The Womb Keeps the Score: The Price of Shunning Feminine Power and How to Wake It Up in the Body Aga
When Eve Ensler wrote the Vagina Monologues twenty years ago, it went on to shake the world because it named an exquisitely meaningful yet deeply overlooked phenomena: That the feminine parts of our bodies are the record keepers of an astonishing range of the feminine experience at large. That they literally remember stories that women have buried inside. That they have been silenced, locked, shamed, and violated for centuries.
And that there is nothing– no matter how systematic the oppression– absolutely nothing that could keep the force and the memory of the feminine from remembering itself through the female body and in the feminine parts.
I have witnessed women’s bodies and guided them to journey into their feminine places for years now. And this is what I've learned: A woman like me and like you, raised in the modern day of the West, will keep her attention and breath away from the womb, away from the vaginal opening and the sensational intelligence that lives there. She will talk about liberation and state herself liberated and sexually expressed, yet she will fixate on a very small and limited aspect of her sensuality– the part that has been socially welcomed to some degree– while continuing to guard below surface the most potent power at her disposal. Locked in her basement is the fierce and unstoppable power of her sexual, sensuous, life-giving flow that is the essence of the feminine nature and the signature of life itself.
But why would anyone lock that away?
The centuries of feminine oppression, of being taught what and how much is right or proper, our role models of womanhood– our mothers and grandmothers, having been silenced and tamed themselves, and the deeply woven slut-shaming that we do to ourselves because that is something we know how to do while we have no idea how to channel or manage the raw, crazy, undeniable force that lives inside our bodies and has gotten us in so much trouble….
Just days ago, I came across this captivating piece of art shared above and I instantly wanted to share it with my women’s Facebook communities. Then... I noticed a wave of hesitation that bordered hidden shame, a subtle but forceful contraction in my belly and cervix that said, no, this will be too much, it is too sexual, too revealing, to suggestive... It will scare women away from this otherwise proper gathering... Hah! So deeply rooted, this almost undetectable shame, the facing-away from the feminine parts and this toning-down of the expression of feminine sensuousness.
Yet, this force IS us. It belongs in a woman’s body and it ain’t going anywhere. Its suppression leads a woman to the gradual drowning of all that she is. Its revival takes a woman to the heart of her heroine’s journey.
The millennia-old teachings of Tantra and the tales of Kundalini as the raw, sexual feminine force curled like a snake at the base of our spine, the Tibetan and Native American womb teachings, among others, have been long reviving this perspective in the West. The more recent, decisive and tangible advances of somatic psychology, body-mind studies, and trauma science in the modern world clearly tell us that the “Body Keeps the Score” (in the words of influential scholar Bessel Van Der Kolk)
Except for, in a woman’s body the truth is better expressed by “The Womb Keeps the Score.”
It is quite literally the cave where pieces of our lives are layered and stored in. The geology of our wombs, ovaries, and vulvas is made of the archives of our stories of womanhood, our rites of passage, the genetic record of our grandmothers, the familial archeology of our lives that we could not even consciously name or remember. And here we are, with a deep well right inside of us that carries timeless wisdom, remembers generations and eras, and is a cell of the great and nameless Feminine within our bodies.
Why then not breath deep breaths inward and gently demolish the many walls and dams we have raised in the womb to manage the powerful flow of her waters?
This task is not as enchanting as it may seem.
Diving into the feminine well again is not “easy listening.” It holds tremendous power, yes, but the most unbearable memories and emotions of womanhood, our own and the collective too, are stored here as well. So much has been fragmented and put away inside this deep cave of ours that going inside it and beginning to excavate its treasures is, more often than not, a painful and tumultuous journey.
