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