My trip to Europe: Retreats with Joe Dispenza & Max Strom, My Dutch Ancestry

My trip to Europe: Retreats with Joe Dispenza & Max Strom, My Dutch Ancestry

A European Adventure

I recently returned home from an epic trip around Europe! As someone who prioritises personal and professional development, I decided to travel across the globe for a real-life experience with two thought leaders in the area of transformation: Joe Dispenza, who uses neuroscience to help us understand the life-changing impacts of meditation and breathwork, and Max Strom, a breathwork guru who has worked with thousands of veterans to navigate stress and anxiety.

What a blessing it was to have my mother join me on this four-and-a-half-week adventure. Our first stop was a transformative 3-day retreat with Joe Dispenza in Zurich, Switzerland. I was blown away to find there were 8,000 attendees from 80 different countries around the world. This is impact! If you've read his book, Breaking the Habit of Being Yourself, you'll know that he guides the reader through reprogramming their biology and thinking patterns, breaking the habit of being their old selves so they can truly change their mind and life. We were fortunate to have a real experience with Joe, who helped us understand the concepts around slowing the mind and creating from a place of heart and brain coherence.

Key Takeaway: Inner Change for Outer Transformation

Many of us often believe that for us to feel better about life, our external circumstances must change. However, true transformation requires us to rise above our environment and cultivate inner change. The ultimate goal is to return to a state of "nothingness," where we slow our minds and focus either on the nothingness or our breath. By concentrating solely on the present, we can reclaim our energy and bring it back to ourselves. When you notice your thoughts drifting away, gently guide them back to the present moment, your breath, or the nothingness. This practice helps you break free from the familiar patterns of the known and create space for the unknown. By repeatedly bringing yourself back to the present, you foster coherence between your heart and brain, paving the way for new possibilities and genuine transformation.

A Paris Interlude and Breathwork Immersion

After Joe Dispenza's retreat, we were able to enjoy a brief stopover in Paris, France. We got to experience the Louvre, the Eiffel Tower, and many other spectacular sights. From France, we traveled to Italy to begin our "Breathe into Wellbeing" retreat with Max Strom. It took place at the Mandali Retreat in Quarna Sopra, nestled on top of a mountain with the most stunning view overlooking Orta Lake. It was truly breathtaking. We spent every day practicing different breathing techniques, some for sleep, some for stress, and some for emotional release. We met amazing people and had the pleasure of getting to know Max, whose down-to-earth and caring personality resonated deeply with us.

Key Takeaway: Relaxation as a Lifelong Habit

Max often reminded us during our breathwork and yoga sessions to "relax, for the rest of your life." This simple statement resonates deeply. In my workshops, I emphasise a similar message – practice calmness and shifting to a parasympathetic state regularly, not just for occasional stress relief, but as a cornerstone of well-being.

Our society often glorifies constant work and high stress. But this isn't a badge of honor. By neglecting rest, we deprive ourselves of the tools we need to thrive. By investing in physical and mental rest, it allows us to connect to the intelligent part of ourselves – wairua (spirit).

Dedicating even a small amount of time each day for relaxation has a profound impact. It allows us to shift into a more mindful and calm state throughout the day. It helps boost our resilience when life throws challenges. Think of relaxation as a skill you can continuously develop. The more you practice, the better you become at managing stress and fostering your overall well-being. Let's make relaxation a lifelong habit, not a luxury.

Whakapapa in the Netherlands

After our retreat in Italy, we were fortunate to be able to connect with my extended family in the Netherlands. My grandfather is Dutch, so this was my first opportunity to truly connect with the land, people, food, and culture. Immersing myself in my Dutch heritage was a special experience. It made me really appreciate all parts of myself and acknowledging where my ancestors have come from. It was such an exciting time and a highlight of my trip for sure.

The Power of Connection. Some insights.

Reflecting on my European adventure, it's clear that connection with whanau and the creation of meaningful experiences were the true highlights.  As someone who leans introverted, building new relationships has always required intentional effort.  However, when I do, the rewards are immeasurable.

At this stage in life, fostering beautiful relationships and experiences is a top priority.  It's a continuous work in progress, but I'm grateful for the practices – my mahi – that empower me to connect more deeply with others.  It's a true blessing.



Julia Wikeepa


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