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25 minutes north of Asheville, NC at Mars Hill College


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Michael Winn, Healing Tao Retreats

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The Gate Of The Mysterious Female

A New Cosmology
Women's Bodies Encode What Humankind Needs To Know

Sex & the Sacred Girl:
Opening the Gate to the Mysterious Female

July 12 to July 17, 2011

Note: To create a safe space for transformation, this course is open to women only. The course title nods to Helen Gurley Brown's book Sex & the Single Girl, published in 1962, which helped launched the 20th century's sexual revolution.

"Sex" is code for the erotic power concentrated within your body's center. Cultivate this pro-creative power — your power to promote creation — and come home to your sacred self.

Our focus
Our focus is honoring and energizing the tan tien — the one-point, the womb-point that, through our body's center, connects us to Source Energy. An ancient Chinese name for the tan tien is "The Gate of the Mysterious Female."

Our intention
Our intention is to praise and magnify the presence of the Sacred Feminine within us, realizing that we already embody the Goddess.

As we cultivate the tan tien with movement and breath, as we celebrate our body's center with image and story, we pass through the gate. We meet the Great Mystery Herself.

How you'll benefit
As you center yourself all the more in your divine nature, you will

  • heal into a greater degree of wholeness

  • stand in the life-affirming power that is dominion, not domination

  • live into new levels of inspiration, insight, creativity, vitality, and confidence

  • claim and enact your life purpose

  • discover your essential self-esteem

One woman says this about her experience with the power-centering exercises that you'll be learning:

For the first time I experienced fully what it means to be in touch with my belly. Now I've manifested a power which has left me with a sense of appreciation for being a woman. My entire being, body, mind, and spirit, filled with a beauty sensed both inside and out. With each pulse I grew more beautiful. This sense of being rests with me. In connecting with my belly, I have found that I am part of a greater whole.

What you'll experience
During our days together, we'll have deep fun. You'll

  • learn power-centering movement, breathing, and sounding practices drawn from qigong, Feldenkrais, and yoga

  • practice the 23 movement and breathing exercises you learn as woman-affirming ritual

  • move in ways that enact timeless myth

  • activate ancient images of the Sacred Feminine

  • animate affirmations that uniquely answer your deepest needs

  • play with art-making, journal-writing, and storytelling as ways to express the wisdom that's already within you

We'll shape the movement and breathing exercises we learn into two rituals: a Rite for Reconsecrating our Womanhood and a Rite for Invoking the Sacred Feminine. Once you've learned these rites, you can practice each in twelve to twenty minutes.

The tan tien, our body's center, will become an altar, a place where we lay down the tensions, conflicts, doubts, and worries we have been holding and witness the healing that transpires. Each woman will have the opportunity to blend the experiences she gathers into a practice that she takes home and enjoys for ongoing inspiration and empowerment.

The exercises and activities we'll explore follow expand upon what you'll see on the Honoring Your Belly DVD and read in The Woman's Belly Book: Finding Your True Center for More Energy, Confidence, and Pleasure — a book that's already in Mantak Chia's library. Book excerpts and an overview of the DVD are available on this site.

What's important about this form
This form provides a matrix through which you can embody the Sacred Feminine all the more clearly and directly — just in time for the prophetic year 2012.

The year 2012 heralds a revolution in human consciousness. The signs relate 2012 to the emergence of the Sacred Feminine, suggesting that the feminine principle will be informing, and reorganizing, every aspect of human experience.

The year 2012 enfolds many layers of meaning, knowledge phrased in terms of indigenous peoples' prophecy, ancient scripture, sacred image, myth, legend, music, mathematics, astronomy, and astrology. In brief, these meanings converge in what mythologist Joseph Campbell calls "the mystery number of the Goddess." (See Initiation 21st Century: Awakening Your Sacred Center for more.)

Rather than marking the catastrophic end of the world, the year 2012 may signal the completion of one cycle and the beginning of another. As we embody the Sacred Feminine, we'll be equipped to participate in and shape the evolution of human awareness with wisdom and grace.

Who's invited
Whatever your level of experience with qigong, yoga, movement arts, body image, or women's studies, you're invited.

This course is for you if

  • you've had enough of feeling bad about your body. You're ready to feel good about yourself as a whole

  • you think that if you could only make peace with your body, you could tap into a wealth of creativity, wisdom, and inner guidance

  • you want to take charge of your sexual energy and fully own your procreative power

  • you're passing through menopause and want to access the core energy that's becoming all the more available to you at this stage of your life

  • you're seeking a body-centered path to personal and spiritual empowerment

  • you're a qigong or yoga teacher, dance instructor, bodywork therapist, counselor, or health educator working with clients in relation to body-centered issues — such as digestion, reproduction, body image, disordered eating

If you're new to Healing Tao practices, you'll be preparing yourself very well to continue with qigong and internal alchemy as you may choose. If you're already familiar with the Healing Tao forms, you'll recognize that we're integrating several practices. Through our exercises and activities we will, for example, be engaging the five body spirits as shamanic forces; we'll also be clearing the core channel and energizing the eight extraordinary vessels.

