It is our nature to embody both masculine and feminine qualities, however in our past history and culture, we have witnessed an over-emphasis on the masculine energies which have dominated our world and has brought us off-balance, evidenced today by our state of chronic stress.
Many of the wrongs and injustices in our society today, as well as the destruction of the planet, can be traced directly to the lost feminine. Some believe that today we are in need of embracing more the feminine aspects within us all, such as being nurturing and receptive, which in the past have been perceived as weak. We live in a culture that has given overwhelming preponderance to the masculine value and to mind – and has neglected many aspects of the feminine value, above all, the deepest longings of the human heart. Technological progress, scientific advance and political power have become the supreme goals. The human mind has virtually replaced God: it no longer recognizes a dimension of reality beyond the physical universe, nor any form of consciousness transcendent to its own. The culture is driven by a predatory and rapacious ethos of competitive struggle and the pursuit of power, conquest and control.
Attributes in both men and women that are commonly labeled feminine–such as relational, creative, intuitive, cooperative, and nurturing are neglected in males and often disparaged in females, leading to a psychological imbalance. The paradigm of Western society is based on a hierarchical, dominator point of view that overlooks the balance and value that integrating masculine and feminine aspects can bring to a society based on equality and partnership.
Yin and Yang
The Yang is the expression of our masculine energy, while the Yin is the expression of our feminine energy. At the most basic level, Yang (or masculine energy) is the outflowing of creative energy. This is the energy you feel when you are moving your energy out into the world, focused on completing a task, and associated with the practical, logical thinking of the left hemisphere of the brain, as well as an extroverted personality.
The Yin (or feminine) is the receiving, or inward flow of energy. This is the energy you feel when exploring your inner landscape. Associated with the right hemisphere of the brain, this energy engages your feelings and intuition, is active when creating intimacy with another person, using your imagination, and being at peace with what is. Most of us oscillate in and out of these two energies throughout our day depending on what we are doing and who we are interacting with.
Masculine (Yang) Qualities are characterized by:
- action oriented
Feminine (Yin) Qualities are characterized by:
- instinctual wisdom
Do you resonate more with the feminine or masculine aspects of yourself? Notice if you feel balanced or preferring one or the other.
Often times, however, through familial and societal conditioning, many of us learn to become overly identified with either our Yang or Yin energy. When we forget that we have both masculine and feminine energy within, imbalance manifests in our thoughts, emotions, and physical body. By understanding our energy system better, we can consciously change the way we flow our energy. Having a balanced energy system naturally allows for emotional healing, and is important for overall holistic health.
Signs of Imbalance Signs of Yin deficiency (excess of Yang energy) Anxiety, hyperactivity, frustration, overly controlling, feeling burnt out, anger, aggressiveness, feeling overly competitive, feeling overwhelmed and agitated, overly confident, inability to relax, and overly critical and judgmental. When we cut ourselves off from the Yin/feminine energy we lose our ability to fluidly move and adapt to our circumstances, be receptive to others, and connect with our creative inspiration. Instead of feeling peaceful and rested throughout our day, we become rigid, agitated and overextended. There is a feeling of continutally needing to keep moving and keep doing.
Sings of Yang deficiency (excess of Yin energy) Depression, stagnation, feeling overwhelmed, tired, listless, hopeless, confused, submissive, feeling weak and lifeless, feelings of jealousy, obsessive compulsive thoughts, lack of confidence, and feelings of low self esteem. When we cut ourselves off from our masculine energy, we have a hard time creating the experiences that we want in the world. We lose sight of our goals, lose inspiration to create the things that we want for ourselves, and can slip into depression and hopelessness.
Healing the ‘Whole’ Within Ourselves to Heal Society
The devaluing of the feminine in our partriarchal, dominator society has not only hurt women, but wrought untold damage on our sons, our brothers, our fathers, our lovers, and our husbands. It is important to understand that the manifestation of Divinity in female form carries unimaginable potential for impact on our society. Reclaiming and restoring the feminine is crucial to the survival of the human race, and the planet as we know it. The feminine principle, as an aspect of human consciousness, must be retrieved, integrated, and brought back into full complementary balance with the masculine principle if we are ever to achieve a harmonious balance between these two basic and essential ways of experiencing life. Ultimately, and always, by healing the mothers (women in our society) we will also be able to heal the imbalance suffered by men . . . our sons, husbands, fathers, brothers, and lovers.
