I’m not sure whether this is about being a woman, or rather about being who I am – with being a woman as a part of me. The discussion about femininity and masculinity can confuse me. But there are certainly aspects only women have, things we have (more often) in common… 😀 So I guess this title is fine. Anyways, Vedanta (the philosophical base of the Be Woman Project) has a vision of oneness. It doesn’t separate the feminine and the masculine in the essence. They’re mere principles. Forms, names, functions.
Part of my apprenticeship with the Project consists in three trainings. The first one was in Sweden (as my blog was born later, I haven’t written about it yet), the second one took place in Catalunya (yes it’s a political note on the side 😉 ), the third will be held in Bali (this for the sake of simplicity – some of us may not be so aware of that Bali belongs to Indonesia).
Be Laksmi, Be Lalita
Each training is dedicated to a Hindu-goddess. I love the approach my Vedanta-teacher Sharada takes to goddesses: They take certain forms and we project certain qualities unto them. By honouring the goddesses, we invoke their qualities also in and as us – as in the vision of Vedanta, we are goddess in and through (or call it sacredness, the universe, pure existence, or love – you name it).
The training in Spain was dedicated to goddess Laksmi, she who is abundance and all wealth. She neutralizes the sense of unworthiness. And also, to goddess Lalita, she who represents sacred beauty and sexuality. So what did we actually do? Yes: maybe what you imagine right now. If your fantasy goes wild: maybe not that wild. Let’s say we indulged with the feeling of treating ourselves the way we deserve it: As pure Laksmis and Lalitas 😊 Here is what I have resonated the most with:
Pleasure = intimacy with life
One of our teachers, Kay, said it so beautifully: Pleasure is the same as intimacy with life, the felt experience in life. We did amazing self-care practices during the training (breast, womb, yoni – partly with the yoni-egg. I recommend looking up what it refers to if you don’t know yet). With the following approach (this is only bits and pieces of what we‘ve learnt!):
- Get into a relaxed state first. Maybe by massaging first the sternum (because behind this sits the vagus-nerve, responsible for relaxation), maybe more massaging of the breasts feels soothing… And it’s not about the amount of pressure you add, because:
- Relaxation comes when feeling safe. A woman can only completely engage when she feels completely safe! Emotions, the nervous system, and pleasure are so intertwined… (Our energy is extensive, made to grow! There’s hardly any way to come into pleasure when being tense, when feeling stressed.)
- Ask your body what she wants (this is so powerful) and ask for permission along the way (however far you go)
- Add breathing, consciously (increases the blood flow and we need that in order to be able to feel)
- Allow any memories, fantasies, sounds to come (wow!)
And what I wasn’t so much aware of before: (Self-) Pleasuring releases dopamine, opioids and oxytocin –hormones to feel more self-worth, to take better decisions and much more. So when women empower themselves pleasure-wise, they become empowered on a general level.
Sharing my sexual history
Every evening we sat down and wrote on our sexual history – from discovering ourselves in childhood, getting breasts, menstruation to the first intimate relationships and onwards! In the end each of us participants was given an hour to share her history with the others. It opened my eyes very much. Here’s a tiny FAQ (F for fictional) on what it felt like:
- Is it scary? It can be scary. In the writing, I had some good laughs though – apart of a few moments of sadness and anger. Step by step, it became so obvious that it’s… a story! A beautiful story though. One that needs to be validated. It’s my story and the emotions connected are real. Sharing was a bit scary – until I did it. I found beauty in showing who I am. The (my) naked truth. Nothing to be ashamed of.
- Any valuable insights to gain from it? Many. In my case, one of it was that I have the same patterns in relations to men since I’ve been 9 years old. Yep. But also: I can love myself with all these patterns anyways. There is such a background for it…
- What to do with this now? I can now observe myself better probably and may more consciously decide whether I want to continue to play the same chords or not. Following old patterns feels good somehow too, doesn’t it. Apart from using the will, going another path requires a lot of energy and patience. I will need to treat myself nicely along this, much nicer than I did until now. And also hopefully do the least harm possible to others, too.
Rituals to get to know ourselves, shed light on what is
During 10 days we were focusing on the fact that we are worthy all the way through: We‘re worthy of all the luxuries we desire (manifested as money, relationships, health, children, food etc.)!
We learnt something very important along the way though: That happiness and security from these objects are limited in time and space. If we do not understand this, the luxury can become an obstacle.
So we take the pressure out of our desires! We want to see that we don’t need the luxury in order to feel happy. Because we are whole and complete anyways. We‘re precious, we’re goddess, we’re sacred – just the way we are. We took further steps in order to come closer to this knowledge:
- Pujas: We sit in front of our altars and pray. We invoke different gods and goddesses. Ganesha (he who removes obstacles), Laksmi, Lalita and many more… We imagine that we are the god/goddess, invoke these qualities in us. We practice gratitude for all we’ve been given – by offering flowers, chocolate, incense. All we give to the altar, will come back to us.
We did a Puja also to a each other once (makes my heart grow!): So you have this woman, this sister in front of you and you recognize how beautiful and powerful, how sacred she is. And you wish her all the best. All she wishes for because she is worthy of it. I want to treat her well so badly. And with this, I learnt that I can treat myself well, too.
- Sharing aka Women’s Circles! I’ve become fond of them. (More details in a post on Sweden, soon). The idea is to drop any agenda – any shoulds, coulds, woulds. For oneself, for others. Everything – really everything – is welcome in this safe setting: Fear, anger, tears, silence, rejections, strong desires… By doing the sharing several times, one may realize: What I do here, is that I show up for myself, I take myself seriously. I acknowledge all that is here.
- Womb Yoga (It’s a science in its own right and I got known to it a bit already in Sweden. I need more space and knowledge to write about it properly. But often, the practices are non-linear, with ondulations and circulations. The focus is on listening to what she needs and adapt the practice. Definitely it‘s given me a whole new perspective on yoga.)
- Photo sessions: Devoted photographer Terese took pictures of each woman individually. Many people feel ashamed in front of the lense: They have made judgments upon themselves, on how their body or their facial expressions should look like, how their feelings should (not) be. The idea of the photo sessions was to indulge into what is here – neutralize the judgments. And play.
It’s true for me: Once you go that path, you can’t help but continue to walk on it. It’s just too attractive. You have become too attractive. You don’t want to abandon yourself anymore.
For more info on how a Laksmi-/Lalita-training with Be Woman Project can look, read Katie’s blogpost about last year’s version.