Mindfulness and Intimacy

Connecting deeply with self and others

How do we cultivate and sustain fulfilling intimate relationships? True intimacy with another begins with caring for one’s self, something many of us lose sight of when we’re busy parenting children, building our careers, engaging in new romance or dealing with divorce, grief or loss. Mindfulness practice offers us the opportunity for deep listening. “Who am I and what do I want?”. Intimacy training gives us tools to reclaim our sense of self and build a greater capacity for relationship.

Intimacy begins with knowing yourself…

Body awareness meditation, voice, artwork, movement and storytelling are valuable techniques that affirm our spiritual nature, allowing connection to a deeper knowing. From this place we can awaken to our unconscious patterning, learn to let go of behaviors that no longer serve us and cultivate a more intimate life.

I invite you to explore my site to learn more about the work I do,  both through residential retreats for women and couples and personal or couple sessions.

Given my continuing role as Dean of the Inner Development Program of the Wellbeing Project (wellbeing-project.org), I am primarily focusing on individual and couple work in 2018/19.

with love and gratitude,





I can still hear my teacher’s voice from across the room…

“The trouble with you, Nancy, is you aren’t sick enough of this behavior to change it. That’s why you’re stuck.”

“Are you serious?” I think to myself, “What are you talking about? Of course I’m sick of it. Look at how I am suffering.”

I’m indignant, defiant and scared. “Take a breath, girl,” I hear the voice inside my head say, “let’s think about this for a sec.” As if watching an old movie, I recall the many other times I’ve brought this same issue into the “circle” and here I am again. My defiance begins to melt and it dawns on me that I can actually make another choice.

Thus began my journey to understanding what it really means to be ready to change.

In my heart I knew that I had made some pretty significant changes in my life, changes that came out of my deep commitment to awakening. Every day I was realizing the benefit of getting to know my internal family of characters.. or as I like to call them, “the kids on my bus”.  I felt into the truth of my teacher’s words. Affectively changing my core defence patterning would take more than simply being tired of it; I had to be absolutely sick of it. I mean really, really, sick to death of it.

We have all heard Albert Einstein’s definition of insanity, ““Doing the same thing, over and over again, expecting different results.” It was clearly time to take those incredibly challenging, intractable patterns that over and over again, directly compromised my personal and professional life.

My friends who have committed to the AA twelve step program, say in order to actually STOP drinking, gambling, over eating, shopping, or whatever, a person needs to hit “rock bottom”. “Bottoming out” might mean you’ve been arrested, lost your job or an intimate relationship, such as your spouse or your kids. Or maybe it’s the result of doing something that’s just SO embarrassing you can’t live another day with your behavior.

Certainly it’s easier to see this when it comes to the more dramatic behaviors and certainly some unhealthy patterns are more obviously dangerous than others. But what about behaviors that are subtle, less obvious to others, or are easy to deny in ourselves?

One of my most debilitating defence patterns has been self-abandonment. I have wrestled with this pattern my whole life and the truth is, hardly a day goes by without my “abandoner” showing up. For years, my self abandonment was easy to deny, because it showed up in disguises that society admires. To the external world, the self abandoner may appear selfless, accommodating, easy going or flexible; a really nice person who puts others first.  Hmmm… some of that sounds okay.

However, the self-abandoner can also be spineless, afraid of looking bad, wishy-washy and ultimately full of anger and resentment. Left uncared for and uncontained, the self abandoner undermines all intimacy with self and others.

For me, my “bottoming out” was my divorce and the recognition of the wounding that my dysfunctional relationships had caused my daughters. It was clear that I had only an imaginary sense of self. My, how I suffered, until I finally realized that I was sick enough of this particular behavior pattern to take it on in a serious way.

“So how do you know when you are sick enough”” That’s what my clients often as and my answer is this:  When you get to the point where the pain of holding onto the pattern is greater than the pain of letting it go, you know you’re on the right track.

In my case, I somehow needed to attract a number of similar painful experiences in my life, before I have finally got the message. It’s as though the volume increased with each subsequent hit until I eventually reached my denial threshold and finally choose surrender over defiance. Does this sound at all familiar?

