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The weekend workout I'd rather do

Chapel Street on a weekend morning has a few connotations for me. Ask me what it meant ten years ago I would have said Revolver. Five years ago I would have said breakfast with my friends and my dog. Nowadays it’s Women in Livingness.

I had sampled and tested different yoga methods, meditations and Feminist meet up groups. One time I devoured about five self-help books in one go, after a disastrous unplanned overseas rendezvous. Afterwards, I put my foot on the accelerator on exploring the self-help industry and bettering myself. In some ways it was to lose weight, others to improve my career or to sedate the guilt that sat with me that said I wasn’t ‘doing enough’ for the world and for everyone around. I found there was a lingering seeking feeling that stayed. I’d heard about this ‘Women in Livingness’ workshop from a close friend. The feminist inside me was excited, a group of women gathering in the one place without alcohol as an excuse to be there – this was great. I also felt that although this wouldn’t be the answer to all of my issues, it might be a step closer to wherever I wanted to be. At the least it would be an excuse to have a break that I wasn’t giving myself.

I arrived by myself to the workshop. I had raced there with 5 minutes to spare and was slightly panicking that they’d be going to start. On arrival I was relieved to find the pace inside steady and light, the woman at check-in warmly greeted me and was unperturbed by my rushed entrance. We sat and discussed how our lives were and what was going on for us as women. Going right into the deep end in terms of intimacy, I was pleasantly surprised to find a real mix of women within the smaller group we broke off into. We spoke and listened to each other. I felt my nerves just melt away and I could drop the polite façade I usually carry with me. The presenter Natalie Benhayon seemed fairly young. She reminded me of someone but I couldn’t quite place her background. Natalie was to the point about women’s health and gave us some great topics to be workshopped further within our groups. We tried out some Sacred Movement, which I loved. It’s not quite a dance but it’s ‘a movement’. Still, it felt pretty sweet to experience in a group situation. It was connecting and I couldn’t stifle giggles when we had to make eye contact with a partner.

It was very cool to be in a space with other women that was open to free discussion. There were no pretences or pecking orders that needed to be followed as in a workplace, university or social event. It was super relaxed and in the days after I was able to really process what we talked about and how that connected to my day-to-day life. That was my first WiL Event and I’ve since been to two more. Both of the following times some friends have joined me. We’ve now turned it into our meet-up, grabbing breakfast before or lunch after. I feel like the workshop also pulls the conversations we have into deeper territory, with Natalie acting as the facilitator who amps up our usual conversations. We’ve learnt more about each other in the process and cleared little issues that sat between us that would normally have been swept under the carpet.

When I took acting classes, the one thing I loved the most was connecting with people. From the exercises encouraging us to speak honestly and listen to voice and movement classes encouraging us to connect to and open up our bodies. This always seemed to be the means to an end – a well-polished faux scene of life. It’s cool that these aspects, speaking honestly and listening to others plus movement, can be experienced In Real Life. I really think we don’t have enough opportunities to meet and be intimate with other women, for the sake of that. It seems to be there has to be a ‘reason’ to be in a group setting, either for work or art or someone’s birthday, and in that case “we’re doing drinks!” It’s cool to be able to get the music, movie or gala out of the way, to give us the space to focus on us – even just for the day. I’ve found myself coming back to WiL for more, sans seeking feeling. Now I look forward to it and I wonder, what can I bring?

Women in Livingness will return to Melbourne

for its next presentation on Sunday 7th August

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