One of the most important aspects of my awakening has been balancing the masculine and feminine inside me and of my experience of the environment. This feels like one of the most fundamentally important messages that needs to be shared with the world right now.
Before we start, I just want to clear up a couple of common misconceptions. We all have the masculine and feminine within each of us. The masculine has been dominant in recent history, which is reflected in pretty much every individual and culture around the world.
There is a time and a place to bring awareness to how this impacts differently on men and women, but in this space that is not what I’m talking about. I’m presenting a concept for a way in which the world would be a better place for everyone if we can balance these things within us and without us. We can all work together to create a more balanced and joyful society.
Every aspect of reality has a masculine and feminine presentation of it. There is a way where you can see this as dualistic, like two threads that are weaving together to make a cloth, or you can see it as non-dualistic, like the dark and light side of the moon. Whatever works best for you.
The way in which I have heard the representation of these described best is with the analogy of a storm lamp. The masculine is the flame and the feminine is the glass container that holds the space around the flame. Without one or the other, the storm lamp would be redundant.
When we are going out into the world and doing manual labour, the masculine is the active role. It is the part of us that is hunting, gathering, building, exploring, moving etc. The feminine is the passive role. It is holding the space for us to return to, the resting, recovering, eating etc.. In a tribal culture, we would have been using our masculine parts when we were hunting and gathering and our feminine parts when we were tending the fort, keeping the fire alive and overseeing the children.
We have a tendency to relate ‘active’ with better and more difficult and ‘passive’ with worse and easier. The passive roles are equally as important and often just as hard work, they just tend to happen without us overthinking them too much. They can more naturally flow out of us.
The thing we don’t seem to have quite grasped yet, is that these things are reversed when we are going into our inner worlds and creating stuff there. Our society and economy is a lot more reliant on our inner worlds than in the rest of history. Any work that is intellectual or creative relies on us going inside and bringing out what we find there. This includes anything like writing emails, creating media, designing products or systems, customer service, managing people etc. We are bringing our ideas and personality out into the world as opposed to more manual work where we are going out and bringing what we find back.
With inner work, the active role is holding the space and the passive role is letting the ideas and thoughts flow out of us.
I created a lot of content from my awakening. I have received some lovely comments from people about it (which I love getting by the way) and some people have asked about my process for writing. The truth is, it all pretty much wrote itself.
I collated, wrote and edited my book of poetry in about 5 days. Half of the poems I’d already written, half of them I wrote in this time. I wrote the almost 15,000 word dissertation-equivalent about my awakening in 3 days. There wasn’t a huge amount of thought or editing that went into any of it, I just let it flow right out of me.
I feel almost embarrassed sharing this. I feel like it will either provoke some kind of jealousy in people or devalue the worth of the content that I produced. But this is at the bottom of how we firstly, value the masculine element more than the feminine, and secondly, don’t have a clear view of the ways in which they play out in inner work.
In order to get to the point where those things flowed out of me I spent months holding the sacred space of my body and experience. This was a huge amount of active and engaged work, more than I possibly could have imagined, that took a lot of skill and experience and knowledge. During the process, I reaped the fruits of my labour by letting the words and ideas flow out of me. The work went into building a strong and clear container, which now allows the flame to burn freely inside.
It is worth saying that in the lead up to creating both of these big pieces of work, I spent time talking about my experiences with people. They held a space for me to sort through what was going on in my inner world, untangle some of the knots and focus on what is important. This is a vital element to holding space that is at best undervalued and at worst completely ignored in our society. Great designers and artists and innovators are only capable of creating amazing things because the environment they are in and the people around them hold the space for them to be able to achieve this.
I find doing this for other people one of the most rewarding and incredible things to spend my time on. It’s amazing to see someone explore, clarify and bring out their inner flame. I always value it when I find other people who are willing to do it for me.
When we are doing inner work, our job is not to dictate what we want to get out of it. This would be an expression of the patriarchy – rather than holding space for what is there (the feminine) we are telling ourselves what we think should be there (an unhealthy expression of the masculine).
It’s actually impossible to do this, so when we fall into this trap, we end up just reacting to our circumstances like a series of molecules in a chemical experiment. You can see it in any office setting, as emails ping-pong around with tasks being passed from one person to another. Everyone is desperate to achieve the thing they think they need to achieve. There is no value being created by the individuals, we may as well be machines.
If we want our truest expressions to come from the inside out, then we have to be willing to hold the space around this. Sometimes this means saying no to lots of things that are distracting us. Sometimes this means creating space where we feel relaxed and comfortable. Sometimes this means processing trauma inside of us so we can liberate some of our inner resources and energy.
