Retreats

 

Reclaim your Passion

Ritual, Mindfulness & Creativity Retreat for Women

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 18th to the  20th May 2018

 Are you ready to awaken your body, connect  with your sexuality and heal your heart?

Enjoy three days in a boutique eco-lodge booked out exclusively for us, surrounded by World Heritage listed National Park, experience deep emotional transformation with photographer and sex therapist, Cat O Dowd. Cat creates safe, supportive spaces for women to move past fear, embrace  authentic embodiment and let those creative juices flow!

We all can have a hard time with our sexuality growing up in  sex negative cultures that rob sex of its beauty and sensuality. Our culture represses it, sensationalises and commodifies it and we can be left damaged and traumatised from this shame and confusion. This can impact our relationship with our self and who we choose to start relationships with.

Step beyond  the performance and conquest model of sex, the victim blaming, religiously repressed and shaming model of sex. Step beyond the definition that makes us feel disconnected and hollow. Step beyond toxic relationships.

Our sexuality is our inner barometer for our health and well being. Using creativity and mindfulness to work  holistically our sexuality can branch out positively to all areas of our life.

 

Photo of the last retreat by Amanda Moore
Photo of the last retreat by Amanda Moore.

Life is too short to be stuck in a rut and go around in circles. Do you keep saying you are too busy to invest in yourself while you keep burning out from stress? As women we are often looking  after others more  than our own needs. This weekend is the ultimate act of self care and kindess to ourselves.

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Cat uses modern art therapy, psychotherapy, mindfulness and ancient traditions to guide you into relaxing states of inward journeying where profound healing can occur. Relax as she takes you on guided visualisations and meditations to the deepest part of your being.

There was a time when women met in circles as equals for many years. There was a time when women’s mysteries were seen as divine wisdom. This is an empowering and unique weekend away in a world where women are taught to see each other as competition. It can be life changing experiencing this supportive women’s only space.

 

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Relaxing by the river. Photo of our last retreat by Amanda Moore.

This is the only retreat of its kind where you can be mentored by a qualified sex therapist, transpersonal art psychotherapist and erotic photographic artist.  Here creativity will meets sexual energy meets the very art of your soul.

 

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Walking back from a small bush walk at the last retreat. Photo by Amanda Moore.

 

“We recognize the role of imagination and ritual that is shared between contemporary psychotherapies and all ancient traditions…  the arts are the bridging existential phenomena that unite ritual, imagination and dream-world in a way that no other activity can do.”

-Paulo Knill

 

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What you will receive at the Retreat

Embrace mindful sexuality, presence, intimacy and vulnerability.

 

  • Learn to navigate your past, present and purpose with creative clarity.
  • Tune into  your body’s messages  with a heightened awareness.
  • Calm your mind and find a deeper stillness.
  • Receive visionary artistic photographic portraits taken by Cat of you on your journey at the retreat.
  • Connect in with your authentic sexual self and voice. Learn to let go of the voice that’s been trampled down  expectations and pain from society, family, friends, abusers or ex partners.
  • Learn to be in touch with your body in new and transformative ways. Learn about your body’s power and lessons that will help navigate your emotional, menstrual and sexual cycles.
  • Make friends with like minded women and take home all of your artistic expressions.
  • Embrace the strength in your vulnerability. By speaking our truth we are holding a mirror up for other women’s similar experiences and struggles.
  • Relax, have fun and unwind in a relaxing environment. Take time out for yourself.

 

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“Come away with me for a replenishing weekend of healing of your sexual self.  Under a new moon deep in the wilderness that will be ablaze with golden autumn leaves, let’s welcome in the letting go of Autumn! Let’s leave behind our old patterns, habits and emotional scars in Summer and step into Autumn with intention and purpose.

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Post photo shoot at a previous retreat. Photo by Amanda.


I have dedicated my entire adult life to a career in creating erotic art, promoting healthy relationships, empowering women’s sexuality, researching everything about sex and archetypal photo shoots set in nature. I will guide you deep into your unconscious to unlock everything that is holding you back.


I have walked my walk and talked my talk. I’m not coming to this retreat from the point of view as an “expert,” but rather someone who will walk alongside you on your path. I started meditating when I was 13 years old and was trained in mindfulness when I was 22. These two things changed my life and set me on a course of transcending chronic physical and emotional pain and opening up to deeper  ecstatic states where sexual energy transports you to a world of healing potential.