Now, it may seem simple, in that it defies logic to hold on to a behavior that hurts us and yet, sadly, applying logic to childish patterning only serves to fuel self judgment.  Any fool would know that not speaking up in a dangerous situation leads to hurt and injury, right? But the “fool” in this case is just a scared child who is hungry for someone to look after her, and that someone is me.

So what can we do when we know “enough is enough, already!” Well, the only strategy that has worked for me is to reach out for help. Perhaps there are those rare individuals who can take it on solo, I just don’t know any of them. Friends and family can be huge supporters and yet, sometimes they can unconsciously collude with us, which really isn’t any help at all, in fact often makes it worse.

For me it required intention, then commitment, follow-though and accountability. It still does…And, it takes a willingness to be vulnerable and to allow my fear, rather than continuing to be defended and defiant.

As you know, I am a big fan of group process; I love the magic that a group brings to the circle and to each individual in it. Bringing the “same old” issue to a gathering of like minded folks can really help us move through the barriers much faster than letting it stew and keeping us awake at night.

If you’re on the fence about exploring this kind of personal work, I invite you to listen to your heart and your belly. If you hear a voice that says, “Alright, enough already!” I’d take it as a good sign to take the leap.

originally published June 17th, 2012, most recently edited, June 13th/2018






How do I register?

The best way to register for Mortifee Training retreats is to contact Nancy directly either by phone 604-266-6785 or email nancy@mortifeetraining.com


To hold your space please send payment by:

~  email interact transfer to nancy@mortifeetraining.com
~  cheque sent to Suite 510-5525 West Boulevard, Vancouver, BC V6M3W6


Mortifee Training has bursary funds available for women and men who have an urge to do this work and lack of funds. Please do not let tight finances get in the way of you doing your personal work. Contact Nancy by phone or email to discuss our sliding scale, bursaries and easy payment plans.




Couple Work

Nancy offers private sessions for couples at any stage of their relationship. If you have an urge for deeper intimacy and want to explore a more authentic, clear emotional expression with your partner, contact Nancy directly at 604-266-6785 or by email: nancy@mortifeetraining.com

Private sessions take place in person at Nancy’s Vancouver home or on SKYPE/Facetime or Zoom.



Resources and books

The following are a few of the books I have found helpful in my work with individuals and couples:


Let your Life Speak
By: Parker Palmer  – an honest look at how our vocation can be aligned with our deepest urge      

In Love with the Mystery
By: Ann Mortifee – timeless wisdom accented by extraordinary photography

Taming your Inner Tyrant
By: Patty de Llosa – a path to healing through dialogue with oneself

The Shadow Side of Intimate Relationships: 
What’s Going on Behind the Scenes
By: Douglas & Naomi Moseley – Shadow work for couples

Making Your Second Marriage a First Class Success
By: Douglas & Naomi Moseley

Hold Me Tight – Seven Conversations for a Lifetime of Love
By: Dr. Sue Johnson

A Hidden Wholeness : The Journey Toward an Undivided Life
by Parker Palmer  – How to close the gap between what we love and what we do

Mars and Venus in the Bedroom
By: John Gray Ph.D. – a classic that still applies

Tantra – The Art of Conscious Loving
By: Charles and Caroline Muir

When the Body Says No – The Cost of Hidden Stress
By: Gabor Mate M.D.

Finding Meaning in the Second Half of Life
By: James Hollis

Why Good People Do Bad Things: Understanding Our Darker Selves
By: James Hollis

Mother-Daughter Wisdom
By Christiane Northrup
Mind Power for Children- A Guide for Parents and Teachers
By: John Kehoe and Nancy Fischer (Mortifee)

Circling the Sun… a Four Season Journey for Women


Why a Four Season Program?

