The objective of the three-day “self-discovery” workshop for women, organised by HR Anexi, was to give its participants an opportunity to explore the innate energy that every woman has.

“We are these amazing creatures, we women… we're loving, creative, gifted, glorious, intelligent… in short, just incredible, remarkable creatures. And, yet, we women drain our energy in nonsensical self-criticism all the time. And, which marketers profit from… all the things they sell to try to get rid of this aspect of our bodies or that.”

This would be music to any woman's ears… and so it was, to the ears of the 25 women who had gathered at the picturesque Lavasa, near Pune, for the training workshop Femme Vital! conducted by Peggy Dylan, an internationally renowned trainer from California who claims to help women realise the potential of their spiritual ability.

The all-female group included vibrant and dynamic women from corporates such as TCS and SBI Mutual, successful entrepreneurs, trainers, self-employed women, a pilot and a few journalists.

Self-discovery

The objective of the three-day “self-discovery” workshop for women organised by HR Anexi, an HR solutions company, was to give its participants the opportunity to explore the innate energy that every woman has. Ms Dylan is considered an acclaimed motivational speaker and the “mother of contemporary Fire Walking”.

Through the session Ms Dylan nudged participants to shed doubts, hesitations, misconceptions about their weaknesses or failures, and encouraged them to celebrate the unique gift nature gives every woman… as creator, nurturer, and more. She also encouraged them to discuss, in little groups, the major obstacles that prevented them from achieving their full potential, either at work or home. It is up to a woman to unleash the tremendous feminine energy innate in her, but thwarted by either cultural conditioning or extraneous factors.

This motivational speaker kept the group engaged through anecdotes. A fascinating part of the programme was a bunch of slides — sculptures, paintings, drawings and photographs — from various customs establishing woman as the supreme creator of life.

Creator of life

“Those of you who are mothers know the incredible energy you went through to give life to another human being,” she said, showing one picture after another which established how in diverse traditions and cultures from the Native American, Egyptian, European or Indian, the goddess or the woman was depicted as a figure of immense courage, energy and focus. “All of these pictures/sculptures say you are an outstanding woman… to be willing to sacrifice so much to give more life, more gift to this planet.”

Relating an ancient practice from a Mexican Native American tribe, she said that when the woman was giving birth, “the man would climb onto the upper storey of their hut and tie a rope around his testicles. When she was in pain, she was allowed to pull on it, so he could experience the pain with her.”

Along with pained exclamations of “ouch”, there were plenty of smiles in the room too! At the thought that a man would be made to actually and physically experience the agony and excruciating pain a woman undergoes while delivering a child.

Effectively pushing through the message that in the hustle-bustle of daily grind, when most women are expected to multi-task and do chores for all members of the family, neglecting their own priorities, the trainer gave the analogy of how long it takes to deliver a child.

“When we are pregnant… when we are incubating something to bring into the world, it is imperative we take time… it takes 9 months for a child to be born. It takes longer than that for your soul. It is imperative that women take out time for themselves.” Even if it is only five minutes in the morning “before you get out of bed, take that time to visualise your day, because how are you going to give birth to your soul, if you don't take time.” Another story was about native Americans sending their young men on a vision quest, a very difficult process in the wilderness for three nights where you keep awake and don't eat or drink anything. Till recently, women weren't sent on this vision quest and when a young woman protested, “the instructor looked at her as though she was crazy and said: ‘Why would you want to go and suffer like that; because as a woman you already have all that?'”

What he was talking about was the “connection, knowledge that we as women have, that men have to strive for. How often has your husband, boyfriend, brother or father said to you: Have you seen my shoes, keys, glasses.. and you say its right over there!”

She then showed a slide of four Egyptian women with birds' heads facing the four directions. Just as birds fly between the earth and the sky, the symbolism is about the woman's connection with the earth and heaven.

Knowledge, intuition

Another interesting story followed; of Ms Dylan's female friend, a psychiatrist, who complained how her husband, also in the same profession, would rush into her office when she was extremely busy and ask “stupid questions like: ‘Where are my shoes'. She said: ‘Peggy, this makes me mad; but what maddens me even more is that I know exactly where the damned things are!'”

This “overwhelming knowledge... call it women's intuition, knowing of things to come, how to protect your child, what prayers to say on what occasion… all this comes naturally to a woman,” she said.

A slide from Jakarta showed healing hot water from the earth being channelled from the goddess's breasts into a pool where people took a dip to heal themselves. Whether it is the female reproductive organ, which was always the symbol of creation or the breast, the symbol of milk or nurturing, these organs were considered sacred in all cultures in ancient times,” Ms Dylan said. Over the last 150 years, a degeneration in our beliefs and values have taken place and these organs are seen more as symbols of sex and sexuality, “more for giving pleasure than for taking forward the human race.”

And, then, there was this gem: The huge difference in the number of genes between the female X chromosome and the male Y chromosome tells you why “you can make things… from the perfect baby to the perfect milk… while also knowing where those damned shoes are!”

Responses to rasheeda@thehindu.co.in and blfeedback@thehindu.co.in

(This article was published on January 30, 2012)
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