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Healing the Masculine – As a Woman

July 10, 2017

This blog is dedicated to healing and empowering the feminine, as is my private session work, but of course feminine energy and power does not exist in isolation. The feminine and masculine are codependent, defining each other. Whether we are talking about our physical bodies, our subtle bodies, psychological traits, abstract energies apart from gender, or any of the other many things we label ‘feminine’ and ‘masculine’, we cannot ever really work with just one and not the other. Historically the feminine and masculine have been wounded and dysfunctional together, and they now must heal and come forth into the light together.

For some, talking in terms of the feminine and masculine in any context seems antiquated. Certainly within the context of transgender rights, these categorizations seem rigid and harmful. It’s clear that on the level of the human body and gender identification – and I would argue on the level of the subtle body too – masculine/feminine is a spectrum, not a duality. I look forward to the day when it no longer makes sense to talk about ’empowering the feminine’ or ‘healing the masculine.’ When there is a fluidity and wholeness in all of us that allows us to express ourselves in all manners however we see fit.

But that day is not now, and it’s important to talk about it. This has been brought home to me in a very real way recently as I watch my two younger children, girl-boy twins, enter ‘tweenhood’ and middle school. The differences in their gender-based conditioning, and the social expectations they each face, has never been more clear. In some ways, in a community like mine, there has been more change for girls than boys – girls in team sports is a given, and the girls are encouraged to play hard and tough on the field. A boy in ballet however, is still the exception.  And off the sports field, I find the emotional conditioning has not changed much – ‘be nice and get along’ for girls  vs. ‘be tough and be the best’ for boys might be the best way of summing it up.

I’ve written before about how the pressure to ‘be nice’ impacts women and their ability to own their power, so I won’t belabor that again in this post. But what is the impact of the male conditioning to ‘be tough’? Emotional repression, and self-worth based on dominance and achievement, are still bred into our boys. As they move through their adolescence towards adulthood, true expression of their emotions – especially any seen as ‘weak’ – is less and less acceptable. Meanwhile, accolades for accomplishment – whether in sports, academics, or any other realm – is rewarded. Boys receive a very clear message about where their worth lies, and emotional awareness and expression is still low in value.

But the human psyche is sensitive, whether housed in a female or male body. So where does any hurt go if it’s not acknowledged and expressed? A lot of dysfunctional places. Men are twice as likely as women to become alcoholic. Twice as likely to die of an opioid addiction. Between 3 and 4 times more likely to commit suicide. 10 times as likely to be incarcerated. 80% of violent crimes are committed by men. 82% of all childhood sexual assault and 90% of all adult sexual assault is perpetrated by men.

This is what we are facing when we talk about healing the masculine.

Of course the reality behind all of these statistics is much more complex than little boys being told to toughen up. There are biological, economic, social, religious, racial, and cultural factors contributing, and change needs to take place within every realm – just as it does for the empowerment of the feminine. And the sense of male entitlement instilled as part of our still predominantly patriarchal culture is as much a problem as internalized pain (although I would argue they are two sides of the same coin.)

But all change begins within ourselves, so as women, how do we start with ourselves on this? How do we begin to recognize our own part in perpetuating the conditioning at work? How do we surface and shift the dysfunctional masculine-feminine dichotomy as it is reflected in our own psyches and subtle bodies?

Personal Inquiry

It’s not an easy question, but as always, a good place to start is personal inquiry. Often just asking a question brings about a shift. So here’s some questions to  begin asking yourself:

