This is our follow up interview after our first podcast on Yogic Lifestyle and Living in Alignment episode. I wanted to talk to Belinda more about Goddess Circle, Women Rite of Passage, and building a community of women supporting other women. We also touched on the beauty and joy of women retreats she leads in North India, South India and Japan that include travel, yoga and wellness.
Belinda O’Dea is a heart-based certified Yoga & Meditation Teacher in Hatha, Mantra, Tantra, Vinyasa and Yin yoga. She is also an accomplished fashion designer and she is passionate about yoga, travel and wellness and that’s why she now takes women on beautiful retreats several times a year to North India, South India and Japan. She is originally from Australia and currently a citizen of the world.
Belinda is an experienced Women’s Circle Leader where she creates a safe, welcoming and inspiring space for all women to participate, to feel the connection and the importance of the sisterhood. She also offers personal or business 1-1 mentoring for women as well.
Interview Summary & Highlight
- What is a Women Circle or Goddess Circle?
- Magic happens in a women circle when we form a community of support with transformation, opening, speaking from our hearts and listening. It creates a very safe space for women without judgment.
- Whatever happens in the circle stays in the circle, there is a lot of opening and sharing
- There is a set of agreements to keep the circle to feel safe and scared. It sets the tone of non-judgement and it is not a public speaking platform. It is about speaking from your own feeling inner experience but there is no obligation to speak either.
- Some of the agreements include: we all take a turn to speak, but only one person speaking at a time. There is no jumping in, no fixing or “helping”, just listen deeply and wholeheartedly.
- As a result, we allow ourselves to free our emotions and express them instead of stopping them from surfacin
- Women’s circle is like “the other sister of yoga” because it’s another way of discovering things about ourselves that don’t necessarily arise normally.
- Two type of circles: Open Circle (no fix or set number of members and come with broader questions, e.g. What are you focusing or struggling or grateful for right now?) and Close Circle (it has a fixed number of member each time and come more intimate or deeper questions as you get to know one another e.g. Spiritual Practice of Women’s Cycle, Rite of Passage experience, initiation, etc.)
- Rite of Passage: Birth, Menstruation, First Sexual Experience, Pregnancy (which can also be about giving birth to an important project), Menopause.
- There is a lot of healing work that we can do retrospectively and there are layers of information and insights at each rite of passage as we explore and dive deeper each time when we reflect on that we’ve experienced.
- Get to know ourselves in this feminine body, in this female existence, learning how to try and rest into being and accepting who we are through the practice of yoga.
- 10 Days Women Travel, Yoga and Wellness Retreat: North India – it’s like a spiritual pilgrimage, the retreat is called “Divine Mother India”. South India retreat is called “Living in Alignment”, it’s held at an Ayuverdic retreat centre and it’s about living in a yogic way and Ayuverdic lifestyle with workshops and daily massages and treatments. The retreat in Japan is called “The Art of Femininity”, it is a cultural yoga tour where we take on different activities like flower arranging, calligraphy and also doing mindfulness meditation and yoga while staying at a Zen Buddhist temple.
