“I would like to be known as an intelligent woman, a courageous woman, a loving woman, a woman who teaches by being.” — Maya Angelou
I had just finished leading a Sunday morning yoga practice at a friend’s studio when one of the students asked me, “Why does it feel so good to move slower? My body feels so good right now. Why does it feel better than a vinyasa flow class?”
My class is called Sunday Sanctuary and it’s for students who prefer a slower-paced, less strenuous practice. We find movement, we flow, but the pace is slower and often we’ll hold in a posture for several breaths.
The moment she asked the questions I kicked into Coach mode and returned with, “What does your intuition tell you about moving slower? What does your body telling you about slowing down? What is your life telling you about slowing down?” That’s when I saw it. The look one gets on their face when they have a major discovery or when they are blessed with an Ah-Ha moment. She had been sharing with me a few moments before, that she and her husband were moving and that I most likely was not going to see her in class again.
One of the top five most stressful life events is moving.
It hit her, like a ton of bricks, that what she enjoyed most about the morning practice, was her willingness to slow down and tend to herself. To tend to her thoughts, feelings, emotions, physical well-being and her Woman Spirit. Typically, the message I share throughout class are ones based in the Sacred Feminine and the need to find balance within our internal landscape. She, during that morning practice, found balance within herself and it felt good.
To be clear, I am in no way putting down or making light of a vinyasa flow or a power yoga class. What I’m attempting to bring to light here is the fact that most of us move at break-neck speeds and pride ourselves in our ability to multi-task. We unconsciously go through the motions, lost in ideas about life and live through stories in our head of “I am not” and “I should be.
We muscle, fight, control, manage, fix, change, conquer, deny, reject, mistrust, and distract ourselves in busyness and all sorts of activities that make us go, go go! Thinking has become more important than feeling, logic higher regarded than intuition, doing holds more value than being, and the destination seems more significant than the journey. We live in a culture with strong values in direct action, single-minded focus, clear logical thinking, goal-oriented, competitive behavior, productivity, and achievement.
There is nothing wrong with being action oriented, especially when you maintain a balance with your feminine nature. Problems arise when one becomes addicted to the sympathetic nervous system that tells us to do, do, do! We begin to experience dis-ease like fatigue, insomnia, anxiety, agitation, mood swings, and stress. Slowing down brings you the opportunity to come back into your body. Your feminine truth is found in your body. Your nervous system lives in your body.
To become consciously imbodied can be a challenge for a lot of people. Your ability to be in your body in the present moment and to feel all of it’s sensations (emotional and physical) is to be imbodied. This practice takes courage. It takes courage to slow down and be still. It takes courage to tune in and listen. It takes courage to speak your truths to yourself. It takes courage to answer the feelings that are knocking on the door of your awareness. And it takes courage to curiously explore your emotions.
Sure, you can slow down with that glass of wine and dark chocolate while you binge-watch the latest season of Ozark, (Season 4 Part 2 airs on April 29!) but what about your unaddressed feelings and emotions or the dis-ease you’ve been experiencing? What about the true nourishment and joy that comes from being fully connected to yourself and to life? What about the balance you consciously or unconsciously long for? What about your well-being?
What is your nervous system telling you?
What does your nervous system delight in?
How willing are you to find the courage to slow down and be still in the deep peace of enough-ness?
We are all familiar with the unrelenting, critical, hostile, and sometimes insidious male voice in our head that tells stories of I am not, and I should be. I refer to this voice as male because it is filled with masculine energy that has us believe we need to be different or better than what we are right now to be worthy and adequate. The messages we often receive keep us in a constant state of doing, fixing, controlling, and managing all aspects of our lives.
It is the voice that says things like, “You shouldn’t eat that”, or “You have no willpower”, or “You’re wasting time”, or “You’re not doing enough!”, or “You have no reason to feel that way”, or “ You’re being too sensitive.”
Most of us have been taught to value only masculine principles of structure, productivity, achievement, goal-oriented, clear, focused, logical thinking. We have become unfamiliar and uncomfortable with feminine qualities of stillness and emotion. We have been taught to ignore, deny, and reject that feeling part of us that is nurturing, intuitive, and compassionate.
I see the critical male voice as a soldier that has me fighting my way through life and that keeps me in a perpetual state of self-bullying. Yet, when I feel into the sacred feminine side of myself, I see her as a courageous Warrior who is willing to take a new and different approach, one based in understanding and respect.
The Warrior asks, “What am I truly hungry for?” She is passionately curious about what is going on in her inner world, including the constellation of voices in her head. She has learned to respond to what life brings her instead of living in reaction and she understands that her feelings, just like people, respond to apologies and a willingness to listen. A Warrior chooses to engage with and explore, honestly, her emotions, her pains, her life and herself for she knows that true healing can only be found in the journey back to her Self.
A Warrior is present, in her body, rather than in the swirling thoughts of her struggling mind. She brings spaciousness and offers acceptance of what is, rather than reacting, rejecting, and invalidating. She touches her experience with the healing of her heart in freedom and infusions of love, rather than closing down to hate and fear. A Warrior cultivates practices of deep listening as she awakens the wellspring of wisdom within her, promoting trust in herself and her life, rather than buying into and living through the stories in her head.
A Warrior offers forgiveness for all the times she has rejected and abandoned herself and she is learning that what she truly needs is to be there for herself when she needs herself the most. She honors and trusts her experiences of resistance because in doing so she allows herself to stay in her healing journey. Cultivating curiosity and speaking her truths are now part of her spiritual toolbox and she gives this training absolute priority.
A Warrior values both feminine and masculine energies knowing both are necessary to balance her internal landscape. She understands her task is to be the vessel that contains our truth, our vision, and our essence, and to be the vehicle that can boldly carry our truth out into the world in a clear, straight-forward way.
Self-Awareness and Transformational Coach, Inner Child Advocate, and Yin Yoga Teacher.