When we begin to trust the body, using breath, deep listening practice, mindful movement, rituals where you can openly speak your Truth, a road map for finding your pain, and deep self-compassion, we can handle anything that we encounter in our lives.   That’s what was totally demonstrated at the Healing Yourself, Healing the World: A Self-Compassionate Path through Grief  — A woman’s retreat held at the at the Rocky Mt. Ecodharma Retreat Center this October 24-29.   Fourteen women  from all over the United States came with curiosity and determination to do the “deep diving” of Stage 3 of the Midlife Voyage to Transformation.  They hoped it would help them break free from their current struggles in midlife and beyond.  They hoped to find connection and support on this unknown and scary journey.  

Deep diving takes courage, curiosity and determination to go into the darkness of not-knowing—into the potential of breaking free from painful blocks and fears that have prevented healing and created more suffering for so long.  We fear the very darkness that can bring us a new light and hope.  The hope of resiliency, rebirth and healing.  What does it look like when we do this deep work?  These women showed me the process and the power!   

First, we explored how to embody our pain. Embodiment is learning to listen to our bodies and what they can show us about our human emotions, our feelings, our sensations that is different from what our minds are telling us we are about.   Embodiment is key to getting through our pain and grief because only our body knows how to process and release it.  We found that our minds were a key part of the resistance: the fear of bursting open more deeply in grief and sorrow that we’d never recover from.  Our minds wanted an answer when there wasn’t one.  It doesn’t help that we don’t hear many women talking about this journey in their lives.  Our culture is so masculine and fast moving that finding time and the opportunity to go slowly with our feelings is often discouraged and unavailable.  We learned to be receptive, open, curious and trusting of what our bodies could show us as a feminine journey.  We talked to the trees and listened to their love in return.

Coming on retreat is a powerful alternative to keeping your grief locked inside of you—without learning how to release it, explore it, embody it or allow it to transform you!  

Here’s how our embodiment unfolded: 

1) Breath practices    Learning how the breath is always there for us and holds us in a deep embrace. Sitting in mindfulness practice each  morning deeply still and building the capacity to notice and witness ourselves and others. 

2)  Daily Yoga Practices where deep strength and fierce compassion was generated along with a powerful internal witnessing that allowed each woman to deepen her self-awareness and capacity for releasing, recognizing, naming and finding resiliency.

3) Rituals to open us up to the healing elements of Water and Fire: How these elements in nature stimulate our compassion, gratitude and capacity for wholeness. How we feel our pain about Mother Earth. 

4) Seeing our ancestors and our archetypal past  – Where our feminine path was broken, lost or never experienced due to trauma or difficult events and how we grieve our full expression of who we wanted to be.

But the most transforming process was when we sat together in our Grief Ritual and named our feelings powerfully witnessing each other’s grief and pain.  Naming our pain openly allowed us to release shame and guilt, find forgiveness of others and ourselves, and feel our authenticity that has been hidden or blocked.  

What came forth in the final day was astonishing:  A new awakening, a new perspective of how and who we are; a new connection with our wholeness that had been lost.  This is what Rebirthing looks like.  And when we stand strong as the “New You” we feel such a power of resilience.  It is in the turning towards our feelings that bursts us open into a raw and new sense of ourselves.  I saw these women  learning to ride  the waves of their inner experience,  launching themselves forward into deeper self-discovery and this created inner strength.  I call this a Resilient New You.  

What makes you resilient as the New You?  You are now writing your own story.  You are no longer feeling victimized by your painful experiences.  You have faced them, processed them, and taken over your narrative to move your life in the direction where you want to go next.  This group of women have demonstrated that they are moving forward into the world as heroines, ready to be masters of two worlds: You know the territory of pain and the realm of hope and rebirth.  You have been on the healing path of the Midlife Voyage to Transformation all the way to the end.  Bravo!  Your new life awaits you.