In describing this gathering, no one does better than Ralph White, founder of the New York Open Center:
“The heart of the International Holistic Centers’ Gathering is the meeting of so many diverse groups in a spirit of love, mutual support and unity. Whether they come from Australia or Siberia, Scotland or Santa Cruz, a similar noble vision lives at the core of most centers and changes for the better the lives of the many thousands who attend their programs. Holistic centers always take courage, inspiration and insight from each other’s work. Ultimately they know that their very existence worldwide is powerful evidence that the awakening for which we all yearn is alive and well, and probably living in a center near you.”
The International Holistic Centers Gathering serves as the principal meeting point for Centers both well established and new that address the new consciousness currently emerging worldwide.
It includes rural retreat centers, urban learning centers, accredited and non-accredited organizations, that work toward the goal of transforming individual lives and fostering a culture of greater holistic, ecological and spiritual awareness and practice.
The Gathering is characterized by a spirit of openness, warmth, candor and mutual support and aims to benefit attending Centers through both the exchange of information, best practices, and successful strategies on the one hand and the cultivation of spiritual connection, mutual support and inspiration on the other.
Most Centers are devoted to the creation of transformational experiences for their participants. This Gathering addresses the needs of those who run these organizations for their own nourishment, community of peers, and sense of participation in a larger, global movement of positive change.
As the chronology demonstrates, the Gathering has been held at points as far West as Hawaii and as far East as Moscow. Although most participants have come from the United States, Canada and Europe, the Gathering has also attracted Centers from as far afield as Australia, New Zealand, Brazil and Japan.
After its initial formation in North America in the 80’s, it moved to both Western and Eastern Europe in the 90’s, and returned to the United States and Canada in the 2000’s. After the 2011 Gathering at Harbin Hot Springs in Northern California, it returned to Europe in May 2012 as part of the Findhorn Foundation’s 50th birthday celebrations in Scotland.
Ultimately, the Gathering aims to include Centers on all continents and serve as a valuable instrument of planetary awakening. The 2012 Gathering was the most global so far with representatives from Europe, North America, Africa, Asia and Australia and we are currently creating a bursary fund to support future participants from all over the world.
If your Center is interested in participating in the next Gathering please click here for more details.
Background to the International Holistic Centers Gathering
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, Omega Institute, and Interface (sadly no longer with us).
A clear sense quickly emerged that there was genuine value in the Centers meeting in a relaxed and friendly spirit 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.
Throughout the second half of the 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. During the second year of meetings, the group was joined by Hollyhock from British Columbia and also included Wainwright House from Rye, New York.
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.
The movement reached a pivotal point in April 2013 when Esalen Institute, which also began in 1962, hosted the Gathering. 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. It is our vision that the Gathering will return to Europe every third year, that regional Gatherings will develop and more workshops and events will evolve to support emerging centers.
2015 is a unique year with two Gatherings being held, one in Europe once again and one in Asia for the first time. In May participants will gather on the Mount Pelion Peninsula in Greece, hosted by a partnership of Kalikalos, the Pelion Network, and Alchemy Associates. In October the Beijing Gathering will be followed by a three day conference for the general public and travel and tourism industry to attend. The events in China are being hosted by the Haiwen Community, the sister center of last year’s host The Haven in Canada.
