Experiencing menstrual pain, irregularity, excessive bleeding, infertility, menopausal symptoms, or other mysterious gynecological and/or emotional challenges?
While hormones or other physical conditions can offer one level of explanation of the above symptoms, the Daoist medical paradigm can offer more depth, compassion, and understanding of the natural energy flow in our bodies. Acupuncture, Chinese herbal medicine, Qi Gong, body-centered meditation, and Daoist sacred sensual embodiment practices (all tailored to the individual's unique constitution and experiences) are not only incredibly effective at resolving physical symptoms, but they also provide a powerful framework to come into deeper healing, self-awareness, spiritual evolution, and physical vitality.
Time and again, my students and clients breathe a sigh of relief when we talk about how Chinese medicine makes sense of their constellation of symptoms and health history -- it's so powerful to feel understood, and to have our experiences be validated! And then, to have specific ways to bring those energies back into balance -- with Love and Trust in the body's potential for healing and evolution, rather than continuing to think there's something essentially "wrong" with us.
While there are myriad ways to discuss how these modalities work together, the focus today is on the energetics of the Womb specifically, and the power of deeply listening to and honoring our Womb Wisdom -- which so seldom happens in our modern society.
The Womb is designed to create and hold immense energy, and to contract and expand through years of powerful cycles of Yin and Yang, guided by the Moon, the seasons, our phases of life, and our own emotional and spiritual evolution.
Unfortunately, the sacred Womb Space can all too often become a container for our own, our ancestors’, and our lovers’ unprocessed emotions, pain, and trauma that we don’t want to think about, don’t have the tools to transform, have been shamed into hiding, and/or have been led to believe are a “normal” part of being born with female genitalia. It's easy to stuff our emotions down, to bury them deep in the body -- typically in the subconscious realm below the diaphragm, but often specifically to be held in the Womb, which can factor into the myriad health challenges listed above, and more.
(Note: Looking at the energetic and emotional aspects that contribute to dis-ease does NOT mean denying the physical issues that may also be at play. Read this post for links to scientific articles about the impact of toxins in menstrual products, Sama Morningstar's post for more about the cultural dynamics that perpetuate these challenges, and, of course, investigate other medical and holistic resources when looking to resolve health challenges. And, none of those other levels of explanation are mutually exclusive from the emotional-energetic factors discussed here; there's usually overlap. Best to be both self-aware and well-informed! And now, back to the topic at hand.)
Tuning into the symptoms and qualities of energy that move through us in our monthly cycle can offer a great deal of insight about the balance of our lives and health overall. Rather than viewing symptoms as annoyances to be medicated away, pushed through, or suffered in silence, these physiological and emotional experiences are clear signposts guiding us to tune into our bodies to address what isn't truly working for us. (Although, it often can seem easier to deny that, given our cultural tendency to value productivity over health -- even in feminist circles, which are sometimes nearly as energetically Yang-dominant as the broader culture... but that's a topic for another time!)
What would it be like to tune into our bodies and Wombs as they're asking us to do? What would they teach us?
What if we let discomfort inspire us to learn to honor our natural rhythms, and to work with our bodies, instead of struggling against them?
What if we collectively reclaim our embodied Power Within?
In Daoist philosophy, the Womb Space is revered as a powerful cauldron of Alchemy — a natural place to potentiate our Essence, express our Creativity and Love, feel our connection to Source, physically grow new life, rejuvenate our bodies, and support the transformation of “pathology" to give birth to our own full potential.
Even if you no longer have a uterus, your Womb Space is still energetically present and accessible. I've worked with many women post-hysterectomy, who have been amazed by the transformation in both their health and in their internal felt experience, after doing deep Womb healing work. (Likewise, I know male-bodied people with incredible energetic Womb Spaces too! More on that another time.)
Our uterine physiology is powerful -- it can create, it can nourish life, it can give birth, it can grow and shed its lining every month... and it can hold emotional memory, including traumatic memories that are challenging to process. And it can hold and hold and hold, for generations. (There's an increasing amount of research about the physiological as well as emotional impact of intergenerational trauma and epigenetics -- it's profound!)
