There is a softness inside of each of us, a beautiful vulnerability that disarms any defenses – our own, and others’. This softness has become one of the most repressed aspects of our humanity.
Because of our disconnect with the natural abundance of our environment and life itself, we mostly live in fear. Fear of not having enough, of not being enough. We live out of that fear, and our stance in life is often either an offensive one, or a defensive one. The undercurrent is a theme of anxiety.
For those who identify as women, the pressure put on by our culture is immense and runs counter to our own connection to the universe, mother Earth, and life itself. We are often convinced in direct and insidious ways that the only way we can be “successful” in this life (read: have what we need to be well in monetary and non-monetary resources including friendship, family) is to become very masculine in our energy and approach. Which is not to say to become like a man, per se, but to become masculine, yang, driving, hard, active and at times aggressive.
We all have both masculine and feminine, yin and yang qualities, but across the board, in the United States nowadays and perhaps other parts of the western contemporary culture, the broader societal values encourage and accept masculine qualities much more so than feminine ones.
What are feminine qualities? Do we even know? Softness, receptivity, nurturing, and vulnerability are salient. You can imagine the energy of the archetypal mother, and if you look for it in the cultural context, where is it?
As women, we are told to be skinny, active, intellectually sharp, career-driven, and as a side-note, of course there is still the job of bearing and raising children. What isn’t addressed, though, is that if we become overly aggressive, intellectual, career-driven, etc., we might be cultivating those qualities at the expense of the other, more feminine qualities.
The feminine essence is an embodied one. It comes from feeling much more than thinking. And all of us, men included, can do well to explore this aspect of our nature.
We do well to remember that the rational mind, while a powerful and important aspect of the Human journey, is only one aspect. There is also the experience of feeling, fully present in the body; that experience of standing on the earth on your two feet and swaying your hips side to side, eyes closed, feeling all the sensations of simply and deliciously being here.
We may neglect or even battle the experience of femininity, believing it to somehow be inferior to the formulaic calculations of the rational mind, and yet most of us would likely find life rather empty without a healthy dose of this.
This is the domain of pleasure, the domain of abundance and fertility.
It feels regenerative and joy-giving.
For so long, I battled the femininity within. Believing deeply that if I moved through life softly, I would be trampled, I tried consciously and unconsciously to wipe out this part of me. I thought that if I worked out hard enough, worked ambitiously enough, adhered to a rigorous schedule and lived my life according to full-proof planning and formula, I would be impervious to the vulnerability that seemed to plague humanity.
What I didn’t realize was that, to be Human is to be vulnerable, and that it is no plague at all.
Much of my body image issues came from a deep rejection of my own femininity. To be soft, to have any extra flesh or squishy parts, felt like a defeat to me. What I didn’t realize was that, by rejecting this aspect of my humanity, I was rejecting the abundance of the universe. I was rejecting the Mother principle. The part of me that carried those nurturing qualities, could offer them to others but also feel enriched and fed by them myself.
I’m almost ashamed to say I spend years disgusted by those qualities.
And from that mindset, I denied myself an experience of nurturance from within. How beautiful it feels to surrender to this part of me now. This has everything to do with body image – when I gain weight now and my breasts become larger, I have discovered the capacity within myself to feel like an even wealthier, more abundant woman and human for it. No longer disgusted, because I am no longer threatened, I live in a deep trust of this aspect of myself. I trust the wisdom and the connectedness flowing through that soft, spontaneous current. And life is a lot more enjoyable.
This acceptance and love didn’t come overnight. It took a lot of being in and feeling my body, and getting away from the mirror. It took a lot of closing my eyes and breathing deep into my abdomen, pelvis, and the far reaches of my limbs. It took discovering that I love to move – not because exercise is supposed to help me become fit, but because it feels good.
As women, what is it that we are afraid of when it comes to gaining weight, or accepting our bodies as they are now?
Is it just the health factor, is it even just the cultural standard of beauty, that we are responding to? Or is there something much deeper and more energetic – our own relationship to our feminine aspect – that is calling for our attention, exploration, and love?