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|Sze Wing:||hi, everyone. Welcome back to a new weekly podcast. And today, I’ve got Belinda O’Dea again with me. So some of you may know a few weeks ago we had an interview. And we ran out of time because there’s so much I wanted to ask her. So we’re doing part 2. But if this is the first time you hear us talking, then here’s a little introduction. Belinda is a heart-based certified yoga meditation teacher. And she is qualified in Hatha, Mantra, Tantra, Vinyasa and Yin, so kind of everything I know of different yoga style. She’s also an accomplished fashion designer before she’s doing all that she’s doing right now. So that was very interesting. And we did talk about that, her journey before, in the last interview. So you can check it out if you want to see how you can pivot from a fashion designer to a yoga goddess teacher.|
|And she’s clearly passionate about yoga, travel and wellness. And she also takes women to beautiful retreats several times a year to North India, South India and Japan. She’s originally from Australia but clearly a citizen of the world. And Belinda also runs Women’s Circles where she creates a safe, welcoming, and inspiring space for all women to participate, feel the connection and importance of a sisterhood which I’m really excited to ask her more about today because we run out of time last week. So– no, last time. So she also offer personal business mentoring one-to-one for women. So very interesting what she’s doing. And so welcome to my show again, Belinda.|
|Belinda:||Thanks, Sze Wing. Good to see you again.|
|Sze Wing:||Yes, I’m really happy we get to do this because I know you’re quite busy as a citizen of the world and I managed to get you twice in a row. So I’m really happy. So first of all, let’s dive into the questions that we didn’t get to talk about. And I think let’s start with the Women’s Circle because– I think you call them Goddess Circle. And I’m really curious about it because I’m writing a book called Becoming a Goddess, and one of them is about community support, how important it is for us to get together, women empowering women and sharing. And tell us a bit about these circles that you run. And I know that you just did one in Australia and you have a few coming up as well. So tell us a bit more about that.|
|Belinda:||Yeah, thank you. I call it Women’s Goddess Circle because there’s certainly magic that happens in a circle that I haven’t seen happen anywhere else. So you know that I run yoga tours and retreats overseas in India and Japan predominantly. And over the five, six years that I’ve been running those retreats, more than even the yoga and the meditation that I teach, I see the transformation and the openings happen in the Women’s Goddess Circle. So it’s a space held by a facilitator or leader. So we sit in a circular configuration and normally sitting on the ground or sitting on bolsters, what have you. So we sit in a circle. And it’s basically connecting in with some history of women sitting together and sharing and sharing what’s happening in their life, telling their truth, speaking from their hearts and listening with their hearts. And in Goddess Circle, it’s particularly important that we create a very safe space for women to open and share. And the way that that’s done in my Goddess Circles is that I have a very strict set of agreements that we make at the beginning, and I outline those detailed agreements. And they set the tone for all of the women to know that they’re in a space that’s confidential. They’re in a space with no judgment and space where they’re encouraged also not to judge themselves in their own inner judgments, the inner judge, and to tap into being kind, listening with their hearts, and sharing their truth. Because as you know, in this day and age we have this tendency, in social media, in particular, to show a happy, shiny version of ourselves. And that’s not necessarily– well, it’s definitely not always the case. And it’s kind of a false economy.|
|Belinda:||And so what I find is that you could call these circles so many different names, and many of my ladies create their own names. They’re like a trust circle, a sharing circle, a women’s circle, goddess circle. Whatever it is that speaks to you. It doesn’t really matter what the name is. But it is about women coming together, and they don’t need to be any specific age. In fact, I find that I get a really great breadth of ages and life stages, and I know we’re going to talk a little bit more about life stages a bit later.|
|Belinda:||And we come together, I set the agreements, and most often, I will set a topic. And I will talk a little bit about that topic. For example, the last topic that I spoke about, in this last goddess circle that I held, was about the spiritual practice of menstruation. And in that I gave an outline of the different seasons of a woman’s menstrual cycle, and then I put the question over to the women as to what was their first experience of their first period. So we know that the first period is one of the rites of passages of a woman’s life, and it’s a pretty fundamental one where we’re stepping into womanhood. And that is, whether you realise it or not, it’s an initiation. So most of us go, “Oh, my God. The initiation that I got was that I had no idea what was happening,” or what have you. Whatever their personal experience is. And so then we move around the circle, and in that particular circle that’s what we spoke about and shared about.|