For most women, what arises first when we descend into the cave temple again, are powerful emotions that want to be felt and moved through for they have been held captive too long. Grief and rage are almost inevitably the power-emotions that blast open the womb’s door. Memories, untold stories and uncried tears erupt and can take over for some time and cause great fear, resistance. But it is fear and resistance that locked the womb in a first place, so they are the guardians of the gate: Feel them, move them, welcome them, and you are granted entry to the Palace of deep pleasure, flow, and great power.
Is it a surprise that the willingness to experience what is most frightening and unpleasurable guarantees your capacity to unlock untold pleasure and joy?
This is the contract. And it's by choice.
Like life, the sensuous, unstoppable feminine lives on– with or without our consent. It is not for anyone else to see or enjoy. It is not seeking to seduce, win, be liked, or play games. It is life force seeking to express and satisfy itself– more powerful than any conditioning, slut-shaming, or shunning ever done to us. It is a force looming in the deep cave of our wombs. It is life magnified. And it will ALWAYS come back, no matter how pushed back and denied and ostracized.
One can let it through, ride its waves, live its pain and its rapture, become it, enliven its legacy. Or one can shut herself away from it, “manage it”, be ashamed of it, and tie herself down in her own basement.
At the end, that image above, the one I was embarrassed to share, actually has it all:
A woman’s body IS nature. Nature is as sensual as my own body and to allow her sensory intelligence to breathe and swirl inside me is to say yes to everything the Earth remembers in her core– and in mine. To feel the torture and the ecstasy of the generational feminine in my own tissue, and to let it move through me is a sacred legacy. It is liberation.
And I am not ashamed. You shouldn't you be either.
Shall we enter together?
WAYS TO WAKE UP FEMININE POWER in the BODY and the FEM PARTS:
– WITH OTHER WOMEN
Being with other women in itself is often a great container for the work. Being in a safely held space with women whole supported by skilled guidance and care is the best way to journey into your feminine well.
Join us in person if you are able:
THE WOMB CIRCLES: Online or In Person. Beginning in late January 2017.
REGISTER FOR THE FREE EXPERIENTIAL INTRO CALL to the Womb Circles: January 15, SUNDAY, 11 am-12:30 pm Pacific Time
or look into our other CURRENT Workshops for Women
– ON YOUR OWN
Embodied Womb Explorations: Be alone, center yourself in silence. Contact your womb with your hand, for several minutes breathe deep yet effortless breathes into the womb space, allowing each breath to contact her deeper. Give yourself to the feeling of penetrating the womb with your breath and attention, caress her with awareness. For several minutes, feel the sensations inside- empty, heavy, hot, moist, cold, tight… Sensing the womb is essential before meaning is drawn or projected. For some, images will soon emerge in the inner eye- notice them without forgetting that the sensory, felt attention is of the essence. If there is a landscape or images you’re perceiving in the womb, feel them with your whole body. Keep sensing, moving the breathe freely. It is essential that at this point you make your breath circular, free, unheld, exhaling just as freely and fully as you are inhaling. (It is common to not fully release when breathing from the womb as to keep it all inside.)
Notice if you any movements begin emerging in your womb and core- they will come as minute, very subtle movements at first. Follow them, allow your whole body to be informed by them, let them take over and move to their guidance and rhythm. Move and breathe and dance as to express the womb for as long as feels right, continuing to notice imagery, memories, associations. Slow down the movements and come to a pause.See if any words pop into awareness as if a message from your deep cave.
Reflect in writing or drawing. Come back to the womb soon.
PLEASE NOTE: This practice can be highly stirring for some women and trigger strong emotions or reactivate a traumatic experience, especially if you have been sexually violated. In those cases, it is best to do womb practices with guidance and in safely held space. If it happens while you’re alone, remember to slow down and deepen your breath, feel your feet on the ground, and move your body in a way that feels releasing. Contact Stefana for Qs and guidance: firstname.lastname@example.org
JOIN OUR EMBODIED STUDY 3-MONTH REDISCOVERY, EMPOWERMENT AND LEADERSHIP ROGRAM, or Try Our Creative G-Spot Practice