When you think about it, it's not surprising. All of your mother’s ova were formed in her mother’s womb -- the little egg that became You formed inside your mother when she was a fetus. That earliest part of You was literally inside your grandmother's body -- and her experiences (as well as your mother's and your own) can still be held in your cellular memory, blood, and Womb Space, impacting how you respond to experiences everyday -- consciously, healthily, or otherwise.
Of course, we often only notice when that intergenerational impact isn't (apparently) supporting us in how we want to feel!
Similarly, the Womb can hold the emotional energy (and ancestral energy held in the DNA) of our sexual partners -- especially male partners whose Essences enter the sacred temple of our bodies. But ejaculate or saliva aside, the energetics of any sexual encounter certainly impact us -- as Daoists say "the Spirit is carried in the Blood," so when our Blood is aroused in mucus-membrane contact, our inner world comes into contact with our partner's inner world. In healthy relationships, this meeting can be profoundly beautiful, healing, co-creative, inspiring, and deeply nourishing for both parties.
However, if one or the other isn't honoring their own or their partner's body or spirit, that kind of sexual encounter can contribute to stagnation of emotional and physical energy, and even be traumatic. Clearly, that applies to rape, but it's important to note that it also can happen in consensual intimacy that lacks true mutual respect, desire, connection, or honoring of ourselves, each other, and the We-Space. And it's all too common for women (or the more Yin partner) to take on most of these challenging energies, since we physiologically are more receptive. (Which is why I caution against "make-up sex" when one or both partners have not yet used other means to discharge their anger or other emotional energy! Note that this applies across the gender and sexuality spectrum, and "receptive" is NOT synonymous with "passive.")
The Womb Space is designed to receive and hold; it's worth being mindful about what energies feel right to take in, at any given time. Not from a place of judgment or fear, but from a place of Listening to what feels right and true for You, honoring your Womb's wise discernment, rooted in self-love and respect for the We-Space of the relationship. (Because what affects one affects the Whole!)
Fortunately, the sacred vessel of the Womb also provides an elegant, powerful way to clear energy that's ready to shed or transform! We can tune into what's held there, with Love and Compassion. We can listen to our Womb Wisdom, and see what softens and opens, once given our tender attention. We can consciously work with our bleeding time to shed anything ready to be composted from the month, or from our past, and to offer it back to the Earth to fertilize new life.
We can use Jade Egg Yoni (vaginal) practices to clear and nourish the Womb Space, to let go of emotional energies lingering there, as well as to cultivate our Inner Radiance, infusing our Womb with Love and sacred intentions to bring our desires and dreams to fruition. As we bring more awareness to the Womb, and clear past unconscious holding patterns, we increase the spaciousness for the energies we do want to grow.
The Womb is a powerful portal for creating life -- not just for birthing a baby, but for re-birthing ourselves and creating the lives we wish to live: here, now, every day.
Whether we think we have deeply held trauma, unresolved emotions, or ancestral patterns held in the Womb, or not, we can benefit from becoming more Present with this sacred part of ourselves. We can ask questions of our Womb, and listen deeply to what our Womb Wisdom has to say.
What might we find when we Listen?
Maybe there's some underlying unmet need beneath our physical distress, that we haven't been willing to hear -- or haven't given ourselves permission to hear until now, having been subject to societal constraints and expectations. All too often, we aren't given (and/or don't claim) the time and space to listen deeply to our bodies, in a culture that values Yang productivity and achievement more than Yin Presence and being healthy.
Maybe there's Fear or Doubt about getting our needs met, or even about whether we deserve to have our needs be met. Which, again, isn't surprising, given that the dominant culture's primary values seldom include the well-being of women. When the culture so often reminds us that our words aren't believed, that it's ok to put toxic chemicals in our bodies, that our work is literally worth less than the same work done by a man (the wage gap persists!), and that our bodies are shameful and subject to harassment, abuse, and absurd legal battles -- it's no wonder it can feel challenging to rest in our worthiness, when we have to fight for our rights, again and again and again... And, the Deeper Truth that our Womb Wisdom tells us is that we are worthy. And, it's perplexing to feel like that Truth is at odds with the culture in which we live. (All the more so, if it's compounded by being in an unhealthy intimate relationship.)
