been a bit dubious when it comes to seeking wisdom in group seminars or workshops that promise inspirational, life-altering epiphanies stewarded by a life coach or expert in some wellness field or another. Rather, I’ve sought and found inspiration in books and through one-on-one conversations with friends and, from time to time, a trusted therapist who pushes me to grow but keeps it all tidily private.
Imagine my psychological leap in agreeing to join a friend to participate in the In goop Health Summit, hosted in Vancouver’s Stanley Park. Like a lot of people, I was somewhat skeptical of the Gwyneth Paltrow vehicle that makes regular headlines for its health claims (the jade eggs, the steaming, etc.). Still, I was curious and not entirely closed to the idea that I might glean something that would shake me out of a growing feeling that I was getting a little stagnant in my daily routines—both physically and emotionally.
What I didn’t expect to find was meaning and intimacy—and, yes, a life-altering epiphany—in a room full of 200 women. Not only that, but I had fun.
Under the lighthearted guidance of GP’s long-time facialist, Anastasia Achilleos, I sat in front of a mirror and massaged and moisturized my face until it was marvellously greasy. I left the session not with an expensive jar of cream, but with a reminder from Achilleos that if we touched our own faces with love more often, we might not feel so compelled to slather them with products.
Another session inspired me to take better care of my gut health through a plant-based diet and regular exercise. A talk by psychotherapist Barry Michels gave me a visualization technique that startled me into seeing at least a couple of obstacles in my life in an entirely fresh way (I was so inspired, I bought his book).
Above all, I was surprised and delighted to discover how much I loved being in a space with so many women who, like me, were interested in creating a more expansive, compassionate awareness of themselves and others. I felt awake (a sentiment that, I admit, would previously have made my eyes roll) and I’m motivated to search out similar events and gatherings that are tailored to women who share common values in striving for a wider life.
Amazingly, I’ve learned that deep connection to my authentic self can happen, not only in quiet meditation or private conversation, but in a boisterous room full of fellow joy-seekers.