Who are we

‘We’ are a dynamic group of about 30 employees closely working together, coming from an inspired common vision. This group is supported by a surrounding field of sympathizers. Together we manage, run and carry Venwoude forward. In a sustainable and holocratic manner, to the best of our ability.

Mission: Venwoude inspires people ‘to grow up, wake up and show up’, partly in response to the world-wide crises of our times. Or in the words of our mission: “Venwoude is a living laboratory for transforming the human condition, where dedicated professionals and interaction with others facilitate your conscious growth and healing into wholeness on all fronts.”

Living laboratory: Venwoude inspires people to use their unique talents for the benefit of the whole, based on personal leadership. We are committed to daily self-inquiry and other practices from the model of Integral Life Practice (integral in the sense of physical, emotional, mental and spiritual). We have developed various procedures for exploring and consulting ‘beyond the ego’, such as the Creation Table and the Truth Table. And just like life itself, we never stop evolving.

The Venwoude Sangha: A spiritual home for modern seekers and finders where we support and mirror each other on our path of conscious growth. A circle where you are known for who you are, beyond your trials and errors, for better or for worse. The Venwoude Sangha serves as a container where both residents and non-residents strive to embody our motto ‘Interconnected Individuality’. In our gatherings we practice self-inquiry and integral spirituality together, learning to live more and more from our authentic essence.

The Venwoude Levensschool (Life School): Venwoude is a pioneer in the area of Emotional Bodywork, personal leadership, relationship work, shadow work, (trauma) healing and integral coaching. We share our expertise in these areas in all of our workshops and professional trainings.

Venwoude 30th anniversary: In 2018 we celebrated our 30th anniversary! We feel happy and grateful that Venwoude is recognized both nationally and internationally as an inspiring power center for the integral development of both individuals and society as a whole.

Board

Since its official establishment in 1988, the Venwoude Center is a foundation called ‘Stichting Onderwijs Integrale Lichaamstherapie’ (Foundation for Integral Bodywork Education) or SOIL for short. This makes Venwoude a non-profit organization serving the common good.

The name of the foundation now only partly covers Venwoude’s present activities, which have expanded greatly over the years. Still, the Center has always retained its social and idealistic character. The SOIL Foundation also manages the estate.

The Board consists of Marijke Heetveld, Mauk Pieper, Pauline Botden and Leon Gras.

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Management

Venwoude’s motto ‘Interconnected Individuality’ has inspired both the (new) structure of the Venwoude management and its way of operating. We work according to holocratic principles, i.e. on the basis of personal leadership in service of the greater whole. This model guarantees that higher organizational units cannot overrule lower ones, unlike how hierarchical organizations typically function.

The management team includes representatives of the departments Retreat Center, General Support, Marketing, Finances, Human Resources and Buildings & Estate.

Executive Director of Venwoude is Eelco Gravendeel.

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Wisdom Council

The Wisdom Council is responsible for the written and unwritten ethical context in which Venwoude operates. It is also responsible for the quality of all our internal and external relationships.

The Wisdom Council appoints an independent Confidential Mediator.

The Truth Table
In case of disagreement, the Wisdom Council has at its disposal the Truth Table procedure. This is a form of consultation from a transpersonal perspective, led by an external facilitator.

For its participants, a Truth Table is an opportunity, after consideration of all aspects of a specific issue, to bring their highest truth to the table, beyond discussion, conflict of interests or opinion-forming. Once the last word has been said, the participants commit themselves to the final statement.

The Wisdom Council consists of Marijke Heetveld, Mauk Pieper and Pauline Botden.

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Vrijplaats/Sanctuary and Next Step

People with a special affinity to Venwoude can be invited by the Wisdom Council to take a seat in the Vrijplaats (Sanctuary) and/or Venwoude Next Step. The members of these organs know Venwoude from the inside out, having participated in several trainings and/or our Venwoude residential program.

