I hosted a women’s mini-retreat at my house on Saturday, and it was everything I’d hoped it would be — with terrific women ranging in age from 34 to 61. Many of them were strangers to one another when they arrived, a couple having travelled 80 miles to be here; but in just 3 hours, the group had become what many women’s groups become after any heartfelt period of shared time: a sisterhood.
Yes, whether its 30 minutes or 3 hours, when it comes to heart, women of diverse backgrounds inevitably relate to one other, empathize, laugh with, support, and encourage each other, because we share an emotional language of understanding what it means to be this gender. Our stories and contexts of experience might be different, but what’s the same is perceiving life through female eyes and spirit, and extending forward from a long line of female ancestors.
Women like and need time to gather for the purpose of healing. I remember the light-bulb moment of this realization 15 years ago when I read Anita Diamnont’s historically accurate, Red Tent, in which the women of the village lived together according to the moon cycle, about 7 days of each month.
I’m still moved by the image of women washing the feet of their “sisters” and massaging the abdominal pain away as they convalesce. That’s what I’m talkin ‘bout.
I’m going into my 9th year of coordinating and facilitating women’s gatherings, and what never fails to happen in the first hour, is a collective settling into togetherness. It’s very much like coming home; and if the facilitator’s agenda is to focus on emotional strength instead of failure, these homefolks become the functional, happy family we always wanted but didn’t know could exist, at least for the duration of the gathering. Even if participants never see one another again, what was shared becomes a sacred experience of connectedness that fostered self-reflection.
I find this incredibly interesting, and though it’s not new (women’s circles go back 1000’s of years), it might be news to some that we do have an unconscious understanding of our feminine-divine need to have sisters. On her way out the door on Saturday, one participant commented, “I really needed to be with other women like these; I’ve been so tired of being with people who complain, but I didn’t realize there was another option. “
After all the gatherings goings-on I’ve observed, what I continue to find special is articulated beautifully by another participant who e-mailed me later saying, “We uplift each other simply by being there. Yet, as each person enters the group with an honest intention of her own forward motion, the whole group moves forward.”
Our sisters are everywhere and in every context, and we often do support, care-for and empower one another, even strangers, without giving it much thought. This is just how we roll.
The next time you spot a woman with her dress tucked into her underwear and you stop her to gently whisper this truth, you are upholding the sacred oath of sisterhood. What can be different now is your conscious awareness that this is what you are doing. From here, you can seek all the perks of membership whenever, or where ever you want or need it.
See you there!
Join Lisa in Costa Rica, February 17-23, for a Women’s Healing Retreat featuring yoga, meditation, and The Chopra Center’s Perfect Health Ayurveda Program. Register now for a $100 holiday discount through the end of December!