Posts Tagged 'retreat'

Ellen Catalano – Meditating in the vineyard


Working primarily within the realm of federal government agencies and academia, Ellen has been in the business of coaching and developing leaders and teams for the past twenty years. In a fun, energetic, yet compassionate manner, Ellen works with her clients to “get over themselves” so that they can increase their leadership impact by making authentic and inspiring decisions. Ellen has provided training and one-on-one development to mid and senior leaders at many federal agencies including, U.S. Agency for International Development, President’s Council on Integrity and Efficiency and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

Ellen, you have organized a series of Virginia wine country retreats starting in April. What is important to you about being able to offer retreats to your clients?

I believe they provide people an opportunity to stop for half a day, sit quietly in community and reflect, and seek internal wisdom to life’s questions and challenges. Gently guided group discussion and mediations provide people ample opportunity to quiet their minds and bodies, to receive internal guidance, enhanced by the picturesque beauty of the Blue Ridge Mountains. We’ll provide time to walk about the groomed trails of the lovely Mark Addy Inn, near Afton, VA, especially beautiful in the Spring. Then, in the Fall people will be able to combine the retreat experience with grape crushing time and tasting at the local vineyards…VA wine is making a national noise!

Plus, as part of this experience, participants will get to have expert coaching from either myself or my co-leader as part of the workshop fee. I love to do these retreats because of the energy that gets generated by all, and the profound steps that people decide to take in their lives. Also, I plan to invite participants to consider five day retreats in one of the following locations: the Island of Vieques, off of Puerto Rico, Dominica or St. John (Carribbean) where we will recreate and renew with silence, coaching, movement and the ocean!

You get pretty excited when you talk about the island retreats. Tell me more about the significance of the ocean.

The ocean, a constant, steady, predictable sound outside of yourself, which helps people, me especially, block out the constant, steady, predictable noise inside of myself. Helps me relax and listen to my heart. Ocean waves are metaphor for change, and the gritty sand cleanses my skin. Sigh.

You obviously have a very strong draw to the ocean. So say I sign up for one of your retreats in a glorious location, ocean side or vineyard, how would you teach me to use nature’s gifts as a tool in my life?

By listening to consistent ocean and quiet mountain sounds through meditation, journaling and sharing within the small group, you distract yourself from inner and outer “noise” and move to the core of whatever you bring to the experience that day.

I’ll also add that I’m offering a new product to buy and use as part of this experience: hand painted/collaged (by me) hard cover journals – each one a unique design. Colorful and abstract.

I think a lot of people like the idea of meditation but often truly don’t know how to shut off those ‘voices’. How would you suggest they begin?

Candice, it might be helpful to view the word “meditation” as a way of being in the moment, rather than something you have to do. Peter Senge calls it being mindfully present, and I noticed the other night on the Oprah webinar that Echkart Tolle calls it “stillness”. So, I would suggest that people begin by giving themselves permission, for even just 5-10 minutes, to be still and present to competing internal noise – just noticing – and then allowing the noise to slip away, become smaller in your mind’s eye, or float away, what ever visual image your internal wisdom presents! And then to be patient and compassionate with yourself as the noise reappears.

Mmm, perfect stillness in a vineyard. Ellen, it sounds so lovely, you are creating such a treat.

If you would like to contact Ellen or would like more information on the retreats visit

Please visit with us again on Thursday when we will be talking nourishment with the Rev. Keith Andrew Hwang

© The Red Barn Cooperative

January 2019
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