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It is such relaxing boutique accommodation on 40 private acres of wilderness, I know you’re going to love it. You can recharge from the business and stress of everyday life in paradise!


I feel so honoured to do this work. This is more than a passion for me. This is my offering to the planet. I first started empowering women through erotic and body positive nude photo shoots around 20 years ago. Now this work has grown into creative therapies. I believe that through creating and holding this unique space for women to heal and nurture themselves and each other that this ripples outwards in a positive way helping and healing everyone around them. I believe this work makes a better world.

 

No artistic skills necessary. All materials provided. Whether you’ve had little or no experience with meditation or retreats it doesn’t matter just come join me for a beautiful weekend in the bush. 
There are a limited number of places so please get in touch and book with me now if you’d like to be a part of this wonderful weekend.

  It is an accepting, safe and supportive space.

I can’t wait to see you.

Love and blessings,


Cat “

 

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Walking back to the retreat centre. Photo by Cat.

 

 

What is included in  this retreat?


All therapy, meditation, workshops, sex and body education and creative group counselling activities with Cat including homework pre retreat exercises at no extra cost.

All art materials and supplies. Take home all of your creations.

Fully catered delicious, wholesome, home cooked vegetarian meals on all three days. Our in house personal chefs use  seasonal and local produce to fuel our body and mind. Morning and afternnon teas and coffee are provided.  Relax! Everything is taken care of.

A boutique lodge surrounded by National Park only 90 minutes drive from Sydney.

Added Extras
Walking meditation
River swim (weather permitting)
Soul cards
Healing through movement
Narrative therapy -rewriting your story
The path to sexual Wholeness- Pre Retreat Workbook exercises

 

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Relaxing by the pool. Photo by Cat.

Who is this retreat for?

Adult women of all sexualities, ages and at all stages of life. Single or partnered women.

Women at a crossroads  looking for direction.

Women who struggle with body image and self esteem issues.

Women who want to move into a more self confident space, deepen her self understanding or release old pain and trauma.

Women who want to bring the mojo back into her life or reawaken her sexual desires.

Women who want to nurture her sexuality in a society which shames and tries to control our sexual expression.

 

Women wanting to find out more about who she is, find more insight into her true path and step into her sexual power.

Women who want to understand herself more, her motivations and wants to be the best woman she can possibly be.

 

Women who have seen their monthly cycles as a curse, struggled with PMT or want to learn to work with their bodies rather than against it.

 

Women who want to reawaken their creativity.
Women who are been feeling stressed or “stuck” and don’t know why.
Women who feel happy with her life but feel like she is stuck on auto pilot.
Women feeling burnt out and needing some “me time.”
Women who  want some time out to relax and unwind.
Women wanting to have fun, relax, eat delicious food, make new friends, learn something new about herself  all whilst being  immersed in beautiful landscape and surroundings.
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Photograph of the walk back to the venue by Cat.

 

About your retreat facilitator

imageAway from the timed slots in Cat’s Sydney private practice this is an opportunity for an immersive experience.

Cat is a Masters degree qualified sexologist, couples psychotherapist, art therapist, sex educator, transpersonal counsellor, columnist and award winning erotic photographer. She has training in domestic violence counselling and has been mentored by Jane Bennett -creator of Celebration Days for Girls programs around menarche and menstrual well being.

Cat has appeared on Triple J’s “The Hack” and “The Hook Up” program talking about body image, sex and genital image, sexual narcissism, endometriosis and intimacy, virginity etc, the Nine Msn Lifestyle channel, 2SERFM and FBIFM, ABC’s Hungry Beast episode on the rise of labiaplasty, hosted her own radio show, “Sex Through The Centuries” and is the resident sex therapist columnist for Ciao magazine. She has written for ‘The Establishment’ and “Australian Matchmaker’ websites and runs positive sex education groups for children and adolescents.

Cat runs art therapy, meditation and photography workshops and retreats and has twenty years of experience photographing in the adult and fetish industry. Her photographic work presents modern interpretations of Greek mythology and archetypes. The images create a body positive aesthetic that empowers the female gaze. Cat is a creative counsellor with a gentle and empathatic nature who is passionate about empowering women in a society that does not.

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Art therapy workshop. Photo of the last retreat by Amanda Moore.

