I recently attended a Women's retreat on the Garden Route at the Well-being Sanctuary and I wanted to share my experience because it was such a beautiful experience which I simply cannot keep to myself.
I didn't even know that I was definitely going to make it on the morning thereof as I had a sick baby girl at home and felt unsure about leaving her at home with Dad while she was unwell.
I contacted Mariette (the hostess of the retreat) to let her know that I wasn't sure and that I would let her know. She responded with a voice note empathizing with me and encouraging me to do 'what felt most nourishing to me'. This set the tone for the whole weekend. I listened in to my intuition and decided that my daughter would be okay without me and that I was being called to join this constellation of women, at this time. I followed the call and found myself in the most beautiful, serene setting, overlooking the lake in Sedgefield.
From the moment I left my car and sipped in the fresh forest air, I felt deeply at home within myself and within the surroundings. I felt nervous and excited to be surrounded by a group of new faces but each person I met, greeted me with softness and openness.
I settled in to my glamping Bedouin tent and took a walk, exploring the land. I felt unsure what to expect and set the intention of being open to receive and just experience whatever was meant for me.
Our weekend started with a nude swim in the lake followed by a sweat lodge (my first ever experience doing a sweat lodge!). It was so liberating to be granted permission to be at peace with my body and to shed the layers of societal expectation from the very first experience of the weekend. We all left the sweat lodge having let go of any extra layers that were restricting us from being present and open to what the weekend had in store. We swam again at dusk and sat around the fire processing what we had each been through, without having to speak a word.
What followed was a beautiful unfolding of: intentional walks, garden harvesting, workshops, delicious food, cacao, yoga, fire dancing and sharing circles. But what happened in amongst all of this was deep connection with other women who were on a similar healing path to my own. Feeling seen, heard and held within community of the feminine was a feeling I will never forget: a home coming to sisterhood.
So many of us are struggle with a sister wound and so there is often mistrust and layers of protection that we carry around other women. This environment really allowed for these layers to be dropped and for genuine connection and deep empathy to be restored. It helped me reconnect to my true feminine energy and I continue to feel a renewed sense of connection to my inner wisdom and my true self.
It was forecast to pour down with rain all weekend but it held out for us so that we could fully experience the land and even get some fire dancing in (that was a whole experience on it's own!). On the last morning of the retreat the heavens opened and the rain came pouring down and many tears were released into the earth. It was so symbolic of the purging of the past and a renewal of life force energy.
We sat in closing circle together while it was storming outside, thunder and lightening and down pours of rain emerging and then subsiding. It was as if it created space for us to really be vulnerable and raw with each other. By the time we had each had an opportunity to share and close the circle, the skies cleared and all felt calm once again.
If you feel called to connect with women in spaces such as these, do some research on what offerings are available in your area. It doesn't matter what background you come from or what path you have been on before, you can find safety in spaces such as these.
For those interested in this specific retreat space, it was hosted at the Well-being Sanctuary in Sedgefield by Mariette Carstens and a few other incredible women. You can also find the Well-being Sanctuary on AirBnb and they also host carious festivals throughout the year. You can follow them on Instagram or Facebook.