DISCLAIMER - This is based on my experience, and everyone's experience is unique, because it's a deep process! [Feel free to share]
I have decided to write this taster for those people who do not know the International School of Temple Arts, for those who feel tuned out when they listen to videos and descriptions about ISTA Level 1, because it's in a language not accessible to them.
I first came across ISTA totally by chance; I was traveling with my beloved in Guatemala and a poster caught my attention. Probably because it had the word sex in it, and because it looked attractive and exotic. David and I signed up as a present to our love, not knowing what the week would be about. We are both grateful we took the plunge, as ISTA L1 is a well-oiled machine!
So why are people so mysterious about ISTA Level 1? Why can't they just give me the curriculum so I can decide if it's for me? The answer is simple; a lot of the transformational work that is done during that week needs to be in context. Out of context, it sounds nuts. I have done 2 Level 1s; once as a participant, and another time as an assistant, and I can guarantee that my learning and journey was unique each time. However, I understand that your mind wants something more palpable, so here goes.
In one sentence - ISTA Level 1 is the education every human being should get when growing up.
Boundaries - Do you ever feel like you should have said no, but ended up saying yes? This relates to #metoo, but it also relates to those times when you accept too much responsibility at work, when you give a friend a shoulder although you really don't have the emotional strength at that moment, and other situations in which you are not clear about your boundaries and end up feeling depleted. ISTA Level 1 explores this expertly from different angles, so even if you think you are brilliant with your boundaries (and the boundaries of others), you'll become better.
Tools - Even if you are content and emotionally switched on, there is space to become happier, more connected to your feelings, desires, fears, dreams. Exploring anger was one of the more difficult challenges for me, precisely because I am pretty joyful. In a nutshell, the tools involve using your voice and body movements to let energy move through you. I'm sure at a moment of stress, you've stretched out your arms, or have gone for a walk. This is the next level and has much more impact.
The thing is not the thing - Whenever you feel angry that someone arrived late, frustrated about a decision made at work… you are becoming a victim of that thing or story. You might not be able to change how late that person is, but you can change how it affects you. ISTA L1 teaches you how to move into your power and break this cycle of victimhood. It takes practice post-training, but you are given tools.
Honesty - We are brought up to be polite, and this can get in the way of honesty. Since our first ISTA L1, my beloved and I have had some seriously deep and painful conversations, which have brought us to beautiful places. Sometimes you feel unsure about being upset about something someone did, but here's the trick, you can tell them that! You can be honest about how it makes you feel, instead of blaming them for it. The key is to be clear that it is not a competition, it is not an attack. Put yourself in that vulnerable place of "I love you, and I'm not sure why this triggers me, but when you xxx I felt xxx", keeps the channels of communication open, and you will be surprised how things shift in most of your relationships. You also have to accept that some people are still stuck in fight or flight mode, so you might not have such a successful honest conversation.
You are not your story - I'll take a simple example. Everyone feels that at some point their parents didn't make the best decision (even if like me, you think that overall your parents are incredible and did a brilliant job raising you). Guess what, you are a whole human being, you have yourself. You are your own mother, your father, you design your story from now on. Everyone has traumas (to different levels and degrees), and it can feel like you are messed up for good, but you are not. More and more research is going into neuroplasticity, so we have the ability to rewire through a change in habits, and like William Ernest Henley says in his poem Invictus, you are the master of your own fate, you are the captain of your soul.
Why is it so expensive? You will have a full-time one-week experience with 3 expert facilitators who will support you 24/7 during the week, and a number of assistants (number depends on size of group), accommodation, full board… so surely this costs money. ISTA might sound alien to you, but it is made up of human beings who pay bills.
There are numerous more gifts (and each of them more powerful) you will receive with this training, but I don't know how to explain them in all their awesomeness without you actually being there. So, take the plunge, and you will love me and yourself for it!