The weekend of 15/16th March was an interesting one. One full of new experiences. I went with an open mind.I have always been interested in the spiritual side of our lives. Yoga, reiki and meditation have been things that I have practiced from time to time throughout my life. But this was the first time it was not a private matter, not in a small group or a class. Festival du Feminin was a well organised event held in Bangkok which is actually part of a much larger worldwide movement.
Events such as these have been held all over the world. Founded in Paris, the movement has developed and the event has been held in ten countries, Morocco, Colombia, India, Singapore, to name but a few. This was the fourth such event held in Thailand. The Bangkok festival organiser is a French women called Sylvie Baradel. Here are her words describing the event. Festival du Féminin in Bangkok, an internationally registered event for women of every culture to experience awakening and empowerment in a safe and intimate environment. It is a journey of self-discovery that allows us to feel, access and reconnect with the multiple facets of ourselves, breaking away from the rigid expectations of peers, parents, colleagues, partners, and society at large. Women empower one another when they connect with their inner selves, with one another, and with the world.
The vision of Festival du Féminin is to bring together a large multi cultural group of women, giving them opportunities to meet, share, transmit, honour and celebrate precious moments of their lives and inner paths. It invites them to discover, or rediscover, the power, the sweetness, the safety of bonds and friendships connecting and feeling what they have in common and to explore the lights and shadows inside them and to heal their lineage wounds.”
Festival bought together women from all walks of life, sharing and experiencing all things spiritual and life affirming, through workshops, mediation and talks, through dance and music.This type of event is not for everyone, there are many that would feel that the whole thing was a waste of time and sort of mumbo jumbo, but that’s fine. Not everyone is into such things. I didn’t think that I was. But for those that are or are even remotely interested, the weekend was enlightening, helpful and nourishing. Everyone has a story, an experience from childhood or later in life.
We carry so much and find it hard to let go of what may have hurt us. I feel that trauma and it’s tentacles tend to hold on to us and if we can’t find a way to shed them, it will effect us and everything we do. This includes men, it is not just women. Women are just more willing and able to “talk” and work through things that in turn help them let go. Festival was all about that. A sisterhood coming together to help release and let go, to explore within ourselves and find out what it’s really like to acknowledge and reflect. It was a happy and warm experience. I really don’t feel that anyone can be “perfectly fine”, perhaps I am being a little harsh but we all have a story, a past, we all have something that’s pains us, a memory, a traumatic experience or a need that we cannot fill.
As human beings we hold on to every type of experience, good or bad. Yes, with time the memory fades, but sometimes we need help with understanding, why and what has happened to us.Women tend to be the ones to seek help. I don’t think I am able here in this piece of writing to discuss the difference between the way men and women deal with “life” but we are different and we women are able to open up and seek help and are willing to “learn” about ourselves using any means possible. Some women that is, not all of us. We tend to look and seek help, in understanding what and why our world is the way it is. Festivals such as these and the programmes can help us release and help nourish our emotional self. Festival held a series of workshops throughout the two days. You simply choose the ones that you wish to attend over the two days.
The workshops were varied and vibrant, from the simple and “normal” to the somewhat “weird and wonderful”. They were held by a variety of facilitators, made up of energy healers, psychologists, life coaches, therapists, business executives and even a midwife. There really was something for everyone.The days were split with three workshops in the morning, then further ones in the afternoon, after lunch.
Women from all walks of life attended, many flying in from other parts of the world, one lady came from Kenya and another from Indonesia. They all helped one another to delve deep within and find ourselves, discovering issues and offering guidance, self-expression and healing. I was overwhelmed by the kindness, caring and generosity of spirit that complete strangers showed to each other and how very relaxed we all felt. It was easy to share and so easy to shed a tear. The workshops awakened something in all of us.
We found some inner peace many found more questions that needed answering. That was somehow comforting. What was also so impressive was that here in Thailand, in our somewhat erratic, busy crazy expat life, there is hope of finding all sorts of help, in every form. Festival showed me that there are many places to go to for help and in many different guises. Before Christmas, a young mother posted on an online forum for mother’s, asking if Pattaya had any councillors or therapists that she could see. Initially I was touched by her bravery, then saddened that she had to post on line to find something that she needed to help her through what was obviously a tough time for her. She exposed herself and because of that I felt for her. Pattaya is not as diverse or dynamic as Bangkok.
She received few answers, I reached out to her offering the names of people I knew that might be able to help and also my listening ear. I admired her for her honesty and her self-awareness. Her willingness to seek help in her time of need. This festival was for her and so many others like her, it was also for women looking for freedom of expression, women looking for ways to feel different, it was for the women who need help and guidance and it was for joy. It was for finding oneself and for help in just letting “go” and feeling normal about it.Below are a list of the workshops….. not all of them just a few, you will perhaps be shocked by some of the titles or you may be intrigued. Like I said these things are not for everyone but there was and is something for everyone.
Dancing the feminine archetypes with primitive expression
A women’s hands – a women’s work # Bonding between mothers and daughters # Affirming our divine feminine truth #Awaken your inner temple #Being my best feminine version #Finding our own voice #If clothes wrap the body, the skin wraps the soul #Forgiving and letting go #Celebrate womanhood! #Nurturing the inner child #Rebirth ceremony
There was an interesting panel discussion held on Saturday afternoon, entitled “This is my body”, the panel consisted of women who are considered leaders within their fields. One was Cindy Bishop, the supermodel, TV host and now activist. Read her article in this issue. The subject is vast and each of the panel gave their views on how and what they felt about themselves as women and the perception of women in general in society, specifically Thai society. LGBT issues, sexual assault, ones own body image and how we are seen by our peers, body shaming, all this was discussed and more. The conclusion I came to from listening to the discussion was that women are all different, of course we are. As human beings not all of us are the same but we all have to go through life with some of the same experiences and expectations.
It’s ok to be the same and it’s also ok to be different, the message from the panel was that it’s ok to be just who you are, without guilt, fear or judgement.That to me summed up exactly what Festival was about. We shared, debated, talked and we laughed. There is something very comforting knowing that we are all the same. We all feel and have the same needs and desires and are all just trying to make it, make this life work… the Festival helped one connect with everyone that attended and also with ones inner self. Next year, if you see it advertised, go along. I think that you will be amazed at how wonderful it makes you feel. At ease with yourself and other people…