HT2011 dyads outside2There is a deep longing in us for greater fulfillment, aliveness, authenticity, and love. We frantically seek to fulfill this longing outside ourselves. Yet its fulfillment lies deep within—the hidden treasure or divine Self.

This process of finding the hidden treasure (the pearl of great price) has taken many forms throughout the ages in the spiritual and wisdom traditions. It involves bringing to awareness those ego defenses, mental programming, fixed beliefs, and energetic blocks that hide the true Self.

Such a process requires courage, commitment, and discipline. The awareness of our illusions and the consciousness of our divine Self creates personal and transpersonal transformation. Every part of you is invited to open up to the Light within. The opening brings healing and leads us to the treasure.

  • It’s a physical process.
  • It’s an energetic process
  • It’s a psychological process.
  • It’s a spiritual process.

The energy generated in group work can be harnessed to heal and transform each participant in a way that far exceeds individual work. One person’s process ignites something in another student which may never have surfaced otherwise.

Group synergy creates “magical” moments that defy description and take us beyond the ordinary into the extraordinary.


Feedback and loving support from others can bring an individual to great self awareness and the freedom to be his or her true self. Throughout the course and after graduation, students are encouraged where possible to meet on their own, as a way to support each other in their ongoing personal and spiritual development. Deep friendships are often formed that continue well after graduation. Those graduates who want to deepen their spiritual life further may join the Hidden Treasure Sangha.


To learn more about this program, please join us for the next information session this summer (on Tuesday, August 18th).  You will have an opportunity to meet the teachers, former students, and potential new classmates. For more details, click here.



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First Year — Self Understanding

The first year centers on self-understanding and the development of a supportive interactive environment. Students identify and work with parts of themselves such as the idealized self image, shadow, inner critic, and inner child. They learn how to transform emotions of fear, anger, and shame.

Nine different personality types are examined, named, and more easily navigated with the help of Enneagram typology. Learning this system offers insights about our core motivations, fears, strengths, and common pitfalls.

Students are taught how to look within for direction and guidance and take note of their dreams as a source for insights.

The power of healing on an energetic level is not overlooked. Students become familiar with their own and others’ energy fields and connect with expanded states of consciousness.

Meditation and visualizations connect participants with their essential self—the divine within—and are interwoven throughout the weekends.

Students establish a loving, supportive, and trusting environment for each other. This serves as a basis for helping them to accurately see themselves and the world around them.


Second Year — Softening Your Character Defense Structures

Most of the second year is devoted to an understanding and healing of the character structures as developed by Wilhelm Reich, Alexander Lowen, and others.

Character structures emerge developmentally in infancy and early childhood as a result of the psychosocial and spiritual milieu the child experiences. In the shelter of the group, these childhood wounds are transformed into material for inner healing and personal growth.

Through exercises and discussion, students witness these structures in themselves and others. They experience what each structure looks like, how it feels to inhabit it, and what it’s like to be around a person exhibiting the structure. As a result, students find it easier to distinguish their true selves from their structures. This enables them to have more authentic interactions with themselves and others, thus leading to a more fulfilling life.

Students strengthen their true, core selves through meditation, visualizations, and grounding exercises.

The second year culminates in a one-day, sunrise to sunset, vision quest which is processed and integrated the following day.

Third Year — Your True Self in the World

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During the third year, students build on the teachings of the first two years and bring more of their true selves into the world. They also work with any life issues that still need healing.

Through a variety of exercises, they begin to discern their life purpose. This, along with input and support from classmates, helps each student to develop a project outside the weekend sessions, which will move them into greater alignment with their true self. This might take the form of finding a career that better suits them, fulfilling a life-long desire, delving more deeply into self-understanding, or further developing their spiritual lives.

Students assist at three or more of the first- and second-year classes as a way to deepen their own process and to learn the value of service.

The course will meet from 9:00 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. Saturdays and from 9:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. Sundays for five weekends per year. Course dates are posted on our calendar.

Cost is $325 per weekend ($1,625 per year). This includes tuition, overnight accommodations, breakfasts, and Saturday dinner. People usually pay each weekend but can make arrangements to pay on a monthly basis. Students will stay in a private room in the Inner Light Lodge.

Information Sessions, Introductory Days, Calendar

Several information sessions are given during the summer months for prospective students who want to meet the teachers and learn more about the Hidden Treasures program. This summer, these sessions will be held on Monday, June 29th, and Tuesday, August 18th. Click here for more details.You can also make an individual appointment with Alice McDowell in person or by phone.

