Now three months after the retreat, the metamorphosis I experienced has created lasting change in my life. My friendships with other women have become more intimate; I am more loving and vulnerable with my husband; my hormones are more balanced – and I got my period back.
In my journey to find the feminine, I tried many suggestions, yet nothing was really shifting. I still felt more comfortable in my masculine energy and continued to lose myself in my work. I realized that connecting to the feminine was going to take more than trying out some new recipes or shopping with girlfriends. How could I learn what being a woman really meant and felt like?
Celebration of Woman, the Goddess – A Profound Women’s Retreat Experience
The answer came in the form of a phone call from my best friend who had just gotten back from a retreat called “Celebration of Woman, the Goddess.” As she described her experience, all I could hear was absolute joy. I immediately called the women who created and facilitate the workshop, Rajyo Markman and Britta Johnson, both life coaches and spiritual counselors. I asked if they could help me find my feminine. Markman gently explained, “Our retreat provides a space that is nurturing to a woman and allows her to dive into questions about her femininity and organically come up with answers from within.” Sensing my hesitation, she then said to me in the most soothing voice, “Christine, you don’t have to do anything, just come, it will happen.”
The Celebration of Woman workshops take place all over the world. The destination that was the womb for my retreat was a cozy and rustic home in Lake Elsinor, California. When I arrived Thursday evening my mind was swimming with thoughts, “What would the other women be like? Will I have some kind of profound awakening?” As I looked around the room at the other eight women, I noticed how uncomfortable and separate I felt. All my insecurities about being among women, and my fears about what I would confront in the retreat bubbled to the surface.
As we entered the workshop room, which was illuminated by dozens of candles and adorned with beautiful scarves, pillows, and flowers, Johnson invited us to take a seat in a circle and close our eyes. After she guided us through a relaxation process, we were asked to share our intentions for the retreat. I knew if I really wanted to fulfill my intention of finding the feminine, I could not worry what others thought. So I shared, albeit vulnerably, about my past and the woman in me that I wanted to discover. As I spoke, nodding heads and eyes filling with tears showed me the understanding and compassion that was present.
After our sharing, Johnson invited us to stand up and get into our bodies. Wait, I was far more comfortable just sitting around and talking, couldn’t we do that? I quickly learned Celebration of Woman is not the kind of workshop that involves a lot of lectures.
Suddenly, I felt like a part of me was missing. I looked at my life and noticed I did not have close female friends; I spent very little time doing anything creative or domestic, and there was little in my life that I nurtured. Instead, I worked all the time, had short and to the point conversations with people, and avoided my emotions by resting comfortably in my intellect. In essence, I was acting more like a man than a woman. But these masculine traits had written my success story, and I did not know how to let them go. Could I be a successful, yet feminine woman at the same time?
Whether we are male or female, each one of us has (and needs) both masculine and feminine energy.
Masculine energy is direct, logical, self-sufficient, active, and goal-oriented. Feminine energy is sensitive, creative, embracing, compassionate, and intuitive. As women, feeling successful and balanced in life requires a harmonious integration of both our masculine and feminine.
Today, women comprise 48 percent of the workforce. But what have we had to sacrifice to get there? To participate in what has traditionally been a “man’s world,” women have stepped more into their masculine energy, focusing on being driven, independent, and highly productive. At the same time, many multi-tasking women are unfulfilled and depleted. So it begs the question, has stepping more fully into our masculine energy thrown off what is divinely feminine within us?
Johnson explained, “Women carry a deep unworthiness, whether it is from their personal life or on a collective level since we have carried the legacy of being second-class citizens. Even though we are stepping out of that in this culture, we still carry pain and hurt from not being seen, heard, and understood in our feminine essence.” Thus, many women have found it easier to be like men even though they experience a sense of deep resignation and frustration. Our assignment over the course of the retreat was to push through this imbalance and reclaim our natural beauty, radiance, and feminine power.
My first push happened in an exercise that invoved playfully dancing with the other women in the group.
As I danced, I felt inhibited, self-conscious, and heavy in my body. I blushed as I awkwardly moved around the room, fighting between wanting to let go and wanting to run away. Johnson, whose intuition is laser sharp, grabbed my hand and began to dance with me. She looked into my eyes with exquisite love and grace. I felt encouraged and gave myself permission to move my body. That evening before drifting off to sleep, I wrote in my journal that I could feel something inside of me shifting; I was not sure what it was, but I was anxious for my discovery.
