By Felicia Williams Cosey, Ph.D.
I grew up in Flint, Michigan, just barely on the right side of the “wrong side” of the tracks. While the neighborhood I grew up in was rough, my parents were deeply religious, loving, and clear that I was here to make something of myself. I got encouraged (dare I say “pushed”) to get beyond the constraints of my neighborhood by getting good grades so I could go to college. I got what I now call good “human doing” training — go to school, get a degree, marry well, have children, be a good wife and mother, do good in the world, live happily ever after.
So I did all those things, and for a while it seemed to work. Until it didn’t, especially the happily-ever-after part. After years of trying to do all the right things, I found myself divorced, a single mom with two young children, and blaming myself for my shortcomings because the formula didn’t work. I asked myself what went wrong? And what do I need to do differently to have the happiness and love I so want in my life?
In my query for the missing ingredient, I came to my first Human Awareness Institute (HAI) workshop. Like many others, I had seen a friend go through the workshop and come out significantly different after a weekend experience with HAI. I wanted to know what he knew, learn what he had learned that made such a difference in how he treated me, how he listened, how much joy he had. And in my first weekend, it became clear to me that one important concept had been missing in my happiness prescription: I knew really well how to do life, but had no clue how to be fully alive!
So began my personal journey of discovery, which led me to several weekend workshops with HAI. Each one created the space and encouragement for me to open my heart more, to discover who I was beyond my parents’ and society’s program of who I could or should be. I began to fall in love with myself, and I learned how to face my fears around intimacy and connection. I met and felt deeply touched by the founder of HAI, Stan Dale, and his wife Helen, and the core message of the HAI mission resonated with my personal desire for the world I want to help create: “HAI promotes personal growth and social evolution by replacing ignorance and fear with awareness and love.”
Through various exercises and activities, weekend workshops are designed to help participants learn how to listen and speak from the heart, experience being treated with compassion, and recognize personal patterns and behaviors preventing them from giving and receiving love. After attending the workshops, I began volunteering to support the workshops as they developed in Michigan, and became part of the core team to support the growing Midwest community. That led to my training to become a workshop leader (facilitator) and the rest is glorious history! I’ve now been leading HAI workshops for 22 years and have found both my true vocation and my personal recipe for happiness.
HAI empowers individuals to be potent, loving, contributing human beings.
As an HAI facilitator, I get to practice the principles I teach, as a way of Be-ing Love, rather than looking for what to do to make love happen. Being love is not always easy, because so much of our programing tells us it’s what we do/accomplish/achieve that matters. Although those things are important, my experience is, they don’t by themselves bring happiness and connection. (They certainly didn’t for me!)
At my workshops I often ask the question: “How many people want more love in your life?” and almost every hand goes up! Yet we’re often most afraid of what we most want. In one weekend, many people get the experience of unconditional love and acceptance, and encouragement to see their fears for what they really are — False Evidence Appearing Real. Our participants gain valuable life skills for relating to themselves and others, expanding self acceptance and the acceptance of others who are different. People often leave the weekend with a profound sense of connection, self worth, inner and outer beauty, potency and love.
HAI aims to create a world where people live together in dignity, respect, understanding, trust, kindness, compassion, reverence, honesty, and love.
Stan Dale founded HAI in 1968. Since then more than 75,000 people have attended the Institute’s love, intimacy, and sexuality workshops and seminars in various parts of the United States, Canada, Europe, Australia, and Japan. We now have thriving communities in Northern and Southern California, the Midwest, East Coast, Ontario, UK, Germany, and Australia.
I feel blessed to travel to all of these places, spreading the experience and possibility of love everywhere I go. I feel that through this work I’ve finally stepped into the true purpose I am named for — “Felicia” means happiness — and the happiness I’ve created is first my own (my inside job). From this home base of Be-ing, I’m passionate about helping others find their happiness, joy, connection, community, and genuine love.
HAI is committed to creating a world where everyone wins.
I’m proud to be “homegrown” Michigan, and now by being all of myself, I contribute to more love in our world that so needs it, now more than ever. I’m finally happy to BE me!
HAI Midwest regularly offers free introductory workshops regionally (and regularly at Crazy Wisdom). These ‘Mini Workshops’ provide an opportunity to “try a taste” of the work and philosophies of The Human Awareness Institute before committing to a full weekend. For more information, contact Mo Fritz at Midwestfirstname.lastname@example.org, or visit www.hai.org. Felicia Williams Cosey, Ph.D., is a psychologist and life coach. She can be reached at Felicia@DrFeliciaWilliams.com or Felicia@hai.org.