“An Awakening Woman is a spiritual rebellion engaged in a glowing and embodied, nothing-held-back love affair with the great mystery. She moves in the world with fierce compassion, grace and freedom, and is passionate about truth, rest & real love. She is fluent in angelic, diva and in Kali roars. Earth is home and so is infinity.” - Chameli Ardagh, Awakening Women Institute.
This is one of my most favorite quotes by one of my teachers on my path of ‘Feminine Spirituality’. “But spirituality is spirituality”, one might argue; “why does one need ‘Feminine Spirituality’?” Well, the truth is that we live in a patriarchal world and that forming our context and foundation, affects each and every area of our lives, including spirituality.
I still remember, as a kid, when I’d watch violence against women and children in my extended family, I’d go into this imaginary world where I was a kung-fu fairy, who could fly in the air, do all kinds of fascinating stunts, become invisible etc. etc., well- needless to say I had a wild imagination. But who would have known that those frightening experiences would become the very cause of my inspiration and guide me to my soul’s very purpose- to become a teacher and leader of Feminine Spirituality.
As a Workshop leader, I like to awaken the most authentic voices that have always been dormant but often repressed in women, through Yoga breathwork, Storytelling, creativity (including theatre, artwork, poetry-writing, dance/ movement, singing), touch, embodiment, Feminine spirituality practices etc…..I studied something called ‘Expressive Arts Therapy’ in San Francisco. That opened up my eyes not only to the immense power hidden in the arts to heal us emotionally and psychologically, but also the need for psychological understanding within the realm of Indian spirituality. Yes, we need do need to address psychological healing in spirituality. Every now and then we hear about some Guru going to the prisons for some shadowy activities, which makes us wonder how spiritual people can have such a dark side. Well the truth is that all of us have shadow and light within us, yin and yang, and our light is often hidden within the shadow. Hence a lot of teachers who keep on pursuing light while running away from their own darkness, denying it, urging us to transcend it, often ironically enough become the victims of their inner unmet demons.
Carl Jung, the famous Swiss psycho-analyst, puts it very well, “One does not become enlightened by imagining figures of light, but by making the darkness conscious.”
I sometimes invite women to roar in my ‘Awaken the Kali Within’ workshop (one of my most favourite ones) devoted to ‘self-empowerment’, you should try that sometimes in your room when you’re alone, it feels good. My little one year old niece often does that, sticks her little tongue out with a big roar, she feels so good afterwards that she breaks out into that childlike fit of laughter and giggles. But you’d be surprised to see how so many women of all ages, 20-90 are capable of laughing freely like that after a few roars, or perhaps wail for hours. The voice that has been repressed for ages, must be freed, must be released.
Awakening the Sacred Feminine within each one of us- whether it is a man or a woman, is what I have now devoted my life to. It’s been a challenging yet extraordinarily rewarding journey. Challenging because we are called to a path like this one, only from being in the school of ‘life’ where you learn less from formal institutions and more from ‘dark nights of the soul’, and I went through my fair share, but all I can say is darker the night, brighter the stars. May all our wounds lead us to our deepest wisdom.
So, I’m now in Mumbai, having led a few successful workshops- the last one being for ‘Bwitch- the international fusion belly dance festival’, where I led one titled ‘Awakening the empowered Feminine’ on Women’s day. And I hope to lead many more in my very own city of Mumbai and meet many soulful women along the way.
My vision for Mumbai is – a city where women feel empowered enough to be true to their own souls, follow their own inner voice, live from their own higher SELF. Women that are willing to go inward and see where they need a deeper healing, where they need to claim their own lives by freeing themselves psychologically, and thereby serve the larger good of the society; because we need more authenticity in our city rather than the usual ‘log kyaa kahenge’ kindof repressed existence. Yes, a lot of people feel that to have ownership of one’s own life is to have a great career and a good family life, wearing modern clothes, perhaps partying etc. but deep down there’s a sense of emptiness in a lot of women, that can never be filled, because at some level we all know that we are going against our own truth again and again and again to please the society. In fact, at some level we don’t even have a choice, because we’re placed in a psychological prison through our upbringing. We need women that are willing to break free and be their own inner authority just as much as they possess an outer authority over their lives, women who challenge social programming to its deepest core like an onion’s layers being peeled to reveal its true nature.This quote, more than any, really inspires me to claim my own Soul, my own Sacredness, my own inner Goddess.
“Teachers of Feminine spirituality like myself often attempt to create the much needed space for the urban women where they can practice just ‘being’ rather than ‘doing or pushing’, being is a very yin/feminine quality, and pushing is a very yang/masculine quality. I also like to encourage women to enter the reality of the present moment through their own feeling state in the moment, rather than judging or running away from what they are feeling in the name of transcendence, many patriarchal spiritual schools in fact say that emotions are the enemy, they are to be controlled whereas in my workshops, emotions are the doorway to truth, to love. After all, as Karla Mclaren beautifully points out, emotions indeed are the language of the soul.”
“Divine pride, or remembering one’s ultimate identity as a deity, is qualitatively different from arrogance, for it is not motivated by a sense of deficiency or compensatory self-aggrandizement…. When a woman reclaims her divine identity, she does not seek outer sources of approval, for a firm, unshakable basis for self-esteem emanates from the depths of her own being.” ― Sera Beak, Red Hot and Holy
It’s a vision that would require us to have conscious men supporting us as well. We all have Feminine and Masculine side within us, so I’d like to eventually contribute towards awakening the Divine Feminine within each and every one of us regardless whether one is a man or a woman. I see a vision of Mumbai as a city that is sensitive to the live Goddess rather than just worshipping her in the temples.
I’d like to contribute towards this especially through the path of Spiritual Psychology, Yoga breath work and the creative arts.
I recently co-facilitated a Women’s weekend workshop at The Life Positive space in Andheri (East), led ‘Awaken the Kali within’ at the recent International Belly Dance Festival in Mumbai (March 2015), and was a choreographer and performer at the Flashmob to raise awareness about Feminine empowerment on Women’s day (2015).
If you’d like to explore more with me, I have a workshop coming up on 13th June 2015, at Awaken Mumbai in Lower Parel. (Call- 9867788679 for more info)
Archana Sachdev (Mumbai, San Francisco, Los Angeles)is a Creative arts healer, Women’s Life coach, professional dancer, theatre actress as well as a Feminine Spirituality teacher and leader inspiring many women to take on the role of Leadership through her workshops and retreats.
She holds a Masters degree in Philosophy from Mumbai, has studied Expressive arts therapy in San Francisco and holds a Certificate in Theater from Los Angeles. She also holds a Post-grad Certificate in Women’s studies and is a trained Yoga instructor specializing in Pranayama and chanting. She currently leads retreats and workshops for Feminine spirituality focusing on Women’s empowerment, Feminine Embodiment, Feminine Creativity and more.
In her spare time she loves working with kids, painting, photography, write Sufi poems, sing ghazals, etc.Her path, she says is the path of Unconditional Love and of REVIVING and serving the DIVINE FEMININE!