|Belinda:||So it’s a very confidential notion that whatever happens in circle stays in the circle. So there’s a lot of openings that happen. And most of the women sit, and when they’re starting to talk or answer the question that’s being asked, things arise that they never would have put together in any other circumstance, so this spontaneous inner knowing starts to piece together what are parts of their life and just makes this idea of enquiring into ourselves and knowing ourselves better in the yogic tradition. It gives this extra layer of inner resolution.|
|Belinda:||So I often think of, and I don’t think anyone else says this, but this is how I see it. So in yoga, we have Ayurveda, which they say is the sister science to yoga, and that’s all of the herbs and the healthcare approach and the lifestyle approach to yoga. And I say that women’s circle is like the other sister of yoga that should be included because it’s another way of discovering things about ourselves that don’t necessarily arise, even sometimes when we speak to our girlfriends. Because there is that tendency for us to wear masks and to maybe not want to reveal all of the truth what’s really happening in life.|
|Sze Wing:||Wow. Fascinating. Because while you are starting to explain, actually my first question was so how do you prevent people from oversharing or dumping or treating it as that type of event where you will just start venting. But then as you explain, I realised as you mentioned about the agreement, the respect, but also you actually take this on a particular topic that will guide our conversation and discover something. Because often we may have, “Oh, he did that to me,” sort of whatever, on the top of our head. But then you take us to different topic and angle, then we actually have to stop that thinking and focus on a topic. I assume it is related to your inner world. So it’s actually really interesting, and things that I think we don’t often talk about. Because the topic you just mentioned about first menstrual cycle experience is something that we don’t often just hang out over a cup of coffee and talk about it, right? But as you said, you discover a lot of things when you actually get into it. But then how do you, I guess you set up the atmosphere and then because of you, as a facilitator, hold the space and energy. But how do you get women to talk about something quite personal? So I mean, I guess I just haven’t been to your circle, and I’m sure I can tell it is something quite sacred. So how do you encourage women to open up from the beginning? Do you have certain meditation? Or what do you do? So people know what to prepare instead of just thinking, “Oh I’m going to go there and talk about menstrual cycle [laughter].”|
|Belinda:||So in general, the girls that come along don’t necessarily know what the topic’s going to be unless it’s a closed circle. It’s two types of circles. And the one that I just referenced was in open circles. That means that it’s not a set of number of members, and it’s just whoever decides to come along on that day. So that’s an open circle. And there are lots of different approaches to that. And of course, I mentioned that I did the one about the rite of passage of having your first period or starting menstruation. But for example, it can be quite a broad open circle where I ask, say, two questions, what’s your biggest struggle right now and what are you most grateful for right now, to get kind of both ends of the scale of the inner world.|
|Belinda:||And so how do I enable women to be safe? The agreements set a really strong tone. I spend quite a bit of time going over them. And even if you have sat in circle with me, you will hear them again. I’m finding that this work’s really needed and that almost more than half of the women that are coming to my circle – and they’ve been quite large circles – have never sat in a circle before. And I set the tone very firmly that this is not public speaking. That this is not a place where you’ll be judged. And it’s also a place where you will speak from your own feeling inner experience. So we don’t bring up anyone else’s names, or we don’t reference anybody else in the circle. And I, in my own way, encourage them just to centre inside. I don’t have it with me, but I’m holding it like this because I have a stone. I’ve got one that lives in India for my circles in India and one that I’ve got here, and it’s a talking object. So whoever is holding the object is the only person that speaks. and that’s really because we don’t want, you know with women this tendency that we jump in. We want to help. We want to fix. We want to nurture. So one of the agreements is that we don’t need to fix or help anyone in the circle. We’re just there to listen. And I encourage them to drop down into their heart, rather than listening with this mind, “Let’s fix it.” Just feeling and listening with the heart. And I do that at the beginning of the circle by doing a centring exercise with them. And that looks different depending on the group and what they need, and that’s a lot of what I do depends on the situation that I’m sitting in at that time, but it will be some sort of a general centring where we reign in all of the energies of being a woman.|
|Belinda:||As we well know, that we’re constantly going outside of ourselves and our energies going off in all different directions. So before we begin and even before I share the agreements with the ladies, so that I know that they’re going to be listening to me, I centre them. I have them draw all of those things back into themselves so that they feel quite solid, and I can feel it in the room once that happens. And then we come back to being wide awake and I share the agreement and then we start. Depending on the topic, we start going around. It’s a space where the ladies are not obliged. They might just come and listen. So quite rare that someone will skip their turn, but they’re more than welcome. It’s one of the agreements as well, that if you don’t feel like talking, you don’t need to talk. You can just listen. And yeah, it’s a special space that I’ve not experienced in any other way, place. It’s like it’s old knowledge of ours that we’re remembering, to sit and hold space for each other without comment and judgement or fixing.|