While cultivating the tan tien is central to Taoist teaching and practice, its location within our body's center — within our bellies — can be a problem for women in contemporary Western culture. One qigong student (not a student of Michael Winn's) reports:

I have struggled with belly abuse since I was a teenager. When I was 24, I discovered "nourishment," but only after years of feeding myself garbage. At 34, I discovered Qi Gong, an ancient Chinese exercise which centers all energy in the lower abdomen. But I cannot keep energy focused in my belly! My teacher (male) doesn't understand my problem!

For thousands of years, and continuing to this day, our culture has devalued women's bellies. Accordingly, many of us have made our bellies the focus of shame and self-denial. But when we withdraw our awareness and appreciation from our body's center, we cut ourselves off from the healing, creativity, and intuitive knowing that's already within us.

We need these powers, for our own sanity. We need these powers, too, if we're at all interested in co-creating humankind's just and sustainable future. These powers are ours to express as we pass through the Gate of the Mysterious Female and into the Presence dwelling within our center of being.

What to Bring

  • A mat or blanket for floor practices and a pillow for seated meditation. (Chairs will also be available for meditation.)

  • A journal for notes and reflections

Suggested Reading and Viewing

• • •

Lisa Sarasohn

A seasoned workshop leader, I love to create the comfort and safety through which women discover and celebrate their own brilliance.

I've been teaching yoga since I was certified as a Kripalu yoga instructor in 1979. I've also trained as a yoga and bodywork therapist. From 1981 to 1988, I served on staff at Kripalu Center for Yoga & Health in Lenox, MA. During that time, I taught yoga to thousands of guests, conducted a practice in bodywork therapy, and led workshops on many aspects of holistic health.

I graduated from Brown University with honors in biology. The highlight of my academic career occurred one afternoon as I walked past the bioscience library and heard a whisper: "The purpose of life is the evolution of consciousness."

My articles on honoring the body's center have appeared in publications including Yoga Journal, SageWoman, Radiance, and Personal Transformation. My workshops have been sponsored by colleges and universities, health education agencies, and holistic learning centers. The Woman's Belly Book: Finding Your True Center for More Energy, Confidence, and Pleasure (excerpts and reviews at loveyourbelly.com) shares what I've learned during twenty years of writing, research, and teaching as I've explored the mystery, wisdom, and power of the body's center.

Reviews of the book include:

  • To create health, you have to trust your gut. And to trust your gut, you've got to reclaim the wisdom of your belly. The Woman's Belly Book shows you how. — Christiane Northrup, MD, author of Women's Bodies, Women's Wisdom

  • How do we live a life that is ours instead of the life we think we should live? We don't think our way there — we feel it, we intuit it, we listen to our breath, our heart, and our bellies. Lisa's book is brimming with incredibly powerful ways to listen to your life through your belly. This is a fresh, delicious body treat!" — Jennifer Louden, author of The Woman's Comfort Book

  • In a culture obsessed with tightening the abdomen, The Woman's Belly Book is a refreshing and practical change of pace. Open it anywhere and practice the techniques Lisa suggests. Not only will you feel better, but you will also have fun connecting with your powerful belly and its innate wisdom. — Judith Hanson Lasater, PhD, author of Living Your Yoga: Finding the spiritual in everyday life

I've been studying qigong and internal alchemy with Michael Winn for several years. I'm always thrilled to experience how his teaching affirms, deepens, and expands what I've been unearthing in my own ways.

Participants in past workshops have been enthusiastic about their experience with me and my teaching. Their comments include:

  • My experience...during the workshop was a delightful and delicious sense that I was completely filled with my Self. The effort I continually put into "connecting" to myself was gone. The gap I imagine to be present most of the time as I journey through daily living vanished. The energy released from my belly filled me up — it filled in the gap — effortlessly.

  • Women need to take this workshop and read [The Woman's Belly Book]. We have lost touch with who and what we are as females. Historically, the ancient wisdom of women and their bodies was honored and respected, rather than demeaned. The workshop and book have helped me break down a barrier that has stood for many years — decades even. This barrier, the shame and disgust I felt because my stomach was not flat and taut as society and the media has decreed it should be, kept me from truly loving my body. Now I can listen to the wisdom held deep inside me — inside my center, my belly.

  • I've truly connected with my center and my spirit. I feel like a switch was flicked on and I am not sure I can turn it off. Or if I would even want to. Thank you.

  • I have not been able to smile much lately. But in this workshop I could not keep the smiles from my face. My soul is rejoicing.

  • This workshop was truly amazing. I decided to take it because I wanted to honor my gut feeling. I feel very centered and satisfied inside. This is something that I hope to carry with me forever. Thank you so much.

  • Excellent course to empower the self. Thank you. The workshop was very gently and well led. Wow, wow, wow — I love everyone and myself and have power to shower everyone with blessings of love and compassion!

  • Amazing. I felt the energy, confidence, and peace I'd been needing for an extraordinarily long time. I hope to take what I've learned today and utilize it in my crazy, chaotic life. Thanks!

  • Perfect! Just what I've needed. I feel good.

I look forward to sharing a valuable, playful, and rewarding experience with you. Blessed be!






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