Circling the Sun ~ A Four Season Journey

Returning home from a retreat experience can be a very moving time. Some women tell me that they feel a renewed confidence and aliveness; ready to take on difficult pieces with gusto. They’re “on fire” with a strong resolve to change how they relate to themselves, their family or co-workers. Others feel both excited and also fearful and unsure about whether they can actually follow through with the new intentions they have set for themselves. Personally, I have had both experiences and so has every other person I have known on this journey. When the realities of life confront us, our intention to stay present and “in” ourselves is tested at every turn and it really helps to have on-going support and reassurance.

My own journey into mindfulness and intimacy was significantly deepened when I  committed to my first year long program with a small group of fellow travellers. Journeying together with others gave me comrades, as well as my teacher, to lean on, feel supported by, and be accountable to.

Over and over again, I hear from women in my groups that they are hungry for a similar continuity of support that will assist them to sustain their practice and personal growth. When I turned 60 this year, I realized that my urge to work with others in this way has deepened. Responding to this request and urge, I decided to offer a year long program. Thus, Circling the Sun… a Four Season Journey Inwards for Women came to be.  

What you can expect…

My offer is to gently and persistently invite you to stretch and challenge yourself to follow your own inner urge to move and grow. Together with your Circling the Sun “sisters” you will be supported to move through the fear and self judgment that keeps all of us stuck. I will share what I have learned from the wonderful teachers who have helped me and what I have seen to be helpful with the people I have served myself. And, of course, we will continue to have fun, eat very well, move our bodies and share the joys and sorrows of life, as women have throughout the ages. Read More about Women’s retreats.

Here’s what the program includes: 

• Four Seasonal Weekend Residential Retreats of 3-4 days –  all accommodations, delicious healthy meals, and art materials*. Each retreat will have a different thematic focus, specific grounding and mindfulness practices, rituals, creative art and voice work. Participants will choose their own on-going creative project as an “out of the head” vehicle for personal exploration.  One retreat will be held on Bowen Island and three on the lake in Naramata in the sunny Okanagan of B.C.

Dates: Winter- January 8-10th at Rivendell, Bowen Island, B.C.
Spring-  April 15th-17th at Marga’s Studio in Naramata, B.C.
Summer – July 15th -18th (3 nights) at Marga’s Studio
Fall- October 14th-16th at Marga’s Studio

 20+ hours of Group Phone Sessions  –  One hour calls scheduled approx. twice monthly. These optional calls offer each woman
an opportunity to check in with Nancy and her group mates. Each call will have a followup theme that has emerged through the retreat work and individual needs that arise.

 Continuous email support and special project feedback whenever needed. I find this a very effective way to keep current with challenges and victories as they arise.

• Personal Journal and written course material

• Optional personal sessions at reduced cost

• A Celebratory Afternoon to Close the Circle in December 

*Please Note: Although participants are encouraged to take part in all activities, I recognize that we have busy lives and conflicts arise. Therefore, all activities are optional. Limited space of 10 women in this program. Circling the Sun group members have priority and guaranteed spots in the Circling the Sun retreats. If there is extra space in any individual retreat, other women may be welcomed to join at a negotiated rate. For 2016, our meals will be prepared by delightful “foodies” with love in their kitchens, allowing members more personal time to reflect, write etc.

TO REGISTER: This program is FULL for 2016. Please call 604-266-6785 or email  nancy@mortifeetraining.com to be added to the notification list for other retreats in 2017.

Cost for 2016: $1800 for the year long program (includes all meals, accommodation, art materials and group calls) if paid in full by Dec.15th. Otherwise $1900 with postdated cheque payment plan.

For some idea what 2014 looked like: Bowen venue may change for 2016.


WINTER ~ January  8th- 10th, 2016    – 3 days

Rivendell Retreat Centre

Rivendell Retreat Centre

Our four season journey begins at Rivendell Retreat Centre on Bowen Island, B.C. a 25 minute ferry trip from Vancouver.

Looking Inwards”-   Focusing on the “personal” and setting intentions for the year’s  journey
–   Invoking the Hindu Goddess Shakti ~ New Beginnings and the Feminine Energy

Three Day retreats begin at dinner on Friday evening and end Sunday afternoon in time for and afternoon ferry from Bowen Island.  READ MORE

SPRING ~ April 22nd-24th  – 3 days

Maria’s Studio, Naramata, B.C.

