Men in Bali Feedback

MEN IN BALI FEEDBACK

Here are some of the comments from men who have attended our previous MEN IN BALI Retreats.

Did the Retreat meet your expectations?

  • The Retreat experience went way beyond any of my expectations, delivering for me a space where I was able to be in true integrity with myself amongst good men, opening my heart to them and feeling safe and honoured throughout the week. The atmosphere was perfect for connecting with the other men and being able to share some rich and deep aspects of myself with them and not feel judged in any way – Brendan
  • Yes very much so – I did not have any huge expectations but was simply open to the experience and wanted to spend some time with Wes. The structure of the programme was difficult as there were a number of different thinkers in the group so no one predetermined process was going to survive. I enjoyed the free flow that arose and the ability of Wes to hold space and also to lead the group when required. It was a safe environment to have our challenges arise and we could have abandoned the book much earlier – which Wes did (perhaps reluctantly) eventually anyway. To some extent in this instance the book might have got in the way if Wes had persisted. It may not have helped that I had not read the book previous. I found it hard to tune into someone reading a book to me – I tend to need to read text myself if I want to access the meaning – otherwise it can be words drifting past me and not concepts or resonances struck within me. I think there could have been a bit more time spent in group work rather than touring and shopping but it’s a hard balance to strike. Some of the sessions run by Wes were inspired and there were heaps of good tools for me to learn from e.g. my concern for X is…and my wish for him is…It was shame we ran out of time and I was conscious of leaving early which may not have been very useful as we did not have a final night together to conclude as a group.- Murray
  • Most certainly. You guys rock and the retreat rocked and it was great! – Andrew
  • I went prepared to do more work, in hindsight felt like I’d been let off the hook. Would have liked to do more work on myself – relevance to me. – Tony B
  • Yes, a definite positive here – Rick
  • Yes – I was very pleased with scope and handling.- Ken Mc
  • Yes and more – Griff
  • Exceeded them!!! – Denis
  • Didn’t have ‘expectations’ as such, if I did have unexplored ones then they were met –Tony W
  • Totally – very valuable personally. Probably more so as I had great people around me that I already knew. This may have helped with feeling comfortable sharing my demons from the start. – Dan
  • Yes – or exceeded.- Graham
  • Yes it did. I came with little expectation and so it exceeded my expectations.- Peter P
  • Following my need by Day 2 to revisit and redefine my expectations, yes. – Tony R
  • Yes – Tony R
  • Yes – Mark
  • Exceeded them – Ron
  • Yes absolutely, in fact beyond my expectations. I arrived in Bali thinking that I had explored so much about myself. I found through the peacefulness of the retreat, the feeling of again letting go, the wonderful expertise of the facilitation allowed me to open up to new ways of being still with myself. The result was I returned home with a real sense of my purpose again, it was a great opportunity to reconnect with myself again. Roger E
  • Exceeded expectations I cant put into words the feeling of knowing I was in a safe place no matter how things went for me. – Mick

What part was most valuable for you?

