I had the privilege of attending one of the Red Magazine’s #ThisisaSmartWoman events on Sunday 25th September as a guest and assistant of Rebecca Dennis. Rebecca was invited to give a talk on Transformational Breath®/Conscious Breathing [and the benefits of having such a practice] followed by a short breath session. Held in an exquisite period location in Belgravia, displaying high ceilings with beautiful cornicing, flooded by natural light, original feature fireplaces and huge chandeliers; the event was an opportunity to present women of note who had achieved acclaim in their respective fields via a series of experiential workshops to a group of 50 smart women. Given the nature and set up of the day along with time constraints, the format of the talk and practical Rebecca gave was tailored to the needs of the event. It is always so powerful to witness how the information that is given at a breath event is absorbed by participants as for most people, this will be the first time that they have ever actually given any real or focused thought to their breath, how open it is or isn’t, what it means to them and how it really affects their lives.
One of the great things about breath presentations is although the work is essentially energetic and works with restoring and elevating energetic vibrations which even I can admit when I see it written out is on the Bohemian end of the scale, the science behind and supporting the work is wholly indisputable. This makes it that little bit more accessible and available to the general public who may not necessarily be of the alternative persuasion; and of course the physical practice speaks for itself. Even with such a short and concise presentation I could see some ah-ha moments of cognitive realisation about the facts that were being presented. Understanding around how important our breath is, but how because it is a continual automatic bodily function we habitually neglect and take it for granted, how little of our respiratory capacity we use on a day to day basis and how this has such a significant impact not only on the proper mechanics of our bodily functions but also on how this will make a discernible difference to how we feel moment to moment both whilst going about our general day to day business, but also the impact and effect this has when we find ourselves under stressful situations. It really is a beautiful thing when another person takes on and understands that there is a very real and manageable way to expand, change and improve their life experience, and it is always with them, under their very noses.
Rebecca’s talk was sprinkled with a couple of practical exercises which made the experience personal to each participant, allowing them to basically apply and consider the principle of what had just been discussed. The session was completed with a 10 minute breathe, not in the usual Transformational Breath® workshop format as this would not have been conducive at such an event, but focusing on using the technique to breath deep and connected in the lower respiratory system via a series of positions to illustrate feeling the movement in the body caused by breathing in that area. As always, there was a charming assortment of breathers and breathing patterns present in the group and they all equally embraced the task and appeared to be suitably relaxed and refreshed at the close of the session. It was a very special to observe how seamlessly Transformational Breath® is making its way into mainstream consciousness heralding its acceptance and the adoption of the practice itself and its benefits as a part of daily life. Rebecca’s presentation was also completely perfect for the occasion, audience and message that needed to be shared at that time – thank you for allowing me to share Bex!
Rebecca and I stayed for a meditation given by Jody Shields who explained what meditation was, how it worked and how to approach the particular work we took on in that session. There is forever something quite magical about group energy in meditation. Working in this way advances the experience and allows for collective holding of space and sharing which makes the human spiritual experience magically spiritually human, something that I find continually delicious. The leftover from the meditation was so expansive and relaxing – truly special.
As part of Rebecca’s appearance, she was interviewed and asked 3 questions one of which was, who is your smart woman? We discussed this between us, and Bex came up with her perfect answer, and it got me to thinking, how on earth would I answer that question, especially given that saying your mum was not an acceptable option. Now I know a lot of women, I have encountered so many in different aspects and situations, for different reasons or seasons from work colleagues, student buddies, mothers at school, clients, customers, neighbours, bosses, strippers the list is endless, how would I single out one as my smart woman? I decided that I probably couldn’t for many reasons.