Those who are quite certain they would like to participate in the program can sign up for an introductory day, which is given on either the second or third Saturday of September from 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. The cost is $85 and includes lunch. A final commitment to the program does not need to be made until after the introductory day.
The next HT Introductory Day will be Saturday, September 19, 2015 from 9:30 am to 5 pm. This day is for prospective students who are either committed or mostly committed to doing the program.

The day will consist of an opening meditation, getting acquainted exercises, a teaching on the idealized self image and the shadow, and an introduction to energy work. Cost for the day is $85, which includes lunch. We ask that you register prior to the day by sending $40 to 209 Blake Hill Rd. Van Etten, NY 14889. Checks can be made out to Light on the Hill.

The Hidden Treasures Program is held the Inner Light Lodge.

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By Class:

Class of 2018 — 1st Year
Introduction–Saturday, September 19– 9:30 am- 5 pm, includes lunch
October 17-18–The Healing Connection/Enneagram
December 12-13–Obstacles to Growth
February 6-7–Inner Critic
April 2-3–Inner Child
May 14-15–Schizoid Defense

Class of 2017 — 2nd Year
September 12-13-Oral Defense
November 7-8–Masochistic Defense
January 9-10–Psychopathic Defense
February 27-28–Rigid Defense
April 28 at 7:30 pm Thursday-Sunday, May 1 at 2 pm–Vision Quest

Class of 2016 — 3rd Year
August 29-30–Life-Purpose/Projects
January 16-17–Topics vary depending on individual needs
April 16-17–Topics vary/Project Reports
June 5, Sunday at 3:30 pm–Graduation

Graduate Program
Retreat–Thursday, November 12 at 7:30 pm – Sunday, November 15 at 3:00 pm

2015/2016 By Date:

August 29-30–3rd Year
September 12-13–2nd Year
September 19–Introduction
October 17-18–1st Year
November 7-8–2nd Year
December 12-13–1st Year
January 9-10–2nd Year
January 16-17–3rd Year
February 6-7–1st Year
February 27-28–2nd Year
April 2-3-1st Year
April 16-17–3rd Year
April 28-May 1–2nd Year
May 14-15–1st Year
June 5–Graduation


Alice McDowell, Ph.D., director of the Hidden Treasure program, is a counselor in private practice, retreat guide, and co-founder of Light on the Hill Retreat Center. Formerly a professor of religious studies at Ithaca College for 18 years, she now facilitates groups devoted to inner work.

She has trained with healers, humanist and transpersonal psychologists, Sufi and Buddhist teachers, and Christian contemplatives, and has guided people in their personal and spiritual journeys for over 30 years. She draws upon her diverse training and life experience to help others awaken to their true selves, their divinity within.

Julie Schnepel, Ph.D. (in music), is a Hidden Treasure graduate, and she has been assisting with the program since 2006. She holds graduate degrees in music and heads the U.S. office of an international database of music literature at Cornell University. She has taught music history at Ithaca College, and is active in the music and spiritual gifts ministries at St. Paul’s United Methodist Church in Ithaca. Her experience with the Hidden Treasure program has profoundly affected all areas of her life and has deepened her connections with her family, friends, and colleagues.

Elisa Sciscioli, M.A Transpersonal Psychology, is a Hidden Treasure graduate. She began working with Alice while finishing degrees in music education and vocal performance in 2002. Elisa is the facilitator and founder of the Joy of Group Singing program, designed to help people connect more deeply with themselves and others while learning simple multicultural songs and chants. She offers integrative voice sessions for adults and teenagers. Elisa is the lead singer and songwriter for the band Solstice. Many of her song lyrics have been influenced by the teachings of Hidden Treasure. 

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Jamie Yaman, B.A. is a Hidden Treasure graduate. He graduated from the University of Massachusetts Amherst and works with his family’s real estate company in the Cortland area as an agent and manager. He is a performing musician and an active member of his community. Attending leadership conferences, personal development seminars, and retreats has been a primary focus for his growth. He has also gained spiritual and psychological insights through his travels, especially to India. His experience with the Hidden Treasure program has deeply influenced him, and through this program he has experienced profound growth in his relationship with others, as well as himself.


Hidden Treasure Sangha

Sangha means spiritual community, wherein the members engage in spiritual practices and support each other on their spiritual journeys. Members of this Sangha must be graduates of the Hidden Treasure Program. The emphasis is on the spiritual dimension of our being rather than the psychological, and the teachings and discussion will focus on spirituality as it is lived in each of us. The psychological dimension of our being is part of this, but it is examined from the perspective of what the soul is trying to express or what spiritual lessons are to be learned as a result of situations occurring in one’s life.


