A Transformative Program in Toronto, With Room For You

Last week I went to the first class of my third year at the Transpersonal Therapy Centre in downtown Toronto. As I sat in the room, which holds two years of memories and learning for me, I wished that more people in my life could experience the transformative growth that happens in this program. When I learned that space is still available for students to join the first year class, I decided to post about my experience in the hopes that someone who will read this will decide the program is for him or her.

I chose the program after working for two years in one-on-one therapy with a program graduate. I’ll never forget my first session with her: in contrast to psychologists and psychiatrists who sat me down, took a family history, and suggested it was all about my father, this therapist asked, “How do you feel?” and I said, “Sad.” And she asked, genuinely, “What does the sadness do for you?”

From there on, I knew this would be a different sort of therapy. I was not going to be judged or analyzed. I was going to sit across from someone whose heart was fully open to witness me, to acknowledge and accept my feelings, and to assist me in experiencing them rather than fighting them. And the more I was able to experience and accept within that space, the more things changed and shifted toward my emotional health.

I was in awe of her work, and started to want to use some of her tools with friends or family who were suffering. Yet I knew I didn’t have the personal resources to be a therapist, and I also knew that while my ability to be a functioning, mature, capable adult on my own was growing, I still had much room to grow when it came to relating to people around me. I struggled to make true contact with the people around me – I shied away from meeting someone from my own honest and authentic place, and relating to them in the here and now. And as I learned from Gestalt, growth happens at the boundaries, in contact, and in relationship.

So I went to the Transpersonal Therapy Centre, where everything happens in relation to other people. Week after week, I sat with my peers, and was challenged to share myself honestly and to see them honestly. I was challenged to communicate directly, to be aware of my unconscious reactions, to be aware of my projections, to identify and act on my own needs, and to take responsibility for my own growth. Week after week, ten other people offered witness to me, and I witnessed them.

And things changed.

I cannot predict how you might transform if you were to undertake this program, but I can share how it has changed me.

I’ve learned that the world doesn’t fall apart and I will not be abandoned if I honestly and directly express my needs. I’ve learned that I can hear another person’s pain and struggle, and even hear about the painful things they see in me, and I still can witness this person with love and compassion instead of judgment or flight. I have a better awareness of the (unhelpful) patterns I have clung to unconsciously, and with that awareness comes an ability to choose something different.

I have expanded my ability to be with myself – fully present and conscious, not running or hiding from the less pleasant parts of myself, and not running or hiding from my gifts or strengths either.

I have expanded my ability to be with others – to sit with someone who is in pain and to be present with them instead of mentally running away into my own pain. To sit with someone who is celebrating and to truly celebrate with them instead of becoming defensive or compulsively making a mental list of my own accomplishments.

I am slowly learning – and I imagine this is a never-ending curriculum – to embrace life rather than fight it.

As Pema Chodron says –

When you wake up in the morning and out of nowhere comes the heartache of alienation and loneliness, could you use that as a golden opportunity? Rather than persecuting yourself or feeling that something terribly wrong is happening, right there in the moment of sadness and longing, could you relax and touch the limitless space of the human heart?

Through the Transpersonal Therapy Centre, I’ve learned to touch the limitless space of the human heart. Not always. Not without aiming for it and missing. Not flawlessly. I have far to go before I can habitually hang out in that limitless space, instead of just glimpsing and touching it now and then. But I am on my way.

If there is something in this post that speaks to you, and you are in the Toronto area and would like to know more about the Transpersonal Therapy Centre program, I’d be happy to answer any questions you have. Enrollment for the first year class is open for just a few more days.

Laura McGrath, CPCC, is a Toronto-based co-active life coach who helps smart people to live from their hearts. Let's talk! You can subscribe to Ready for Change news to receive thoughtful notes on personal growth, and you can contact Laura to find out if coaching is right for you.

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