How Women’s Circles Helped Heal My Relationship With Food.
I went to my first women’s circle in 2017 in Boulder at a yoga studio. It was one of those things that just kind of landed in my lap.
I wasn’t in search for a women’s circle, nor did I know anything about them. I had never even heard of one! But I saw the flyer in the women’s bathroom and felt the call. So I signed up.
Women’s circles have actually been around for thousands of years, starting with women cooking around a fire and sharing stories. Since then, they have transformed into modern-day women gathering in homes, yoga studios or any sacred space. An opportunity for women to connect with other women, open up vulnerably and empower one another. Like a big sisterhood circle with deep healing attached.
At the time I went to my first circle, I had no idea how deeply it would impact my life. But it did. And indirectly, it helped heal my relationship with food and my body.
It was called the Green Tent, a circle based off an ancient tradition called the Red Tent. In the Red Tent, young women would connect with their elders and learn about entering into womanhood. The Green Tent, however, was a little bit different.
I walked into the yoga studio on that Saturday evening with my friend Nicole to find candles lit in the center of the room, beautiful flowers centered around a small altar with crystals and delicious snacks set to the side of the circle. All snacks that were decadent, delicious and usually off limits in my diet.
Women of all ages were sitting in a circle on their mats surrounding. Rachel, a yoga teacher and cannabis healer, was the facilitator of the circle. The topic was around cannabis healing and trauma around womanhood and menstruation, hence the name Green Tent. Like I said, living in Boulder opened me up to pretty much everything.
We sat in the circle and picked at the snacks specifically chosen to support your menstrual cycle and Divine Feminine (which has now become a huge part of my personal healing journey).
When we were all settled, Rachel started the ceremony by telling us her story of how she healed her own cancer with cannabis that she grew herself. The story grew even more intense as she linked her wildly spreading cancer to the suppression of her own Divine Feminine and trauma around her menstrual cycle.
Without getting into too much detail, she passed around home-grown cannabis (weed is very legal in Colorado, in case you didn’t know), facilitated a deep meditation, and we went around the circle and shared our first experience getting our periods and how that affected us entering into womanhood.
Stories of all kinds were shared. And with each story, I cried. I cried through the whole ceremony. At first, I figured it was because I had my period and was extremely emotional in general. But looking back, I realized that with each share from each woman, I was mourning the traumas that I had experienced in my own womanhood.
When it was my turn to share, I opened around the shame around my menstrual cycle and womanhood. The deep guilt I held around my sexuality. And eventually the fact that I didn’t love my body.
That’s the part that hurt the most.
In that moment in time, I saw many parts of my life unfold. My abusive relationship with food. My binging and depriving. My strict caloric intake. The bulimia. The obsessive exercising. All in the name of trying to love my body. And myself.
The tears flowed like a mighty river.
It wasn’t as if a lightning bolt struck and everything changed. But it was that moment which started to open me up to the realization that there was pain in my body which needed to be healed.
The deep traumas we hold inside our bodies around our womanhood and sexuality can cause issues that we have no idea are related. Because they seem normal in our society. But in reality, they don’t serve us when we cover them up. The vulnerability. The sharing. The listening. The speaking of my truth. All of these pieces have been integral to healing my relationship with food and my body.
I started to see the abuse. How my controlling of calories and workouts were only a cry for me to love my body just as it was. To give it rest and honor its divine, sacred, wise nature. I started to learn to listen to the inner cues of what my body was telling me, through meditation and how my energy felt. To follow my menstrual cycle, to eat and exercise according to it.
It was then, and only then, when I started to honor my body’s natural wisdom that everything changed.
Women’s circles gave me the space to tell my story from the deepest truth I knew. A space where the shame and guilt was removed, and I could clearly see what was happening in my life.
My struggle with food and loving my body had nothing to do with food, willpower or workouts.
It wasn’t about the kale, chocolate cake, dumbbells or miles run.
It wasn’t about the bathing suits, trips to the beach or drinking less sugary cocktails.
It had nothing to do with my relationships with men or sleeping with the wrong guys. It was about tapping inwards and healing.
It was about listening to other women share their stories, young and old, and learning from their experiences.
It was about sharing my story and listening to myself saying it out loud.
It was about letting down the thick wall of fear and judgment and really learning how to be vulnerable with the truth of who I am.
It was learning that the stories that I believed about being a woman and my body no longer served me. And remembering the truth of what I believed.
It was crying, screaming and thrashing my hands over the times when I felt my body wasn’t thin enough, sexual enough or worthy of love.
It was telling my story of being taken advantage of sexually.
It was sitting in a circle of women who had never met me but accepted me more than I had ever been accepted.
It was eating those snacks in the center of the room of my first women’s circle and letting the dark chocolate slide down my throat. Letting it nurture my tired, beautiful body.
It was all of those moments that helped me remember who I am: I am a woman, in a body that is innately wise. I don’t need to struggle with food, but rather listen to my body’s cues, follow its energy, and trust that it will guide me, but only if I’m quiet enough to listen.
Andrea Rodgers is a holistic health coach and personal trainer in CT. Her journey to health has brought her from depression, to eating disorder, to skinny, to strong. She is now the strongest, fittest, most confident and sexiest she has ever been in her life, both inside and out. Her passion is to share her story and knowledge with the world. Andrea coaches women to find wild freedom through food, exercise and emotional well-being. Discover more about Andrea and her coaching at her website.