Needless to say, we live in a very goal-oriented world. While being driven and goal-oriented are qualities worth applauding, it seems we have myopically opted to emphasize and celebrate those far more than the balancing qualities, such as taking one’s time, moving with intention and deliberation.
To that end, it is evident that we have elevated the masculine essence in our world more than the feminine essence.
Masculinity and femininity are qualities, and are not gender dependent. These qualities exist in all of nature and all of creation.
Today’s goal oriented world has resulted in a significant shift from the feminine essence to a predominantly masculine way of being. Seeded at the time of the onset of patriarchy and fueled by the age of industrialization, while it has brought a great deal of progress and innovation, it has disregarded it’s balancing counterpart, the feminine essence.
The masculine in each of us is that ability to be linear, focused, goal and action oriented. Meanwhile, the feminine in each of us represents a more all-encompassing, nurturing, slowing-down and savoring quality. The ability to access both these aspects is available to each individual. But of late, we have placed more weight and emphasis on linearity, intense focus and a goal driven attitude to life, rather than strive for a balance between both these qualities.
With the result that exhaustion and ‘burnout’ have become our default condition. Is it any wonder that a growing number of people are seeking anti-anxiety pills and suffering from depression, at not being able to meet the unending list of goals they have set out for themselves?
Favoring one aspect of our existence over another will inevitably cause a discrepancy not just within ourselves but in our outlook as well. For we project onto the world what we feel and experience inside. Therefore, it is important to realize that balance is necessary for each of us, regardless of gender, in order to maintain health – both physical and mental.
This cultivation and nurturing of the long abandoned feminine essence in ourselves just as much as our masculine essence, creates the inner harmony, which will undoubtedly affect the community, society and ultimately, the world at large.
But it is important that it starts with us.
By becoming aware of where we are favoring the masculine aspect in ours lives more than the feminine aspect, is a necessary starting point. Times when we can observe ourselves being more aggressive in our decisions, assertive in communication or action, being acutely goal oriented, working long hours relentlessly without taking adequate breaks, always driven by the need to lead others, never resting unless ready to collapse, all these point to the masculine drive. Though these qualities are undoubtedly commendable, an imbalance in our natural integrity towards both masculine and feminine leads to anxiety, stress, feelings of lack of self worth, and a sense of a lack of nurturing within. Similarly, too much emphasis on feminine qualities, receptivity which can become submissiveness, allowing others to always take the lead, taking too long to think, move and perform can result in feeling scattered and unstable, and also contribute to an unhealthy environment in the mind.
What is needed therefore is a balance between the two.
The healthy feminine essence in all of creation is the one that reflects, takes stock, slows down and absorbs. It’s that part of us that takes time to respond with compassion and is inclined to listen more than it is to speak. It is less outward and more inward, contemplative, gauging, assessing and moving deliberately. Feminine energy is the one that trusts the ‘flow’ of life. It is not obsessed with control and outcomes. It can let go and trust into the currents of life. Whereas the masculine side continues towards its goal unyieldingly. It is driven to ‘check off boxes’ rather than enjoying and savoring the journey to a desired destination.
In a society that prides itself on constantly working, producing and contributing to the economic machinery without halting, is it any wonder that our natural feminine instincts have become muted, dismissed and quite simply, overlooked? This lack of balance whether we realize it or not, has brought with it a host of disadvantages to our inner equanimity.
Both the masculine and feminine qualities are needed in order to function as a complete individual. We need to harness our masculine qualities in order to set out and achieve goals and move through our world, whilst instilling and nurturing the feminine qualities that ease and soothe our senses to maintain health and harmony.
There are times in life where one doesn’t have the leisure to linger but has to act immediately, and that is where our masculine qualities should be encouraged to dominate. A lot of the nuts and bolts of everyday living does require making lists, taking action steps and going out there and achieving goals. However, what seems to have happened is that in concentrating on those aspects, we have overlooked the critical necessity to slow down from time to time, lift our heads from our computers and digital devices and gaze outside the window to take in the view of the sky. Linger a little longer over a cup of coffee or give oneself the permission to turn off the lights earlier than usual and meditate before going to bed.
This way of being has become so pervasive that even women who wanted to get ahead in their work, felt that they needed to imbibe masculine qualities in order to succeed. It is as if, our race to the end is in essence the beginning of our own destruction. By making ‘achievements’ the bedrock of success, we have traveled far ahead in innovation and discovery but we have left behind a critical part of our own essence in the process.
Which is why, no matter how successful and innovative we become as a community, society or nation, some part of us will always feel unloved, uncared for and never fully complete. That is the sensitive, vulnerable part that had to be forsaken in this great race to the finish line. This lack of balance inside oneself has led to an anxiety ridden, perennially stressed culture.
A paradigm shift in the way we perceive the qualities of the feminine needs to be employed. Instead of seeing our need to slow down, nurture and nourish our bodies and souls as ‘lazy’ or ‘procrastinating,’ we need to understand that cultivating our inner world is just as important as emboldening our outer world is. Without this natural balance, we will forever be popping anti- anxiety pills and wondering why all the success has not been able bring sound mental health and a healthy body.
The way to bring balance in our lives is to notice where we are always on the go and ready to perform. And if this outward tendency prevails over our everyday life more than the need to know what it is to truly take a day off. This need to be outward should be cushioned in occasional moments of making space to drop into one’s emotions, understanding that a way to check in with oneself is the art of meditation, and practice some of that.
Becoming conscious of simple things leaving early, pacing oneself, taking in the view as opposed to racing and rushing when one is supposed to show up for a meeting will benefit the nervous system greatly. During a working lunch, instead of inhaling your food, bring attention to what you are eating, taste the food, really acknowledge the flavors before ingesting. That way you allow the food to actually nourish every cell of your body, instead of fulfilling the need to provide fuel to keep going. Or, maybe when you are working on your computer for long hours, play some classical music in the background. Allow yourself to step away from the screen and stretch, do a few sun salutations of yoga and then return to the screen.
Before starting an important work day, sleep early so you get adequate rest the night before. Try to go out and take a walk in nature, or in a nearby park, get some early morning sunlight into your pineal gland before sitting in front of your computer and starting your day. And similarly, for the end of the day, try to get some sunset light – absorbing both morning light and sunset light are good for your circadian rhythm and allow you to absorb and observe the simple and delightful things in our world. It doesn’t take much, mostly it just takes awareness of these truths in order to fill oneself with the necessary harmony.
The problem is that the world for a long time has perceived the feminine as weak. This impetus to think, take things slow, take stock, think before acting is considered to be a lazy, indulgent way to be. While constantly producing, working endless hours, exhausting oneself is considered to be a sign of perseverance and strength.
The pandemic certainly brought forth an opportunity for us to pause and observe the way we have been living. In a way, this hard reset has highlighted the fact that we have been out of balance for a while and nurturing our inner feminine will allow us to enjoy a more balanced life.
To achieve goals and to have ambitions is necessary fuel to live an impassioned life. It’s a beautiful thing and it perpetuates the cycle and the wheel of movement in our lives. But it is no more important than slowing down, taking rest, enjoying the company of loved ones, savoring a quiet walk, taking the time to take in the view and not just obsess with the destination, at the price of missing the landscape along the journey.