By Maggie Lei. Maggie Lei was a participant in The Haven’s very first full 25-day Phase program in Chinese. The original Chinese version of this article is in the post below.
“I come alive when I’m aware life is connected at its very spiritual source.” – Larry Gold
Everyone wants to have a forest – a place one can breathe. To me The Haven is a place where I can breathe.
The Haven was founded in 1985 – an advanced worldwide personal and professional learning center. The Haven’s founders are Mr. Ben Wong and Mr. Jock McKeen. The Haven envisions that everyone takes responsibility for oneself and one’s environment. Here every life is treated with dignity, respect, curiosity and compassion. This profound discovery is also my experience on this learning journey.
My first visit to The Haven was 2008. I registered a 3-year Haven International Diploma Program in Shenzhen. After two years learning I was inspired by The Haven, and this influence has been deepening in my life ever since. It helped me to resolve my difficulties and confusions. With time my desire to go to The Haven in Canada became stronger.
The Haven Life
This August 15th my husband and I came to The Haven’s headquarters in Canada. We participated the 25-day ‘Self-Awareness’ Phase program. This program was specially designed for Chinese participants. Together with us there were more than 10 participants from China and a few assistants from Taiwan.
The Haven is located on a small island Gabriola – it is not far from Vancouver city in Canada. We were attracted by this island once we arrived. The island is beautiful and quiet. It has dense forest, and the local residents are very friendly.
The Haven is surrounded one side by sea and three sides by forest. The campus is covered under big pine trees. All buildings are constructed with various forms of wood. Everything looks very primitive so we can really experience the nature.
I was excited that we booked a sea-view room, so we could simultaneously appreciate different beauty of forest and ocean. Opening our bedroom window I saw rich green trees. I got up in the morning, opened the window, breathed in fresh air and happily started my learning of the day. Outside our living room was the endless ocean. At night we listened to tides rolling up and down, and reflected on the learning of the day. It was another pleasure to have conversations with my heart.
It was interesting that we often saw deer at night on this forest surrounded campus. The deer didn’t run when they saw you. They just kept distance and stared at you quietly. Sometimes I saw little squirrels or mountain rats. They crawled on big rocks and stared at you. They picked stems with their mouths and ready to build their dens.
One afternoon, two deer met each other in a close distance from me. They stared at me for quite some time, and quietly left me and entered in the woods. People and animals can be with each other so harmoniously. This is something I’ve never experienced. It was such a wonderful feeling. Maybe as long as all lives can respect each other, we will be able to reach a state of harmony.
The Unique Haven
The Haven’s teaching style is very unique. It includes both theoretical teaching and experiential learning. Through the processes of leaders’ personal-stories sharing, their high-quality presence, all the authentic interacting, and many experiential exercises we were discovering ourselves, aware of our life patterns, and learning to transform and communicate at a deeper level. We experienced the resonance with others, and the freedom and joy of living our lives fully. Here everyone can freely express their feelings. I felt that I was deeply seen and accepted.
Other than learning, there were experiential activities to integrate our learning and real-life experiences. In our program there was one work day. In tradition on work day leaders are used to assign jobs such as cleaning, organizing rooms or mowing lawns, etc. In the interaction of laboring work we could discover and express ourselves at a deeper level. However this workshop was The Haven’s very first Mandarin 25-day ‘Self-Awareness’ program in Canada. The institute specially arranged a very meaningful work day for us. We were asked us to build a ‘Chinese Meditation Garden’ on a small piece of land in this primitive forest. That day everyone was so heated with passion. We were full of teenage naivety and happiness. Every face showed expressions of hard-working, persistent and fulfilling. Together we discussed the big picture of the garden, the integrated landscape, our creativity and teamwork assignment.