Once we have done this then the masculine within us has a healthy environment to express itself through the ideas and thoughts and concepts that flow through us and out. Most creative people I know have their own flavour of the concept that the things they create don’t really come from them – it’s more like they are the conduit for the idea.
This is not an easy thing to do. Holding space takes guts and energy and is a very active role, especially in our society. People always want you to be doing things. Hats off to the people in the office who say, ‘I’m going to go and sit in a room for an hour just to let this percolate through me’.
Meditation can be a really nice way to actively hold space; carving out some time for holding the sacred space that is our bodies and experience. The trouble is, a lot of meditation these days has a hyper-masculine, productivity undercurrent to it. With ideas about getting more productive or more calm or more focused if we meditate more. These things can happen, but the opposite can also happen. We can wake up to how we are actually feeling, which may be that we are totally knackered and in need of months of rest.
If we adopt too much of a strict technique or expectation of what we hope to get out of a meditation session, then we are just putting more things into our experience, which will cause more reactions in us.
What we actually need to do is carve out time for us to just be. This sounds super simple, but it’s a really active and difficult thing to do. There are all sorts of stuff from the outside that are going to be trying to hook us and things we need to ‘do’ to hold the space effectively, like open our hearts to difficult experiences to allow us to process trauma.
This is why we need techniques and guidance to help us, but the purpose should be to build a space that allows you to connect with your inner experience, not to dictate what that inner experience should be.
Friends have come to me to ask about their practice and said that they sometimes fall asleep when they meditate. My response is that they probably need to use that time to sleep. Holding space is about making room for whatever is there to be expressed.
The active is holding the space, the passive is letting the thoughts and feelings flow through us. The active is offering our bodies compassion, the passive is letting the emotions and feelings shift and change and express themselves.
The flip side to my hyper-fast expressions of creativity is that I spend a huge amount of time procrastinating. I have resigned myself to the fact that I am almost never doing the thing I think I should be doing. Things are ready to come out when they’re ready to come out and there’s no way to dictate that. I’ve had to turn projects down, miss deadlines and let lots of things go in order to protect my sacred space.
It is also worth saying that not all meditation is inner work. In my experience, about half of the meditation I’ve done is going out into the collective conscious and shared awareness and expanding my comfort zone. In this form of meditation the active role is the masculine. We are exploring, adventuring and questioning the way in which we connect with the world.
The passive element is the feminine. It is getting our bodies to a state where we feel we can put them aside and let them do their thing, without having to worry about it. We can trust that we will be able to come back to them, while we play with how we perceive the world and what information we are bringing back into our experience.
Again, it isn’t super helpful to dictate to people what their experience should be with this form of meditation either. A healthy expression of the masculine would be giving it permission to go exploring and giving it pointers and tips of where it could go and what it could look for.
In summary, balancing the masculine and feminine within us is not an easy thing to do. There is a huge amount of pressure on us to conform to the hyper-productive patriarchal mindset that permeates our beings, but the rewards are huge. If we can learn to do these things we will create a world in which we are expressing our inner-most desires as much as we are reacting to our environments. We may work a lots less hard and get a lot less ‘done’ but the world can become a beautiful expression of human creativity and care.
These are the main things we need to rebalance in our society in order to achieve this:
- Greater respect for the more passive elements of life. The things that flow naturally out of us, like taking care of children, are often some of the things in life that are the hardest work. This needs to be recognised as work and be valued in the same way.
- Trusting in our natural capacity to do ‘passive’ things. As humans we naturally know how to take care of people. By having fixed ideas about how they should behave or what they should achieve we are railroading this capacity and turning something that could be a passive, natural ability into a reactive state, like being really forceful about the ways children learn and what they learn.
- An understanding that when we are doing intellectual or creative work, it is holding the space that is the active role. We need to put time, effort and resources into holding space in our lives. If we do this, we can trust that our inner work will flow out of us and we will create things that are more valuable and meaningful to ourselves and wider society, rather than continuing the ping-pong race of productivity for productivity’s sake.
- Valuing things for how important they feel to us and how much they mean to us, rather than a perceived worth. From the outside, there was no way to explain to people what I was going through and why I was doing it. I did it because it felt important. This happens all the time in small ways now, sometimes it feels important to just sit on the sofa and have a cup of tea for 4 hours. You have to learn to value and trust your inner guidance.
- Respecting other people’s time. We need to take the pressure off each other to be super productive all the time. Become a champion for lazing around and learn to cut people slack if they’re not getting the thing done that you want them to get done.
- Learn to hold space for each other and see the immense amount of value this provides. Great inventions and ideas don’t come from lone-sheep, they come from people who are well-supported by their environments and the people around them.
- In meditation practice getting super clear on whether we are doing inner work or expanding our consciousness and applying our energy appropriately. Focusing on holding the space for inner work and on exploring our experiences for outer work.