As we start a new millennium, we once again find ourselves at a pivotal point in cultural evolution. We have nearly decimated the planet in our drive to dominate and control the forces of nature. We have displaced and destroyed millions of people in the pursuit of conquest. The social fabric of our society has been devastated by the strangulation of domination. Depression as I am sure you are aware, affects some 25% of women and 12% of men in this country. Faced with an iron curtain of denial, many people feel a deep, inarticulate despair. They feel something is radically out of order. The fear used to control humanity for the past four thousand years has finally turned on itself and is destroying our society and our children.
I think the distress and disorientation of so many people comes from the fact that there is nothing beyond the horizon of the human mind to give them a sense of relationship with and participation in the life of the universe and the life of the planet. Men and women and, above all, children, are increasingly becoming the victims of a harsh, competitive, uncaring ethos: women, in their desire to enter a world still entirely controlled by men and because the feminine value has no clear definition or recognition in our culture, are drawn to copy the model offered by men and the obsessive focus on power, control and achievement. This naturally creates great anxiety and stress. Above all, there is no time for relationships.
When there is too great a repression of an instinctive need and an obsession with power and control, whether in an individual or in a culture, there will be an increasing polarization of opposites and, eventually, a volcanic eruption of feeling.
In the past, the word soul carried great meaning: the work of the greatest artists, architects, musicians, poets and mystics connected people with the soul. Today, the focus of our culture is entirely on the external world. It knows nothing of an inner, imaginal life, or of how to connect with an invisible reality. What connects us to soul? Two aspects of our nature: our instincts and our heart. What part of the body do you touch when someone asks “Where is the seat of your feeling?” Most people instinctively touch their heart or the centre of their chest. The heart mediates the instinctive longing to seek relationship with the universe. It is precisely through our instinctive longing to understand, our capacity to feel and to imagine that we are most closely connected to nature and the cosmos. It is feeling and intuition which make the connection with a reality beyond the reach of the conscious mind, acting like a plug connecting us to the socket of that deeper reality.
Carl Jung was a shaman, a visionary and a pioneer in this field. He saw his life work as building a bridge between two dimensions of reality so that there could be an interchange, a dialogue, a relationship between them. He felt that the integration of the lost or neglected feminine principle with the dominant masculine one was crucially important to the survival of our species. He believed that as long as mind and instinctive soul, conscious and unconscious were dissociated from one another, the dissociation would be projected into countless conflicts in our personal relationships and the wider world.
The feminine principle carries the instinctive, feeling values traditionally associated with the heart or the soul; the masculine principle carries the questing, goal-defining, ordering, discriminating qualities associated with rational mind or intellect. For several thousand years women have carried the principle of soul and the feeling values of the heart; men have carried the principle of mind – the ability to conceive ideas and the power to bring them into manifestation in the world. But now, there is a deep impulse to “marry” these two great principles within ourselves and our culture, to become both healed and whole. This invites a much greater insight into and a more compassionate understanding of our nature. It is very difficult for men to trust feelings long regarded as inferior to the rational mind. But it is also very difficult for women, having for so long been regarded as inferior and emotionally unstable, to trust their deepest feelings, even to be aware of them.
How to Regain Balance
There are many techniques for developing greater balance between the masculine and feminine energy. The first step to regaining balance is to begin a practice of mindful awareness.
Begin paying attention to your thoughts. Notice the energy of your thoughts, and associated feelings and behavioral patterns. Whenever you are in a state of negativity or stress (either outwardly or inwardly) notice wether your energy is excessively Yang or excessively Yin. The first step is to simply take notice of what energy is flowing through you at any given time when you become imbalanced. By paying greater attention to your internal state during moments of distress, and identifying the Yin or Yang energy imbalance, you can begin to make more conscious choices about what energies to focus your attention on.
This first step of paying greater attention is very important, and can take some time as you deepen your self awareness in regards to the sometimes subtle distinction in the Yin and Yang energies within. As you identify which energy is imbalanced, consciously engage in an activity that channels the other energy.