Men went searching different shapes of driftwood that was washed to the beach. They carried the driftwood back with carts. With discussion we decided the best location to place the wood. Women went collecting the stakes left by loggers. With the stakes they built a garden fence. Women also dug out different ferns from the forest and replanted them in the garden. In order to present the garden in the Chinese style, we laid out rocks into a Tai-Chi pattern at the center, and painted a symbolic wood door in red. At last, through our teamwork, a beautiful Chinese ‘Meditation Garden’ was finally completed. This garden received high recognition by leaders, and it will be forever preserved by The Haven.
In the process of building the garden, what touched me the most was that people can share different viewpoints and at the same time respect each other, through connection and inclusion, we enriched each other’s lives. People can be really happy and free in a very simple state. I think from now on, whenever we are tired, we will think about this “Meditation Garden” and calm our restless minds.
During our staying, we happen to run into the Birthday Party of Ben’s 80th and Maria’s 90th birthday, there were over a hundred people gather around to celebrate together. At the stage, Jock was the person to interview them, share their life stories.
Maria is 90, a very old age. In China, people at this age mostly are enjoying a quiet live. You may find this incredible, but this 90 year old Maria still has classes from 9am to10pm every day! We were so surprised about her spiritual situation and our leaders told us, Maria has very free energy in her body, because she is congruent!
From this 90 year old lady, I experienced the congruence of body, mind and spirit. What do we need to be able to be in this congruent situation? “The clearer a person knows about himself, the more choices and strength he will have” This is the most impactful learning that I heard from Maria. The title of her autobiography is “Love and Freedom”, she has pursued them all of her life. And they are also my goal for life. If I can live as free as her when I am 90, and also still be able to help others with my loving, I can be very blessed! I liked this white haired old lady almost right away.
In this birthday celebration, there were five graduates celebrating their graduation. Two out of five were our small group leaders from Taiwan. They spent about 16 years to get the Dip. C. In almost 30 years after Haven started this program, only about 80 people get this certificate. The average time to get it is 12 years. Every graduate needs to live up to the Haven quality and use what they have learned in their lives. During these years, you will continue to fulfill your learnings in your live while you finish all the credits. You need to wait until the inner you has the strength and a sense of fulfillment, not when you look like a glorious person to have the possibility of graduate.
The five persons shared their live stories, they were so open and be themselves touched me so deeply, and also encouraged me.
This journey of learning is so worthwhile. As a direct sales person, I have a very tight schedule every day, and rarely have time for my family. The telephone rings all the time and I need to travel a lot. In my home the suitcase was in the living room, I am ready to go all the time.
My husband understands me, but in such a long time, he will have some complaint from time to time. Through this learning of “to live fully as a person”, we understood each other more and he’s willing to be more supportive and let me get involved into my work. I really want to thank him for his support and caring!
Being in this business a certain time, I have learned all the basic skills. Gradually, I want to get to another higher level. I know the key issue is emotion control and better relationship to people. This time in the learning, I have a better understand about human beings’ nature. Life has its source at the spiritual connection. If you expect people to accept you, than you have to speak from your heart, to care and understand the other person. This time for me, it was not easy to be able to get away for a month. I want to thank my superior officer and co-workers, without their support, I won’t be able to learn this much! I will use them in my life and my work, to be able to help others to grow.
I love my job because I have met a lot of friends, shared the same value and started the career together. Especially right now we are selling things that helped meridians. I am full of self confidence and pleasure. In the future, I believe my dreams will come true. No matter how long the road may be, I have companies working as a team. There’s always hope!
25 happy days of the Haven learning ends so fast. Most of the members rented two station wagon and travel along the Rocky Mountain. In the wild and open land of Canada, beautiful sceneries are everywhere. I was totally attracted by the ever green primal forest, silent river valley, the pictorial lake, waterfall, hot spring, friendly animals … Because of my work I have to go back to China earlier.
My trip to The Haven this time is not running away from reality but is for wanting to face the reality with a better attitude. This learning journey has expanded the space of my spirit unlimitedly. I’ll be able to face all the challenges in my life with my inner strength, and enjoy the happiness of life.