Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Reflections on Psychogenetics Retreat (1)

I am now sitting and typing in front of my computer as I try to recall the events that took place in our two-day Psychogenetics Retreat in Tagaytay last August 22-23, 2009. I still have a hangover of the retreat and I will try my best to write down my experiences and realizations in words. And oh yes I took a lot of pictures too and perhaps I can upload some here to make things real and vivid to me. Don't worry no faces will be uploaded here, only the lush greeneries and trees around the SVD vicinity which to me conjures a perfect picture of calm and serenity amidst life's storms. The picture above is the building where the retreat took place.

Early that Saturday morning, August 22, on my way to our meeting place at McDonalds EDSA Taft, there was a heavy downpour and the sky was gloomy. I was caught in the rain and got a little drenched. What a way to start the day I thought to myself. I wondered if the retreat would still push through until one by one my fellow Courage brothers and sisters started to show up. We left the meeting place way behind the scheduled departure time and boarded our bus going to Tagaytay. Inside the bus, I had a chit-chat with my "old" friend beside me whom I invited to attend this retreat. He was quite reluctant and didn't know what to expect and I reassured him that I didn't come prepared either as this is my first time to attend such retreat. We talked about many things - both trivial and personal. It was close to one and a half to two hours' travel (I guess) and we arrived at the retreat house with the sun shining upon us as if to welcome us.

Upon alighting the bus, a tricycle took us on a short bumpy ride going inside the retreat house where Bro. Rollie was already waiting for us. On arrival we were assigned each our own room and I want you to see my room:

How neat and organized can I get! After the room assignments, we had a hearty breakfast meal while waiting for others to arrive.

Getting To Know You

When all got settled down, Fr. Ed gave a brief introduction of himself. I must say that Fr. Ed really knows what he is talking about. He's got an impressive credential up his sleeve and I don't know anyone around who has the credibility and competence to offer this kind of retreat. I feel blessed for the opportunity to be part of this. Next, it was our turn to introduce ourselves. This thing always reminds me of first day in class - standing up and mouthing a short impromptu introduction of your name, where you live, what you do, and oh the status of your love life too! Don't bother. It's complicated. We did have at least 5 non-Courage fellow retreatants in the room and so it was nice to hear everyone talk about a little of themselves, even from those whom you think you already know. It kinda served as an ice breaker before we began the seminar proper. We were 23 more or less.

On The Road to Emmaus

The talk began with a reading from Luke 24 13-35 and it's about the two disciples on their way to Emmaus. This part of the talk is called Lectio Divina. Fr. Ed literally explained everything here using the three elements in analyzing the Word, namely the characters in the story, the setting, and the feelings. The questions he left us were: What is my Jerusalem? What is my Emmaus? Where am I now in my journey? The message for all of us is it is important to know where we are at in our journey, and so after this short discourse we were grouped into 3s to talk among ourselves how the Bible reading applies to us. I liked this part because I was able to share my feelings and listen to others as well.

Lunch time came and we had our "siestas", but I did not stay inside my room; instead, I walked around the vicinity admiring the lush greeneries and tall pine trees that make the perfect ambience for a retreat. I was in the mood for a little contemplation and of course picture taking. I really appreciated the peace and quiet that surrounds me because I love nature. Here are some of the pics I took:

What Is Psychogenetics?

Psychogenetics is a scientific approach to understanding the influence of our parents and ancestors in our adult relationship. We in essence are products of genetics and our environment (nature and nurture). I won't elaborate in detail what Fr. Ed discussed about psychogenetics, but I would like to mention these nuggets of information I took down in order for us to better understand the subject matter:

1. We are a combination of physical traits and personality traits.

2. We absorbed everything that our parents were in their relationship.

3. Attitudes and beliefs, whether positive or negative, are "imprints" lodged in our subconscious mind.

4. We inherit our personality and behavior from our parents; one is dominant, the other is recessive.

5. We are greatly influenced by the way we have witnessed our parents relate to one another.

From the facts stated above, we can arrive at the conclusion that parental influence especially during our formative years (0-10) does have a significant impact on our lives now as adults. People who have had a dysfunctional family are more likely to repeat this pattern in their adult relationships. But the good news according to Fr. Ed is that we "can" do something to change this setup. We are not helpless victims of our circumstances.

Fr. Ed also briefly touched on the common causes of same-sex attraction. Again, I won't enumerate them here, but I just want to mention one particular cause of interest:

"Resultant teasing by peers."

I don't know about you, but I experienced this when I was a kid. I was teased because I was clumsy, weak, sensitive, and "different". I had experienced bullying while growing up and so all the more I distanced myself from people I perceived as threatening, mostly guys. These things flashed back in my memory and so now I am beginning to understand why. I hope to make a separate post on this in the future.

Going back to Psychogenetics, it is important to take note of these facts as well:

+/- transgenerational patterns manifest themselves more clearly in adult behavior especially under stress. When we are stressed, we regress to the child that we were. We act, react, make decisions according to our INNER ADULT (father or mother).

This is where Fr. Ed handed out a Family of Origin Inventory Form for us to discover our Inner Child, Inner Adult, Inner Mate, Inner Parent, and Inner Couple. This is a very enlightening exercise. After doing this activity, we were still discussing this amongst ourselves while having our merienda break. Many realizations and issues came to the fore and surprises as well. It was an exercise in self-discovery and many other realizations followed after this. I suggest you attend the retreat to find out what I'm talking about.

