Karin Becker and Madeline Lynch – photo by Lee Green
It has been awhile since I spent a morning at the beach and so when I did this recently with my 17-year-old daughter I was surprised at how many women were on the beach, their bodies, which came in all shapes and sizes, on display as they enjoyed the sunshine. There we older women, young women, single women, women with children and women with partners, husbands and family. As I sat watching women playing in the sand and surf I wondered how these women self cared for themselves and how they would feel about being women in the world today? Would they feel the same as other women I had recently been privileged to have this exact discussion with? After participating in four women’s groups over five days, all of which were presented on behalf of Foundational Breast Care and Esoteric Women’s Health, my feeling is that most women will have the same view on life and self-care if given the space to share openly and honestly about themselves and the world in which they live. Our body size, shape and color doesn’t seem to have any bearing on how we are feeling about ourselves as women.
The recent groups I participated in were held in Perth, Western Australia, and to give you a sense of the diversity of women in attendance at these groups we had 17-70 year olds participating and coming together from all walks of life who had decided to attend the groups on offer for many different reasons.
One thing that we did know as Karin Becker, the presenter, made it very clear at every group, regardless of where we had come from and what we had lived during our own lives at the end of the day we all had one thing in common –
“We are women first and foremost” KB
I was totally inspired by Karin as she facilitated the groups in such a way that had the women in attendance knowing that they were equal to her, they were just as responsible for the presentation and where the group discussion could go as she was. Karin had no pre-planned talk ready to go as it was not until she asked a few introductory questions of the groups that she had any idea what would be needed for each talk and thus each group of women. Karin in no way spoke or moved in any way that had her put on a pedestal because she happened to be at the front of the room guiding the discussions. She effortlessly encouraged the women to present with her so that the time we had together was about everyone participating and contributing their lived experiences and thus their wisdom just as she shared her lived experiences and wisdom with us. Everyone was equal.
Now this had a profound impact on the groups because they were not being talked at, they could not zone out and have the information presented go in one ear and out the other, which often occurs when we listen to information. The women in attendance were asked to be contributors and participants in their own well-being and health. They were asked to share what they knew to be going on for women, how women were living daily, where are women at in relation to illness and disease, how do or don’t we look after ourselves and how are we going to make changes in support of ourselves as women. Karin presented to the groups in this way because with all the research and money being spent on Women’s Health, take Breast Cancer as an example, we are getting sicker. So, with all that modern medicine offers, and it is very much needed, there is something that we have been missing, something that as yet we have not considered.
The below quote from a group participant sums up how all the groups talked about what women are doing day to day –
“As women, we are putting everyone else first, before ourselves, this includes husbands, kids, neighbors, the running of the house, and family.”
In relation to how we are as women in general other group participants shared as follows –
“We are natural nurturers but we give this to everyone else but ourselves.”
“We are the backbone of our families.” To which Karin added “We are the backbone of humanity”
The progression of the discussions in general moved on to discuss, if we are so busy doing everything for everyone else at the expense of ourselves, where has that left us as women? Women in the groups had plenty of answers to this and there was no hesitation in expressing the impact of how we are choosing to live our lives on our own health and well-being.
we are Bitchy
we can’t sleep
we are stressed
we don’t eat properly
we are frustrated
we are snappy
we indulge in things that are not good for us
we smoke cigarettes
we turn to alcohol and drugs
we are overwhelmed
we are so tired that we have dried up on the inside and have nothing left
our mental health suffers
we can get violent
we get sick
we can lose everything, our children, our paartners our homes, our mental health and nobody cares or gives a shit
All the groups could talk about what taking care of themselves, self-care, looked like, for example having a healthy diet, exercising, putting yourself first, saying no to things and making time for yourself. It was clear that we know what is needed to look after ourselves, sometimes we can try it and we do it but then something happens and we fall and before we know it we are back giving ourselves to everyone around us before taking care of ourselves. Most of us had experienced taking care of ourselves, falling, getting back up again and then falling all over again.
So, the big question was if we as women have a knowing of what we need to be doing to take care of ourselves why do we find it so hard to put this into action?
“We need to turn around 360 degrees as we cannot care for anyone else if we are not taking care of ourselves first” Group Participant
As women, we know that we can make different choices so that we are not giving all that we have, including our own health, to others. Women participating in all the above-mentioned groups talked about the importance of having space to come back to themselves if we do too much, being able to stop and take a moment to clear the head so we will know what to do next in support of ourselves, the importance of being connected with other women and to share our lives and experiences, getting a good night’s sleep and not feeling guilty when we take some time to do something lovely for ourselves.
But life often stops us from taking time out for ourselves as we continually get caught up in our commitments, families, house work, the kids and work. We run ourselves ragged as we multi task and try to balance everything.
So, what is missing? What have we not considered about ourselves that could be the missing link in supporting us to stay true to ourselves as women? What is the key ingredient to us saying yes to nurturing ourselves first before we lovingly nurture others?
Karin presented that we must consider ourselves as important, we must value ourselves as women.
This had women squirming in their seats as women shared that this has not been something that they had been taught, shown how to do, encouraged to do and even worse did not have role models around them showing us that it is ok to value ourselves. And as such we have learnt to hide away from the world, contract and play small, compare ourselves with each other, desperately hold on to controlling life, protect ourselves, blame men for the mess we have gotten ourselves into, do not know how to ask for support and we try and be super women by never saying no to anything – even when our bodies are screaming at us to stop.
It was presented to all the groups in different ways that if we do value ourselves then we will treat ourselves very differently.
For example, Karin could share that if a young woman, 17 years old, was bought up to value, care, honor and love herself. Which would mean that she would have a really strong sense of who she was in the world she would respond to certain situations very differently to a woman who had low self-esteem and didn’t value who she was. In one group a 17-year-old young woman who has a strong sense of her value and thus is naturally confident, self-caring and loving as well as self-assured talked about how she would handle being looked at by a man, especially if the man were to look at her breasts and make these the focus. Her response was very different to how other women said they would respond. This simply demonstrated that, if we do not hold ourselves in high regard then when we experience something in life we can tend to shy away from standing up to what we know to be true, we can run a million miles away, shut ourselves down and make sure our protective barriers are ramped up. It is much easier then to turn to eating unhealthy food, abusing ourselves and numbing and distracting ourselves – which are all lifestyle choices that over time have a huge impact on our health.
If we can return to knowing our value and worth in the world we are more likely to make loving life style choices which ultimately supports our health, vitality and well-being.
allocating time for ourselves
delegating things to others
letting go of having to be in control
saying no to things, and start to do this when we are tired
acknowledging that we are precious and deserve to take care of ourselves
asking others to support us
being honest with other women
not pretending we are super human and have it all together and everything is ok all of the time
In the simple act of women coming together in groups to hear the truth about what is going on for women today and being confirmed that they have things of value to share with others the women in attendance at these groups changed right before my very eyes. Women came to the groups wary, unsure of themselves, pissed off, angry, protected, curious, quiet and shy. By the end of the groups women had lots to share, were open and warm with each other, were listening to others, had dropped their defense mechanisms and had let down their protection. Women looked and felt lighter and were speaking with a sense of having a much stronger foundation for who they were which is a very crucial step in them continuing to build their self-worth and send of self.
Thank you Natalie Benhayon (founder of Esoteric Women’s Health) and Karin Becker, who both are international presenters on Esoteric Women’s Health, Foundational Breast Care, Women in Livingness and Sacred Movement, as they care deeply for all women and are supporting us all to reconnect to our value, self-worth, preciousness and sacredness as women.
by Sally Green