  • The group work sessions and some of the discussions around the seasons and changes in a man’s life. – Andrew
  • Working with you two blokes – it was an honour – Tony B
  • Group work, a bit of a challenge and I stayed with it – Rick
  • There was no pressure to be any way other than myself. I disclosed some parts of my life and myself that I have not shared with anyone before and it gave me an opportunity to be with this part of myself and to really explore and share it with other guys who really knew what I was talking about. There was no shame attached or judgement. The post lunchtime naps at ‘Christa’s House were also pretty special – Brendan
  • Best times were at the work space – doing men’s work: listening and sharing our experiences. The dinners were all well chosen and in great tasting venues. – Murray
  • Knowing that the support was so readily available from many other men. And getting the sense that I was pretty tuned in and ready to be supportive of others. – Ken Mc
  • The Castle without Walls – Athol
  • Group Work among other men – Ross
  • Group W/shop & role playing – Griff
  • The 8 days of pure indulgence to focus on one’s own journey free from distraction from the outside world, in the process, learning more about myself. A rare opportunity to go into another personal space where I could value myself. – Denis
  • The individual work done with me by Wes and certainly the symbolism in many of the processes conducted. The sharing with like men. The concerted time with men in similar quandaries in their life. – Peter P
  • Just the time away from the rest of my life. The result was a completion of the shift that began end of last year with Benn’s death – and I guess earlier than that with passing of Don – stepping into ‘being it’ when it comes to age/Eldering – Tony W
  • ‘Throwing away’ the part of me that I don’t need and which has been holding me back. The way in which this was done with the temple and steps leading down to the spot we threw the items away to the sea was so powerful to me. I can’t express the feelings I had walking down the steps – it was as if finally I was going to be able to get rid of it. – Dan
  • Acknowledgement of my normality and the strong male bonding dynamic created. Great learning and growth environment – Jim
  • The day of preparation for “letting go “ the things that would hold us back from moving more fully into Elderhood. I thought that sleeping with the package of “stuff” suspended over the bed, and the stones in the bed, were particularly powerful symbols with strong psychic energy. – Graham
  • Letting go. – Tony R
  • Having the freedom to articulate some of my most guarded issues and having them supported by the group – Mick
  • Time spent with Men.- Mark
  • The openness of the sharing.-Rick
  • The group work sessions – Ron
  • I guess the whole experience of the peace at Pondok, being in the company of men really wanting to share real stuff, and the re-introduction to ritual which I miss from my life.–Roger E

What part was most difficult for you?

  • Having to have six massages in ten days that was pretty tough! … Seriously, I guess what was difficult – if anything – was staying present to some other guys’ stuff but that wasn’t too difficult. – Andrew
  • Walking up the hill on the water walk. Not smoking when I returned home. – Tony B
  • Being with so many clever men, I felt that they were far ahead of me with this sort of work – Rick
  • Daring to expose some deep pains within myself and allowing the blokes to see my vulnerable side. To be able to cry and grieve some of this raw pain was very healing, however, very confronting – Brendan
  • The experience range of the group was diverse which was OK but I did get frustrated with it in parts where people missed their opportunities to do some work. The men got better at it towards the end I guess. Plus I’m no ace at going ‘out there’ all the time. There were times when I felt there was too much talking and analysing from the head as a group. Again it may be a reflection of the diversity of experience within the group. I felt sometimes the group didn’t get the difference from once space in the Retreat to another e.g. the Well was not a time for notices or information or a place to spark discussions across the group (I might be wrong about this) At the start we spent lots of time at the start talking about what the week’s programme was and where we were going, what we would see, where we would eat etc. I wasn’t so interested in that and was happy trust in the experience of our group leaders and go where and as they determined – didn’t need to blow by blow account of everything and would have been happy with a simple outline or just a indicative timetable handed out at the start. – Murray
  • Can’t say that “difficult” is the description, but I wish I had better recall of all sessions (maybe notes could be provided with more detail of sessions), so as to better reflect and muse on growth possibilities.- Ken Mc
  • Making an obeisance to the statue at the Balinese shrine under direction of a priest.- Athol
  • I would have liked more time in group work as I thought I and, it seemed others, could have used more group work time to deal with the issues that had been opened up. – Ross
  • Sleep – Griff
  • The excessive free time in UBUD. I feel the workshop could be shortened considerably to make it more powerful and focussed. The afternoons in UBUD seemed not necessary after  two visits. I also thought the free time detracted from progress made in the workshop and physically it took me from workshop space to social space which stopped my processing. I came to Bali to work on myself not as a tourist. I feel the programme would work better if it was at least  two days shorter. If people want to be a tourist that can be done before or after.  I came to Bali to work on myself and I wanted to do that and then focus on other things later. I came to the workshop first and it just happened to be in Bali which had no attraction to me in accepting the programme and my attendance. – Peter P
  • Addressing some of my personal issues, although beneficial and rewarding. (No pain, no gain!!!!) – Denis
  • Letting go of ‘my way ‘ of doing things – Tony W
  • The same as above. Getting rid of the negative regretful side in me which has consumed me – it felt like I was leaving part of myself behind also. Some of the ‘acting’ group work was difficult as I am quite shy and have never felt comfortable doing this sort of thing in front of people. Also as it was quite probing as well as emotionally provoking, it was quite difficult – but needed. I wouldn’t want that changed. The male massage was also uncomfortable at first but later I realised it actually helped me immensely. I found it made me feel I could do things that were a little uncomfortable without worrying so much. Ie Don’t sweat the small stuff.- Dan
  • Hard to say. I was well primed for this experience, so relished the content of the program. The role plays were pretty hard going – took a long time, but were perhaps the most powerful collective activity on the agenda, building vulnerability and trust. Provided much grist for the mill. A big thanks to Wes for his skilful and sensitive facilitation of this activity.  On reflection, a big challenge for me was the apparent resistance on the part of certain participants to “get with the program” at times. Related to this was a strong personal agenda persued by a certain participant which (to me) did not necessarily support the interests of the group. Interesting to observe my own frustration and to see how the facilitators dealt with the situation.- Graham
  • Mainly early settling in stage only – Jim
  • I needed a bit more physical activity, a daily walk or bike ride,  I was really hanging out for the mountain bike ride. Some of the sessions were pretty intense and required extra time, which left little time to re-energise. External Interruptions from home which were unnecessary.- Mick
  • Putting up with Wes!  No just joking – the normal difficulty for me which is letting go of any self-consciousness and letting myself be 100% present and authentic. – Tony R
  • Intensity of the programme in terms of volume rather than content. – Mark
  • Integrating all I had learnt when I got home – Ron
  • The leaving in some sense to return back to Perth after being in such a caring space, the fear of not being able to hold on to the heart space I had reconnected to.-  Roger E

