STAR Foundation Newsletter
“Why are you doing STAR again; did you flunk the first time?” My fellow participant in the November 2001 STAR Intensive, a first-timer, couldn’t fathom why somebody would come back voluntarily, and at that moment, I too wondered why I was there. The truth was that I had originally signed up for something else that was cancelled at the last minute. Suddenly I had an open week on my calendar along with a nonrefundable ticket to Tucson. On learning that STAR still had a spot left, I thought maybe this was the universe telling me I should come back. I signed up.
I remember spending much of my first STAR workshop in February 2000 convincing myself that all these people were from another planet. For me, who may have set a record by spending seven years in Northern California without having gone to one personal growth workshop, STAR resembled nothing I’d ever seen before. I had my mind-resistance shields up at full strength: “I’d care more if that were a real boundary instead of a piece of yarn.” “Sure the birth stuff sounds interesting, but where are the controlled experiments?” I started my time of silence a day early, just to push away all those people saying such nice things to me for no good reason. Eventually, though, the very loving, warm, and patient efforts of several wonderful staff members tag-teaming me worked their magic, and I melted. The breakthrough came midweek in my family sculpt, an activity I had earlier dismissed as silly. For the rest of the week, I felt like I was making up for lost time.
When I signed up for the STAR Intensive workshop again a year and a half later, I wondered if I wouldn’t find the material repetitive. Although most of the staff and exercises were familiar, that turned out not to be a problem. An old proverb says it is impossible to step in the same river twice, and my previous workshop and the intervening time had certainly changed my “river.” I had learned that it was safe to let down my guard, because I trusted myself to make it through without falling apart. I had learned that STAR integrated a variety of therapeutic approaches, and I didn’t have to have life-changing breakthroughs in response to each one. Repeating the STAR homework was an opportunity to go deeper, to be more honest, and to put more energy into parts I had to skip earlier. It was a chance to let go of some things I wasn’t ready to release the first time around. I allowed myself to get closer to my fellow participants, rather than put up walls as if their issues were somehow contagious. (Okay, the flu proved very contagious at the November STAR, but I don’t think anybody caught anyone else’s childhood.) And, in a process I don’t pretend to understand, STAR worked its magic again. By the end of the workshop, I found myself with completely unexpected insights that were as much spiritual as psychological, and a level of trust in the universe that I’ve never felt before.
I now have a clearer answer to my fellow participant’s question about why I was “doing STAR again.” It’s become almost a cliché to say that STAR is a process, not just a ten-day event. For me, though, STAR is even more than the process: it is a living, breathing community, a group of people dedicated to helping each other nurture their inner kids and lead more authentic lives. I chose to repeat the workshop as my way of “continuing STAR,” to be part of a community that helps me while helping others. It seems as if now, more than ever, the world needs more communities like STAR. I was lucky to be able to continue STAR by participating in the workshop again; it is a path I would recommend to other STAR graduates who have the chance.