 

Reserve Your Retreat Call with Cat below.

The group experience is very important so attendance is by invitation only. Cat will get in touch with you to book a retreat call to see if this is a good fit for you. If your goals are aligned with the retreat and the timing is right for you then you will be invited to participate.


A deposit holds your place on the retreat.

 

A strictly limited number of women are invited to attend so get in touch quickly.

If you cannot make the date please send in an application so that we can advise you of additional dates.

If accepted you will be sent more details;

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Previous portrait from the last retreat by Cat.

 

The retreat centre and area

Relax and recharge in the dramatic World Heritage surrounds of Wollemi National Park on 40 acres of private land fronted by a pristine river and spectacular views.

Imagine waking to bird song and fresh air in a boutique eco-lodge that has been enitrely booked out exclusively for you and the group.

The area puts the word ‘wild’ into ‘wilderness. It is one of the 20 real wilderness areas remaining in South East Australia and the river is one of NSW’s only ‘wild rivers.’  (To meet the criteria of a ‘wild river’ the river must be in pristine condition substantially unchanged since European settlement.)

The valley is one of the largest sandstone canyon systems in Australia, made up of a rugged landscape of deep valleys, canyons and cliffs.

The surrounds are bursting with unique Aboriginal cultural heritage and colonial convict history and is one of the richest archaeological regions in the country.

Wollemi is an Aboriginal word for “look around you, keep your eyes open.”  The area separated territories between the Aboriginal peoples of the Wiradjuri, the Dharuk, the Darkinjung,  the Wonarua and the Kamilaroi.  Aboriginal traditional and spiritual life is evident by copious rock art and engravings, sacred sites and ‘dreaming tracks’ from five different tribal groups, dating back 4,000 years.

The area is home to the prehistoric Wollemi pine tree that was thought to be extinct for two million years but only rediscovered in the area recently. Some of the trees are up to one thousand years old.

Keep an eye out for wombat holes and you might even see a platypus in the river!

Only 90 minutes drive from Sydney but so private and remote you feel like you could be a million miles away from the city.

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Your Investment

Three Day, Two Night Retreat including all workshops and catering/home cooked meals from our personal in house chefs, morning and afternoon teas, coffee and teas including Friday afternoon tea through to Sunday lunch.  All activities, meditations, ceremony, ritual, workshops and processes are included. We will have the entire house, land and all amenities for our exclusive and private use. 

Nine workshops, all art supplies and catering;  Earlybird price $895 (if booked before 23rd of March.)

Earlybird extras include two extra edited images from your photoshoot worth $598 and post retreat mandala art therapy exercises.

Normal retreat price (if booked after the 23rd of March) nine workshops, catering and art supplies: $1,245

Choose your accommodation for the two nights;
Private luxury queen bedroom with own private ensuite $300 per night.

Discount if you share with a friend.

OR

Twin share (two single beds) plus own ensuite bathroom, $150 per night.

OR

Tents and camping  available. Bring your own tent or tents and air mattresses can be provided.

 

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“Follow your bliss.

If you do follow your bliss,
you put yourself on a kind of track
that has been there all the while waiting for you,
and the life you ought to be living
is the one you are living.
When you can see that,
you begin to meet people
who are in the field of your bliss,
and they open the doors to you.
I say, follow your bliss and don’t be afraid,
and doors will open
where you didn’t know they were going to be.
If you follow your bliss,
doors will open for you that wouldn’t have opened for anyone else.”

― Joseph Campbell

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Previous portrait from the last Women’s Retreat…

Questions and Answers

Q: I really want to come but I’m shy and nervous about being around strangers.

A: Bravo for taking a big step for yourself when it seems frightening. Getting out of our comfort zone is when change happens! It never feels especially easy getting out of our comfort zone to start with but that’s because our comfort zone tries to keep us safe, stuck and stagnant. You’ve got to break out of that to move forward.

Group work can help shy people become more comfortable meeting new people.  It  can help you learn how to express yourself more easily and learn how to make better connections with other people.

The group will be made up of women who were accepted after completing a phone interview and you’ll find they will support and help you. Cat  only accepted the applicants who were ready for this retreat to ensure the best dynamic possible.
You’ll  find that by listening you’ll learn a lot from the other women. You might notice that despite differences in background or upbringing their stories have similarities to yours. Once you do feel ready to share with the group you might find it a cathartic and empowering experience.

