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Sacred Tree retreat seeks balance

KIMBERLY NICOLETTI
Summit County correspondent
Post Independent
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado
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GLENWOOD SPRINGS, Colorado ” Amid all of the fear and chaos happening in the world, Sacred Tree is offering a retreat to support a more centered approach to living.

It is the first retreat Sacred Tree, a holistic healthcare and wellness spa in Breckenridge, is holding in Glenwood Springs.

The two-day experience, titled The Medicine Wheel Model to Natural Horsemanship, is for anyone ” not just horse lovers ” seeking greater connection and balance.



Phillip Whiteman Jr., who lives on the Northern Cheyenne Reservation in Lame Deer, Mont., will guide the non-confrontational, holistic, Native American approach to working with oneself, and with horses, emotionally, mentally, physically and spiritually. He is a renowned horseman, cultural consultant and performing artist who has shared his knowledge throughout the United States, Canada and Europe.

His premise: We are all connected ” to Mother Earth, all living things and one another ” so it’s important to pay attention to what we put out into the world, both energetically and behaviorally, because everything is reflected back.



Whiteman uses the medicine wheel, with its four colors, directions, seasons and stages of life, as a teaching model. He also uses horses, which pick up a person’s energy and mirrors it; for example, if a person approaches a horse with a bad attitude, the horse will respond in kind.

“Horses, animals, plants, living things ” they don’t lie,” Whiteman said. “They reflect what you put out.”

The program includes traditional and contemporary Native American songs and dance interwoven with stories passed down from generations, since before Europeans came to the Americas. Topics include respect for diversity, environmental viewpoints from a Native American perspective and native horsemanship.

“It’s more about circular thinking than linear thinking,” said Brigette Schabdach, founder of Sacred Tree. “Everything that we do affects everything around us, and that’s why we’re seeing such an imbalance in the world.”

Schabdach is getting certified in Whiteman’s method because it speaks to her from a health perspective.

“We’re seeing a lot of people who are feeling stressed, out of balance,” she said. “Everything is energy. When a lot of fear and uncertainty out there starts to connect with our energy, our thoughts are really affected. … The more we are aware and return to our original state of being ” as sacred beings ” there’s a different kind of grounding and we become more healthy, and it affects our family and our communities.”

Whiteman describes the teachings as a good way to get off the hamster wheel that goes ’round and ’round, and “actually move somewhere.” And, like anything, it is a process.

“The longest journey people are going to take is from the mind to the body,” he said.

He talks about the importance of language ” how, in his indigenous language, there are no words like “but” and “if,” which negate any statement that comes before those words. He talks about living closer to emotion and spirit, while at the same time harnessing one’s emotions so they don’t override the senses.

“What emotion and spirit dwell upon, your mind and body will act upon,” he said.

Through the introduction of the model, talking circles, demonstrations with both a trained horse and an untrained colt, drumming and storytelling, Whiteman encourages participants to create more connection.

“This is a reawakening of what we know to be true,” Schabdach said. “Phillip is the real deal when it comes to his lineage and his knowledge and what’s been passed down … and he’s ready to share what I consider to be a gift.”


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