Did we provide value for money?

  • BEYOND value for money. – Andrew
  • Absobloodyrootly. – Tony B
  • Yes – Rick
  • What? It is hard to place a monetary value on this sort of experience. All the money in the world cannot buy this stuff. Well done and just keep doing it. If blokes really knew how good it was they’d be knocking your doors down – Brendan
  • Awesome value for money – great food, accommodation, trips and hosts. Felt very well cared for and well organised. – Murray
  • Yes – Ken Mc
  • I would consider the fees and air fares combined to be very expensive.  Taking the air fares out of the equation, I would say it is good value for money. – Athol
  • Without doubt – Ross
  • In my other Executive management role, we would have paid at least $5000 for such a program! Peter L
  • Definitely – Griff
  • Exceptionally!!!! – Denis
  • Yes – Tony W
  • Absolutely – worth every cent. The way in which we were taken care of personally by the staff as well as by Geoff & Wes was fantastic. To be cared for like we were and to be made to feel very safe in the midst of a very emotional period of self-work was very comforting. – Dan
  • Absolutely, “Yes”!   This only became apparent to me as the course progressed and I realised the many “extras” which were covered by the course fee. – Graham
  • Excellent value in every respect – Jim
  • Definitely – a great location, well planned, a gentle leading.Tony R
  • Yes. And if you decide to shorten the length of the programme I don’t think the price should change.- Peter P
  • Absolutely – Mark
  • Yes – Ron
  • Yes in fact “the value for money” is a hard question I find it difficult to weigh the value for money against the gift I received. – Roger E

Do you have any comments or suggestions to make? Be realistic, totally honest and go for it, we can handle supportive criticism!

