"I didn't have a direct experience on my first Intensive but what I got out of it, through doing the technique, had a huge effect on my life. It was the first time that I felt capable of telling the truth, both to another person and to myself. This was and still is a very liberating thing for me to do. During the intensive lots of thoughts came up that I had to communicate that were really difficult but it was OK because they were true. They were and are me. I have taken this simple fact into the rest of my life and in trying to accept all of me, the good and the bad, I feel more at home in the world."

the process

what is it like taking an enlightenment intensive?

The Enlightenment Intensive process of opening up to the Truth is an amazing journey. What unfolds for each participant will be unique to them and is likely to include moments where they find contemplating quite gruelling but equally moments of rare beauty and joy.

When things get difficult, it can be hard for participants to see what the point is of going through their turbulent inner process. It may appear to bear no relation to what they have heard enlightenment is supposed to be like, and feels anything but holy, sacred or pure. They then worry that they are doing something wrong, that their contemplation has taken them in the wrong direction. This is generally not the case and often they are contemplating correctly.

being willing to face anything

The fact is that no matter how much an individual wants the truth, they may not always enjoy the path that takes them there. The contemplation technique will bring into a participant's awareness anything that is blocking direct consciousness of Truth. All these blocks will need to be faced, primarily by being honestly communicated in the dyad exercises, and this may involve some uncomfortable moments. For some people this means letting out secrets or truths about things that they do or that have happened that they have not been telling to anyone. For other people it is about letting their real emotional reactions be seen and witnessed by others. They may have been hiding their anger or vulnerability or perhaps their joy and humour. Each participant needs to be prepared to face anything at all arising in their contemplation as part of their process of becoming more open to the Truth.

The more a person is willing to face and communicate anything about themselves, the more striking the benefits. Participants make faster progress in their contemplation, reach the state of "empty mind" much more quickly than through other methods and as a result become highly receptive to direct experience of Truth occurring within the space of two or three days. People are likely to have a slower, more difficult time if they resist the process of revealing their inner truth, whatever this may be. If something wants to surface but is not fully acknowledged or communicated by the individual, it will tend to recur persistently in their contemplation until it has been conveyed within the dyad exercises.

owning the truth for oneself

Being this open and honest can be a difficult adjustment to make for some. It is rare to be required to admit the truth of one's inner experience with as much detail and precision and energy as people do on Enlightenment Intensives. Society as a whole is not geared towards complete openness. There are a whole range of "taboo" topics, parts of one's self or one's experience which people consciously or unconsciously learn to hide, deny or brush under the carpet. There are also individual taboos for everyone based on childhood experiences and family norms. Some of this material can surface on an Enlightenment Intensive as part of contemplating and an individual may struggle to let it be there. Yet this struggle must be faced. It is by owning what the immediate truth is for oneself, regardless of how much one's mother, school teacher or husband might disapprove, which liberates an individual internally and frees up space in their consciousness for the Absolute Truth to manifest.

going deeper into contemplation

As participants on an Enlightenment intensive increasingly trust and let go of hiding from each other, their contemplation goes down a level. When this happens, they may go through a range of intense feelings or sensations or beliefs which are much more vivid, painful or beautiful than they are used to experiencing. This can be experienced as confusing or unusually intense and people can feel as if they don't know what is going on anymore. It can, however, also be a revelation and be accompanied with a feeling of being more fully alive or present or immediate in oneself. Although sometimes disorientating, this stage is an important one in becoming more open to the Truth.

Very often extremely positive inner experiences also surface as a person continues to contemplate which may have been hidden along with difficult material. Feelings of bliss, of love, joy and compassion may emerge which can be unexpected and profoundly healing. Deep contact, trust and openness also build between participants as part of the strong group dynamic generated on an Enlightenment Intensive. Most participants cherish the intimacy that forms and it is a primary source of support for all the members of the group in facing what is preventing their direct experience of Truth. The group as a whole tends to go through stages of deepening contemplative awareness together. As some participants become more open and reveal more of themselves to their partners in the dyads, this gives those who are unconsciously holding back on openness or full communication the sense that it is safe to do the same. The energy of this will pull all the participants along together to some degree, giving all of them a better chance of having a direct experience.

the final barrier

The final and most powerful block to having a direct experience of the Truth is often a person's belief that they are unworthy, that they simply do not deserve to get enlightened. People can similarly be convinced that enlightenment cannot happen for them until they have first become a good person and resolved all their problems and character defects. It is clearly evident that this is not the case from the countless number of ordinary people of all ages and backgrounds, who have contemplated to the best of their ability on Enlightenment Intensives and experienced the Absolute Truth without solving all their personality and life problems. Indeed it is often the direct experience of the Truth itself which finally enables someone to see what they need to do in order to make their life work better.

"the truth was worth it!"

Ultimately, no matter what people go through, however their journey was for them, and no matter how long it takes them, there is one overwhelming conclusion from those who have a direct experience of Truth on an Enlightenment Intensive. They all say that in the end the Truth was worth it, worth going though all the ups and downs, worth persisting for - and worth facing whatever they had to face on the way. It is this knowledge that leads large numbers of people to take further Enlightenment Intensives, choosing to engage again and again with the difficult but rewarding challenge of deep contemplation in return for what they see as a priceless opportunity to find out more about what the Truth really is.