  • Do you on some level label the men in your life ‘weak’ and ‘strong’? If so, what criteria is this based on? Do you label certain men as passive or effeminate, and if so, what criteria does it reflect? Do you find emotional expression in a man, including crying, a turn off? What’s your reaction when learning a man is in a formerly traditional ‘feminine’ role, such as a stay-at-home dad, a nurse, or teacher? In a partner, do you value emotional stoicism or expression? Are you seeking a protector or savior and looking to find that in male family members, friends or partners?
  • What beliefs have you internalized about how you can and cannot express yourself? How you can and cannot dress? What you can and cannot do? Did these differ for male siblings or family members? If you are a parent or work with children, which of these are you passing on? What expectations do you have for girls vs. boys? What messages do you send to each?
  • Within your own personal history, what has been your relationship to and treatment by the men in your lives – father, stepfather, grandfather, brothers, uncles, male teachers, male coaches, etc? How have they made you feel about yourself? Do you harbor shame or anger in relation to any of them, and have you dealt with it? (Of course if you have been the victim of domestic abuse, sexual abuse, or assault, this is an especially big healing process.) How has this impacted your own relationships with men in your life now?
  • Moving inward, do an assessment between yin and yang, feminine and masculine, as expressed within your own personality and psyche. What traits do you consider to be feminine and which masculine? Within each category, which do you consider healthy and which dysfunctional expressions? Looking at it from this perspective, do you see any patterns of looking to the men in your life to fill emotional gaps rather than bringing those forth yourself (this is often related to looking to men as protectors, stabilizers, and saviors?)

Chakra Work

On the subtle body level, every chakra and energy channel mapping system defines certain centers and pathways as yin or feminine, and others as yang or masculine. Working with these energies and seeking to unite and integrate them provides another powerful way of working to heal the masculine. Within the context of the chakra work I share on this blog, the most straightforward mapping is to work with the following:

  • The first/root, third/navel, fifth/throat, and seventh/crown chakras are masculine in their default expression
  • The second/sacral, fourth/heart, and sixth/third-eye are feminine in their default expression

All of the chakras have both emanating/masculine and receptive/feminine aspects, so when we talk about them as masculine and feminine we are talking about a default expression. There are many gradations within this in terms of gender and individual subtle bodies, but I still find it a helpful model for working with in most people. Here are some of the ways you can begin to work with the chakras in this way:

  • Review the energies and psychological functions associated with each chakra (you can use the various charts and mappings included in my Chakra Levels series, or many other posts on the Chakras page, as a reference.) When viewed from this perspective, do you see any patterns related to masculine and feminine chakras? Do you have more blocks in one grouping vs. the other? Or a hyper-reliance on the aspects of one or the other? If so, work with the exercises and the other methods outlined in the Chakra Levels series to address this imbalance.
  • Specifically in relation to your masculine chakras, what blocks do you perceive? Do you have trouble owning the open, powerful expressions of these chakras? If so, determine some ways to work with opening these pathways within yourself.
  • Practice visually integrating the masculine and feminine chakra energies. This in and of itself can be a very powerful tool. Here is one simple exercise for doing so:
    • Hold a fist at your tailbone – focal point for your root chakra. This fist does not represent aggression, but instead a centered, consolidated energy. Imagine this centered, consolidated energy is mirrored within your root chakra beneath your fist as a ball of light (you can use traditional chakra colors for this, or just use white.)
    • Repeat this at your other masculine chakras – your navel, throat, and crown.
    • Sit for a moment visualizing these 4 centered, consolidated balls of light within your subtle body.
    • Now let go of this and using the index finger of one hand draw a figure 8 or infinity symbol an inch or so in front of your pelvis – focus point for your sacral chakra. Imagine this swirling, moving energy is mirrored within your pelvic bowl. Allow your body to sway and move if you like.
    • Repeat this at your other feminine chakras – your heart and third eye.
    • Sit for a moment visualizing these 3 spiraling, flowing nexuses of energy within your subtle body.
    • Now from the bottom up, move through each chakra and connect the centered, consolidated balls with the spiraling, flowing energy. Begin with your root and move up through your sacral, navel, heart, throat, third eye, and crown. See one energy as seamlessly flowing into the next in a pattern. Try to feel this within your body, in addition to visualizing it. Allow some variability in how this appears to you – allow some room for spontaneity.
    • Cycle through more than once if you like. Once you feel as if there is some sense of completion, dissolve the visuals and rest in a sense of wholeness and integration.