The Vrijplaats or Sanctuary
The aim of the Vrijplaats/Sanctuary gatherings is to give all people belonging to the wider ‘Venwoude field’ a chance to express their ideas, support or concern about current affairs and/or general developments, whether or not they have any official responsibilities within Venwoude.

The Vrijplaats gathering takes place four times a year.

Venwoude Next Step
Venwoude Next Step is an organ that aims to monitor and promote the interaction between Venwoude and developments in society. It is made up of people with a professional expertise who are working at or outside of Venwoude. Because of the importance of this organ for Venwoude, it has its own mission and vision.

Mission:
Venwoude Next Step connects conscious pioneers for the healing of social systems into wholeness.

Vision:
Venwoude is a prominent place where essentials become clear for the solving of complex present-day issues.

The Creation Table
One of the tools of Next Step is the Creation Table. This is a procedure designed to gain insight and get to the truth regarding a specific issue. It makes an appeal to both the expertise and the spiritual depth of the participants, supported by an interactive circle of engaged witnesses.

Next Step comes together four times a year. Additional work groups are formed in order to further realize Next Step’s mission and vision.

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History

Center Venwoude was founded in 1988 by the late Ted Wilson together with a group of trainers/therapists who were using a method for emotional bodywork developed by him and Geert van Coilie, called Emotionaal Lichaamswerk (ELW®). Under Ted’s inspired guidance, a community was formed on the Venwoude estate that explored and practiced new ways of living and working together. Its overall purpose was conscious growth and developing new incentives and alternatives for our increasingly materialistic Western society.

The community was influenced by a wide range of methods and approaches, as well as by the many international spiritual teachers that found their way to Venwoude over the years.

Realizing that Venwoude forms an integral whole and should never become anyone’s personal property, from the very start the estate was incorporated into a foundation called S.O.I.L (Stichting Onderwijs Integrale Lichaamstherapie). Over the next 30 years, a very colorful palette of workshops and trainings would be offered here, first under the name of School for Body & Soul, which in 1999 became the Institute for Emotional Bodywork, offering professional training as well. Since 2015, after a thorough overhaul, this institute has been transformed into the Venwoude Levensschool (Venwoude Life School).

Especially in the starting phase of the community, a lot of exploration and experimental practices took place in areas like personal growth, relationships, intimacy and sexuality, parenting and spiritual development. The experience and expertise the community gained as a result would serve as a source of inspiration for the workshops and group trainings offered to participants from all over the Netherlands, under the motto of ‘practice what you preach’.

Collective leadership
After the death of Ted Wilson in 2007, it was decided to continue Venwoude on the basis of collective leadership. This eventually led to a thorough revision of Venwoude’s set-up, management and operations. We also took this as an opportunity to carefully examine Venwoude’s past, in order to process and transcend previous mistakes without throwing out the baby with the bathwater.

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Accountability

Over the years, and especially after the death of Venwoude’s founder Ted Wilson, several women have indicated how much they have suffered, and in some cases still do, from inadmissible sexual behavior of adult members of this former community, especially when they were still teenagers themselves.

Venwoude’s Wisdom Council strongly rejects those practices and has appointed a confidential mediator for such cases.

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Confidential Mediator

Anyone with a complaint related to teachers, trainers or other facilitators at Venwoude can contact our independent confidential mediator by means of the form below.

Renée Hablé
Renée Hablé (1952) is a woman with a great heart for people and their path of growth. After her Pedagogics studies, she worked for many years in the Women’s Studies department of the University of Amsterdam. Later she became a professional coach and mediator.

Partly thanks to her experiences at Venwoude, her own conscious growth and that of others have become central to her life. She has a special interest for relationships between men and women, including the area of sexuality.

In her private life, Renée has had to deal with cancer. Her resulting inner transformation, further supported by her (Buddhist) training and meditation practice, has paved the way to wisdom and deep compassion. This has provided Renée with a keen understanding for people with complaints after stressful periods.