  • I don’t know if there is any chance to do evening work – I reckon you could afford to have just a couple more group work sessions over the week so if you didn’t do them during the day, then the evenings would be a possibility. I would’ve liked to have spent maybe another ten hours or so in deep process, getting right into it. The MEN IN BALI retreat was awesome. I loved the combination of group process, relaxation (those massages! uh!), social adventures, local culture and reflection. I recommend this to any man who likes the idea of spending a few days with wonderful men in a wonderful place doing wonderful things. Peter and Wes, you’re amazing! – Andrew
  • The Balinese management of the compound creates a bit of unnecessary tension and should be addressed but otherwise could not find a fault. Thanks again – Jim
  • I’d appreciate some notes of the sessions – although I know many sessions are free wheeling and no one necessarily knows were they may go, I’d find general notes of possible expectations and format useful in simply recalling all the valuable experiences so as to better reflect on how the sessions effected my thinking or improved my awareness. – Ken Mc
  • The pace of the program was easy enough for everyone to feel comfortable in settling into.  For me the pace could have been a little faster, thus allowing more time for group work so that participants had more space in examining the issues that arose within them.  I sensed these issues as very sacred aspects of the men’s lives, as where else would most of the participants have ever had the opportunity to adequately bring these to the surface before?   For me this would have allowed me to more carefully confront the demons in my deeper psyche, and make plans for countering them.  I am definitely not saying that the work I did was not highly valuable – it was, and I appreciate that greatly.- Ross
  • To have a more integrated approach to the health and wellbeing of men and their families a part of the course. Thanks Wes and Pete, I had a great time and I think you could write a mini book on the course with testimonials and follow up’s as to what men did after the course. Possibly interview their partners, that would be interesting?! You could do recordings with individuals before and after and have it be a major part of the book.- Griff
  • I thought the Elder’s Way was well structured, balanced and paced. The fun times added an extra and enjoyable dimension. The take-home material was very thoughtfully written and valuable for continuing reference. The staff were excellent and a joy. I met some great men, each of whom brought something special to the group. Having an alfresco shower while gentle rain was falling was a magical experience. – Denis
  • The program was good – well thought out and clearly targeted at a particular level of work. It was good to see how it was ‘contained’ with a wide spread of previous experience in this work among the men present. I did find some of the ‘rituals’ very word-based – not surprising as this is Peter’s skill/contribution but there might be value in providing simpler input – more question-based and creating space for the participants to fill the gaps.  But then this is part of the ‘my way’ comment above – where my thinking is that the best rituals are those created by the participants around a common purpose (for which some direction and leadership is valuable) – but I accept this isn’t the only way and was happy to participate in another and observe what it brought up fort me as part of my process in being there. – Tony W
  • If I hadn’t have changed my travel to include a few extra days in Ubud, I probably would have felt I didn’t have much ‘personal’ time. The time we had to spend on our own felt a little rushed, however {and yes Geoff, I know I should have ended the sentence there!} I understand the time within the retreat was limited so I wouldn’t have wanted to lessen that either. Maybe highlighting this beforehand would be a good idea so the guys could extend their time in Bali if needed. A couple of nights there it felt as if it was a bit early hitting the rooms. Would have been nice to grab a taxi into Ubud for those wanting to and to soak it all up, discuss the day’s events etc. over a coffee. Could have done this I guess at the time but had a feeling it was frowned upon. – Dan
  • I very much appreciated the different roles played by Peter and Wes.  It would have been good if there was another half of Wes to go around. – Ross
  • Might be worth thinking of collating all pre-event information into one small ebook – arranged under some headings, or alphabetical etc. Maybe too, be a bit more specific on that special thing to bring and the thing to discard – I think I misread both of these – another moment of panic for me. The only other point I would make was, when I realised on Day 1 that Tony from NSW knew some of you Perth guys as well, I did really feel like the new kid on the block – I think this added to my feeling of isolation in those first few days – maybe that’s in the nature of it, but …. Just a thought. Meeting Graham in Perth was great in that it did help with the transition. Loved it all guys. I appreciated the slow but structured process to get us to a place where we could be real and honest with the issues that we wished to confront. I love the mix of work and play which made it feel like a holiday, but with some really profound outcomes rather than a stack of memories and photographs. – Tony R