Members of the Sangha agree to:

  • Attend four one-day programs (9:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.) throughout the year
  • Engage in some kind of daily meditation/prayer practice
  • Attend at least one retreat during the year — they may attend the three-day Hidden Treasure graduate retreat in November

The one-day meetings begin with a long meditation and a teaching, followed by discussion. We will bring our lunches and eat together and then break into 2 designated groups to share and ask questions about our individual spiritual lives. Your daily practice and attendance at a retreat will help deepen and enrich these discussions. The cost for these sessions is $80 each (or $320 for the year).  We will generally meet at the Quaker Meetinghouse in Ithaca in the Fall and Spring as close as possible to the equinoxes, and at Light on the Hill in the Winter and Summer close to the solstices (see dates below).

The Sangha will meet at the Quaker Meetinghouse Ithaca on the fourth Thursday of the month for a long meditation, a brief reading, and discussion.  We will not meet in November or December due to the holidays. There is no cost for these meetings.

The Quaker Meetinghouse is located at 120 3rd St. (the corner of Madison and 3rd) in Ithaca. Parking is available next to the building. The Meetinghouse is handicapped-accessible.

2015-2016 Sangha Calendar

One-Day Meetings (9:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.)

June 20, 2015 — at Light on the Hill

September 26, 2015 — at the Quaker Meeting House

December 19, 2015 — at Light on the Hill

March 19, 2016 — at the Quaker Meeting House

June 18, 2016 — at Light on the Hill

Meditation Meetings in Ithaca (5:45 – 6:45 p.m.)

June 25, 2015

July 23, 2015

August 27, 2015

September 24, 2015

October 22, 2015

January 28, 2016

February 25, 2016

March 24, 2016

April 28, 2016 (from 5:00 – 6:00 pm)

May 26, 2016


2015 Hidden Treasure Graduate Retreat

November 12 (7:30 p.m.) — 15 (3:00 p.m.)


“Even though I’m not a person who likes to speak a lot in a group, the group process was so masterfully managed that I felt I could be myself and learn from other people who are more extroverted.  After three years I feel that I’ve made peace with the complexities of being human.“

Jacqueline Bonner

“For anyone who feels ready to begin or continue on a meaningful life journey...this program will hold a special place where one is enabled to take the necessary steps to find that true golden light that resides in the truth of each and every one of us.“

Sue Rowe

“We all have things about ourselves that we would like to shift, let go of, forgive, or awaken.  Hidden Treasure is a program that gives us specific tools for this personal transformation.“

Rebecca Dolch

“This program has opened doors for me that I did not even know existed and has placed me upon a wonderful new road to discovery.“

Sheri Herendeen

“This program has been truly life-changing for me. Not only did it help me understand myself and learn how to move on after major life shifts, but it also broadened and deepened my view of God, of The Divine. And of course there are the dear friends I made.“

Debby Wells-Clinton

“The experience of mutual acceptance, care, and support that grows within the group through shared pasts and shared `presence`...has been incredibly moving and beneficial.“

Dean Everitt

“Hidden Treasure is a profoundly moving program. Each session brings an unfolding, an opening, a subtle movement closer to the core of who I am. It allows me to be open and honest, has helped me to learn acceptance of myself and others, and has given me the opportunity to be with others who are walking the same path. Hidden Treasure has allowed me to live in my personal truth and not be afraid of who I am“

Sara Delafield

“Literally every single day I am reminded of the time we spent together at Light on the Hill. Every single day I use the skills that I learned there. Every single day I am thankful for those skills, for how my life has changed, for the people that surround me, and for the mistakes I am NOT making. The transformation of my way of being is tremendous.   I am frequently pondering the ripple effect, as one drops a pebble into a body of water and causes the rippling outward in circles. Because of my transformation of being, it has transformed my relationships with my family, my friends, my child, my co-workers, and people I come into contact with each day. I can only hope that it continues beyond each of those people. I think it does.   Thanks so much for dropping the pebble in my pond. Thanks so much for changing the world in your own special way.“

Laurie Shaver

“I cannot say enough about how I have benefited from the Hidden Treasure program. It made everything so much clearer for me. I have a greater understanding of myself, greater compassion for others, deeper understanding and experience with the divine - it's like I can finally allow myself to receive the blessings the universe wants me to have. I understand how much I was actually standing in my own way with my defenses and resistance.... This program lit a fire in me that helped me discover my purpose and to move forward toward achieving my goals. It does just as the name implies - it helps you discover your Hidden Treasure. I will always regard my experience with Alice as one of the greatest gifts of my life.  

Melinda Matzell

“The Hidden Treasure program has deepened my connection with the people in my life. As I change, those around me shift as well. My world is brighter, filled with more passion, and welcomes my unique gifts.“

Lee Riddell