|Belinda:||And another main thing which I think is really interesting for women, and I know that they struggle with it when they first come to the circle, is that as female beings – the shakti, I think we mentioned in the last interview – we are emotional beings. So we emotional fluctuations constantly. So when someone receives the stone and starts to speak sometimes just emotion arises. So our normal tendency in life as women is to go to that person, want to comfort them, want to hold them, want to give them a hug or hold their hand or just put a hand on them so that they know that you’re there. But in a circle, we give them space to allow that emotion to be freed. So often if we do go to someone to help them, what we think is supporting them in their emotional struggle it actually often stops them from expressing that emotion. I know myself, and I think it’s quite common for most women, that when you start to feel emotion coming out the first thing you want to do is stop it. You don’t want to show it. So it’s a really beautiful space that some tears come and laughter comes and everything in between and it’s all accepted. And yeah, it’s something that’s very different and something I feel blessed to facilitate.|
|Sze Wing:||Yeah, it sounds like a beautiful process. And we talk about self-care all the time in coaching and personal development and sometimes I think we’re a little bit too overboard with fixing something. Getting better and doing, doing, doing. The being part where you say, “Just sit there and share and listen,” and it’s not about jumping in and helping but stay still, I think it’s a wonderful way to honour ourselves as women. And how often do we actually allow ourself to just sit there and celebrate us being women and honour them holding that space? So I think that’s definitely a beautiful thing for women to do. And that’s actually, for me, big self-care activity. Even though you may just sit there and listen, you may not go and jumped in and get help and all that kind of stuff. But I think it’s really a wonderful and powerful way to be still and to be clear. And next question I wanted to ask you is related to what we mentioned a bit earlier about the rite of passage. Because in Joseph Campbell’s world, he talks about how women naturally have our initiation because we’ve got menstrual cycles, so whether from a girl becoming a woman , and then motherhood, and then menopause, all the– it’s kind of biologically lead to that sort of initiation. And for men, the shamans need to take young men in tribes to go to a cave to feed the fear, and all that kind of stuff, to have that initiation. So I often find the notion of rite of passage really interesting. And I know in your work, you also talk about the different rite of passage, because I only mentioned a few, and I think you may have more. So tell a bit about your take on the rite of passage. What does it mean for women?|
|Belinda:||Well, the thing is that the rites of passages happen regardless of whether we’re aware of them. So often by the time, and even it was the case for me, almost all of them have happened when I actually learned about them. And so I’m now often teaching women who are menopausal, post-menopausal. We’re backtracking all of them. But regardless of when it comes to the relation, the information, as it stands and I understand it and I share it, is that the first rite of passage is the passage of birth, and being born into the world. And the way that we came into the world and were born, so our experience of birth, so the way that we physically came into the world, how much time, whether there was an intervention, all those things, all of the words that were used around you arriving and you being in the world for the first time, they give an imprint. So that first rite of passage is an imprint of how your life is going to unfold. So we say whatever happens at the beginning, it sets the tone for what’s going to unfold.|
|Belinda:||So the first rite of passage being birth and being born. The second rite of passage, as we mentioned just before, I’m speaking specifically for women today – is the rite of passage of menstruation. So moving from being a girl into a woman. The third one is the first sexual experience. Then we have pregnancy as a rite of passage. Now pregnancy is not always the case of an actual baby being born. All pregnancies are honoured in rites of passages that I share, and that can be through miscarriage, abortion, losing the child, stillbirth, and not necessarily even having a physical pregnancy. So when we’re in the motherhood stage, with the rite of passage of pregnancy, there are many things that we say gestate and birth that may not be actual physical babies. And I’m sure you can identify with this with your book as well. So there’s lots of projects and maybe businesses or relationships or all different manner of things that can be birth in that peak motherhood phase, where pregnancy is the rite of passage. Then our second last rite of passage in women is menopause and in the autumn phase of our lives. When we’re in the menopause and heading towards going past menopause, we call it autumn– you become the autumn woman, the harvest springs. So all of the rites of passages, they come as the additional birth. The one that came before informs the next one, so the women that are in their menopause and then receiving the harvest of all of the previous rites of passage. And so for that menopause now is a huge struggle for most women. And that can be healed and worked on through backtracking and going back through the previous rites of passages and doing the work on those. So exploring the birth story, exploring the first menstruation, exploring the first sexual experience. It’s about exploring the pregnancy and motherhood phase. So there’s a lot of healing work that we can do retrospectively. So it’s never too late. And they’re also stories and information that you can go seeking at any time of your life and not necessarily just once. So it’s not that you talk about your birth story once and then you might get some insights.|
