The Whidbey Akhaldans School (Overview)
The Whidbey Akhaldans Fourth Way School is a center that offers students the opportunity to cultivate integrated development of self-awareness and self-understanding. This self-understanding transforms our inner–and outer–experience of life. Through unlearning our conditioned, past patterns, we are able to connect in a more grounded and authentic way with ourselves, with others, and with the world. This process is always underway, and it is our eternal, joyful Work.
Creating a physical community of like-hearted seekers is key to the purpose of Whidbey Akhaldans. In essence we are working to create a group that feels like a community without being a formal ‘community’ with rules and the resulting drama. We have set all the offerings around the weekend so that folks from the mainland can come on Friday evening and stay through to Sunday. We have extra rooms or, even when many, private floor space. When there are overnight guests, we make sure to have more opportunities for work together or just space to Be.
Carol further explains:
The bedrock for our shared values is a common desire to be more — more present, more connected and ever more Human. There are many wonderful paths to transformation and to reaching more of our human potential; seekers need to know what is on offer so that they can decide whether it’s what they might be looking for. Well, Whidbey Akhaldans is my space, my personal retreat center where I walk my path and invite others to walk alongside me. When describing this path, I often quote Parker Palmer’s beautiful reminder: We teach who we are. When deciding what to offer and when, I acknowledge: We teach what we most need to learn.
Asking myself who I am is such a fascinating exercise. Please try it! The answer changes all the time — at least on the surface. Who I am is not the same as what I have done or even what I am doing. The simplest answer that hasn’t changed since I began my conscious journey is that I follow a 4th Way path to becoming a clear channel for transformation — my own first — to prepare me for service to others. Whatever I do with myself or others always provides work to challenge all three centers at their leading edges and aims toward their integration once they are made whole and healthy. The outer forms of this work reflect my current explorations and include the Gurdjieff Movements and ideas, practices around the qualities of the heart embedded in the 99 wazifas of the Sufi way, Reiki healing, sound work including deep listening, and lots of cross-sensorial-neurological exercises to shake up and re-lay clearer pathways in my three brains.
Over the past year of pandemic confinement, I have been engaged in a deep-dive to prepare for the integration of the Enneagram of Transformation into my shared work. I will launch this during a 10-day Movements retreat this summer in Finland. I’m delighted to be headed back to the Karuna meditation center in southern Portugal for a 6-day Movements retreat in southern Portugal following the Finland workshop. I’m also planning a 3-day retreat for the fall in Northern California where I will assist my friend, Henry Schoenfield, in the exploration of the teachings of Jesus in the Lord’s Prayer and the Beatitudes with movement that enhances the resonance of the sound and meaning of the original Aramaic prayers.
This brings me back to my work to build a local community. This work on Self isn’t easy. Although it’s hard for me to admit that I can’t do it all on my own, I learn more deeply when working consistently with others who share my interests, who challenge my beliefs and inspire me to try new things and see the old in new ways. I have found it invaluable to have residential students living here, reminding me to walk my talk every day.
To create and hold a local, non-residential group where we can work together, we’re making space for friends with a wide range of interests and comfort zones. There are some people who lean toward the Gurdjieff work and particularly the Movements. Others don’t resonate with the Movements but enjoy and are awakened by the experiential and playful nature of the somatic integration groups. Still others come only for the Salon, where they find stimulation and the relief of being in a circle of people who want to explore ideas and how they impact us emotionally. We have a small core of people who come for all three and are actively welcoming newcomers.