SOUL TREK   Discovery! in Dallas

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by Tracee Sioux

Welcome to my new BellaSpark Travel Column! Soul Trek will open possibilities for Soul Travel. It will explore spiritual retreats and personal growth excursions. Perhaps a destination will call to your soul. If so, listen.

It’s 2013, the end of the world is nowhere in sight, so you’ve made some resolutions. Perhaps you’ve vowed to rid yourself of the baggage from your past. But, where is the safest place to leave heavy emotional junk? Why, Dallas, Texas, of course.

Deep in the heart of the Bible Belt there is an underground movement of unconventional spiritual and emotional healing taking place at Discovery! Discovery! is an intensive non-denominational retreat that accepts around 35 people every month. Each class spends one weekend a month for three months in a well-orchestrated program meant to incite emotional experiences. Each of the three weekends, D1, D2 and D3, represents a symbolic progression of past, present and future. Elements of surprise and secrecy are used to alleviate preconceived judgments about therapeutic methods, allowing participants to have an authentic experience.

Discovery! receives little publicity, because it doesn’t advertise or seek media attention. Most of the 8,000 people who have been through the baptism of fire offered in the conference rooms of the four-diamond Renaissance Richardson Hotel learned about Discovery! through word-of-mouth. The program, which has its roots in the Pathways program started by Dr. Phil McGraw in the 1980s, is conducted by alumni volunteers.

“Our number one advertisement is the results of others,” says Frank Lott, an alumni and co-director of Discovery! “People hear about us by the experiences or testimonies of what others have gone through and what they’ve experienced.”

Sometimes people just don’t know what to do with the content of their lives: an affair that destroys a happily ever after; a cancer diagnosis with a terminal prognosis; a childhood abuse that is difficult to let go of; a perpetual feeling of not being good enough or of something missing; an inexplicable anger that penetrates every area of your life; a grudge that keeps resurfacing; the death of someone essential, or witness to the inhumanity of war.
“We give adults a safe place to discover how you can be a better individual, develop better relationships with the people around you and develop your gifts and talents to impact the world. We examine what your core fears, values and beliefs are,” Lott explains. You bring the baggage. The program provides the place for you to leave it behind, patches you up and sends you back out into the world with tools for better living and a sense of purpose. I had my own profoundly healing experience in 2009. I was hauling around a cargo chest of hurt and fury that had been manifesting as depression, substance abuse and anxiety for decades. I wanted to be done with it, but how? At Discovery, God orchestrated inexplicable synchronicities and miracles, which were neither predictable nor repeatable, for my experiential healing.

‘Happenstances,’ or what are referred to at Discovery as ‘Godstances,’ are a powerful phenomenon in the training. Trainees experience a series of miracles -- and mirrors -- that I would describe as Law of Attraction Amplified. While the exercises and activities of the Discovery weekends are highly orchestrated -- even “cheesy”-- with a sentimental soft rock soundtrack and are sometimes acutely confrontational -- what happens between the people should be impossible. Except that it does happen. The reasons you’re with these particular people becomes clear: you all have deep, meaningful spiritual work that can only be done together. It becomes clear on the first Friday night that what they say at Discovery! is true: God is in the room. There can be no other explanation.

“God is in the room and many people see him in different forms and fashions. But there’s no doubt that a miracle happens between the time you walk in on the first Friday and [when] you leave on last Sunday of D3. We provide the intimacy and the opportunity,” Lott says.

As a non-profit organization, costs are kept to a minimum with tuition set at $275 and hotel rooms at $113 per weekend for a shared room, food expenses not included. Scholarships are available to attendees at a cost of $75 per weekend, plus hotel. Combat veterans are given full scholarships. Visit www.discovery-training.com to find out more and fill out an application.

(Feel free to tell them Tracee sent you!) The program has also expanded with Discovery Austin, www.discovery-austin.org. Bring a sweater and a scarf; the people are warm, but the rooms are chilly.

Tracee Sioux is an Authentic Power Coach, author of Love Distortion: Belle, Battered Codependent and Other Love Stories; and she blogs at TheGirlRevolution.com. Contact her at <traceesioux@gmail.com>.