|Belinda:||As we know with all other spiritual practices, there’s layers on layers of information that we can receive from going back and investigating these rites of passages. And for me, I think about my work now, actually, as like Durga with all of her arms [laughter], so many arms. All this goddess work and the same with you, I guess. And so there are so many arms, and so for me, it’s just another part of yoga. Because it’s another way of knowing yourself deeply, as you said, in this feminine body, in this female existence, where we’re learning how to try and rest into being and accepting who we are more and more, hopefully, through the practice of yoga.|
|Sze Wing:||Wow, it’s beautiful. Because as you just talk about each stage or rite of passage, I just realise, wow, yeah, probably how we think about it if we don’t get prompt to ask these questions? Because how often do we think about, “Oh, my mother had a very hard time to give birth.” And then, what does it mean when I come through that way? Does it mean that it’s always a struggle or a fear of hurting? I don’t know. I realise there is so much depth into going back and think about all these passages or your first sexual experience. How often do we, to be honest, in this modern-day a lot of people may be using alcohol, and it may be a blur. I mean, who knows [laughter]?|
|Sze Wing:||And then when you talk about giving birth, and I have obviously one experience giving birth. In my first, I brought my daughter, and now I’m having a boy. And I’m sure it will be different, each of these births. And it’s always exciting and nervous all at the same time, and it clearly will affect him, and it will also affect me. So it’s actually a lot to think about and as you say, it’s a different layer as a woman. And I do think that at each passage we pass through, we kind of enrich a little bit because now I think about my first blood and my first sexual experience.|
|Sze Wing:||I mean, you do have– you kind of accumulate different ideas about who you are in relation to the world, and sometimes some of these initiation regrets. Some of them were not so great [laughter]. And I imagine if a girl– what if you got really embarrassed with your first blood because you’re just all over your dress and something. I mean, it will be really affecting someone’s psyche. And we may not even know how deep it actually went until we actually did this type of work to uncover and discover. So I thought it is really powerful, and I never thought about it in that way. And in a way, I’m excited to go forward because each of these will be very significant if we actually take that attitude. So it must be very powerful for you to actually sit through all that with other women because for them to get the aha, seriously, for the first time who set in some circle and discover that could be very powerful for other people to hear, too.|
|Belinda:||I’ve got shivers because the heart is so obvious and bright and sometimes not necessarily something that’s uplifting but just something that makes sense. For example, a woman who was in one of my circles made the connection of, she was a breech birth and they turned her, and then she turned herself back again. She didn’t want to come out. So she came out breech, feet first and with all of the intervention that you can imagine to help get her out. And she had such a depression her whole life, and she made the connection in that circle listening to, connecting with her birth story, but she had been in that same struggle of the way that she entered the world, to this day. And so it’s not always pretty what we find out, but it definitely informs our experience of ourselves, and it helps us to accept where we’re at much more. And I think this type of work needs to be done with somebody that’s journeyed the work themselves.|
|Belinda:||And so, for example, I told you that I’ve been running open circles, but I’ll be running a closed circle coming up in the next few months. And that will be a closed circle which means it’s a set amount of members and the members-only remain the same, and they commit to journeying through these rites of passages. So it will be a six -week program. We’ll be going through each of the six rites of passages. And in a closed group or a closed circle, you get that extra added layer of getting to know each other too. I mean, circles in general are really community builders. The embraces and friendships I see formed at the end of circles are why it makes me think, “Why aren’t all yoga studios doing this?” Because it’s just such a beautiful way to have women come together and, you know what it is in the most part? It’s that their experience becomes normalised. So they hear their voice through all of the other women, and they go, “Oh, it’s not just me.” That person had an experience like that too. I feel better. And you feel the support because you know that you’re not alone. And that’s, I think, the most transformational thing that happens in a circle is hearing your story through everyone else.|
