How counselling from The Grove turned my life around...

Desert journeys for personal and professional development

The desert experience

This is a unique and pioneering project using the amazing environment of the desert to enhance your own development and self-understanding.

Taking people out of their roles, day-to-day existence and environment allows space and time to reflect. This process allows you to experience yourself more fully. This enables you to experiment with your shape and find other ways of being.

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The desert has a great way of keeping you in the “now”. The impact of having vast space contributes to attaining new insight and additional perspective. Once in the desert there is a process of emptying which enhances the ability to let go of things that can be burdensome or troubling – yet which we carry as our historical strategies and defences. When we are able to let go of what we hold onto we are more open and freer to embrace and integrate new opportunity and experience.

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The emptying allows more room within and initiates a heightening of awareness and sensation which can enable us to find new insight, feelings, thoughts and experience.

The stillness of the desert encourages us to do less and be more. This process facilitates experiencing thoughts and feelings in new ways with less interruption from external pressures and stimuli and thus makes it a productive and intimate environment to learn and be in.

Find inspiration in this stunning environment where peace allows the mind to quieten –  there is endless space for reflection and contemplation.

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Please contact Ben McKie, director of The Grove Practice and journey leader, if you are interested in any of our desert-based journeys: ben@thegrovepractice.com  07843 480867

What we offer

The Grove runs a variety of experiential trips in the Sahara desert, Egypt:

  • Reflective Journeys (travelling in a small group of six)
  • Executive programmes for individuals or groups
  • Individual Journey (tailored to your need for working on specific issues, one-to-one with your therapist)
  • Mind/body retreat (increasing inner connection and calm)

 

On each of the trips you will experience swimming in mineral lakes in the desert surrounded by dunes. You will see amazing sunrises and sunsets and an array of beautiful stars in the desert night. The trips last for 7 to 9 days, depending on programme.  All equipment, accommodation, permits, camel riding, food and beverages are included.

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See below for further information on logistics and travel.

Reflective journey in the desert

This trip involves riding camels for 5 days and camping in different parts of the desert each night. The reflective aspect focuses on your individual psychological process and some group experiential exercises. There is a maximum of six participants on this trip.

Flights to / from Cairo are usually at the weekend either side of the camel trip, which takes place from Monday to Friday.

The cost of the trip is £1,800 + VAT, dependent upon your flights and itinerary.

Further dates are planned for October 2013 and Spring 2014.

This journey is ideal if:

  • you want to find some stillness, silence and space in your life;
  • or you relish the personal challenge of an intrepid kind of travel;
  • or maybe you enjoy being immersed in nature and spending time with animals.

 

Individual programme to work one-to-one with a therapist

This concept is tailored to your individual needs. You will work one-to-one with Ben McKie to focus on specific areas that you want to develop, such as relationship patterns, leadership style or challenges at work, how to be yourself while facing obstacles or set-backs in life.

Compared to the camel journey, this programme is based largely at either the beach-front hotel on the Mediterranean coast at Marsa Matrouh, or at the ranch near Siwa, offering self-contained en-suite chalet accommodation.

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Next dates available in 2012: April / May or October / November.

Please contact Ben McKie, director of The Grove Practice and journey leader to arrange a mutually convenient itinerary: ben@thegrovepractice.com   07843 480867

 

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The itinerary includes:

Individual sessions with your own therapist at key stages during the week

Group process each day, covering themes such as relationship patterns and group constellations, leadership style, roles and archetypes, your choice of power and influence

Some silent time for reflection and learning through being

Then back in the UK, there will be 2 optional follow-up meetings to support you in adapting to returning to your usual environment.

Accommodation during the retreat is within a range of en-suite self-contained chalets, although in addition there is an option to take a camel ride into the desert one day and/or stay overnight under the stars in our desert camp. Also optional is a trip to bathe in the freshwater pool at an oasis inside the desert.

This journey is ideal if:

  • you are seeking greater meaning and fulfilment in life;
  • you realise you are trapped in destructive cycles such as destructive relationships, patterns of sabotaging yourself, not feeling good-enough;
  • you’ve lost connection with your creativity and inspiration;
  • you’d like support in managing intense emotions; you are prone to anxiety or panic – this retreat draws upon CBT (cognitive behavioural therapy) and mindfulness techniques to help ground you and support you in connecting to your environment; you suffer from symptoms of depression – this programme supports you towards increased self-awareness and resourcefulness.