To view the timeline of the Gathering please click here
Timeline of the International Holistic Centers Gathering
1980s – Various centers on the East and West Coast of the United States including New York Open Center, Esalen, Omega and Interface
1990 – Les Courmettes, France
1991 – Budapest, Hungary
1992 – Coloman Center, Bavaria, Germany
1993 May 14-16 – Inward Path Center, Moscow, Russia
1993 September – Hollyhock, British Columbia, Canada
1994 May 1-4 – Eko-Oko Center for Ecological Education, Kazimierz Dolny, Poland
1995 May 1-3 – Opatija, Croatia
1995 June 3-4 – Omega Institute, New York, USA
1996 May – Oibibio, Amsterdam, Netherlands
1997 June 19-22 – La Grande Combe Center, St. Izaire, Frankrijk, France
1998 May 21-24 – Damanhur, Italy
2000 May 28-29 – Oibibio, Amsterdam, Netherlands
2001 no gathering
2002 May 12-16 Hollyhock, British Columbia, Canada
2003 May 11-15 Hollyhock, British Columbia, Canada
2004 May 16-20 Mount Madonna Center, California, USA
2005 no gathering
2006 – The Haven, British Columbia, Canada
2007 – Naropa, Boulder, Colorado, USA
2008 – Breitenbush Hot Springs, Oregon, USA
2009 – Mt Madonna Center, California, USA
2010 – Kalani Oceanside Retreat, Big Island, Hawaii
2011 – Harbin Hot Springs, California, USA
2012 – Findhorn Foundation, Scotland
2013 – Esalen Institute, California, USA
2014 – The Haven, British Columbia, Canada
2015 – May 10 – 15 – Damouchari Hotel, Pelion Peninsula, Greece
2015 – October 17 – 22 – Haiwen Community, Beijing, China
2016 – Le Monastère des Augustines, Quebec City
2017 – Hawaii Island Retreat, Hawaii
2018 – Omega Institute for Holistic Studies, New York
2019 – International Peace Initiatives and Tiriji Ecovillage, Kenya
To read about the history of the Gathering over the years please click here
Ralph White, founding member of the International Holistic Centers Gathering, has attended nearly every one since its inception. Closely involved in three centers over a lifetime of dedication to the holistic movement, including the Findhorn Foundation and Omega Institute, he is co-founder of the New York Open Center where his current role is Creative Director.
Tom Robinson, Marketing Director of Breitenbush Hot Springs in Oregon, has attended nine consecutive gatherings after feeling so inspired by the first one! In 2008, Breitenbush hosted the Gathering and both Tom and Peter have attended every year since, sharing great humour, wisdom and expertise.
Peter Moore, Business Director of Breitenbush Hot Springs, was inspired to attend after hearing Tom’s glowing reports each year and has become one of the stalwart supporters of the Gathering. Through the Breitenbush Ecofund Peter co-ordinates the donations for the Gathering.
Christine Lines first heard about the Gathering in 2010 when she was the Retreats Manager of the Byron Yoga Centre in Australia. Surprised to discover there was no CG website she has been dedicated to its development ever since. Now living in the Findhorn Foundation Community in Scotland, she co-ordinated the 2012 Gathering there. Christine oversees Core Programmes and co-ordinates the global network of Resource People.
Cheryl Fraenzl, Director of Programming at Esalen Institute in Big Sur, California, attended her first Gathering in 2008. She values the personal connection with her peers at other centers and the support this offers during the year. Cheryl co-ordinated the 2013 Gathering at Esalen and introduced the workshop ‘A peek behind the scenes’ to support emerging centers.
Rachel Davey, Executive Director of The Haven, on Gabriola Island, BC, Canada, attended her first Gathering in 2012 and co-ordinated the 2014 Gathering. The Haven has participated in many Gatherings over the years, sending different members of staff along for the experience, and previously hosted the event in 2006.
These six friends, representatives from established centers in North America and Europe, together represent over 100 years of experience in running centres. They passionately support the annual Gathering, along with friends old and new whose combined energy and enthusiasm have contributed to the momentum of the holistic movement and the Centers Gathering at its core.
In 2013 and 2014, they facilitated a workshop for people dreaming of starting a holistic center or simply curious about how centers do what they do, called ‘A Peek Behind the Scenes: Discussions on Starting, Running and Growing a Holistic Centre’, immediately after the Gathering. Rather than a step-by-step process on how to start a holistic centre, it was a weekend of rich discussion, sharing the beginnings of their organizations and how they conduct business today, including the joys, challenges and experiences of the many aspects involved.
View a range of material that various Holistic Centers are happy to share online in the spirit of collaboration, support and inspiration.