Last week, I led a talk and guided meditation for a co-working event at CNTRL that explored the importance of balancing our masculine and feminine energy.* If you're not familiar with this topic, it's a worthy one to investigate.
In a nutshell – regardless of our biological sex, we all have a mix of masculine and feminine energy, and we need both in our daily lives. Masculine energy is characterized by DOING and achieving and is molded by logic and reason. The feminine is more intuitive, oriented towards receiving and allowing, and characterized by BEING.
When these energies are balanced, we experience a greater sense of harmony and fulfillment. When they're askew, we feel more friction and stress in everyday life.
Personally speaking, I've found this DOING/BEING balance a hard one to strike. We live in a world that values doing and achieving above all else, and honestly I have a lot of pride in being a doer. I can get shi* done and I love it. I hurtle myself into the productivity luge and I'm off to the races. Wooooeeee!!! Go me.
Four years out of college and into my career, I started to develop serious gut issues. I couldn't digest the foods I used to, and I had stomach cramps pretty much all the time. I was diagnosed with IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome) and for the next 2+ years, I tried every elimination diet, probiotic, and food allergy test on the market to no avail. It was disheartening and uncomfortable and finally gave up on "figuring it out" and surrendered to living with the condition. Interestingly, around the same time, I began to notice correlations between my workload and my gut problems. Every time I went on vacation or to a meditation retreat, my symptoms would vastly improve. Then I started to notice improvements during weekends. Over time (I'm still sad to acknowledge how long this took) I was able to see the connection that was there all along: my tenacious productivity – my greatest source of pride and purpose – was also the source of my illness.
When I finally realized this, I knew something had to shift. I began to see that endless productivity wasn't the holy grail of life, nor the measure of my self worth. I realized that prioritizing being amidst doing is a critical part of creating a balanced, healthy life. Not just on vacation or weekends, but every single day.
Meditation is the most effective practice I've found to help me shift out of doing and relax into being. In the space of practice, I'm reminded that it's okay to allow things to unfold, instead of always directing or controlling them. I'm able to hear my intuitive voice beneath my frenetic left-brain chatter. I'm also more connected to my body and its signals. When my IBS flares up, I know I need to slow down. Now, I choose to pause and meditate (even for 5 minutes) instead of pushing through, and I feel the benefits immediately. In neuroscience terms, meditation calms our nervous system, shifting the body out of fight or flight (doing) and into rest and digest (being). This shift supports so many aspects of our health, from improved blood pressure and digestion, to boosted immunity and sound sleep.
When I nurture my feminine energy, I also discover a wellspring of creativity, beauty, joy, and power. Resources I'm able to draw from when I shift back into doing. This is a central part of my current practice – exploring how to infuse being energy into all of the doing. Instead of taking small timeouts during the day and then throttling back into the productivity grind, I'm learning to be more intentional about how I work. Is it possible to weave the benefits I see on the cushion (relaxed tension, a sense of spaciousness, awareness of my surroundings, deeper breathing, feelings of trust) into writing a blog post or drafting a budget? Can I balance both my masculine and feminine energy, so I can get a lot done while also maintaining a baseline of ease? I think so.
This balance is something I continue to explore and cultivate, and wanted to share a few tips below that support me along the way. You'll see the emphasis is on the feminine/being, since this seems to be what most of us modern folks need. (If you're seeking more masculine/doing energy, download the free resource guide – it has some good tips for beginning to activate your masculine energy.)
Lastly, I’m learning that balancing these energies (or anything in life, for that matter) isn't something we accomplish and then check off the list. It’s a fluid and continuous process, so – trust your intuition, make lots of little adjustments as you go, remember self-compassion when you find yourself unbalanced, and perhaps most importantly, remember to have some fun!
9 Ways to Cultivate Your Feminine Energy
Add a 10-20 minute meditation to your daily routine. Let your intellect take a rest while you make space to connect with your body, your natural presence, and your intuition. Click here (or scroll to the top of the page) to listen to a guided relaxation practice that invites you to shift out of doing and into being.
Movement creates fluidity between your mind and body and shakes things up! Try dancing, stretching, or even going for a lighthearted stroll.
CHILL THE !#@% OUT
Take a bubble bath. Light some candles and slowly sip your favorite tea. Starfish on the floor and listen to soft music. Take time for you and only you. Let go of doing and simply BE.
Express yo'self! Let go of control and forget about the end product. Grab some paints, a lump of clay, anything, and immerse yourself in the joy of making solely to express your creative energy.
SPEND TIME IN NATURE
Nature moves at a much slower and steadier pace than our rushed and frantic modern lives. It is the perfect example of a doing/being balance, and when we spend time in nature, our minds and bodies can re-attune to the natural rhythms of life. Find a park or go on a hike and relax with all of the sounds, smells and sights. Take in the groundedness and steady presence of trees. Receive the feeling of sunshine on your skin. Welcome plants or flowers into your living space or office and regularly *pause* to appreciate their beauty and good energy.
Sharing is where vulnerability begins. When you open up and get real, from the heart, you open doors to connect more deeply with yourself and everyone around you.
Set aside a whole day where there's nothing on your agenda and let yourself wake up and FLOW through it. Don't plan anything, just let your body and intuition guide you to what's next, listening to what feels good.
TAKE A STRESS REDUCTION COURSE
The accredited 8-week Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction course offered through Pause (in-person and live virtual) can help you develop your inner resources to better manage life's stressors, find greater meaning, and live with more ease. Click here to learn more about our upcoming programs!
JOIN THE PAUSE COMMUNITY
Join an inspiring, open-hearted community of modern meditators. We offer in-person AND virtual live meditation classes, courses, and programs to support you in every sphere of your life. A thriving community and knowledgable guides will support you in building and deepening your meditation practice and creating the conditions to realize a greater balance of your masculine and feminine energies. Click here to learn more!
Want to learn more? Read Rena's latest blog post: The Fullness of Joy
* The concepts of masculine and feminine energy have been around for thousands of years and are central to many wisdom traditions. They have more recently become part of our contemporary discourse (HuffPost, Elephant Journal, People Matters Global, The Law of Balance)
About the Author
Rena founded Pause with her partner Ryan in 2015 to help people find a greater sense of peace within themselves. As a striving A-type and a lifelong overachiever, Rena leaned into meditation as a source of healing and a way to find greater balance and ease. Her practice continues to have a profound impact in every sphere of her life.
She brings 16 years of personal practice, a degree in business, and health coaching experience to her teaching. She is a qualified Mindfulness-based Stress Reduction teacher and trained professionally with the Mindfulness Centers at Brown and UMASS. Through work with thousands of meditators, she is amazed and inspired by the depth of support these practices offer. Rena currently guides classes for the Pause Studio® based in Portland, Oregon, and facilitates Pause at Work® programs and resilience trainings for corporations, nonprofit organizations, schools, and hospitals worldwide.
Beyond her work with Pause, Rena enjoys camping, Irish + hip-hop dancing, and loving her amazing family. Her favorite place to meditate is in the sunshine.