In preparation for an upcoming workshop for women, I had a brief conversation with Carol Haggerty-Reardon, Director of Spiritual works for women at the Institute for Hermetic Philosophy. She was kind enough to share some interesting points from her experience as a woman about the work taught by Dario Salas Sommer.
JE: What part of the idea "be with yourself" relates to your experience of being a woman?
CHR: That no matter what is going on around me, I can connect to the peace within me, where my true self resides and try to live from this place where there is power and calm. Naturally, there are many things to distract me and keep me from making this real connection: putting others’ needs before my own, negative emotions, self doubt, self judgement, fear, physical or emotional pain, all of these things can keep me from "being with myself".
Of course, I still have feelings and old definitions of myself that want to rule and define me, like being easily distracted, self loathing and rejection, but the more I experience “being with myself”, the more on guard I am to the traps that lower my energy through self sabotage and rejection. When I am truly "being with myself" I feel light and limitless.
JE: It sounds like you have gotten a lot from your personal work. In your experience, what part of this work has touched you the most?
Carol: What has touched me the most is that this energy is REAL. Anyone can learn how to connect to it and grow it - when I am connected to this true, real energy, this vibration of peace, calm, self acceptance, I am open to giving and receiving in a way that I didn't know was possible. My level of energy will determine how my day will go. When my energy is stagnated because I am feeling low, or judgmental of myself or others, that is when I do damage to myself. If I realize this in that moment, I have the ability to connect to a positive place. These tools we are given allow us to take our energy, and our continued ways of connecting to it to another level.
JE: So what would you say to a woman who is struggling to bring her life into balance?
CHR: First, I would say it’s normal. Today it’s so difficult for most people to find balance, especially women, who play different roles and support others in their lives. They are used to supporting others and being the nurturer, typically giving to others before giving to themselves and that leads to depletion of their energy. In order for a woman to find balance, she needs to find her center first, she can use that place as an anchor to make decisions based on her reality and not on her expectations of herself or others. I would say to someone who is trying to find that balance, to first accept where she is - you can't change things over night, but you can accept them. Then she can find ways to bring herself into the present moment by breathing, to love herself, to take care of herself. In the end she is the only one who can figure out what she needs and then give it to herself.
This is part one of a casual chat with Carol Haggerty, Ceci Baker, and Rosemarie Ramsumair, the three presenters of the April 26 Wonder of Women Workshop. The interview was conducted by Soribel Fernandez in the Institute for Hermetic Philosophy midtown Manhattan space.
Q. Why a workshop just for women?
Ceci: That’s a great question, we’ve really thought about it, for a couple of years now, right? There are specific questions that women have and different ways that women have of answering those questions, that sometimes get clouded when the genders are mixed and so we feel like this is a great opportunity for women to speak out, say what they want to say without that friction.
Carol: Yes. We have work just for women at IHP and just for men. The work that we do here as women, the things that we learn about ourselves, the ways that we grow as women and as people are so profound for us that we really wanted to share it; share certain things with the public; introduce to the women who’ve never been introduced to this concept before, the ways that they can grow as women. We had a workshop a few years ago and it was so popular and it was just time to have another one.
Rosemarie: And I feel it’s really important to have a workshop for women because there are not enough of them, and usually if you do a search for workshops for women it is not in the depth that we are going to go, to discuss the things that really affect us and to know that we are not alone. There are others like us.
Q. Why at this time?
Carol: Why not? There are a lot of things going on in the media right now, but there have always been. As far as the books that are out there now like “Lean In” and Arianna Huffington’s “Thrive.” There are a lot of women websites and
empowerment opportunity online and in books, but we just feel that now is the time to allow women to connect to themselves as women, not as a sexual object, not as a woman who is just trying to be better than the other woman next to her or get a man in her life or get the best job or become a CEO, but to become a better person, and understand what that means; to be more connected to themselves, self-referential , speaking from a true centered place inside, and allowing them, each woman, to be a woman based on who she is and what she feels and thinks versus the external advertising and what people around her think.
Ceci: This a great time of the year to do it too, going into spring, and you see the cycles of Nature that are changing, women are cyclical; that is one of our wonders. One of the things that makes us different from men is the cycles, so is it is a great time to celebrate along with Nature, because we are Nature.
Rosemarie: We are so connected and during spring everything flourishes and why not? There is new growth, new energy, and why not come together and have all of that energy synced to really not only help ourselves but all humanity.
Q. What changes have you experienced as a woman during your time at IHP?
Ceci: That’s one of the most difficult questions. There is a part of me that wants to say that I have changed as a Human being and end it there. But there is growing part of me that knows that I am a woman human being, I am a feminine being and my awareness of that femininity, that creativity, of the abilities that I have to connect to people on a more intuitive level all of that for me has grown. Additionally just physically, materially, I’ve changed. I have become less inhibited physically, sexually. I have found actual physical healing on feminine issues that I had over the years. And, I have found a different way to relate to men that is less combative or aggressive and I am still assertive.
Carol: For me this work is really profound, when I first came here I thought I was happy, well-balanced, in a loving relationship, and in many ways those things were true. But what I realized during the process of this work was I was only at the surface of who I am. This work had allowed me to dig deep into who I am as a person, who I am as a woman; what does it mean to be a woman? And get connected to this energy of Nature inside of me. I look back and think that when I joined the school I was actually more like paper doll. A one dimensional person compared to the person I feel I am today. I used to put people before myself, depending on others to have the answers, instead of looking inside of myself. The person I am today is stronger. I really like myself. I now know myself much more than I ever have, and I appreciate myself in ways which allow me to be happy and fulfilled without relying on others to do it for me.
Rosemarie: For me it is like night and day. I’m definitely not the raging, jealous person looking on the outside for happiness. I feel more connected, more self-referential, more of an understanding that I am whole now, I am equal, I do not have to be what the media portrays, not an object, But I am a strong, independent powerful woman.
Q. Would you say that you had defined roles as a woman in your life?
Ceci: I don’t feel that I have a defined role as a woman. I feel I have a way to connect to the world around me in a feminine way; it doesn’t mean that I have to be a mother, or a wife, or a daughter, or a sister, or an aunt. It means that I am all of those things and more, with the connection to who I am as a feminine spirit.
Rosemarie: I have a similar feeling; I don’t feel like there are roles. But, it’s more of a quality, a feminine quality, and it comes when you have that connection to yourself.
Carol: I haven’t thought of it as having a new role. I have a leadership position here leading the women in the Work. I feel a role that is very important is self nurturer, nurturing myself and my sisters, but also supporting and nurturing my husband, and my brothers and sisters. Again, what’s key is connecting to my learned self knowledge, allowing me to be a human being based on the changes that I’ve made, the way I’ve grown as a person, as a woman, instead of again defining myself or trying to act or say the right things based on what is expected of me or what my peers or what someone on the outside might expect.
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