As a woman I understand and appreciate that by that very fact, I am never just a woman because what it means to be a woman in my case means that I am a mother, father, breadwinner, banker, daughter, vaguely a sister and auntie, a niece, a neighbour, a friend, a taskmaster, a business woman, a therapist, a facilitator, an innovator, an alchemist, a cook, cleaner and driver, a person who blogs, a breather and so on it goes. Being a woman means that I have a continuum of fluid roles and responsibilities which expand and morph with the situation, occasion, dynamics and requirements at that particular moment in time. Most of the women I know tend along some, all or more of these roles and responsibilities depending on their own situation and the dictates of it. Each responsibility carries with it a delicate interplay against the others, how important is it for me to remain a supportive mother as against a taskmaster at this moment in time? How will that affect me as a therapist and facilitator if I have to maintain getting the job done and pool all my resources there, will I have what I need in the support of others and how will that affect me? What occurred to me again, (because I am sure that I realise this every so often) was that all of this happens in a split second. Women all over the world are constantly balancing, weighing, evaluating and pondering which way to flow toward and away from in many and competing roles. I feel this domain is much more exclusive territory of females than it is of males because the way I see it men tend to focus on being men which is perfect because they are wired that way whereas women have a greater propensity, (because that is how we roll) to want to be all things to all people which very often means we get absorbed and lost in what we are doing and being for and to others and lose our own edges and boundaries, whereas men are more proficient at being steadfastly committed to being themselves wherever and whenever. These differences are essential to allowing us to fulfil our roles, but can lead to misunderstanding and a lack of appreciation all ways around.
In my experience, women, whatever they are doing – out there getting some in the world of work, staying at home and taking care of their family, mixing it up doing both, running companies, charities, refuges or shops have a task on their hands to remain on assignment whilst also juggling the countless responsibilities however large or small that extend and fall under their remit. I remember when I had my first born, I was in a total daze for a good 18 months, there is was with this completely exquisite miniature (well as miniature as my babies ever were) human being who brought with her oodles of fun, learning, growth and joy, but also huge irrevocable responsibility. Every, thing I had been before was now different, my paradigm had shifted totally and utterly and there was no way to change or undo that, she was an extension of me, or was I an extension of her? I couldn’t move, without thinking about how that could affect her, not just for now, but 5, 10, 15 years down the line; (17 years later, the impact is slightly different, but because she is still close with me, the effect is still very much the same). My understanding and knowledge of the world as I knew it was forever changed; with this was brought a seismic alteration in how, when and where I related to every other component of my life, friends, family, work, recreation and every single plan I could conjure up. Would my male counterpart in a similar situation be affected to such an extent? No he would not, because for him, his main focus would be centred on how to do to support the child perhaps from a more financial bent in the knowledge that the main care role of the child would be undertaken by someone else – whether the child’s mother, grandparents, school, nanny and so on, so he would be free to pursue his end unhindered, so too with regard to his recreational pursuits. I have been a parent most of my adult life, but I do see that extends to couples who do not have children in more subtle ways in regard to the responsibilities around the home and other family members. This is not a good or bad thing, it is just the way that things are because of the natural attributes that men and women have, and that is why to me equality still feels like pie in the sky. I am not, nor do I wish to be like any of the men that I know and or grew up with, what I desire is for society to understand, appreciate, know and recognise the indispensable value and contribution of women to maintaining and oiling society and equal recompense and kudos to that given to men for the different roles they play but tend to be unquestionably vindicated for by the system.
There are events such as the Red Magazine event, groups and networks that celebrate women, their achievements and their ability to hold it down against all odds. It is a truly beautiful thing when without striving so hard to be perfect we can take stock and drink in the beauty, strength and wisdom of womanhood, we can stop and allow ourselves to bask in the results of the millennia of our evolution and collective narrative and truly connect and rejoice in the magnificence of the female warrior. I was touched to have been reminded through consideration of who my smart woman would be, that I honour, salute and pay homage to every single woman I know, don’t know, have met, haven’t met yet for bringing your sacred Shakti to the collective. What appears to be an easy ride or situation for one woman from the outside is usually interspersed with elusive and intricate compromises and undertones that some many of us would not be able to endure, indeed what others may think of the challenges that I face in my life, when I look to their situations I feel entirely claustrophobic by their upsides against my challenges. This understanding serves to increase my respect and awe for all the smart women out there doing their thing, your femininity dictates and clears the way for your unquestionable excellence – be sure to take time to recognise this in yourself and tenderly and lovingly nurture your essence because you my friend ROCK!!! Your vulnerability, power, strength, weakness, anger, happiness, joys, frustrations, fear, doubt, wonder, ease grace -every single aspect of your being is a resplendent expression of who you are, embrace and nurture it fully and freely. Please remember that this not need be confined to a specific time and place when we are allowed to love and celebrate ourselves, as the great Zig Ziglar said of motivation “People often say that motivation doesn’t last. Well neither does bathing that’s why we recommend it daily” and so too of nurturing and honouring the greatness of who you are; please find a way to support and allow yourself to recognise your magic every single day!!!!