• Michael Edward Stephens

Who am i? A retreat series exploring identity as a gay man.

Updated: Jun 12

This two day retreat is a sequence of powerful experiential workshops designed to take you through a process of deeper self-exploration, understanding and personal development.

Have you ever asked yourself...

Why do I care so much?

Why do I want this so bad?

Why is nothing ever enough?

Is this really it?

You’re not alone.

As gay men, the shame we experienced growing up has likely shaped the way we now view the world, each other and ourselves. The overwhelming need for external validation in all areas of our adult lives can largely be attributed to the challenges around love and acceptance that we wrestled with as a child. It’s driven some of us to unrealistic, unnatural and highly competitive standards of perfection and success. It’s no surprise that we find it hard to feel comfortable or satisfied. Addiction, depression and suicide rates within our community, all suggest that, perhaps some of the things we value as important aspects of who we are; the things we think will make us happy - money, status, recognition - unfortunately won’t. No matter how much of them we have. And, somehow despite our numerous achievements, we actually feel worse at times. Trapped in a repetitive cycle of anxiety, fear and disappointment. The good news is that you’re not alone. And there is still plenty of time to choose how you show up in the world.

The questions you could now ask yourself?

1. Do I really want to understand why I feel this way?

2. Am I ready to explore who I am?

(without the title, paycheque or self imposed expectations)

3. Am I prepared to make significant changes in my life?

Who am i?

The ‘Who am i?’ series will combine different experiential workshops to explore identity as a gay man in 2020. These workshops are carefully designed around tried and tested psychological and holistic practices, to take participants on a process of self-exploration. These include compassionate self-inquiry, sharing in groups, breathwork, creative workshops, and transformational techniques to elicit a deeper connection and understanding – which we can then use as fuel to instigate change, while becoming more present and powerful in the world. This sequence of workshops will take place digitally initially, in the form of a ‘virtual retreat’, but move into a physical space post-coronavirus lockdown. Book free taster session now.

Why is this work important?

Transitions are some of the most difficult yet powerful phases of our lives. Moving from one stage to the next rarely comes easily, even less so if it’s a radical shift that you’re embarking on. Preparation to change requires effort, space and time. More too often than not though, we go from one company to the next, project to project, one meeting straight into another... all without pausing to evaluate. We acquire more and more ‘stuff’ to deal with. The same can be said for our personal lives. How many of us can say that we fully gave ourself the space to deal with aspects of our sexuality after coming out. It’s likely we jumped right into living a new ‘authentic life’ as a gay man without understanding that our social conditions had perhaps changed, and that deeply ingrained parts of us needed some time to catch up, adapt or be let go of.

Why a retreat?

Retreats offer us the opportunity to fully connect with others, and ourselves. When we remove the static of daily life for a period of time, we can more easily tune in to what we really need. A retreat also offers a unique blend of complementary techniques, which can allow for deeper self exploration and understanding. It’s not always comfortable work, but it can offer you fresh perspectives and the necessary kick-start to making important changes in your life. We'll be delivering this retreat series both virtually and physically. Take a look at the dates available here.

Questions that may come up for you.

What are my underlying beliefs?

How have they influenced me so far (protection, need for safety)?

What are the coping skills I’ve utilised until this point?

How have they served me?

How is that working out for me right now?

What changes do I need to make in my life?

Book free taster session now.

The Workshops.

The workshops will vary slightly based on the team who facilitate. We play with different combinations of creative exercises and transformational techniques. For more information on the specific schedule and workshops being delivered on a given date, please visit our website. Some examples of these below.

The power of group work.

No one will be forced to share anything they don’t want to, or anything at all if they don’t feel comfortable. Sharing has a proven benefit to processing experiences and emotions. These sessions are intended to allow participants to learn from each other, build a stronger connection as beings, and perhaps demonstrate that you are not alone in what you are feeling or going through.

The power of movement.

A movement session is about waking up and energising ourselves. Preparation is really important when doing this self-discovery work, and the way we start our day is key. We will guide you through the session, as you start to slowly connect the mind and body. It’s not a Barry’s Bootcamp workout, but more a gentle movement practice that incorporates elements of tai-chi, body scanning and some mindful breathing.