The Emerging Self” – Focusing on Renewal and holding the tension between the “light” and “dark”
– Invoking the Greek Goddess Demeter ~ The Great Mother; Nurturing  READ MORE

SUMMER ~ July 15th – 17th    – 4 days

Marga’s Studio, Naramata, B.C.

Unknown-7  Marga’s Studio, Indian Rock, Naramata, B.C.  This is our home in the sunny        Okanagan, right on the lake. Bring your swim suit!

Embracing our Golden Selves” –  Focus on Creativity ~ art and nature
–  Invoking the Celtic Goddess Brigit ~ Art, Creativity and Inspiration

AUTUMN ~ October 14-16th   – 3 days

Marga’s Studio, Naramata, B.C.

Marga's Studio

Marga’s Studio

Theme: “Closing the Circle”  – Celebrating the Journey
– Invoking the Buddhist Goddess of Kwan Yin ~ Compassion and Mercy

December Celebration Gathering – Date TBD

Join me for a Four Season Journey in the arms of a sacred circle of women in 2016.
Give yourself the gift by calling me at 604-266-6785  or nancy@mortifeetraining.com


What women say about working with Nancy:  (see more)

Nancy has helped, guided and supported me in such a deep way over the past 6 years. I would highly recommend her work for any woman looking to gain deeper intimacy with themselves and move forward into their greatest potential. This line up of retreats and their locations is juicy!   ~ Kathleen

Journeying Inwards – Women 25-40 yrs

February 2nd/3rd, 2018 at UBC 

  • non residential
  • Friday evening 7-9:30pm; Saturday 10am-5pm

Whether you’re feeling the urge to tackle some important stuck pieces in yourself or simply want to better understand what this “Mindfulness and Intimacy”work is all about, join Nancy for an evening and full day of journeying inwards in the company of other wonderful women on the path.

No previous retreat experience is necessary, only a desire to know yourself better and to learn ways to cultivate a deeper experience of self and relationship with others.

Both straight and LGBTQ women, singles or in couples are warmly welcomed.

Location: Nancy’s UBC home (directions given upon registration)
Easy access by transit; free street and visitor’s parking

What you can get out of this retreat:

• An opportunity to share your experience with other young women
looking for more “aliveness” less “stuckness”
• Take away tools to cultivate more intimacy with your spouse, children, parents and dear friends
• Effective language to help you establish clear and clean boundaries both with our intimates as well as in work and business
• How to celebrate your sexuality in your ever-changing and evolving life
• Learn how to use your voice in new and enlivening ways
• Participate in sacred rituals, deep sharing and storytelling
• Enjoy a nourishing and delicious potluck lunch made with love
• Have fun exploring new ways to access your creativity through movement, and emotional expression

Together we will engage in mindfulness practices, movement, emotional expression, voice work, personal and group processes.

Space is limited to 10 women so please let Nancy know right away if you want to join the group.

Cost: Sliding scale $75-100  plus a contribution to the potluck lunch  Payments can be made by cheque, e-transfer by interact or cash. Between jobs and short on cash? Let’s talk about how to make it work for you….


For young adult women, single or in couples

Read more about Women’s Retreats



Loving Ourselves ~ Accepting what is….

March 6th-8th, 2015


Whether you’re feeling the urge to tackle some important stuck pieces in yourself or simply want to better understand what this “Mindfulness and Intimacy”work is all about, join Nancy for an early spring weekend of journeying inwards in the company of other wonderful women on the path.

No previous retreat experience is necessary, only a desire to know yourself better and to learn ways to cultivate a deeper experience of self and relationship with others.

Single and coupled women of all ages and orientations are welcomed!

The retreat schedule is Friday evening 6pm-10pm; Saturday 8am-10pm; Sunday 8am-4pm.

Together we will engage in mindfulness practices, creative art, movement, emotional expression, voice work, personal and group processes and enjoy the beauty of UBC and Pacific Spirit Park.