One realization that I also gained from this exercise is that Psychogenetics can be applied to other areas of life like economics for example. Some people find it hard to succeed in life and according to Fr. Ed one reason for this is that he or she has no "model of success" in his or her own family, but again there is a way out of this. Interesting.

Nighttime Activities

Before dinner time, we had a practical application of the principles of Psychogenetics through role playing and the "empty chair technique". Fr. Ed demonstrated this to us by asking one volunteer to speak up about his family issues. One of the brothers volunteered for this activity and he got the chance to be processed by Father. What I learned from this activity is that it is hard to confront our family issues and to replace the "negative imprints" with positive ones. Yes it is not easy but if you have the willingness and self-determination to make things happen, a gradual transformation is very possible.

Dinner time came after this activity.

The last activity for the day was adoration in front of the Blessed Sacrament. We sang songs, we confessed our sins, and offered heartfelt prayers for each and everyone and our loved ones - a special moment reserved for the Lord.

It's crying time.

During this great moment of silence, I begged the Lord for pardon for my many shortcomings especially towards my parents. I made a promise to Him that I shall rise up everytime I fall. I thanked him for the special grace of that moment with my brothers and sisters who like me have also shared and lifted up their burdens and wounds for healing. I think it was the first time I cried in front of the group albeit inside a dark room lighted only by six candles. Nevertheless, I felt great and light afterwards.

After this, we went outside the building and gathered around a small bonfire. Some of us burned personal stuff that reminds us of our bad experiences and sinful past. I didn't throw anything though, but I think it is a liberating experience. Majority of us did not go back to our rooms; instead, we went "somewhere" else to have more bonding activities. This reminded me of my Living Waters experience last year. It was fun!

I took advantage of this time to talk with a "special" friend about personal issues and I'm glad we have settled it once and for all - to separate the whole truth, the half truth, and outright lies circulating around. Ha! I guess you cannot cover lies with petty lies for so long. They will find a way to arrive. It is always better to be truthful and honest.

I slept past 2:30 a.m. in my cold and dark room. Actually, I didn't feel like sleeping yet. I wanted to room hop but I had to sleep because we're just four hours away from our first activity in the morning around 6:30 a.m.

About Gestalt Therapy

I just want to jot down a few notes about Gestalt Therapy:

1. Gestalt therapy deals with WHAT is happening instead of SHOULD BE, COULD BE, WILL BE or WAS. It focuses more on the PROCESS (what is happening) than the CONTENT (what is being discussed).

2. HOW and not WHY is the goal of Gestalt especially for adults.

3. Gestalt gives "awareness" rather than "advice", "choices in life" rather than "chances".

4. Main objectives are self-awareness and taking personal responsibility for all your actions/happiness.

The Morning After

After breakfast we had a brief talk and Fr. Ed introduced us to another exercise called Journey to Childhood in which he asked us to go back in our childhood days and recall the events through guided visual meditation. Some of us narrated their experience and what they saw in front of the class. It was a wonderful time of self-discovery and greater self-awareness.

During this time also, Fr. Ed projected some slides that made us remember our fathers. I was crying buckets of tears in my seat especially when the song Dance With My Father was played. It is a song by the late Luther Vandross and it actually speaks about a child's longing for his deceased father and his love for his mother. I cried not because I long for my dad (he is still alive), but it suddenly hit me that one day it may be all too late for me if I don't start caring for him now, no matter how awkward or difficult it might be for me.

After this, an invited couple spoke to us on how Psychogenetics has helped them deal with their marital issues and family life. Great testimonial. A celebration of the Mass concluded our retreat. Towards the end of the Mass, when we were all singing the classic song If We Hold On Together, I was again fighting back the tears. I'm such a cry baby I know but I knew that at that moment, our bond as brothers and sisters in the group became stronger than ever before. I felt it. Everyone was joyful, not just happy. It was a very successful retreat! Everybody felt loved. There was a renewed sense of hope and brotherhood amongst us. I knew a lasting memory was created. Lunch time followed and a lot of picture taking.

I never wanted to leave the place. I wanted to stay longer, maybe for a week. I wanted to hold on to the euphoria, but I guess some good things never last...

But before I let you go, I want to introduce you to Miggy, our very playful, adorable, and huggable companion during our entire stay.

One Final Note.

Our parents are not perfect. If they have not treated you right, it's because they are wounded too just like you and me. While there is still time, show them love and affection. If you're not ready yet, at least show them respect. That is something every child owes his parents.

Maybe they are just waiting for us to embrace them. Don't waste another moment. Kiss your mom. Embrace your dad. Talk to them. Spend more time with them. Show them care.

Love is a choice. Don't miss the opportunity.

It's all that really matters in the end.


  1. i see no space to leave a comment. so don't mind if i scribble here ya? haha thanks for visiting my blog. i will drop by here always.

    [Jino] - A man's not a man unless he knows how to shoot

  2. hi thanks for visiting my site. I watch a film last night and its about a mental retard father who has a lot of love to give and use in order to raise his daughter righfully, he fought the battle in court but didnt win although he was able to keep the child with the help of other people. I think it is a little related to your post in here. I post it in my blog.

  3. hi thanks for suggesting such a song to me. It really made me miss dad a lot. Hes been deceased since I was 18 and it was really painful. The yellow bells in my site is his... I actually dedicated the site for him and his memory. Love the song so much. Thats why now that I have my own family I will mae sure that we will be happy no matter what and that my daughter will enjoy every single moment she is with her dad. Got to take care of the health too as my dad died of Heart failure. thanks for the courage.

  4. Nice personal realizations on your final note! Well said! ;)