This may seem like common sense, but it can take some remembering in the moment. For instance, in a moment when you feel stressed out, stop whatever you are doing and breathe, allow yourself to go inward for a moment and connect to your breath. In a moment when you are feeling stagnant and depressed, get up and move your body around. Take some big breathes and get your blood flowing. These are great first steps to begin consciously working with your energy.
The Yin and Yang energies not only exist within the human energy field, but within all of life around us. These two energies are constantly moving in and out of flux, creating balance in the universe. Known as the Balance Point in Chinese Medicine, our internal energy seeks this same balance. We can see these cycles of energy within the human experience as we are constantly creating and destroying, birthing and dying, opening and closing.
Often we externalize our masculine/feminine imbalances in our relationships, attempting to balance out our partner (often the cause of much conflict in relationship). We sometimes seek an opposite sex partner to feel more whole if we are off-balance within ourselves. The more we balance our feminine and masculine energies within us, the more we are able to attract a healthy and balanced partner where we can come into a relationship both whole and not in relationship out of “neediness” to feel whole.
Beginning to understand your own masculine and feminine energy is the start of healing the divide within you. The Yin/Yang energy always seeks balance, and healing is the process of getting out of the way and allowing it to happen. As we do, we allow for our spiritual development, energy healing, and greater holistic health.
Notice if any of the above qualities in you require more practice or development and choose to bring more of those qualities into your every day being.
The New Paradigm
The last 50 years have seen the birth and growth of a new paradigm – a paradigm of reconnection born of the longing of the human heart for a different way of living and a different vision of reality than that offered by either reductionist science or conventional religion. It can be seen as an evolutionary awakening of global proportions, a reconnection with the soul: the activation of the feminine principle expressed as the law of relationship and love. Jung said that “the ultimate fate of every dogma is that it gradually becomes soulless…When a dogma loses its vitality, it must perforce activate the archetype that has always helped man to express the mystery of the soul.”
This awakening is summed up in the words of Chris Clarke, Professor of Mathematical Studies at Southampton University:
“I believe now that our fractured society is longing for a world in which the unity of humanity and the cosmos, the wholeness of body, soul and spirit and the unity of the masculine and feminine principles is valued, in which meaning is restored.”
The awakening of the soul is helping us to formulate a new vision of reality. It is a vision that takes us beyond an outworn paradigm where we were held in bondage to beliefs and attitudes specific to race, nation, religion or gender. It is a vision that offers us a totally new concept of spirit as an energy field – a cosmic sea of being – as well as the creative consciousness or organising intelligence of that sea or field, and a totally new concept of ourselves as belonging to and participating in that consciousness. It is a vision that recognises the sacredness and indissoluble unity of life and imposes on us the responsibility to become far more sensitive to the effects of our decisions and our actions. It invites our recognition of the needs of the planet and the life it sustains as primary, with ourselves as the conscious servants of those needs. Above all, it is a vision that asks that we relinquish our addiction to violence and the pursuit of power; that we become more aware of the dark shadow cast by this addiction which threatens us with ever more barbarism, bloodshed and suffering, leading ultimately to the possible extinction of our species.
The crisis of our times is not only an ecological crisis but a soul crisis. The answers we seek will not come from the limited consciousness which now rules the world but from a deeper understanding born of the union of heart and head, bringing the recognition that all life is one, that each one of us is a marvel, an atom in a cosmic body of immeasurable extent. The urgent need for this psychic balance, this profound intelligence and insight, this wholeness, is helping us recover a perspective on life that has been increasingly lost until we have come to live without it – and without even noticing it has gone – recognising nothing beyond the human mind. It is a dangerous time because it involves the disintegration of long-entrenched belief systems and institutions. But it is also an immense opportunity for evolutionary advance, if only we can understand what is happening and why.
We can choose whether to imitate the patterns of the past, continuing to live our lives in servitude to the power principle, however subtly expressed, or we can choose relationship with life, respect for life, love of life, and the immense advance of consciousness we need to make to understand and serve its mystery. After so many billion years of evolution, it is simply unacceptable that the beauty and marvel of the earth should be ravaged by us through commercial greed, the destructive power of our weapons or the misapplication of our science and technology. It is inconceivable that our extraordinary species which has taken so many million years to develop a physical vehicle for consciousness out of the life of the planet, should destroy itself through a deliberate or inadvertent act of violence. The choice – and we do have a small measure of choice – is Ours.