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A Woman's Way

How might your life have been different if there had been a place for you to be, a place of women, where you were nurtured as you sought to become yourself? This is the mesmerizing incantation that Judith Duerk repeatedly poses (with variations) in her two classic books Circle of Stones and I Sit Listening to the Wind.

These two slim volumes have uplifted many women and inspired them to return to their still center and seek out the support of other women. "Every woman needs Circle of Stones by her bed," says Joan Borysenko, seminal author and speaker and former Harvard medical scientist and psychologist. "Every page is accepting, healing and empowering," notes Katherine Bradway, a founding member of the C.J. Jung Institute of San Francisco.

Judith Duerk is the wise woman we all want to know. She has led more than 1,000 retreats across the United States and Canada. Duerk will be in Sedona from July 14 to July 17 to empower women to recover their feminine wisdom.

"Lots of women have lost connection to their beingness," Duerk laments. "Woman learned to distrust her feelings, the truth of her existence. ...To discover who she is, a woman must descend into her depths."

Bringing women back to themselves has been Duerk's life work as a psychotherapist, music therapist, leader of women's groups, tai chi instructor and retreat facilitator.

"I am awed by the depth of healing that comes as women sit in a circle, by the power of women keeping silence together and by the truth of their sharing. A woman can be helped by simply hearing another woman's experience of her descent and the understanding of it that came during and after it," she says.

On Thursday, July 14, Duerk will facilitate a quiet evening of reflection and contemplation at the Sedona Creative Life Center. For women wanting to go deeper, she will lead a weekend retreat July 15-17 at the Briar Patch Inn, a nine-acre creekside oasis in Oak Creek Canyon.

The goal will be to help retreatants sort through their lives and choose what should flourish and what can be left behind.

"A retreat is a gift to any woman who is struggling to own herself," Duerk says. "A retreat gives women a time to breathe, slow down and be, to let their feelings, which have been suppressed, slowly emerge within a space of trust. Other women simply listen silently without interrupting, respecting a woman's need for their healing listening. Just the depth of this listening alone helps to move a woman just a bit further in her own understanding of where she is in her life. Perhaps she experiences the beginning of healing."

No one is every rushed when Duerk is around; there is always plenty of time for everyone.

"Each woman will have a chance to speak about what is going on in her life and growth, what issues she is struggling with or what victory needs to be celebrated that has never been given the real recognition that it deserves," says Duerk. "The depth and healing power of women's listening is often astonishing."

Other techniques incorporated into the retreat will include walking, writing, guided meditation, music, drawing, meditative drumming, singing (often without words) and solitude in nature, which provides its own healing. And rest.

Duerk is being hosted by A Woman's Way, a local organization committed to supporting women in their search for meaning and authenticity through small, structured retreats for women by women. Other facilitators invited this year have included Joan Anderson and Sarah Ban Breathnach. Janet Quinn is coming in September.

"Our mission is to provide a sacred space and to sponsor a process that encourages women to find their vision and their voice," says Karen Ely, who founded A Woman's Way in 2004.

To register for the retreat or for more information, call (928) 282-7044 or visit www.awomansway.com. The retreat fee is $575. The evening at the Sedona Creative Life Center is $12, and registration is at the door.

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