TO FIND OUT MORE:

If you are interested in any of the journeys outlined above, please contact Ben McKie, Director at The Grove Practice:

He will give you more information and give you guidance on ballpark costs. The cost will vary according to the flights and time of year.  The dates and itineraries are currently being planned for Spring and Autumn – so please do let us know of your interest, so we can keep you updated as the plans are finalised.

Logistics

The trip is led by Ben McKie, who co-ordinates the travel arrangements and accommodation. Ben is present throughout the desert journey – he has spent a significant amount of time in Egypt and is an experienced facilitator of several desert trips.

When we arrive in Egypt we make our way to Siwa Oasis which is a 9 hour drive from Cairo airport or 3 hour drive from Marsa Matrouh.

Depending on flight times, participants may spend one night in Marsa Matrouh which is on the Mediterranean coast. The hotel is on the beach and has good facilities with a private beach area and a stunning turquoise sea.

Transport to and from Siwa will be by private air-conditioned mini bus. The accommodation provided before and after the desert experience will be self-contained en-suite chalets on a ranch near the edge of the desert, approximately 2 kilometres from Siwa town. The ranch is a peaceful place, fixtures and furnishings are traditionally Arabic and meals are served in a beautiful Bedouin tent.

While camping in the desert, spacious shared tented accommodation is provided, with plenty of room for two people and equipment. But many people choose to sleep outside under the stars. Mouth-watering meals are cooked for you on an open fire.

The dependable camels are provided from a reputable local ranch, with experienced desert guides who lead the camel ride.

What people say about our desert journeys

“When I first became aware of this personal development course I went though a number of different emotions, scared, excited but knowing I needed to do something to stop what felt like a midlife crisis occurring !  I had realised that work was seriously getting me down and it was starting to have a detrimental affect on my family life

I think everyone engaging in this level of personal development will come out with different experiences and Ben tailored this week absolutely to my needs.   I can honestly say its changed my life for the better, in particular more of a sense of balance and awareness of my impact on people around me but almost more importantly making sure I look after myself just as much as I already look after others.

The experience of the desert was very poignant, the stark beauty of the environment and my camel (nicknamed Rodney) will stay with me forever, I had proper time to think and reflect.  Ben read me like a book and pushed me as hard mentally as the trekking pushed me physically.  He knew I wanted an adventure and I certainly got it!

Since I have returned from the desert my work life has improved immensely, I’m not taking on other peoples issues and more importantly feel so much more confident about my own abilities (without letting other people’s weaknesses undermine me).  My renewed confidence has meant a greater positive impact on the business as a whole

I’ve also been working hard on how I approach my personal life and have learnt to appreciate my family and friends so much more – balance is everything,  just be in the moment!

Finally, My experience in the desert helped me realise so many important things about myself, I would recommend this to anyone who wants to reflect on their life and have a life MOT.  I can not emphasise how much Ben has been a positive influence during and after Siwa, he rocks!”

Media Executive, London

“Even though I had primary purpose in going to Siwa nobody could have prepared me for the peace and beauty of it.

For me it was a different culture, religion way of life which added in many ways to its magic.

Where I was staying was on the edge of the desert, another new experience for me enhanced by the opportunity to travel on a camel into the desert and view the sunset.

For me therapy is always daunting, intense ,painful and emotional and to say the least scary. The intensity of the therapy over the five day period helped me to focus my thoughts on what was most troubling me and stopping me moving on. I always took the lead but this was assisted and facilitated by Ben.

This intensity allowed for me a building up of trust which in my view enabled me to gain an honesty and openness in the sessions.

The environment I was living in gave me the space and peace to reflect on that days work, also to write down my thoughts for future reference.

The whole experience of Siwa was calming and peaceful helping to assist the process of intense therapy. This will always remain with me, I know that I will return .

I went into the unknown quite closed but now feel an opening up of myself to new experiences.”

Social worker, Brighton.