|Belinda:||Going through the rites of passages, there’s so much gold there, that, yeah, it’s a very beautiful experience. But also, quite confronting doing this type of work. Any sort of excavation work and diving into the self, it’s sometimes quite challenging as well.|
|Sze Wing:||I bet. But you know, keeping the happy, happy, happy badge, it’s not going to get deeper in life. And at some stage as a woman, you know you want more. And the only way to go more is to go deeper. Instead of going wide and out, it’s actually going in and deep. And I think this is what we really needed in our times, to go deeper and not just on the surface, on the pretty pictures on Instagram. Nobody take an ugly photo of themselves. I mean, most people like, “Oh, I feel horrible today, let’s snap and say ‘Hey, everybody I feel horrible.'” Nobody do that. Everybody’s presenting their happy outside but actually are so big and need to go deeper inside, so. And that leads to my last question today day, it’s about your retreats overseas, because I know with a longer, you take longer– obviously it’s not two hours, two days. It’s a longer retreat. And so, what do you do, especially when you take women on a journey? Do you expand on everything you talked about? Do you also visit some places that are sacred? So tell us what’s the gist, because it sounds so fun.|
|Belinda:||It’s absolutely fun. I have three programs. They’re all 10-day programs. So yes, it’s quite a long time to immerse yourself with another, with a group of like-hearted women, so we definitely go deep. And there’s three different aspects that I work on. So in North India, it’s more of spiritual pilgrimage, and it’s the program that women usually come to when they’ve never been to India before– so when they want to tick India – and spiritual India – off their bucket list. So, being of age, I’m also not interested in doing any backpacking around India, so we have a really beautiful boutique hotel experience where we, in that particular trip, we go to the Taj Mahal from the bucket list, so the ladies get to go and see and immerse themselves in the love story that is the Taj Mahal. And then we go to one of my very dear and near-to-my-heart spiritual homes, which is Varanasi, which is the holiest place in India. You might have heard of the Ganges River or Mother Ganga, as we call her because she’s also a goddess. And so on my first trip to India, I landed and stayed at a boutique hotel that was right on Mother Ganga, with literally an internal staircase that goes down to the stairs of the ghats. And they’re the stairs that go down to the river. And so I sat and meditated. At sunrise, on my first day ever in India, and ever since, it called me back. It called me back, so there’s a beautiful Shiva temple that I go there.|
|Belinda:||And so I teach– I’d like to teach in an embodied, experiential way. So yes, each day we do yoga and meditation, but we do self-inquiry in different ways, depending on which retreat it is. And in North India, we also do a lot of rituals, so many of the ladies that come with me are either celebrating a big birthday or they’ve got to an age where they’re starting to lose their parents. So we often do some ancestry work where we honour the death of their loved ones because Varanasi is also famous for the cremations. And so we actually, like we just talked about– I’m not sure if I mentioned the last rite of passage, but the last rite of passage is death, and so in Varanasi that becomes a topic of conversation because we go and we see the cremations as they’re happening. And death is something that’s celebrated in India. Not celebrated “let’s have a party”, but it’s celebrated as a final rite of passage, and it’s very important the way that it happens. So we see that and we start to open up that conversation about death, and we also honour– we do some rituals to honour those loved ones that have passed. And so that’s a really connecting experience on that one. And then at the end of that trip, we end up under the Bodhi Tree where the Buddha attained his enlightenment. And so we end up sitting under there and doing meditation, and that’s kind of how that trip rounds out. And on that particular trip– actually, on both of my Indian trips, I teach a mantra meditation technique with mala beads, and I’m now offering workshops in that in Australia so that more people can experience how to do mantra meditation with mala beads because meditation is not an easy thing to get into if you’ve never tried it before.|
|Sze Wing:||I’ve tried once. And I know what you talk about being difficult to get into. I mean, half of the time was fighting my teacher, like, “Do I have to? Seriously?”|
|Belinda:||So it’s a simple technique that helps with the concentration and the focus. So I do that. And so that’s in North India. Then South India is different, so normally ladies come with me one year and they check India off their bucket list and then they want to go deeper. And the next year, they often come back and they come to South India with me. North India’s called Divine Mother India, and South India’s called Living in Alignment. I hold it at an Ayuverdic retreat centre. And that’s much more about learning to and so changing eating habits and daily practice habits. And in that retreat, we also work through the rites of passages and we talk each day, there’s a workshop that’s a couple of hours. So we do lots of beautiful things including daily massages and treatments depending on what each lady needs which she has a daily doctor’s appointment and there’s a program created for her for herbs to take and massages or different treatments depending on what her body needs. And that’s all tailored. And then beautiful vegan, vegetarian food and yoga and meditation and my wellness workshops each day too. So that’s a really amazing retreat where you just really escape daily life. And it’s kind of resetting the inner compass and really reorienting to how you want to live your life and then stepping back into life.|