Mindfulness Practice in Nature

Although this is a non-residential retreat, if you would like to make this a weekend “getaway”, inexpensive accommodation can be arranged at Westcoast Suites or Triumph House on campus, both just a short walk away from Nancy’s home where the retreat will be held.

Space is limited to 10 women so please let Nancy know right away if you want to join the group.

Cost$275* – includes Saturday lunch and dinner, Sunday lunch and snacks. Friday dinner will be a casual potluck
All art materials and handouts are included.

*Some bursary funds are available so please don’t let finances get in the way of you joining us.

How do I register? 

Celebrating Becoming ~ Relationships with Self and Others

October 17-19th, Naramata, B.C.  

Nancy invites you to her final retreat in 2014, held at the brand new “Marga’s Studio” in the beautiful Okanagan, B.C.

Both straight and LGBTQ women, singles or in couples are warmly welcomed.

Marga’s Studio is a place of peace and quiet away from the noise, distractions and pressures of the city, with magnificent views of Okanagan Lake, Chute Creek and surrounded by forest. Naramata is located 25 mins from Penticton, B.C. and 5 hours drive from the Lower Mainland.

Marga’s Studio

Airport or bus pickup is available for those flying or busing into Penticton.

Together we will explore our relationships, with self, our spouse, parents, children, friends and co-workers.

What you can get out of this retreat:

• An opportunity to share your experience with other women looking for deeper relationships or together with your partner.
• Take away tools to cultivate more intimacy with your spouse, children, parents and dear friends
• Effective language to help you establish clear and clean boundaries both with our intimates as well as in work and business
• How to celebrate your sexuality in your ever-changing and evolving life
• Learn how to use your voice in new and enlivening ways
• Participate in sacred rituals, deep sharing and storytelling
• Enjoy nourishing and delicious meals made with love
• Have fun exploring new ways to access your creativity through movement, art and nature

Cost: $375 per person covers accommodation, all meals and art materials. Payments can be made by cheque, e-transfer by interact, Visa or MC (Payments made by credit card will include a 3.5 % service charge)


Spectacular Okanagan Lake


Mindfulness and Intimacy for Young Women ~ NEW!!

October 3rd – 5th, 2014 at Marga’s Studio, Naramata, B.C. – Waiting List only

Are you a woman in your 20s or early 30s who has an urge to know herself better? Are you curious about mindfulness and how the awareness of how your thoughts, feelings and defensive patterning affect your behaviour? Do you want to learn new ways to effective communicate what you want and need? Are you interested in spirituality without religious dogma?

If so, this retreat is an unique opportunity to pursue the “inner journey” with an intimate group of other young women, who, like you, are trying to create a strong sense of “self”, explore new ways to express their creativity and build the confidence and courage to venture into dynamic careers, serious relationships, artistic endeavours or even motherhood.

Join Nancy in the beautiful Okanagan for a weekend of discovery, exploration and fun. Marga’s Studio, located beach front on Okanagan Lake, is 10 minutes from Naramata, BC., 25 minutes from Penticton and a 5 hour drive from Vancouver.

The weekend starts at 6pm on Friday and concludes at 3pm on Sunday.

Both straight and LGBTQ women, singles or in couples are warmly welcomed

SPECIALLY PRICED FOR YOUNG WOMEN ~ Cost for the weekend with accommodation, all meals and materials is $250 (until September 15th; $275 after the 15th)



A $100 deposit by cheque or email interact transfer, will hold your spot. Space is limited to 10 women 21 – 35 yrs.

For more information or to register call 604-266-6785 or email Nancy@mortifeetraining.com

 “The whispers of the skills I learnt at your previous retreat still echo with me daily and I am so looking forward to cultivating a better understanding of everything that was touched.  Perhaps I’ll forget less and less, and remember more and more.  I feel like you teach  skills to be present to life in Her beauty, grief and mystery.  Mandatory lessons in being human here – I’M IN”…   – from a young woman in my Spring Cleaning on the Inside retreat



Young women laughing tog