I've been a teacher and coach for almost ten years now. I teach courses on the creative process... meaning how we live creatively. I don't teach art. I help people on their journey to knowing who and what they really are, and then living that in the world; in other words, how to be most powerfully and joyfully you.
What I've come to see is that it is very easy to get caught in a belief that we must BE extraordinary and that we must DO extraordinary things in order to change the world. To the parts of ourselves that worry we are not enough, this can unconsciously create a kind of 'project'... a push to try harder, be more, strive in a way that takes us away from rather than helping us settle into our most powerful place... who and what we have always been, and already, really are.
In my experience as a teacher and coach, I've come to see that we are empowered, meaning most powerful, when we are fully and unabashedly what we truly -- and already -- are. We are actually least powerful when we are trying to be something we are not.
Everything in nature is simply what it is... trees, mountains, water, animals... they simply are what they are. Yet humans seem to have a hard time doing this. We judge ourselves. We judge others. We have the ability to self-reflect and when we are young we tend to come to believe who and what we are is not enough, is flawed, is in some way wrong. We create false identities to cover up this deep wounding around our sense of worth.
Consider how much energy it takes to cover up who you really are, constantly try to convince yourself that who you are pretending to be is who you really are, then attempting to be that in the world. No wonder we are only living a small percentage of our power!
Yet, as Deena Metzger so wisely points out, "Beauty appears when something is completely and absolutely and openly itself." When we can no longer stomach lying to ourselves, we begin to wake up... unless we are awakened, first, by life.
Beauty is not what we've been taught it is. Beauty is the sacred revealing itself in the world of form. And when we reveal ourselves exactly as we are, we are living the sacred right here, right now. We are living in congruency and integrity. We are living in harmony with life, serving life for the wellbeing of all of life.
What does this have to do with women's empowerment? Everything.
Being Fully You
For a woman to be powerful, she must be free to be completely, openly and unabashedly a woman. For a woman to be completely and absolutely and openly herself, she must step out from this system that holds her as less than, a system that incorporates laws and rules, beliefs and institutions that attempt to keep her disempowered. If our system didn't do this, we wouldn't keep having these very important conversations.
This disempowerment happens in so many ways -- both big and small. In one class I teach annually in the fall, we talk about gender differences with regard to creativity and leadership. During one of our classes, I spoke separately with the women in the course. As we began to explore the question of what gets in the way of the students being fully and wholly creative, one woman spoke up about having to 'translate' at work. I asked her to explain. She began to talk about how she had to translate her own feminine language into language that would be 'acceptable' in the corporate environment. As she told her story, suddenly the other women began to nod. And then they began to say, "Me, too." They looked at each other with wide-open eyes, beginning to understand that they weren't alone.
When we merged back into the full class, the women explained this 'translating' to the men, and the men honestly looked surprised, almost incredulous that the women were experiencing this. The men didn't understand, and it wasn't a lack of empathy. These were good men. This realization put succinctly into words was eye opening for them, as well.
So why do women have to translate?
Because the system has been created to honor masculine ways of being, while at the same time holding feminine ways of being as anything from silly to sinful. These masculine and feminine ways are in all of us, yet women embody the feminine, which makes us visible representations in real life of that which the system considers less-than.
For a moment, consider what it takes for women to have to navigate a world where how they instinctively and intuitively experience life is not seen as a viable, positive, powerful way to be in the world.
As women, we have our own kind of wisdom, our own ways of seeing the world, but our ways are not reflected prominently in the culture. I've grown up learning that how I organically move in the world should be silenced rather than embodied and celebrated. I began to wonder what it is I'd forgotten. And as I remembered what had been forgotten, I began to feel a natural power from within, an organic power.
Women's ways, and ways of the feminine, are not valued in this culture. What would we have access to if they were? What other ways of being and thinking and creating would we have to utilize to find solutions to the world's problems if we did? These are the questions we must ask ourselves.
For a woman to be completely and absolutely and openly herself, we, as a culture, must come to terms with our fear of the feminine, within ourselves and within each other. Doing so will not only open women to their deep nature, it will also invite men to begin to accept the feminine within themselves.
As D.H. Lawrence said, "The future of humanity will be decided not by relations between nations, but by relations between men and women."
Do we have the courage to open our hearts to a new way of relationship with each other? To the feminine? To the sacred? To life itself?
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