Maybe there's a deep Desire for birthing our true purpose into the world. Maybe there's Fear or uncertainty about what that might look like, what changes might need to be made, and whether it's really possible. What would our lives look like then? How would that impact our loved ones? Can we really create that? What if we succeed? What if we fail?
Maybe there's a desire for more support, just as we crave when we birth our babies. We all need community, connection, and access to resources to be able to thrive. None of us can fulfill our deepest creative potential all alone! We need co-creative collaboration, healthy relationships, heart-connection, hugs, financial resources, authentic self-expression, sharing of daily physical and emotional labor, time to rest and tend to ourselves without worrying that the household or business will fall apart without our constant attention... (To name just a few things that would support our thriving!)
Maybe there's a deep knowing that it's time to dramatically change or leave our current relationship, job, or toxic environment. Maybe there's a multitude of repressed emotions about a situation that is no longer serving us: anger, resentment, grief, distrust, hatred, guilt, shame... Often, we don't even know those emotions are buried so deep, until we tune in and listen to our bodies. Usually, the emotions (and accompanying physical symptoms) are reminders that something isn't working in our lives, and that a change is necessary. And, sometimes it seems easier to deny the feelings than to embody the courage to make the changes they're requesting of us. But generally, the longer we put off those changes, the more often and loudly our bodies complain! (And, often, we don't become truly aware of all that's been held in the Womb until after we've made some big changes -- especially if we were in an environment that felt unsafe, and even more so if we had previous experience of abuse or trauma.)
Phew. There's a lot of Pain that can be held there, along with the Wisdom. If you need to, pause and breathe into your lower back and Kidneys to help settle your nervous system.
Usually, once we listen to, acknowledge, and honor the pain that's there, the pain gets less loud, less intense, less persistent. The clarity of our powerful Womb Wisdom can then come through with greater ease, to guide us both into health and into Inspired Action to make the changes we need, to open up to the possibility of thriving.
While the powerful Womb can hold a lot of pain over time (appreciate its endurance!), it also holds infinite creative potential, as the direct portal to Source Energy that it is.
What might YOUR Womb say, if given the opportunity to speak her Truth?
The more consciously and lovingly we tend to our Womb Space, the clearer and more radiantly we can embody our full creative Power and Potential.
So, I invite you to take some time to tune in.
While I teach many different, specific practices for healing the Womb and cultivating our Inner Radiance, it's best to start simple, with this practice to grow our Womb awareness with loving Presence.
I invite you to experiment with this Womb Wisdom Practice at each phase of your menstrual cycle (or lunar phase, if you're not currently cycling):
Lie down or find a relaxed, supported, seated position, ideally with your hands resting lovingly on your Womb -- perhaps in the Yoni Mudra, if that's comfortable for you: thumb-tips in the navel, index fingertips touching, forming a triangle over the lower belly, feeling where your fingers' energy extends inward to connect with your uterus and ovaries.
Let your breath soften and deepen, filling the lower back and belly, extending into the Power Center of the Womb.
Gently close your eyes and bring your attention inward with your breath -- softly, tenderly. Just listening and Being With this sacred part of yourself.
What feels alive in your Womb, in this moment, as you listen to your own innate wisdom?
Is it peaceful, painful, both, somewhere in between?
Just noticing, not judging any of it or wishing for anything to be different.
Whatever is there, allow yourself to breathe deep Love and acceptance into your Womb, and into any feelings experienced there. Let yourself be curious and open, relaxed and willing to Be With all that you notice.
Let yourself appreciate both pleasure and discomfort, as they express their messages to you.
If you like, inquire more deeply about particular messages or sensations, and see what new Inner Knowing arises -- whether in words, images, sensations, emotions, or deep resonance.
Is there a message that arises, perhaps about what you need to support your healing, evolution, or thriving? (Or, if you have a particular decision to make, you could inquire about that, without judgment or attachment, just tuning into the felt sense response to your Womb Wisdom.)
Just listen, feel, and Be Present With your Womb.
Notice how your Womb Wisdom can remind you of your value, your needs, the Abundance that you are, and the deep support of Source Energy for your Thriving.
When ready to close this practice, express your heartfelt gratitude for your Womb's messages, whatever they may be.
