Xenia Centre


The original vision was: to create a sanctuary in nature where the magical child within all, can feel safe to be creative. Xenia Creative Development Centre was created in 1994 out of an old 38-acre dilapidated sheep farm, on Bowen Island, BC Canada.

“Money is for creating environments within which the experience of, money cannot buy.”

This is a quote from a Vancity Business Report I found many years ago and I knew one day I would be able to prove this to be true.

Xenia Creative Development Centre is a 38-acre Sanctuary in the heart of Bowen Island, one hour from downtown Vancouver and 90 minutes from our international airport. It is surrounded by hundreds of acres of protected government forests and lakes. It is a place to heal, to rest, to play and to discover ones true nature and inherent gifts. At Xenia you will likely experience that which money cannot buy.

In the 27 years I have owned this land, I have watched it transform from an old dilapidated sheep farm into a glorious 38 acre-Sanctuary, where thousands of people from around the world have had this exact experience. Our guest books are filled with people’s gratitude and experiences of feeling deeply at home.

 One such guest said:

“I thought this miraculous, spiritual experience was in the land – and it is. But I have walked many lands, in India, Africa, Europe, Canada and the U.S. – and have not experienced it before. And then I thought it must come from the structures and holy places like OPA and the Sanctuary – and it does. But I have been in many structures and holy places around the world and have not felt this before. And then I thought it must come from the spirituality of the people there, those dedicated, that enliven the Creative Force – and it does. But I have been with many people in many structures in many lands and have never experienced this kind of spirituality before.”  – Joan O’Flynn

Until now our guests have varied from: the corporate executives to the street kid recovering from drugs, to Yoga Retreats, Weddings, Silent Retreats, authors, counsellors and individuals from all walks of life. They report having had life changing profound results and experiences while being at Xenia. (See testimonials). Not only does Xenia offer her magic through its 38 acres of nature, including OPA a 1000-year-old Douglas fir tree, meadows and forested valley but also the horses, deer and Charlie the pig who intermingles and delights our guests.

Nature invites you into the present moment…from this place your soul is home.

The reason Xenia holds such presence is because it has been loved and cared into existence by hundreds of people’s efforts. I have devoted 27 years of my life and over a million dollars personally to this creation and it is only now I am reaching out to others to support this vision and sacred mission of holding a space within which money cannot buy.

Coming into our 27th year on Bowen Island, I couldn’t be happier. What a true labour of love this project Xenia has been. The thousands of people who have graced our land by their presence and the love you literally can feel as you enter. As I define our brand, I come up with Nothing. Yes that’s right, nothing more than is needed for a safe, creative and wonderful experience. Most people who visit report a feeling of home and tranquility as they leave the residue of city life behind for a short while. I have protected Xenia from becoming cluttered with dogma or themes and cherish the nothingness that is here. It lends itself to fill-in with potentiality, from guests upon their own unique journey. I understand, from a marketing point of view, offering Nothing may not attract crowds but somehow I know the soul, who seeks this space for rest and play, will understand right away what I speak of.

Being witnessed is the greatest gift you can give and receive.

The Work of Xenia is definitely about the Work of Witnessing (WOW) ! Nature itself provides a thin veil through which one experiences themselves and others more clearly. Everybody needs to be witnessed in order to fully emerge.

It wasn’t until I was in my mid 30’s that I ever felt truly witnessed in a way that was unconditional and non-judgmental. Where I felt seen, not just from my personality but from the core of my essence. Appreciated at the soul level. Chrystalle was my first witness and devoted friend who was also my teacher in this area. I felt fortunate and blessed to have had her in my life until her unfortunate and early death several years ago. I know for sure a big part of my blossoming happened as a result of her really seeing me. She also describes that I was her first true witness and that she had felt invisible until she met me.

Why is it that it is not a normal everyday functioning from our parents, teachers, mentors and friends? Why is it that many feel like the black sheep of the family? Unseen and unloved. I really believe that until our inner candle is lit by another, we do not really ever feel seen. It sometimes feels like an insatiable and narcissistic quest but truly it isn’t – it is a particular kind of witnessing that will quench its thirst. Once this inner candle is lit, it becomes easier for us to keep it lit without needing constant reassurance from others. In fact once it is lit, it becomes our own job to keep it lit.

As a result of my own experience, I realize that part of my mission is around witnessing people, whether it’s a friend, a friend’s child or a stranger I meet for a five minute exchange on the street. I have learned how to listen and really give aware attention to others and how this very act can change a person’s life forever.

I think the dilemma many people face is that they have never really felt heard or seen and despite good intentions have little ability to offer this either. Have you ever wanted to share something important with someone and you know, although they’re looking at you and nodding at all the appropriate times, they’re not able to hear what you say or they interrupt you with reactive anecdotes.

Aware attention takes a commitment and consciousness because often we can be so cluttered with constant internal self-talk, that it leaves little remaining attention for the present moment. This is the only place we can actually witness anyone.

In some meditation retreats a gentle bell sounds every hour throughout the day, in order to bring people fully present in the moment. So no matter what they may be doing, perhaps cooking or working outside etc., they take a moment of silence and appreciation.

I don’t have a bell following me around all day, but when I look into someone’s eyes, it triggers me immediately to get present and give them what they deserve………my full attention.