Confidentiality
Renée is an independent mediator. She does not talk about individual cases with teachers, trainers, facilitators or other persons at Venwoude. Every complaint is in safe hands with her and will only be discussed with the person involved at the explicit request of the person with the complaint.

Procedure
For the mediator, it is irrelevant how long ago the complaint originated. She will have a conscientious conversation with the complainant and reach a decision together as to whether further steps are desirable and/or necessary, and if so, which next steps are to be taken.

In dealing with any complaint, the central guideline will be the following question: What is best for the person with the complaint at this time?

 Steps for the confidential mediator after receiving a complaint

  1. After you have registered your complaint with her, the mediator will contact you.
  2. In an open conversation, your complaint will be fully heard and if so desired, be discussed with you.
  3. In consultation with you, the mediator will determine what you would like to be the next step.
  4. She will support you in taking the next step.

Depending on the nature of the complaint and on how the first conversation unfolds, one or more of the following options are possible:

  • You regard the conversation as satisfactory and the complaint is considered to have been solved.
  • You agree on a solution with the person or organization concerned in an informal way.
  • The mediator arranges a (conciliatory) meeting for you with the person involved. At your request, the mediator can be present at this meeting.
  • You are referred to professional (therapeutic) support elsewhere.
  • You are referred to a professional counselor and if necessary to a lawyer.

You have a final discussion with the mediator.

Form

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Venwoude’s Year Cards

Card XII: The Hanged Man

is the numerological card of 2019 (2+0+1+9 = 12)

From Card X onwards, the Major Arcana cards represent the human journey when we walk our path with awareness.

2017 gave us Card X: Wheel of Fortune, a card that encourages us to play the game of life with full commitment. What are you willing to put at stake?! What happens automatically (the Wheel) and what is your true, conscious choice?

2018 gave us Card XI: Lust or Strength, a card that encourages us to open up to our animal nature and to consciously decide to what ends we want to employ these forces.

This year, 2019, gives us Card XII, The Hanged Man.

Explanation of the card

The Hanged Man shows a man hanging upside down. The normal position of spirit and body has been reversed; matter is placed above Spirit. There is no room for change. Any movement you might want to make, will only tighten the noose.

In such a stuck situation, you can discover the freedom of Spirit: remember your divine spark! Despite appearances to the contrary, you are never a victim of the circumstances. Use this moment for your inner growth. A full ‘yes’ to each situation teaches us that sorrow and pain are part of life, too.

Those who are able to voluntarily submit to the cosmic order of the Universe will become one with the flow of Tao: ‘Not my but thy will be done, and thy will is mine as well.’

Indication:

You can now begin to grasp where you got stuck and in which areas of life you have become rigid instead of going with the flow. There is nothing to be done. The fact that you are becoming aware of your present reality already carries within it the seeds of change.

Affirmation:

I let go and become aware. In humble acceptance I follow the divine will, which reveals itself to me step by step.

Ace of Cups

the card selected for Venwoude in 2019

The card we draw in our New Year’s ritual is from the Minor Arcana and represents what we may focus on in our day-to-day life, within the framework of the year’s numerological card from the Great Arcana. So for 2019, it’s about where we can best focus our efforts, even though there is nothing to do in a stuck situation.

Explanation of the card

Ace of Cups stands for the pure potentiality of openness, receptivity, emotional clarity and surrender to the transformative power of generous love.

The card shows a hand, God’s hand, coming from the clouds and offering us the gift of all-embracing love, inviting us to go and do something with it!

By being open and receptive to the unlimited abundance that is flowing from the Universe towards and through us, we will in turn radiate this abundance outwards. Just like a flower that is spreading its scent, whether someone is there to enjoy it or not.

Indication:

You are in deep communion with the All-embracing Love. This love fulfills you and you are able to share it with others in a generous, lavish manner!

Affirmation:

All-embracing love fills both me and my environment.

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