Crying, laughing, contemplating on birth and death, re-discovering one‘s own body and bathing in flowers. 11 days. Full on. It’s hard to put into words what happened during the third and last training within my apprenticeship with Be Woman Project in February this year. A training dedicated to the goddesses Durga and Kali. I am trying to be as much in my body as possible while writing this, my version of what happened.
Why I am trying to be in my body?
Because I’ve finally realized that when I’m in my body, when I allow myself to relax, then I have access to my feelings. (My teacher Sharada says: “We do not relax because then we feel. And the pain can be so big…”). Then I can see what lies behind the tension: The frustration, the sadness, the anger. Then I can see the accompanying thoughts. Then I can listen to my needs and eventually cater for myself.
I can proudly say 😉 that I’ve come even to love the emotional meltdown.
Different tools to rewire unhealthy thoughts about ourselves
What did the training offer to come more and more to my truth?
- One thing was this emphasis on the so-called felt sense. For example, in a homework where we were invited to (re-)discover ourselves, as an innocent being, just appreciating the beauty of our physical bodies. We were encouraged to allow thoughts and feelings to come up. And after that to let go of destructive thoughts about our bodies, sexuality, ourselves and to invite more healthy ones.
- We shared our stories and wisdom in daily women’s circles. The main focus of this training though was on initiation rites. Mostly forgotten in western cultures, we carried out different ceremonies: We made up for what we might have missed out on when we were born, came to school, menstruated for the first time, got into relationships. We got married to ourselves – as the most important relationship is the one with ourselves – and took a look at death, change, transformation. We celebrated these moments fully, told each other things we wish we would have been told. And thus gave ourselves the love, nourishment and appreciation we may have not received around those big events in a woman’s life.
- We had classes of Vedanta teachings. We learnt that all our problems can be pinpointed to this: the belief many of us carry that we are not really loveable. That somehow something is wrong with us. That not all of us is acceptable. Vedanta has a different vision: It says you’re whole and complete already, here and now.
Invoking Durga and Kali when needed
In and through all this was the focus on the goddesses Durga and Kali. I love the approach my teacher takes on them: You superimpose certain qualities unto the statues or pictures on the altar:
- Durga stands for the mother of all mothers. Durga carries many weapons that destroy all that is not good for us. She protects those who follow universal values. She rides a tiger or a lion, that represents power. Durga wins every fight – as she doesn’t even enter a fight. Because she knows that she has everything she wants already. She cannot lose nor win anything.
- Kali is the goddess who wields time. She embraces growth and change. She’s the destructive principle. As every ending is a new beginning.
The goddesses are available 24/7. When you need them, you call upon them. Like a good friend, a wise mentor or an “inner friend”. Then you realize that you are Durga and Kali. That you have this knowledge about yourself, what is true and what is not, what is important, what is not, inside you, already. At that point you can speak your truth, without blaming anybody, without feeling childish and without fear. Without wishing anything to be different from what it is. Without any agenda for you to be different from who you are.
No agenda, full acceptance of what is: That’s when “Durga-ness”, actual strength, starts to build up…
As I approached my pain, I’ve come to pleasure
There’s so much more to say about a training spent with 14 women from all over the world, all ages and backgrounds. I feel like the power of it cannot be explained satisfactorily. To my friends, I told just one thing the days after: That I feel free, juicy, light and soft like I might have felt last when I was five years old. But a lightness born of knowledge this time.
As I approached my pain, I’ve come to pleasure.
I now believe it’s true: When we numb our pain, we numb also our pleasure. And it’s possible to un-numb!
With greatest reverence and gratefulness to my teacher Sharada and my Durga-sisters Akal, Berit, Elisa, Ingela, Isabella, Jessica, Josephine, Monali, Sandrine, Satya, Serra and Sylwia for being the women that they are. To Ariane for editing this post and to Purnama (1-3) and Jean-Manuel (4) for the photographs.