It's all about self-love.
Subject: Meditation (Study and teaching)
Holistic medicine (Methods)
Women (Health aspects)
Women (Management)
Author: Magenya, Sheena
Pub Date: 08/01/2008
Publication: Name: Sister Namibia Publisher: Sister Namibia Audience: Academic; General Format: Magazine/Journal Subject: Social sciences; Women's issues/gender studies Copyright: COPYRIGHT 2008 Sister Namibia ISSN: 1026-9126
Issue: Date: August, 2008 Source Volume: 20 Source Issue: 3
Topic: Event Code: 200 Management dynamics Computer Subject: Company business management
Geographic: Geographic Scope: Namibia Geographic Code: 6NAMI Namibia
Accession Number: 188293324
Full Text: The sound of meditative instrumental music greets me as I walk into a Shibashi session with Sister Bibiana at the PEACE Centre. The women in the group follow her movements in silence. They move as one body and my presence does not seem disturb the exercise, as I weave in between them trying to get a good photo. I watch these women sway to the left and then to the right; a gentle breeze blows; the trees and the flowers move with them; and I am overwhelmed by one sensation that is so hard to find today--peace.

Caring for the care-givers

These meditation sessions are part of the PEACE Centre's programme to address the psychological and emotional needs of women providing home-based care for Aids patients and looking after orphans while running their own households and trying to earn some income. Some members of the group are vendors of Big Issue Namibia, a magazine sold on the street to support the homeless and unemployed.

According to Laura Sasman of the PEACE Centre, "These varied approaches are more holistic and address some of the group member's physical needs as well." The approaches include activities such as art therapy, self-assertiveness training, stress-relief and Shibashi exercises.

The Shibashi sessions are led by Sister Bibiana of the Maryknoll Contemplative Society. When asked why she chose this type of meditation to teach, Sr. Bibiana's answer is simple, "It is all about self love. Women are always giving and giving and not getting anything back. You have to take care of yourself in order to take care of others. In these sessions women are giving back to themselves. Taking care of yourself is the first step towards loving yourself."

Integrating body and spirit

Shibashi is a Chinese exercise similar to Tai-Chi that consists of eighteen movements that are done very slowly to music or in silence. According to literature by Sister Mary John Mananzan, "Shibashi blends in well with women's spirituality which is characterised by integration, liberation, celebration, healing and growth." She also observes that "Women's spirituality aims at wholeness, because the experience of women is brokenness. Shibashi integrates the movement of the body with the calm, concentrated attitude of the spirit."


The different movements all have symbolic meanings that connote celebration, self-blessing and healing. Shibashi is designed to improve general health and well being, and improves circulation and digestion. Shibashi is for people of all ages, requires no special tools or equipment and needs very little space to practise, making it available to practically everyone.

Feeling the effects

Victoria Nantinda, who works as a community counsellor and helps out at her community soup kitchen every Sunday, says that she finds the Shibashi exercise very energising and that it helps her deal with stress. Alfreida Hochobes, a Big Issue vendor and cleaner, says Shibashi makes her more relaxed than she has been in ages and she practises it at home every two days. Loida Angula, another Big Issue vendor, explains the benefits of Shibashi. "Many times women just work and sleep and do not exercise," she says. "This makes them even more tired. Shibashi is a great exercise to give you more energy and strength, because you use your muscles. I would encourage as many women as possible to practise Shibashi."

As a step towards self-love through exercise and meditation, Shibashi is an activity that every woman should learn. Fifteen minutes out of your day for yourself and your body goes a long way in safeguarding your health and consequently, your happiness.

Story and photo by Sheena Magenya
Gale Copyright: Copyright 2008 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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