Those of you who have completed my DailyOm course or Sexual Trauma healing teleseminar will recognize this as a simpler version of an exercise I do in those courses. Although simpler, it is no less powerful when fully felt, and is easily done on your own if you are familiar with the chakras.

The shifts going on in our world right now are nothing short of monumental, and so many of them can be viewed as part of the rebalancing between the masculine and feminine – a dismantling of patriarchy, healing of the masculine and empowerment of the feminine – within individuals, societies, and the energy matrix that composes our world. In many ways right now we are seeing a backlash against these shifts in our political landscape and commentary. It is very difficult not to meet these forces with oppositional anger, and of course this anger is more than justified. But to respond only in this way virtually guarantees the continuation of these age old ways of being. The question we are all facing now is how to engage differently? It isn’t easy for an individual or society to truly change its entire frame of reference. It is deep work, and something we all need to engage in. And working within the context of the masculine and feminine is an essential part of this work.

Two recommendations worth mentioning within this context:

  • The book South of Forgiveness: A True Story of Rape and Responsibility, by Elva Thordis and Tom Stranger, in which a rape survivor and her rapist struggle to come to terms with each other and the crime committed, looking at rape culture, patriarchy, and gender conditioning along the way. Although I have mixed feelings about this book, it raises questions in a way few other books have done, and for that reason, is worth reading for those interested and who feel able to handle the difficult emotional material and depiction of rape.
  • The online course Transcending Sexual Trauma Through Yoga Online Training, by Zabie Yamasaki. I have been a part of Zabie’s weekend in-person trauma sensitivity training for yoga instructors for several years, contributing a workshop on trauma sensitive meditation and chakra work. Zabie has now made this course available as an online offering, and included a self-healing module sexual trauma survivors may work through on their own.

May both the feminine and masculine within you be healed, empowered, and integrated

May this radiate out into the world, becoming part of the shifts occurring there

May we all know ourselves as whole, happy, and healthy

6 Comments leave one →
  1. Joni permalink
    July 10, 2017 3:57 pm

    Interesting to contemplate it in this way- how we as women can heal in relationship to the masculine within us. I have always thought in terms of yin and yang within us all, and I think feminine ways of being have been lost and need to be reclaimed for us to continue as a species. I had not thought so much about how I may feed into damaging patterns in terms of my expectations and judgements of men.
    Good chakra exercise thank you.

  2. Anonymous permalink
    July 11, 2017 12:21 am

    You did not talk about the trauma we have caused our young men over the decades by sending them into combat and not taking care of them when they come back…and now we are doing this to our young women to…when will we learn

  3. July 11, 2017 3:34 pm

    Hi Joni, I think as you do, in terms of what we have previously labelled ‘feminine’ ways of being as being lost…connection to the earth, knowing ourselves as part of nature, receptivity, engagement, etc. as opposed to the sharp divisiveness and separation that dominates our ways of being now, in relation to each other and the earth. I think it’s all connected. We each need to heal the masculine and empower the feminine within us, and a day may come when it no longer makes sense to talk in these terms. Lisa

  4. July 11, 2017 3:36 pm

    Hi Anonymous, yes I work with trauma survivors, although primarily sexual trauma as opposed to battle trauma, but I have studied the effects of both, and you are so right, we have legions of young men suffering, and we see the results in the rising rates of suicide and domestic abuse amongst veterans. And in an increasing number of women veterans as well. Lisa

  5. August 11, 2017 8:19 pm

    Great post! Thanks for adding a hands-on-exercise. Will definitely try it out! Have you heard of Inner Parts work? I find that it’s a wonderful tool to integrate hurt parts of the psyche, be it in men or women. Interestingly enough, many of those parts are female, others male…so it’s all about becoming whole again, or remembering your inherent wholeness, isn’t it? Wonderful to learn from you, thanks again.

  6. August 17, 2017 8:52 pm

    Hi gypsy, glad you liked it. I have not specifically heard of Inner Parts, but there are many modalities now focused on integrating the male and female parts of our psyche, so I’m glad to hear about another. It is important, deep work. – Lisa

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