|Belinda:||And then I often after my retreats, I now often mentor women. So it’s not easy to say, “Here. Have 10 days of this amazing lifestyle, and then go back into your regular busy life and implement everything on your own.” So I’ve created a handholding process of mentoring which is a program called Inner Light Bright. And it’s really just using – excuse me – sharing practical tools, have a drink.|
|Sze Wing:||Just while you are drinking your tea, I was like I’m composing myself. It sounds amazing. I mean, yes, North India, ticking off the boxes sounds amazing. But then I thought the second one is also really juicy because you get daily massages and eating well. And you just immerse your whole 10 days of treating yourself and in a very natural environment. It just sounds so amazing, especially we work so hard during the year. And while you were talking, my baby was kicking like he wants to go. It was hilarious. So, yeah.|
|Belinda:||Yeah, I do get a range of women. But a lot of burnt-out mothers come along to the retreat and women that have been mothers for a long time so maybe have been mothering for 10 years and perhaps are finally out of the active mothering phase but haven’t yet rediscovered who they are not being a mother or full-time mother anymore. So there’s a lot of that inner discovery that happens in Living in Alignment. And then just to top it off and kind of round up our conversation about femininity as well. I have a program in Japan called The Art of Femininity, and that is a cultural yoga tour. So in North India is a spiritual yoga tour and Japan it’s a cultural yoga tour. And the Japanese, they know how to stay in that being sense so much better than a lot of the rest of the world. So through the art forms that are in Japan, we experience, and we do flower arranging. We learn calligraphy. We learn how to do Zen meditation. We stay at a Zen Buddhist temple up in the mountains, so we have all of these beautiful, sacred experience, all the whilst doing mindfulness meditation and doing yoga. And then, immersing ourselves in the culture that is Japan, which is just spectacular, and one that I was blessed to grow up in when I was younger.|
|Sze Wing:||Wait, hold on a minute. So are you saying that, in the Japanese one, it’s more about immersing yourself in the beauty and in the honouring? It sounds like it’s quite different because even though they say it’s a yoga retreat and wellness retreat, it seems that the feel would be very different because it’s all about beauty, in some ways. And it’s just, as a woman, you talk about the flower arrangement and wearing kimono, and that would be a very different feel than being in India, right?|
|Belinda:||Yeah. Absolutely. It’s a very different feel. It’s very interesting to me because there’s a lot of threads that actually moved through both. And for example, in Japan, we end up on a sacred mountain, which is a heritage, mystic place that practises Esoteric Tantric Buddhism. In South India and North India, we do rituals that are from the Tantric tradition, so we do the same fire ritual at the Living in Alignment Retreat in South India, as we do in the sacred mountain, Koyasan, in Japan. So there are these interesting threads. We worship nature through fire ritual in both places. We worship nature by being immersed in nature and connecting with herbal medicine and food, because all of the food here is grown on the property and all of the herbs as well.|
|Sze Wing:||Sounds so delicious [laughter]. I’m salivating.|
|Belinda:||We do that in India, and then, in Japan, nature worship is Shintoism, which is the government religion, so it’s different, but the same. But yes, of course, Japan is about refining ourselves and taking ourselves out of that active doing, thinking, giving role that we have as women, and we rest into the receiving, being, feeling. So the women receive how to do the art of calligraphy and spend time doing something that they would never normally spend two or three hours doing in their regular life.|
|Sze Wing:||You would probably drive me bananas for the first day [laughter], but I think I can get into it after [laughter].|
|Belinda:||You would slow down. You would slow down, after a few days, no doubt.|
|Sze Wing:||Yes. Well, it sounds so beautiful. So for people who are like me, salivating on the inside, what’s the best way to get in touch with you and check out your programs and any possible way to connect with you? What’s the best way to find you?|
|Belinda:||Yeah. My website’s the best way to get all of the information of what I’m up to, both locally in Australia and internationally, and through the website you can see all of the brochures for each of my programs. We’ve got North India coming up in September, South India in October, and then Japan will be next May, in 2021. And, of course, loads of local events happening in the upcoming months in Australia, so yeah. Belindaodea.com is my website and I’m sure that you’ll link it in your notes.|
|Sze Wing:||Yes. I will put a link at the bottom of the blog post, and then you’ll see it in the podcast notes as well. So thank you once again, Belinda, for this really lovely conversation, and I’m so eager to do something good for myself. Everything you mentioned seems so delicious, so anyway. Thank you so much for today.|
|Belinda:||Thank you. It was an absolute pleasure|