The Feminine Path to Wellness
A Feminine Path is a somatically-based, holistic health philosophy that acknowledges and honours a vital but often forgotten aspect of humans – the Feminine.
This energy, characteristic and quality is part of humans and nature
It’s acknowledged in ancient traditional cultures, but hasn’t held a place, been valued or understood in Western culture and modern life.
Modern medicine and Western society is influenced by a metaphor that goes back to the 1500s. In the early days of the Scientific Revolution, scientists and philosophers tried to make sense of how the natural world, the cosmos, and humans worked. The idea that the universe was like a clock that operated mechanically was extended to humans; so the body was seen as a machine.
The machine metaphor is foundational to how we think of our bodies and ourselves. Coupled with a culture that over-values the Masculine and systems of patriarchy, we are out of balance in not valuing the Feminine principle.
How can we be healthy when we think of ourselves as machines and undervalue half of our inherent nature – the Feminine.
This body-as-a-machine perspective either dismisses or minimizes the importance of: emotions, feelings, intuition, play, creativity, the unseen, subjectivity, and the senses. It’s harmful personally and collectively because it isn’t true. This way of thinking doesn’t acknowledge that we are part of nature. And it perpetuates our disconnection from the environment.
Scientific theories and our understanding of the universe show that we are part of the universe. We are made of stardust – literally.
Food and body issues are a symptom of this disconnect from nature, the mechanical view of the body, patriarchy, and the imbalance of the Feminine and Masculine in our culture.
Our models for fitness encourage hard work, pushing limits, and a “no pain no gain” mentality, which has been understood to burn more calories resulting in weight loss. From a mechanical perspective, food is fuel and you burn it. To manage our taste for the foods that we actually want, we have been told to use willpower to control our appetite. The reality is far more complicated.
Women struggle with food, their body, fitness and well-being because of this mechanistic and overly-masculine way of approaching health. There is no room or acknowledgement of monthly cycles, pregnancy or menopause. We’re conditioned not to trust in ourselves or our senses, to know what kind of movement feels good, or what foods feel right in our body.
Aside from our direct experience of our body is the influence of patriarchy on society.
The conditioning and experiences that shape women’s relationship with their body, their being. (Language is always tricky when speaking of the body because it is us, not a vehicle we are riding around in.) Naturally we will feel disconnected from our body if we were taught that it was sinful. When you are told that crying is weak and good girls don’t get angry, the threads of your feelings that connect and anchor you to yourself aren’t reliable and are rejected.
The meaning of food and eating extends so far beyond “fuel”. Food can be comfort, love and safety, and, dangerous, bad, and the enemy. In patriarchal cultures where women learn their real value is their beauty, youth and fertility, eating is a slippery slope to gaining weight and being devalued. Am I oversimplifying? Yes and no. Essentially, for women who struggle with food and their body – appearance, weight, or age – there is a role that this larger conditioning plays.
Dieting and focusing on what we eat is not the answer. Sticking with an exercise program for the sole purpose of being seen as desirable and worthy of love, will not give women an unconditional and deep sense of their inherent worth, or foster self-love.
The Feminine Path speaks to this missing piece of the puzzle in women’s wellness.
It acknowledges that we are part of nature and the cosmos. This health philosophy speaks to the influences of patriarchy and mechanism so we can understand ourselves and heal the parts of ourselves that have been wounded by this disconnect from nature and our whole self.
The Feminine – feelings, the felt-sense of your body, being/stillness, gentleness/softness, the creative, intuition, rest, receiving, play and chaos. These qualities and states are not valued in our society to the extent that the Masculine is valued and seen as being better or correct. I help women recognize, validate and integrate these aspects of their being to experience better health and wellness. When the Masculine aspect – structure, doing, giving, thinking – of our being is utilized in a healthy way, we often find the “balance” that we are seeking in our stress-filled lives.
I use this approach to address food and body issues because it looks at the roots of the larger problem and deeper wounds that women are actually needing to heal. We need a new paradigm in Western culture that includes modern medicine and soul medicine, equally.
How is the Feminine Path different from the diet culture approach?
Diet culture has instilled many disempowering beliefs and myths about food, eating and exercise. There is an underlying belief that only the health experts and latest discovery will give you the answer you are seeking.
Women frequently believe that something is wrong with them and that is why they can’t figure out this food and weight battle. Dieting mentality is so deeply ingrained that some women do not know any other way of eating. Feeling guilty about eating “bad” food isn’t given a second thought. Putting life on hold until that magic number on the scale is reached, or believing that happiness, self-worth, confidence, and attractiveness will come when you reach a certain size.
Diet culture perpetuates the mechanistic and overly-masculine way of thinking about fitness or weight loss. Focusing on counting and burning calories. The mentality of“no pain no gain” or “Just Do It” doesn’t mention any time off for menstruation.
Diet culture is part of our normal conversation. “Cheating”. “Treating”. Being “bad”. Waiters who imply you are being naughty when they ask if you would like to see the dessert menu. Guilt and food are almost synonymous, unless what you are eating is a “healthy choice”. Then you are “being good”.
Dieting and food programs place the authority for what is good for you as being outside of you. This pattern of deferring to experts, that someone else knows your body best, I believe, is disempowering in the long run.
When weight loss or one’s individual level of fitness happens organically as a by-product of self-love, self-esteem and healing, that is empowering, satisfying and sustainable.