A September Weekend at Pendle Hill

by Sara Pelletier

I won’t soon forget the way my eyes darted across the projector screen, set to the instrumentals of Lenny’s voice. A speech that needed no preparation, as I could tell right away it was baked into the fabric of his being. The slides with their imagery and rich history shining down on my eager self, seated front row, pen in hand. Ready for what I still can’t quite explain even after five short but transformational months. I feel honored to have experienced such a vulnerable pocket of time. I’d first like to thank all that made that weekend at Pendle Hill possible.

Lenny, Elizabeth and Jace for their assistance in me even arriving in the first place.

Matt and Ronit for not only physically getting me there but for watering the seed that was planted upon gathering at circles in their home.

Irene for holding the most sacred position of sitting for me and matching the bravery of all in our company in allowing all parts of herself to be witnessed.

I’d also like to thank everyone in attendance, in every capacity, for making up the rich tapestry of experience. It truly felt so primal to feel it all in the arms of the collective. The variations in expression gave permission for all to emote, to ‘give their trauma some drama’. The whole is only as great as the sum of its parts.

Before I share my initial reflection after breathing, I want to share a bit of where I am at present, the me that’s typing these words for you now. After three years of incredible darkness, with most everything stripped away from me, I find myself floating in a peace I have never felt. I’ve started following the compass of my heart, and bringing to life with messy, confident action the dreams long buried. I feel at home within myself in a way I never have. Like somewhere deep within I’ve settled into my favorite chair, laid my head back and let out a sigh of relief. While none of this is due to my breathwork experience alone, I truly believe, and have since I drove away from that September weekend, that my experience shook so much loose. This rattling of what was stuck allowed me access my skills, shake myself back to an even-ness, and a discover a renewed ability to build a foundation for myself.

To say I will always be immensely grateful to Dreamshadow®, their mission, and their people doesn’t feel like enough–but I will indeed forever be.

Saturday 16 September, 2023


My Desk, Room 20, Chase Building

It didn’t take long (although I’m not sure how long) before the tetany set into my hands and legs. Even though we talked about it, it scared the shit out of me. Maybe because it meant I was doing something right. It felt like I was completely lit up–like parts of me were being awakened from a long, arduous hibernation. The flood gates opened. I was so overwhelmed with sadness I curled into the fetal position, on my right side, and wept in a ball while Teresa and Kari closed in on me with a gentle yet simultaneously firm encasing. A womb. I began to experience what felt like a movie trailer of my life. Flashes of suffering, old memories long forgotten, hiding in the layers on my mind. With every rise in emotion, I felt my body rising from itself. Shaking, vibrating, even leaving itself completely at times. I clutched at my throat. My heart. My stomach. My face. The emotion would build with such great intensity, and I would begin to melt into it. But just as I would, it was blunted as I slipped back into neutrality. Into numbness. It cycled like that the whole time. A rising and a stopping. Like trying to run through revolving doors and at the last second, watching the rubber kiss the glass. Closed off. As if I were on the other side, blocking the door in just the right timing so I wouldn’t make it. Me vs. Me the whole time.

I felt a deep, cosmic finality of a relationship I let hold me hostage for three painful years. I felt the grief I was running from in keeping myself imprisoned, the grief I thought I could avoid if I traded it for the pain of staying. I felt it course through my veins. For the first time, I felt anger bubble in me. Sacred rage. An emotion I hadn’t been able to tap into. As the shouts and wails and pain given life and legs echoed around me, I used what came up to take me deeper. Pure fear, annoyance, jealousy, inferiority. Everything was used to pull the loose sweater thread and let myself unravel. I was overtaken with a sharp anger for allowing myself to be robbed of my expansive, vibrant heart. Robbed by my ex-partner, western medicine diagnoses, the enmeshment of my family of origin, friends I felt betrayed by. All I was unwilling to look at. Casualties that stripped me of my levity and comedic relief. My essence. The innocence of every stitch of red thread embroidering the heart I once wore so proudly on my sleeve.

I stayed in this muck of grief and building anger until it bled into the most vibrant visions of my Gram’s house, a place that was a safe haven. Sunning ourselves on deck chairs in the driveway, scribbling on scrap pieces of paper. A freezer stocked with ice cream. The smell of coffee and cigarettes mixing with the sound of the UCONN game in the background. I felt like I was done, but I also had no idea when I was supposed to stop. Feeling these strong women on either side of me, caressing me, reassuring me, prompting me to “give it a voice”. Not feeling quite ready to do so.

Then, the music stopped. I panicked. I didn’t realize it then, but I was the last one breathing. Perhaps I finally felt comfortable to give a voice to all I’d been sifting through in the ethers. I heard Elizabeth’s dulcet voice and felt her presence drop down next to me. I still had so much sadness seeping out of me. I was steeped in it. As she began her bodywork, I accessed a scream that felt like it was 28 years in the making. One scream that turned into four. “NO. NO. NO. NO” I felt myself fall back into my body and was overcome with a calm I’d long struggled to access. I rested before rising to seated, so lightheaded, eyes stinging. Blindfolded still, in effort to hold myself in that place so far but so close, for a just a little longer. Time irrelevant.

The violins captivated me and sent me into the current of my emotions. I moved my body as if it was the metronome for the music itself. I swam with those feelings in the depths of myself, an ocean I’ve long drowned in. I felt my breath become an even stream, in sync, a rhythmic rising and falling I’d never felt. A new experience completely. How cool that I was able to do that. I’m feeling so grateful.