Cat creates an open and welcoming atmosphere for even the shyest of participants.

 

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Q: Great I’ve paid my deposit! I’m excited! Now what should I bring?

A: Wonderful! Feel free to bring along a journal. This isn’t compulsory however you may  want to write down some insights after certain creative exercises.

Bring comfortable clothes, pack layers for cool and warm weather and some walking shoes. Wear whatever you feel fabulous in but keep in mind there’s a tiny chance you might get some glue or paint on them.  Bring your swimmers! Please bring a long skirt for our very delicious feminine ritual.

 

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Portrait from the last retreat by Cat.

 

 

Q: Is this some new age garbage and will you read our auras? Does sex therapy mean you are going to touch us in a sexy way?

A: Woah! Hold on there!  We’re not sure what retreats you’ve been to but this certainly is not one of those. I know there’s a LOT of retreats out there run by people with no training whatsoever but this isn’t one of those.  Cat is a trained psychotherapist.  She won’t read your auras and there’s nothing new age about this retreat or her qualifications.

Art therapy is used successfully in prisons, hospitals and therapy rooms around the world and is not “new age.”

There are plenty of scientific studies that support the benefits of meditation, group work, art therapy and mindfulness.

Transpersonal psychology  integrates the study of spiritual and transpersonal experience with traditional psychology. It includes and extends beyond  traditional branches of psychology.

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Kitty. Portrait from the last retreat by Cat…

There are plenty of influential psychologists who are very concerned with how the western mental health model often pathologises the spiritual condition and neglects to understand its healing potential.

“Transpersonal Psychology is a progressive field of study emerging from earlier branches of psychology including psychodynamic, behaviorism, humanistic and cognitive psychology that incorporates spiritual dimensions of experience in the scientific study of human beings.”

You can read more about transpersonal psychology here.

 

Cat is not going to engage in any sexual contact with you. She is there to support you. Sex psychotherapy or sexual health counselling is a form of specialised therapy that improves your sexual health and positive sexual functioning. Think of how a grief or addictions counsellor has specialised training in those areas. In the same way, Cat has a Masters Degree in sexual health counselling and abides by strict ethical guidelines. You can read more about sex therapy here. 

 

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Portrait from the last retreat by Cat.

Q: Will we have to be naked the whole time and show other women our genitals?
There are no workshops where nudity is expected.

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Portrait from the last retreat by Cat.


Q: I’m not a creative person. I can’t draw at all! Will my artistic skills be judged? Will my picture be hung on the wall? I would hate that. 

A: You don’t have to be an artist or be able to draw to experience the benefits of art therapy, it’s much more about the process. You don’t have to share your creations with the group if you don’t want to. If you want to hang your picture on the wall then by all means, shine like a diamond! However Cat won’t be expecting anyone to showcase their creations if they don’t want to.
As a qualified art therapist, Cat works hard to ensure everyone’s expression feels accepted and uses mindfulness, relaxation and meditation exercises to help you overcome anxiety before starting any creative exercise. Read more about art therapy here.

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Portrait from the last retreat by Cat.

Q: What do you mean by ritual? That sounds a bit out there for me.

A: Rituals have been used by Indigenous cultures for centuries.  Humans are essentially ritualistic creatures, searching narratives to find meaning. Rituals are symbolic ways of expressing emotions in a non verbal fashion. Our instinctive unconscious understands rituals better than our rational consciousness.  We cannot psychologically survive individually or collectively without rituals because we need to experience beyond the mundane. It is as essential to us as our need for love, shelter and food.

Research shows us that rituals work. People who undertake rituals  have a much stronger sense of control over their worlds, less anxiety, more confidence and lower levels of grief when it came to loss. Ritual can help you deal with the end of a marriage or relationship, the loss of a friend, going into a new phase of your life, healing and leaving behind trauma and assault..
Ritual can also help build better relationships, bring a couple closer together, open the gateway to sacred sex and better connection and enhance the quality of your life.

Rituals enhance  experiences, for example think of a meal time where perhaps you  say a prayer or make a toast. Studies show that this small ritual enhances the actual taste of the food!

Read Cat’s feature article for Ciao magazine about the importance of romantic rituals here.

 

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Retreat portrait by Cat.