“Having sought support in therapy and working with Ben, I was able to stabilise myself in a number of ways, but the real breakthrough came in November 2009 during the week that I spent in Siwa Oasis. In short, the result of the work and experience has given me the tools that I already possessed to be able to improve and support my quality of life.

Now that I look back, in addition to finding the ‘right’ therapist for you at the time, I also realise that when this is combined with the ‘right’ location and enough amount of time, then the progression that can be made is huge. Aside from my personal view about how good Ben is as a therapist/ person, it is also worth highlighting just how special a place Siwa is, and what makes it seem so suited to these kinds of trips. The 10 hour drive from Cairo into open space and desert is where I began to really appreciate the concept of space, and given that I am used to living in a crowded city, this in itself was an experience, and I began start the journey of opening my mind. When finally entering Siwa I began to realise what a unique place it was, and it almost had a spiritual feeling, but equally importantly it felt a very safe and friendly place to be. Everyone’s experience in Siwa will be different, as will their needs, wants, and aims from such a trip are, however, I do think there are a number of generalisations that can be made about this kind of trip/ journey.

My trip consisted of spending a set amount of time each day with Ben, but importantly for me, within that period we were flexible with regard to where we worked, what we were going to do, and what issues I wanted to work on. My experience with therapy before hand was particularly structured at one session per week, and whilst I see the merits and logic for that, having a more intense period of time in a completely different environment enabled me to relax more, go deeper into my issues and myself, and enabled me develop an understanding of my mind, and how the mind works in general. The flexibility and unique environment of Siwa firstly enabled me to get this deeper understanding of my personal issues, but we also carried out more intense and specific exercises and work focused on what my particular problems were. Before Siwa I didn’t feel comfortable to undertake such exercises, and feared delving too deep into such areas, but there was something about the unique surroundings, and having such a concentrated and focused period of therapy. I felt able to take risks with my emotions, and have seen the rewards this can create. Without going into detail, instead of avoiding and ignoring certain core problems (which I had been doing for years), the Siwa experience provided me the time and space (with Ben’s support) to be able to really work through my issues. I realised that this is not always an easy process, and I would not have made the progress I have since Siwa without the work and support from Ben I received in that week.

In addition to the environment, it is also worth mentioning the hospitality of the places that I stayed during my Siwa trip. The accommodation was truly unbelievable, with the specific hotel I was staying at (Tala Ranch) being run by two of the most accommodating, interesting, and caring hotel owners I have ever come across. In short, for anyone that feels like there are barriers that they cannot get through in the normal one session per week, or that they really need to take some time for themselves, then I would whole heartedly recommend Siwa. In addition to this, it goes without saying how much of an amazing person and therapist Ben is. Spending time working with Ben has changed my life, and I am beginning to now see the future in a completely different and more optimistic way.”

Hedge fund manager, London.

“The desert is an extraordinary place to clear your head, be in connection with your self and live the present. It brought me peace, light and hope and I am grateful to Ben for having given me the opportunity to live this unforgettable experience”

Finance manager, London

“I’ve now been to Siwa two times, and both have been valuable experiences helping me implement material change in my life… If ever you feel in need of space and time to yourself to process, then Siwa provides this but in a very special and unique way. It is a place with a unique energy that facilitates and supports the process of looking inward and focusing on supporting yourself”

Hedge fund manager, London.

About Siwa

Siwa was famous around the ancient world as a trading centre. Many pharaonic graves and mummies have been discovered in and around Siwa, which suggest its existence since 2000 B.C.

The Temple of the Oracle dates back to King Amasis in the 26th dynasty, when Siwa was a famed religious centre. In 331 B.C. Alexander the Great consulted the Siwan Oracle, before founding the city of Alexandria.

The Oracle confirmed that he was indeed the son of the God Zeus, hence Alexander the Great allegedly expressed the desire to be buried in Siwa.

Siwa is an oasis of palm and olive trees fed by hot & cold mineral water that gushes up through natural fissures in the rock .

The huge and beautiful sand dunes know as ‘The Great Sand Sea’ that stretch west to Libya are close to the oasis and the mainly Berber population of Siwa have strong cultural traditions and still maintain a relatively simple and slow way of life.

Siwa is in Egypt’s western desert and is situated 800 kms west of the Nile Valley.