In society, women share experiences that may go unspoken. There is a lack of space for women to simply be together in a welcoming and comforting environment. Because of the desire for this connection, the Sisterhood Circle was established on Maryville College’s campus. The group’s goal is to uplift women and encourage them to look within themselves and each other to find fulfillment.
During the fall of 2022, Haly Scott, a senior at Maryville College, recognized the need for a space where women around campus can meet and achieve a state of rest and mindfulness.
“We live in a super masculine-energy dominated world. We have to do and go and constantly be producing things in academia and the world in general,” Scott explained. “There is not as much space made for just sitting in the moment and being present, not doing anything—just being with people.”
Scott describes the group as something more spiritual than action-focused. The core goal of the meetings is to provide a space that allows women to be vulnerable and exist without judgment.
Katie Leming, senior at Maryville College and attendee of the Sisterhood Circle’s meetings, said the meditative, conversational tones the group exhibits helped her stay grounded during a tumultuous period of her life.
“I had kind of pictured it differently, more formal,” Leming said. “[Haly] will kind of have a guided meditation thing going on. Then, we’ll kind-of talk about what that meditation did for us and how we feel in our body; then, see where the conversation goes.”
Leming explained that, during the previous meeting, the topic of conversation surrounded mothers, feminine lineage, and how the women in the group relate to those women in their lives. She explained how clarifying and validating it was for her to feel supported in her complicated relationship with her mother.
“There’s a lot of hard things to think about and feel when you’re thinking about people who have loved you, but maybe haven’t always been the best they could be. It was immensely supportive,” Leming said. “I cried a lot, which was good. It felt like a sanctuary, even though there were people laughing over there, doing their own thing; cars going by, all that.”
Connection to self and embracing of feelings is what the group encompasses. Angie Hensley, former head of the Counseling Center at Maryville College and one of the founders of the Sisterhood Circle, explained the goals as teaching those that are in attendance to “be inside of their bodies and inhabit their hearts—being in the present moment.”
Hensley said, “Whatever trouble that we’re having, whatever pain we’re going through, we’ve been doing it alone. And then, when you come into a group with other people and you go, ‘Oh, whoa, I’m not alone in this; there are other people struggling,’ it’s like now we’re kind-of shouldering it in community, and it’s a lot easier.”
Hensley, Scott and Leming all described the meetings as being without a hierarchical structure. When the group was started, it was intended to be a safe space for all involved. To Hensley and Scott, that meant eliminating any clear semblance of superiority.
The future of the Sisterhood Circle is to grow in the Maryville College community to reach as many women as possible. Scott said, “I just see it expanding. I’m trusting that it will fall into my lap, someone who wants to take it over next semester, because I’m graduating. I hope that there is someone else who will take up the reins and facilitate.”
The Sisterhood Circle aims to lead women in the community toward a relationship with themselves as well as a deeper relationship with other women. If you are interested in attending a Sisterhood Circle meeting, the group meets every Monday in Bartlett 301 at 3:30 p.m.
For more information, reach out to Haly Scott at [email protected].