  • Note 1: The crappy pillows L  I ended up with a sore neck because they were not really of an adequate standard. Wished I had brought a decent one with me, but feel they could invest in better quality ones. Note 2: I actually felt the programme was overcrowded. Given the intensity of sessions there was not enough down time, or time for reasonable reflection. In line with this the hours of sleep available at times was not adequate. I felt this resulted in some of the work being affected by over-tired participants, including myself. If you are getting up early then allow for an early night etc.  I understand the desire to “give value”, but quality over quantity is always best. Note 3: I’m sure this is different dependent on people’s previous experience/age etc but I felt way too “mothered”. Honour the boy (great), honour the Man (great), but I felt the adult could have been better honoured as well. – Mark
  • I can’t find anything to criticise, it was great – Ron
  • I can’t think of anything the dynamics of the group mainly direct the program and I think there is as much flexibility as you can have in there. The trips were good and the day we spent honouring ourselves was jut magic.- Mick
  • The development of what you have in Bali seems like it should be part of everyman’s experience at some point as they approach the winter of their lives. You both work so well with each other in facilitating, sharing, engendering the feeling of peace, and allowing men to feel the love. Go well and thank you both for an opportunity to reconnect. – Roger E
  • More group work process – only in the hot seat once. Printed relevant sections of the book Death of a Hero: Birth of the Soul, so we could do some intensive reflection during private time – Tony W
  • Less sight seeing – Rick
  • I guess the biggest one is being with and sharing with the other guys and realizing (again) just how similar and predictable our journeys are. I think the time and opportunity to be away from the normal hubbub was vital. The setting and food was great.
    I think the integrity and explanation of the processes was good. Particularly the induction and the gathering of the symbolic flowers. Setting of the scene was carefully and skillfully done. This encouraged people to understand the safe space that they were in and facilitated them to share their experiences without fear. There was still a risk but no risk=no reward. I was particularly admiring of your skill in balancing the free flow of heart-felt expression with a gentle and unseen guidance towards a joint goal. As one who often tends to rush in I also admired your timing and space for people/processes to work their own way to a conclusion. – Peter L
  • I want to say another big thank you for the wonderful experience that was us, Men in Bali, and the opportunity to enjoy such a rich cultural experience. I have fond memories of the smell of early morning incense, the nightly dogs chorus, cocks crowing, temple sounds loud and long into the night, early morning ‘Pagi’ on village walks, Mt. Agung rising out of morning clouds, loud cries of ‘Harr, Harr” scaring rice hungry birds, bamboo bangs scaring demons, Bintang, young women on motorbikes, smiling men and women, cool yoghurt on skin, boys carving beautiful images, offerings decaying underfoot, a hundred ‘monkey men’ chanting …strong impressions after my first visit to Bali. I enjoyed our time together, despite the grief and exhaustion I was experiencing. I appreciate your support in all of this and the work I did has helped me on my arrival back in Melbourne. – Ken
  • I be happy to do it all again and not change a thing it was a great experience. – Murray
  • Not everyone will like or will be able to handle hot and spicy food.  Maybe add that into an advance warning and provide an option for people to request western food as a special dietary request. Given the likelihood of older men attending this program, I would rethink the routes of some of the walks. I would schedule longer check ins and check outs on a daily basis as a good means of taking the pulse of the group, to allow early warning of emerging issues, and as a means of facilitating self processing (I find there is nothing like hearing myself say something to concretise it in my mind). I like saying something affirmative as a group when a man has made a significant contribution.  Given the spiritual nature of the Elder’s Way, I reckon “bless you” and his name, would work well.  However, a simple group “thankyou” and his name, would also work. I think it is asking too much of Wes to process seven or eight men by himself.  I suggest training someone to act as a second to Wes, and who on occasion, could lead with reference back to Wes if needed. – Athol
  • Less time in Ubud. More concerted time in workshop or process mode. Sometime I felt you both held back a bit when working one on one with me and others. We are all there for a reason and I sometimes left a workshop feeling a  bit underdone! I mean I sometimes felt on the edge of a breakthrough and the process stopped. On a personal note I felt Mr X did not fit in with our group. I know you had an agenda in inviting him but I feel he detracted rather than added to the process. He is not an Elder by age and certainly not yet looking to that role in his life. I felt angry that he was included in an Elder space. I also felt that when you worked with him your own knowledge of his circumstance made your agenda dominate his participation and hinder his learning. – Peter P