Give thanks, perhaps with a gentle, loving belly rub, and let your awareness expand in all directions out from your Womb, through your body, heart, head, through your limbs, out into the room around you, to the sky above you, and down deep into the Heart-Womb-Center of the Earth beneath you.
Notice what feels different, after this exploration of Womb awareness.
Are you more Present, grounded, centered? Is there a greater sense of confidence or openness or clarity?
Notice what it feels like as you return to your daily activities, with some part of your awareness still tuned into your Womb. Do you feel stronger, deeper, more self-trusting, empowered? (Often, women tell me it becomes easier to regulate their nervous system, to set healthy boundaries, and to connect with others more deeply, from this place of loving Presence rooted in deep Yin!)
Notice how it feels over time, as you tune into your Womb at least once at each phase of your monthly cycle (or the lunar cycle). You'll start to learn your rhythms and energies more deeply, and likely will also get more clear about how to organize your life to work with your natural rhythms, rather than resisting them. You can create systems and structures to support you during the times you feel more inward, and learn to utilize and trust in each phase, with less stress and more honoring of your body. This awareness can then create greater ease and flow, deeper rest and vitality, and healthier relationships with yourself and others. Womb Magic!
Thank you for being here, and for taking time to tune into your sacred embodiment. The world needs more women fully, lovingly, consciously embodying the Radiance and Power of our True Essence!
To join the conversation in our free, private Facebook group, Thriving Beyond Trauma: the Tao of Sacred Feminine Embodiment click here.
To learn more about Daoist Sensual Cultivation Practices, visit: https://www.nourishingalchemy.net/sexual-cultivation
For more information about the deeper-dive 12-week course + yearlong Sacred Sister Circle, Thriving Beyond Trauma: the Foundations of Sacred Sensual Embodiment, visit: https://www.nourishingalchemy.net/thriving-beyond-trauma-foundations-course
And, in the spirit of appreciating and co-creating community, here are some links to other inspirations related to this topic:
Minke de Vos (one of my mentors) has a juicy, thorough book "Tao Tantric Arts for Women: Cultivating Sexual Energy, Love & Spirit", leads retreats and teacher trainings around the world, and has high-quality jade eggs available at her website.
Sama Morningstar has a wonderful community and host of resources available in her Womb Centered Healing Temple, as well as on Facebook, including a public group called Divine Feminine Activism: Blogs, Vlogs & Podcasts which offers much to explore -- including this post by Clare Galloway in her blogcast on Free-Bleeding & Loving our Menstruation.
Kate Northrup has a book and FB group called "Do Less," offering practical ways to incorporate menstrual and lunar rhythms into greater productivity and ease in life and business, while honoring our bodies' cyclic nature.
Please feel free to share your thoughts and other related resources and inspirations in the comments!
Jem Minor is a licensed Acupuncturist, Herbalist, Alchemical Life Coach, Feminine Power Facilitator, Healing Tao Instructor of Internal Alchemy Meditation & Qi Gong -- and the mother of one very loving, exuberant son!
She has successfully used Chinese Medicine, Daoist Alchemy, sacred sexual cultivation, dance, qi gong, and somatic practices to renegotiate her relationship with the various traumas stored in her body (from long-term early sexual abuse, rape, pregnancy loss, childbirth, and intergenerational trauma), to live a healthy, radiant, fulfilled life, comfortable in her Wholeness. She is passionate about sharing these practices with women (like You!) who are ready to empower themselves in their own healing, in a culture ripe for change.
Her vision is to co-create a world in which all people have the support we need to transform sexual and ancestral trauma, so we can live in the radiant Wholeness of our sacred embodiment, and bring our unique gifts to the world, empowered by Love from Within. Because when we deeply love, listen to, and care for ourselves, fulfilling our mission and purpose in the world becomes sustainable, and empowers others to live in alignment with their Hearts, Minds, and Essences, too. The more sustainably well-nourished our individual lives become, the easier it is to co-create families and communities in which we all can thrive with freedom, safety, and mutual respect!
Jem is devoted to eradicating the stigma and shame of sexual trauma, and to walking the path of healing, spiritual awakening, and self-actualization with women who are ready to reclaim their full vitality, activate their Essence, and live in their empowered, authentic Wholeness.
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