The power of breathwork.

Most of us are hardly aware of our breath, yet it sustains every cell in our bodies and supports every life experience we will ever have. Using techniques now supported by credible scientific research, breathwork enables us to bring vital life-force energy and well-being to our entire mind-body system, supercharging its ability to self-heal. Our practitioners will guide you through a breath workshop, designed to reveal emotional blind spots and consciously strengthen the mind’s ability to remain centred and calm amidst the noise.

The power of creativity.

Music, sculpture, photography, cinema, design, literature, drama, poetry, dance, storytelling - each can ignite something deeper within us. The process of artistic expression allows the mind to rest, which enables us to go into deeper modes of personal enquiry and development. We also start to tap into valuable resources, such as our creativity, intuition and personal resilience. Our creative workshops are led by facilitators and range from intuitive painting to creative writing and journaling.

Book free taster session now.

Some possible end goals to consider.

To prepare for change or a transition..

Take some time to debate ‘what next?’

An opportunity to consider all your options.

Create some distance from regular patterns of behaviour.

Understand better your actions, thoughts and beliefs.

Use the safe space to discuss and get curious.

Discover some undiscovered truths about yourself.

Make a start on a plan of action.

Our trusted team.

Throughout the duration of the retreat, you’ll work in close collaboration with each of the team members in respect of their given workshop. There will be a lead figure present throughout, whose role will alternate as facilitator and supervisor of each workshop. They will not be offering any counselling or diagnoses relating to psychological issues that attendees may be experiencing throughout the retreat. In the case of significant distress, additional or subsequent support will be sign-posted or referred as required.

For more information on the specific team on each given dates, please visit out website.

Your safety comes first.

Your safety is our main priority. For this reason, we will need to ask participants for some personal medical information, before we can confirm your place on the workshop. These are standard questions, there to protect your safety and everyone else involved. This information will only be shared on a need to know basis and will be GDPR compliant. We will also be undertaking other necessary safety measures, during and post-retreat.

About our approach.

It’s important to state, that we are not a rehabilitation or intervention centre. Nor are we providing one-on-one medical or psychological advice. We would highly recommend individuals with concerns relating to pre-existing mental health conditions, substance misuse and related disorders to seek immediate professional help. We are certainly not providing a ‘cure’, and this isn’t a therapy session. We are however, offering a safe space to get curious, open up and discuss with others, aspects of your life you’re finding challenging. This isn’t bootcamp either, but it also isn’t going to be easy. To get the most out of it is going to require work, commitment and an open attitude. We won’t be telling you to quit your job or become a spiritual healer. We won’t be telling you anything in fact. We are purely laying out some alternative routes of investigation. The actions you take and the changes you make will be your choice. Book free taster session now.

About the organisers.

This retreat series has been designed by Create Space and partners.

Michael Stephens

Michael is co-founder of Create Space

“I struggled for many years accepting my own sexuality. Since coming out over 10 years ago, I’ve also battled with mental and physical health challenges, and worked through periods of complete exhaustion. I'm so thankful that I was eventually able to address these issues, and make some important life changes."

Maylis Djikalou

Maylis is a transformational coach and events curator.

“It was in the darkest moments that I discovered the gift of desperation, and with it, eventually came the courage to talk. I wanted to devote my energy and curiosity to help others become more agile and connected emotionally throughout life transitions.”

A bit about Create Space.

We at Create Space organise bespoke retreat and workshop experiences in the UK, Europe and online. Our unique transformational programmes are designed to inspire, empower and build a more supportive, creative community. We want our guests to leave excited to continue on their own path of self-discovery, self-care, and with a deeper connection to what’s meaningful to them.

“When it comes to personal growth, we believe that self-enquiry is so important. It’s allowed us to overcome challenging periods, expand on our creative capabilities, and redefine our professional lives.” Michael Edward Stephens and Angus Stephens, Founders of Create Space and brothers.

Want to find out more?

About dates, schedule or book your place on the retreat?

Book free taster session now.

Click here to get in touch.