This weekend I was fortunate enough to get to participate in a women’s retreat here in Mancos. It was a small gathering, but a lovely event with lots of great workshops, yoga and music. What struck me most about it, though, was not the information that was covered, the personal work done or the fun that was had. What really stood out was the effect that being in a community of loving women had on every single participant. Now, if you’ve been following me for a while, you know I am a big proponent of community. It has become so exceedingly clear, especially in the wake of COVID times, that community is an absolute essential for our health and well-being as humans. Even with that as a known, however, it still blows me away how affected we all are by connecting with others in authentic and supportive ways. Like, I’m sorry, but why don’t we make time for and prioritize this? Why is this the exception in our lives rather than the rule? There are so many benefits to feeling connected to others, and, in particular, for women feeling connected to other women. Here’s just a few of the things I noticed this past weekend:
Being in a community of supportive women creates a sense of safety.
So many of us walk around with our guards up, interacting in socially-determined, normative ways, and rarely let our true and authentic selves be heard. When we are in communion with other loving women, it gives us the chance to connect to who we really are and creates an environment in which we can begin to tap into and express our deeper selves. It also provides a container to explore our edges, try out new things, be vulnerable, find our voice and root into a deeper sense of confidence and self-love. I saw so many women blossoming like flowers on the vine under these circumstances this weekend – letting parts of themselves be seen, letting wounds go, o-p-e-n-i-n-g. It was incredible and, I could see, deeply healing.
Holding space and being witnessed
There is something alchemical that happens when another human places their full attention and presence on us. We spend so much time being busy and distracted, we forget that it feeds something deep in the soul to be intentionally held and witnessed, especially when expressing something authentic and vulnerable. This weekend, I was given the opportunity to dance to a full song, being witnessed by a sister. It was, of course, intimidating at first to be watched, to feel seen, but man, once I got into it, it felt so powerful and so nourishing. We are so rarely witnessed with love in our day-to-day lives – more often it feels, we are scrutinized with judgement, envy and insecurity. We all have such a deep need to feel loved, accepted and appreciated, but, as that need is so rarely met, we armor up, close off and go out into the world with our hearts on lock down in order to protect ourselves from the wounds of others that get projected onto us. What an amazing thing it is, then, to be seen and witnessed with presence and love, to be held in our own radiance and have that reflected back to us through the eyes of another. And, what an incredibly powerful thing to be able to offer to someone else.
Creating the container for growth and transformation
As a last observation, and this is something I have been thinking about for quite some time, being in community with supportive others gives us a spring-board on which to base our own personal growth and transformation. It helps us stay in the game, stay positive and keep going. It keeps us fed so that we can continue to do the work and stops us from back-sliding or losing hope. We all need cheer-leaders, we all need those people who can remind us of how awesome we are. Being in community resources us to be able to stay on course and continue to see our own strength and brilliance as we carry on, day after day, through the obstacles and challenges that inevitably come our way.
Of course, you probably all know already that having an awesome group of friends is certainly going to benefit you and your life. I would suggest, however, that you take it a step further. Establish something intentional, maybe with friends, or maybe just with other women (or men). Something regular, anything really, as long as it supports your ability to be more fully yourself and feel good about life. Sing, dance, eat, share, create a ceremony or ritual, talk each other up, dress up, get naked, be in nature, whatever floats your boat. But do it. Make time for it. Prioritize it. This is your reminder that this IS what life is really for.
Hi! My name is Ashley and I'm a transformational healer, writer and artist. Here you will find articles on a variety of topics related to health and healing, conscious living and self-growth. Hope you enjoy!