What The Embodiment Conference Means to Me

Manal Aldabbagh
4 min readNov 7, 2020

Writing this, I’m quite conflicted as to whether I would publish this or not. Is what I have to say important enough? Will there be significant pushback and criticism about it? If there is, am I ready to handle that? Or is it better to stay quiet and do what I want to do most, which is to take a break and recover from six months’ work with the conference?
I don’t have a clear answer, so I’m going to keep writing and assess after.

A small minority of people have deprived us, the conference organizers, of fully resting, rejoicing, and enjoying a work well done, feeling proud and experiencing being part of a significant event that many people benefited from and have truly helped a lot.
Yes, mistakes have been made throughout the conference; I’m not sure how anyone expects a flawless event, accomodating all opinions and preferences, and lead by superhumans who can do no wrong.

When I joined the leadership team, I had no idea how vicious and hurtful this can be; I had no idea how my intentions could be questioned and attacked by people who don’t know me. That noise that claims to stand up for what is right hurt many, is destructive, and in no way justifiable.

All that aside, I’m super proud and thrilled to be part of this event, part of an incredible team, and let me tell you why, as this is what matters.
I am a woman from Saudi Arabia who had to travel and spend a lot on getting an education and experiences in the embodiment world. That was not a given; I’m blessed with a partner who supports my journey and family who many times collectively gifted me those trainings. The conference is making that journey easier for many individuals who can’t do that.

As the only Arab Muslim woman in most of my training and workshops, I had to adapt to the environment. Many times had to hide my beliefs and opinions because it didn’t feel safe to do otherwise. Even in spaces, that values diversity and inclusivity, and I know they had the best intentions.

In the last five years, my intention, struggle, and desire were to integrate what I’m learning with who I am, with my culture and religion. Yes, my religion. Talking about religion is not a popular thing, especially Islam, I know. However, many have quoted Rumi and Sufism while neglecting the fact that Rumi was a Muslim scholar, and Sufism is a branch of Islam, but that topic needs another article by itself.

I come from a culture that has to deal with the western superiority complex; westerners’ expertise is valued and appreciated more than local individuals. Many people, including me, doubt their own experiences and feelings when it doesn’t align with what experts in the US say. The Embodiment Conference leveled that field for me, and I know many others. To be able to present, alongside many experts in the field, means that I can share my voice and understanding of what embodiment means to me. Giving voice to others like me was my intention when making the call for others to apply to present at the conference.

I have found a place for me in the embodiment world and had a major role in the conference; I was part of an international team that cares about the service we are collectively offering the world. I am certain that if we as a team wanted to focus on the differences between us and the mistakes that we all were making, this conference would not have seen the light, and the hours of education provided, free at first, wouldn’t exist. I also know that I lack enough understanding of their perspectives and experiences like they do mine. We still respect and appreciate one another.

As part of the leadership team, I know I’m in many ways different from Mark and Daniela; I know we don’t see eye to eye on specific topics. I know we have completely different lifestyles and choices. AND that was never a reason to not work as a team. Respect and trust overcome the differences and, of course, the guiding principle of service to the world.

We all make mistakes, we are all humans, and we are all doing our best.

One of my favorite verses of the Quraan is
( وَعِبَادُ الرَّحْمَٰنِ الَّذِينَ يَمْشُونَ عَلَى الْأَرْضِ هَوْنًا وَإِذَا خَاطَبَهُمُ الْجَاهِلُونَ قَالُوا سَلَامًا)
And the servants of (Allah) Most Gracious are those who walk on the earth in humility, and when the ignorant address them, they say, “Peace!”;
It has been my prayer to be one of those people, and it is what embodiment means to me.
I hold these beliefs dearly, and I know it is not easy to do so.

When someone says the conference lacks diversity or only identifies it with the mistakes made, I can wholeheartedly say my experience is otherwise. I was welcomed, respected, and supported with love and trust, and if anyone wants to challenge my experience, all I have to say is Salam.