Is this your story?
As a young woman, you believed that the world was your oyster. And so it may have seemed for some years. You worked hard, intending to claim your place in the world. And you did.
But then, cracks started to appear in the perfect dream you mapped out for yourself. Maybe you burned out. Or your body complained about your lifestyle in another way, through illness. Maybe the knight in shining armour never showed up. Or when he did, the relationship didn’t match your expectations – and didn’t last. Maybe you tried to ‘have it all’ before you realised that there were only so many hours in the day.
And one day, your ideals, and perhaps your self esteem too, began to crumble….
Women of all ages are exposed to a daily bombardment of messages about how a successful woman should look and be.
Many of us have discovered that the prevailing image of success comes at a price. Some keep paying the price. Others either can’t because of the toll on their health or won’t (and redefine success for themselves).
This is not surprising as patriarchal cultures cause suppression of the Feminine and elevation of the Masculine. In the process, the inner Feminine, in both men and women, lacks development. I believe this is particularly damaging to the health, well being and potential of women.
There is a collective Feminine Wound, which could be the root of many of the pressing problems our world faces. And this wound causes problems in day to day lives, at work and in relationship.
While we may not have conscious awareness of this wound, we most likely have some symptoms. The suppressed anger at the centre of the Feminine Wound is often expressed as chronic sadness, depression or, when it can no longer be contained, in explosive/destructive ways.
As I see it this calls for a new definitions of success and power that are more healthy for women and re-address the cultural bias towards the Masculine.
During my study of esoteric eastern spiritual pathways, I was introduced to a map or model of power that illustrates the difference between distorted/wounded expressions and those that are aligned with the universal flow of power and wisdom. Power is considered to be Feminine in the traditions I have studied. (Feminine represents the moving aspect of consciousness ie. energy/power. Masculine represents the still, containing aspect ie. the ground of consciousness.)
In this model, power is not obtained via position, it’s obtained via growth in consciousness and right relationship between the inner Masculine and Feminine aspects. (This holds true for both women and men.)
Right relationship between Masculine and Feminine arises when the Masculine aspect, supports the Feminine. If either the Feminine or Masculine becomes dominant and out of balance, problems arise.
To develop understanding of this concept, let’s take the example of a river. The Feminine aspect would be akin to the flowing water. The Masculine aspect would be akin to the banks that hold the water.
Without banks, the water would have no direction and no power. In fact, without banks holding it in place, that water can create a lot of damage through flooding. (Feminine dominance).
With the banks and other containing systems in place, that water has many potential creative uses eg. to irrigate land, to provide communities with hydro-electric power, to distribute water to homes etc.
Too many systems, too much containment and there a different set of problems.
This simple analogy demonstrates that the current conversation about Feminine Power need not be adversarial. The point is not Feminine vs. Masculine (or men vs women). The point is right relationship between Feminine and Masculine, because, in truth they can never be separated!
In patriarchal cultures the relationship between Feminine and Masculine is not ideal. The world suffers. Relationships suffer.
You can change your world faster than you can change The World.
I hope this description of the Five Elements of Power (from an Indian yogic tradition) gives you insight into your own patterns of distortion and wisdom.
And if you’d like to work on those and transform them into more effective expressions of Feminine power, please contact me!
1. Know your Home Base (the Space Element, from which the other elements flow)
Discover the origin of basic desires – to come home to ourselves, to be enfolded by love, to find a beloved.
Your success. Your purpose. The clarity of your callings. And your ability to transform your wounds, from pain to gifts, depends on this.
2. Attend to your Foundations (the Earth Element)
Fundamental insecurity and instability lies at the root of pride, arrogance, superiority, material accumulation/hoarding and also opposite energies, such as impoverishment, self deprecation/inferiority, denial of needs and lack of care for self and possessions.
The restorative wisdom and nectar of the Earth element, generates safety, equanimity, self care and generosity of heart and mind.
3. Re- consider your Defences (the Water Element)
Authentic vulnerability, the ability to self disclose with comfort, is not supported or developed in environments where there is fear of violation and invalidation. Fearing and feeling threat, defensive strategies form a protective shell, while resentments and anger may fester below the surface.
As you restore the nectar and wisdom of the Water element, you will access and improve the ability to remain calm and non reactive, while stating personal truth.
4. Trust your Intuition (the Air Element)
Effortless action, self confidence and accomplishment can be inhibited by worry, anxieties and neuroses. The mind becomes caught in self-criticism, judgment and self doubt.
As you restore the nectar and wisdom of the Air element, you learn what can be trusted. As confidence in inner knowing and received insight increases, you are less affected by the opinions of others that throw you off centre.
5. Engage afresh in Relationships (the Fire Element)
The wounds of past abandonments and betrayals may have numbed the ability to relate.
Clear boundaries, respectful interest, compassion and discernment are restored through transformation available as you work with the Fire element, strengthening the ground for the creation of mutually supportive, life enhancing relationships.
Cathy Rowan 2019