Colin:- We first interviewed Joy Hicklin-Bailey way back in 2008, six years ago, just at the beginning of the Magic of Being, where we focused on her coaching work and her own spiritual journey. This time our conversation focuses on what is going on now for Joy, and what plans she has for the future.
Joy, your website and the work you promote is all about the Secret Garden, would you like to give us some insight into what that is about?
Joy:- Colin first of all I’d like to say thank you so much for this invitation to speak with you this evening.
Secret Garden is for ‘you’ if you are a seasoned traveller in the arena of spiritual development and you may have been on this extraordinary, ordinary, sometimes arduous journey for a while. You may have a degree of self awareness, of consciousness and have an awareness of old patterns, perhaps an understanding about where you are opening and yet somehow there might still be a sense of something missing in ordinary life & Western culture which these gatherings can give you –a kind of soul food.
Secret Garden is for those who value love, truth and beingness way beyond the confines of the small self or personality. It is for tenderness, nourishment and enrichment of every aspect of being; every aspect of being human that might be hidden away or moved aside in our ‘normal’ way of living in our western culture. Secret Garden is about being, it is about the uniqueness of being you; you will never happen the same way again, you are unique. The beingness of expressing ‘you’ can flourish when there is, at a very deep level, healing of perceived limits and problems, acceptance of self and others, and the love and freedom, the taste of life’s essence, that blossoms as a result. Being ‘you’ with totality is a gateway to the empty fullness of life which is beyond the personal.
Secret Garden is an invitation then into the fullness and emptiness of life. The nothing and everything. It is beingness that is not personal, belongs to no one. This Secret Garden is a very potent field in which to rest, to dissolve into. This is where all healing happens and transformation takes place, where no one is trying to do anything, get anything or seek anything. The energetic transmission that occurs will speed up, facilitate, what is naturally ready to happen.
The ultimate expertise is to help human beings who are drawn to do so back into oneness.
Colin:- That sits so well with me because my website is called The Magic of Being, to magically ‘be’ is the goal. If someone were to subscribe to one of your weekends or workshops what would they expect, how do you approach it with so many different people attending?
Joy:- It would depend on the theme of the weekend , Secret Garden has two complementary poles to it (one apparently feeds & facilitates the other). The fundamental core is facilitating this apparent journey into ‘just being’. The other element of the work is called Joyful Loving which invites you to look deeper than surface ideas of romance, commitment, communication, at how we play the game of apparently relating in this dream, in this embodiment. So Secret Garden is about Being and then ‘you’ as a unique character unfolding , play –deeply – with the question ‘What is Intimate Relating?’
If you come to a Joyful Loving workshop, you might be exploring structures in pairs or in groups together involving touch, verbal exchange, sexual polarity and much more. This is very safely held so that boundaries are made conscious, perhaps changed consciously, and the participant is empowered by that, the insights ripple out into their ordinary lives. A recent exploration was about the Wounded Masculine, the ‘Enlightened’ Masculine and the Wounded Feminine, The ‘Enlightened’ Feminine –readers & listeners please note I have talked with you before Colin about some of the misconceptions around that word Enlightenment!
What is most significant is that this is in a field where the underlying context is that there is no separation, the transmission is absolute unknowing, anarchic, life’s intelligence is free to move as it will.
You might also be drawn to workshops where the emphasis would be completely on the inner, that might be a silent retreat for a day, a weekend vision quest in wilderness or a retreat where there is an exploration of being in its purest sense –that which never changes. For each the focus would be different but the opportunity – to awaken from the made up conditioned ‘me’ – is the same.
Colin:- One of the things I’m very interested in is how to love without hitting those restricted barriers of our society programming, of how we can only love one person (our partner) at this level. When we step out of this we are in a very different domain, where the love seems to flow where it wants to, where there are no associations, where people can experience love in a totally different way to how they might have before.
Joy:- Absolutely, those kind of moments happen all the time in Secret Garden workshops and sometimes with very deep awakenings. As a culture we have so much invested in the perfect relationship and when this is tightly held, or an ideology (maybe unconscious) by human beings discontent and problems may emerge because of the stickiness, deals, manipulations, compromises, resentment and blame that can happen as a result. Secret Garden facilitates participants into a deeper authenticity and a deeper availability for love.
