Mi Sistren: The Magic of Sisterhood
Sistren: The Jamaican Patwah word for a group of women.
I spent 10 days in March in Jamaica as part of the women’s retreat, Root To Rise, along with Jess Brown and Connie Clotworthy. Our Worthy Beyond Purpose Co-Founders seem to be full of good ideas!
We took off to Jamaica with 5 courageous ladies for what Jess dubbed a “Meditation to Manifestation” retreat. You may ask, “8 of you went to tropical Jamaica! What’s so courageous about that???
Magic requires courage.
One of the main things that I’ve taken away from this epic week is that in order create magic in your life, you must be willing to face your fears, let go of what doesn’t serve you, and develop a sense of faith and trust in your own personal potential. To do all that…well, that takes courage.
I was completely blown away by the deep relationships that developed in such a short amount of time. This week was a true testament to the awesome power that women have when they come together in a group.
From the moment Jess, Connie and I arrived, we were welcomed by Jayne Cole. Her and her husband Baba, own and run the Moringa Ingadi Villas, where we stayed, with their son Skip. After 30 years of practicing chanting and meditation, you feel Jayne’s dynamic energy immediately. Her wisdom and kindness radiate off of her. In fact, it was she who taught us and our beautiful ladies the term ”sistren” after we chanted together on the final day.
She expressed her hope that everyone in attendance could truly experience the freedom that comes with taking responsibility for their own lives and emotions. She shared her own stories of traveling and the struggles of being in a mixed race couple with a kid in the States in the 80s. Her husband, who is Jamaican, so lovingly refers to her as his Empress.
As she closed, she called us “Mi Sistren.” I think everyone sensed the weight of those words. We finally had the perfect name for what we were all feeling.
What is it about retreats like these that is so empowering?
This was actually my second women’s retreat of 2019. I attended a silent retreat in January. Even in silence, the strength that a group of women has was palpable.
For me, the shared experiences play a huge role. Not only the shared experiences of the retreat but also our shared life experiences.
“Courage starts with showing up and letting ourselves be seen.”
Power comes from sharing about yourself or your life in a completely authentic way. Having another person listen, understand, and empathize creates a profound sense of connection and belonging which is as important to human life as food or water. Because so many life-circumstances are unique to women, there is a natural ease that enables vulnerability. Basically, we don’t have to convince or over-explain anything. Much of the time, an inherent understanding exists which leads to a feeling that this is a safe place to share without judgment.
We practiced Yoga Nidra meditation every day which was the focal point of Root to Rise. These meditations take you into the subconscious mind to start releasing old wounds and beliefs about yourself that may have been generated in childhood. There were also 3 different workshops - Finding your Sankalpa (an integral part of the Yoga Nidra practice), the Full Moon Ceremony (centered around letting go), and Meditation to Manifestation. In each of these group settings, we talked about our lives, our hopes, our fears, our dreams and the past experiences that have shaped who we are today. We laughed. We cried. We supported each other. With each sit…with each workshop…with each adventure, we grew closer.
Sankalpa (Sanskrit: संकल्प) means an intention formed by the heart and mind - a solemn vow, determination, or will.
In practical terms, a Sankalpa means a one-pointed resolve to focus both psychologically and philosophically on a specific goal. It is sometimes referred to as your heart’s desire. It’s usually a simple “I am…” statement. I like to think of it as the most epic affirmation of your life.
To get to this potent proclamation about one’s self, we first discussed our negative self-talk, the things we say to ourselves that are anything but kind. Around the 4th person, we realized we were gonna need a roll of tissue paper STAT! Sitting in that circle, I felt such compassion for every girl because it was almost as if every story was my own. The circumstances might be different but the wounds were so similar.
Out of these stories, we came up with:
I am beautiful.
I am present.
I am loved.
I am wise.
I am free.
I am secure.
I am whole.
I am radiant.
This is the heart of connection. Diving into our own hearts in the safe company of each other, we had immense empathy for one another. We were not only rooted in the beautiful nature of Jamaica but we were also rooted in our common experiences. We felt a little less alone in this vast world.
Let that sh*t go!
Women have been sitting in Full Moon Circles for centuries. Traditionally, the full moon signifies a time for letting go.
Since I have been working with forgiveness and letting go over the last year in my own personal practice, I led the talk and meditation at our Full Moon Fire Ceremony. As we prepared for the Manifestation Workshop later in the week, I felt strongly that the first step towards being a creator of your own life is letting go of that which keeps you chained - the anger, the resentments, the insecurities which unconsciously shape your view of the world around you.
“As I walked out the door toward the gate that would lead to my freedom, I knew if I didn't leave my bitterness and hatred behind, I'd still be in prison.”
~ Nelson Mandela
Forgiveness is so powerful. When you hold on to resentments and anger, the person you are harming is yourself. The other person doesn’t feel it. YOU DO! Letting go is releasing fear about a person or situation. It’s the ultimate act of surrendering control. Control what you can, let the rest be.
It is actually an act of trust. In fully trusting each other, we also opened up to trusting the world around us. If you really want to manifest your dreams, you’ve got to leave behind what’s holding you back. Give it to the fire and open to possibility and opportunity.
That’s just what we did.
“Because there’s one thing stronger than magic: sisterhood.”
By the time Friday rolled around, we were ready to manifest with Connie. Everyone was PUMPED! From the depths of my soul, every time I heard each woman’s dream for her life, I wanted nothing more than to find a way to support them. Whether through a kind word or making a connection for them, I am now eternally on their teams!
This is what a women’s retreat can do!
Sometimes, when you can’t see the good in yourself, when you think you are hopeless and can’t do anything right, you need dedicated friends who see you as you really are and cheer you on. This is one of the reasons I always tell people to meditate with their friends! Sometimes you need people to have faith in you when you don’t have faith in yourself.
The group energy gave everyone hope and a tenacious belief that our dreams were possible! When you are visualizing the life you want, you’ve got to be able to feel it. We had 7 cheerleaders going at any given moment!
We finished with gratitude.
The quickest way to getting what you want is to be thankful for what you already have!
I have so much to be thankful for in my life but at that moment the thing I was most grateful for was sitting on that yoga deck with mi sistren I don’t know that my life will ever be the same after this trip.
One of our final activities was a beach clean-up with the kids of Treasure Beach. I think the true treasure for our gaggle of gals was a 9-year old named Parys Francis.
This little girl with a big personality and epic dance moves was an inspiration. Being around her, you get the feeling she’s 9 going on 20. Wise beyond her years, simply explaining her sacred mud ceremony by the ocean (aka her covering you in mud) made our faces hurt with smiles and entertained us for hours.
With meditation and mindfulness in her tool bag for life, we are all excited to watch her grow into a woman. Many of us wish we had had these practices when we were young. So full of magic and imagination, Parys delivered the perfect combination of hope and love as the trip began to come to a close.
Check out her WBP blog!
Because Treasure Beach is a small community, the entire town participated in the week in one way or another. We met the Rastas, the Buddhists, the shopkeepers, the bartenders, the captains, the kids…It literally felt like EVERYONE!
In the end, it’s all about connection. Whatever kind of retreat you go on , women’s or otherwise, you will develop an intimate relationship with yourself first. This ripples out into your world. You can be authentically you, knowing that you are safe and you are loved, because you now have a group who have shared this experience with you and, on some level, will always understand and hear you.