We greeted the next morning, as we would each morning thereafter, with an hour-long moving mediation. By the time I reached the part of the meditation where I was sitting in silence, my thoughts had actually stopped. I had stepped out of my “doing” energy and was truly in my “being.”
But reclaiming the feminine takes more than meditation. Johnson and Markman assert, “Before we can truly embrace our femininity, we have to heal the blockages and allow the wounds to be felt, as this is a doorway to finding a reconnection to oneself.” Our doorway was a cathartic emotional release process. In this process, pillows, foam bats, and mattresses were available, and we were coached on how to physically tap into all our anger, rage, hurt, and sadness. As intense music began to play, I felt something animalistic come up inside me. I began to hit my foam bat against the wall and as I felt the smack ripple through my body, the bindings of my “together” and “polite” image began to unravel. My voice joined my body as I screamed and cried. I felt raw, yet completely safe.
After lunch, we embarked on a four-hour experiential exploration of different aspects of the female energy that exist within each of us. “A woman is made of many different parts – playful, strong, creative, sensual, reflective, peaceful, and wise. To ignore any of them is like dismissing a vital part of yourself,” said Johnson. Accompanied by a wonderful assortment of music, she guided us through our exploration. As I giggled and danced, I realized I was actually learning how to truly embody the many dimensions of feminine energy.
The true integration of everything I was learning at the Celebration of Woman workshop happened during a magical and sacred ritual, called an initiation. One by one each woman stands in the middle of a circle of her sisters and has the opportunity to move, dance, and express herself to music specifically selected for her by the facilitators.
During my initiation, I moved and danced in a way that ignited every single cell in my body. My arms and legs moved with wild abandon, my hips swiveled back and forth until I was tingling, shaking with power, filled with grace, and overcome with emotion. As my second song ended, I heard the other women cheering for me – and inside, I cheered for myself.
Now three months after the retreat, the metamorphosis I experienced has created lasting change in my life. My friendships with other women have become more intimate; I am more loving and vulnerable with my husband; my hormones are more balanced – and I got my period back. I am relieved to know that I do not have to give up my femininity to be powerful. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. By reconnecting with the feminine within me, I have become even more productive – but now it is balanced with sweetness, playfulness, and an awareness of what being a woman is really all about.
Britta Johnson and Rajyo Markman, founders of Celebration of Woman, offer the following tips to find and celebrate the feminine in your everyday life:
1. A woman is present and in tune with herself. Begin your day with a 5 – 20 minute minute meditation dedicated to tuning into yourself. Let yourself really be present with the sights, sounds, smells, and body sensations that are with you in this moment. Take an inventory of how you are doing physically, emotionally, and mentally.
2. A woman is connected with the natural world. Get outside every day and feel the connection to everything that is alive. Look at the plants, stop and smell the flowers, feel the wind on your face, and walk barefoot in the grass.
3. A woman is alive and breathes. The more we breathe, the more we feel, and the more we are alive. Take seven cycles of deep, slow breaths several times throughout the day.
4. A woman loves to be pampered. At least once a week, plan something that you can indulge in such as a manicure, a massage, or a bubble bath.
5. A woman loves to play! Remember you have a little girl inside you and take her out to play. Go to the park and swing on the swings, buy a coloring book, or bake chocolate chip cookies.
6. A woman is sensual. Find a weekly physical activity that fosters your sensuality. Take a belly dance, tango or salsa class, or find another sensual way of moving your body. Feminine creatures love to dance!
7. A woman loves to feel sexy. Stop saving your nice lingerie. Wear something everyday that makes you feel sexy. If you are with a man, seduce him and dance for him once in a while!
8. A woman loves to be with her sisters. Make sure you spend at least a few hours a week with your girlfriends or join a women’s circle or club.
9. A woman allows herself to feel and express her feelings. If you are sad, take the time and space to have a good cry. If you are mad, have a little yell in your car or into a pillow. If you are happy, let yourself laugh out loud and celebrate!
10. A woman can be “messy” or unpredictable and still be feminine. Do something that brings a little mess into your life. Let yourself come out of that tight little box that your mind has you in and do something a little “crazy.” Surprise yourself and everyone around you!