However Secret Garden is not about lifestyle, it does not tell you to live this way or that way. It can accommodate all types of choice about lifestyle; single people, committed couples, people in the middle of a love affair, those who wish to connect with many different people in their life and not live the marriage model – the circle allows and embraces those choices and many others as well. It is not about sexual preference or orientation either, but the themes are reliably and predictably the same.
Secret Garden is very much about experiencing what is natural, organic and what is real to a great deal of depth. It is also about sometimes entering into the darker aspects of human nature, the ‘shadow’ energies that are part of life, both real & unreal, yet suppressed or disguised & lived with a grave lack of consciousness in normal Western culture, an invitation & support to allow & become easy & light with absolute freedom of being.
These explorations facilitate the alchemical evolutionary potential to emerge in sexual and love connections and partnerships. Love and attraction are wake up calls! An invitation to dissolve all ‘you’ think you are.
Life in its intelligence uses nature, sexual attraction, the attraction that happens in friendship or when we are being drawn to a teacher or a group. It will endeavor to destroy ‘you’ and I use that word ‘destroy’ advisedly. Here, this message shared by the body called Joy, love is the same as death, in the moments of real love there is a death of what you know and of all that you think we are. That can happen naturally in the moment of eye contact with the postman just as much as with one’s life partner. And that is why for many people intimacy is so terrifying and avoided at all costs.
That flow, that beauty and sense of wonder, of oneness, is not available to a personality. So as soon as you start relating this to deals (if you do this for me I’ll do that for you; I wont say this in case it might hurt you; I’m not going to show you this because I think its ugly and you wont love me), when we start making accommodations then life becomes more dull, slightly deadened.
If someone is convinced of the validity of ‘me’ then protection becomes paramount. Newness cannot arise. Assumptions and expectations become a veil between people. Separation from others or a partner can be craved unconsciously or consciously, to preserve the illusions. And then, when there is no connection, there is a craving to belong. ‘Me’ can never love, give or relax! And this becomes very obvious for most people when they explore relating with another.
The impetus of intimate relating is to show you that you are life, utterly loveable, an endless mystery, beautiful, to show you that there is no separation. This is the Secret Garden journey, which acknowledges that human beingness, like all in existence, is both real and unreal. (And interestingly scientists are now drawing the same conclusions) It’s a dance between deep processing – through deep, long-buried pain and conditioning or current losses or disappointments or perceived limits- with expert facilitation and a lot of loving companionship – fluidity of feelings, communications and responses, and an endless celebration of flow, of being.
Colin:- This is the point where we can feel very vulnerable so it is important to have someone you can feel comfortable and confident with; this can be key to opening deeper. Often we get close to opening something we have never opened before, or something that has been locked away and we may not want to show it. Secret Garden is the kind of environment where you’d feel safe to take that step. As you were talking I could feel the energy of it too.
Joy:- It’s a very powerful energetic field in a Secret Garden circle yet in the intimate explorations, very safely held, and it can be gorgeous and surprising, beautiful and deeply intimate. If your listeners and readers feel drawn to a Secret Garden day or weekend or retreat or training, fabulous! If someone is really engaged they will reap the rewards very quickly. Sometimes it’s frightening to be really engaged, to be fully intimate with the life happening, with what IS, not what ‘should’ be, and that might be seen and felt by participants at times, of course, but that’s totally ok; its fine to take baby steps and check things out, the intention is to provide a loving and nourishing experience first, and that safety and relaxation may allow insights then about how totality, being fully present to life here now and real transparency creates opening, intimacy, freedom, and how feelings are never real, (this can only be discovered when you allow yourself to fully embrace them –and this can be so much easier with support than alone) and then the deeper awakenings – there is no one, nothing ever happens, no story is ever true.
Colin:- Some teachers have a 5 step program or a 7 secrets to kind of approach where a formal process is outlined, I’m not hearing that from you. Do you take each workshop as it comes?
