Sun | Jan 21, 2018

Women's Formula | Self Love

Published:Monday | October 10, 2016 | 12:00 AM
Feminine Wisdom teacher Anita Boeninger takes participants through some breathing exercises.
Personal trainer and fitness nutritionist Kamila McDonald (left) with Stacey Hines, on the final night of Unapologetically Women retreat in Negril.
Choreographer Christina Gonzales during the sensual dance workshop.

Twenty-eight highly motivated women showed up at the Sunset Palms Resort in Negril, pregnant with possibilities and ready to give birth.

Unapologetically Women organised its first Soulful Oasis all-inclusive retreat recently, inviting participants to jump off into amazing. With the threat of Hurricane Matthew, the retreat was reduced from two days to one, but organisers Kaysha Franklin and Stacey Hines ensured that the participants did not lose out.

The retreat started with a short session on Friday night, where participants got to know each other and shared what their hopes were and why they were attending. The recurrent theme was, they were tired. The purpose of the retreat? Feeding souls while strengthening the body and mind.

After an early-morning yoga and meditation session with Yolanda Small and Kathryn Leary, Saturday kicked off with a spirited and empowering presentation from Dr Andrea Blackwood-Harriott and Koereyelle Dubose, focusing on 'Living Life On Purpose'. Blackwood-Harriott focused on what it really means to live life on purpose, and helped participants identify tools and methods to achieve it.

It was an introspective session with individuals thinking about what really makes them happy - their passion - the things they could happily get lost in for hours and how they can make money from it. For some, the answer may lie in the things they loved to do as a child. She noted that the world is ready for women to step into their own - into power structures that were made for men. Blackwood-Harriott emphasised that purpose lies in rising above individual needs, delivering gifts in a way that elevates the world while putting money in our pockets. She said that all were born with entelechy - the ability to actualise our utmost potential.

Dubose shared her personal story of walking away from an abusive partner to whom she was engaged. She said that despite the embarrassment of cancelling the wedding, it gave her the strength to make other bold moves in her life, including walking away from a career in teaching. She said that one bold move provided her with the guiding principles that all women should live by: Choose yourself in every aspect of your life, remember who you are, don't get caught up in to-do lists, and choose yourself no matter what.

Self-love was a major theme throughout the retreat. This included, as Kathryn Leary put it - "connecting with the power of source. We should all spend at least 20 minutes each day in meditation. And if we are too busy to take 20 minutes, we should take an hour." Her quote from Jalaluddin Rumi - "Silence is the language of God, all else is about translation."


Stacey Hines shared a reading from her unpublished book, Five Year Love Affair. It is about her battle with breast cancer. The book started out as only photos documenting her mammectomy, and consequently reconstructive surgery. The saying that a picture is worth a thousand words came to life as she shared the artistic images of her beautiful scars. She admitted: "Breast cancer taught me self-love and transformation."

Self-love turned physical in the afternoon session led by Feminine Wisdom teacher Anita Boeninger. She encouraged participants to form new relationships with their innate sensuality and beauty as women. This included a series of guided breathing exercises - 7x7 breathing, ocean breath and ovarian breathing. This was followed by massage techniques for breath health.


The women really loosened up in the sensual dance workshop with choreographer Christina Gonzalez. With high heels on, the participants expressed their sensual side. With no previous dance experience needed, Gonzalez broke down several routines which each woman made their own. It was really a fun and liberating experience that left the women feeling less timid about showing off their sexy side.

Kamila McDonald broke down what it means to treat your body as a temple. She noted that health goes beyond the physical, beyond nutrition and working out, to self-love. She affirmed that change is hard, but said it is our birthright to be healthy. Her tips were simple and relatable, ranging from how many glasses of water to drink each day to how to read a food label properly.

The final act of the retreat was the renewal ceremony.

With a bonfire raging on Negril's famed white sand beach, each woman wrote on a piece of paper what they felt was holding them back from jumping into amazing, and tossed it into the flames to be reduced to ashes.