Joy:- The weekends are very tightly structured but not around steps in the way one might sell a ‘system’. There is nothing wrong with that approach, sometimes it is desirable to be led step by step, but this approach is to work more intuitively. I absolutely trust life’s flow; that the right things happen at the right time for the right human being in the right way, whatever it looks like.
It appears that people are drawn to that body-mind called Joy, to this loose community or to particular trainings, (in which nothing is required by the way) after having developed a degree of consciousness which means they have the ability to hold themselves in their experiences and do not need to be led in such a structured way and, though they may come with longings, unresolved stuff, hopes, are not taken in by the promise of a future possibility that awaits after a next step. Here, for Joy, this is deep untruth.
So you might experience two days that are tightly structured with particular themes that are presented and explored, ways of meeting and yourself, and then there is free space so that people can do or say what they need to do with it within the whole circle of human beings. As human beings we do not need structure – or even conscious understanding – anything like as much as we think we do, it is in the unconscious where transformation happens, at a soul level, that’s where healing can happen, that’s where beingness is.
As a facilitator there is perhaps a reassuring of the vulnerable separate one and then a facilitation of that deep dive in which the awakenings and openings happen in a way that they wouldn’t in every day contact.
Colin:- How would you describe intimacy in this context?
Joy:- Intimacy is not knowing, infinite mystery. One of the apparent qualities that creates fertile ground for intimacy is transparency. The more you reveal the more others can get you, feel you, know you, respond to you. This can move us towards a deeper connection and then to dissolution. Transparency is key in circles. The personality carefully negotiates what is revealed and can never experience intimacy and real life. The more someone shows up and reveals themselves the more life, as Joy, can respond to them and give unanticipated gifts. This also means other participants can respond to them and so you get loved wherever you are, whatever you feel, which can be a massive revelation. It is also fine to be completely closed and untransparent, of course. Nothing is expected.
Colin:- Do you tailor your workshops according to the time of year or any particular alignments such as the Summer Solstice?
Joy:- Every group is different and utterly unique which is what is so beautiful about this work, I adore the pristine aliveness and purity of intentions of love and truth. I do notice differences seasonally so a retreat that is run in winter is very different energetically than one run in the summer. There is a time when we all in this appearance called life on planet earth need to be quieter, more focused on the inner, where more rest and nourishment is needed. At this time of year, summertime, it is very easy to sing a heart song because nature is doing it, it is all around. This means the requirements of the participants are different at different times. I might run a workshop about death in the winter but never in the summer, I’m more likely to facilitate a stillness retreat in winter for example. I’ve just come out of a Beltane workshop the first weekend in May, the theme was Man and Woman and Inner Marriage. It was a Joyful Loving weekend and a most glorious celebration, very festive, lush, gorgeous, profound, sweet. It was a particular theme of alchemical marriage on the inner and its reflections on the outer that I wanted to introduce so it happened at Beltane.
And it isn’t taken seriously, though great care and gentleness may arise. How could anything be serious?
All ‘I’ am, ‘Joy’ is, is non-personal consciousness playing in a body. It might appear and sound from the use of language as if this is not the case, but all that is here is the emptiness beyond being. An absence. That dance of different energies you mentioned just now (2012 – 2013 and other astrological events) goes on in the play of being but it isn’t of interest here, the openings that happen in the Secret Garden go way deeper than they would normally simply because ‘Joy’ is utterly beyond that dance, this work is informed by what is underneath all that.
That still point of the turning world, that which never changes, that beyond, the changeless. Who knows, perhaps that is why such extraordinary transformation takes place in Secret Garden.
We can talk about workshops and structures, we can talk about what helps intimacy and what hinders it but in the end there is nothing happening, there’s nobody, there is nothing to find for the personality in the Secret Garden. Nothing can be taken away from your personality because ‘you’ do not exist, your stories, challenges and drama are the dream; what is beyond words allows your life to transform, in this wonderful dream called life. The real and non real, this paradox of life, means that who ‘you’ you are is much more fluid and free than the mind can ever imagine.
Colin:- Thanks very much for that Joy, it’s been a real pleasure speaking with you, so very good to link up again.
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