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Happy International Women's Day

Happy International Women's Day!

In addition to shining some much deserved light on all the wonderful women on the planet, this month on March 3rd, we also celebrated Girls Day aka Hina Matsuri in Japan. As a newbie to all things Japanese culture, it felt so sweet because commercially there were goods and things in stores geared towards celebrating girls that made it feel like (1) a girls-only Christmas and (2) so honorary. Imagine being embraced by your culture for being born a girl. SO nourishing for everyone.

A big part of my healing and spiritual journey has been about embracing the beauty and strength of the feminine aspect, in men and women, and in myself. Being born a girl, and a highly sensitive one at that, was tough business especially when solid role models were nowhere to be found. But to take all that pain and sadness and turn it into a healing community for men and women to come and be nourished by the essence of the Great Mother and Nature.. well, I'd say I'm pretty happy about how it's all turned out. And I can't think of a more fulfilling way to spend my days. I guess I've realized why I was born a girl in a very scary and uncertain world, and at last I can celebrate it! Happy girls day, international women's day, and also, hey it's March, my birthday too. Hurrah!

Through my work as a facilitator and teacher I've had the privilege to witness men and women in various stages of their healing and evolutionary journeys, and at the end of each day, the unwritten rule has always been: As we move our bodies (not just physical, but emotional and mental bodies too) in sync with the rhythms of nature, all becomes balanced within our microcosmic body-universe, and in our everyday lives. The yin yang symbol blazes brightly in my mind's eye now, showing itself as a map and compass, its circle always guiding us toward our completion. And within our completely whole selves, is our yin, feminine aspect, and yang our masculine.

As I've come to see it in others (and myself too), when a woman embraces her feminine and masculine aspects equally, she is strong, powerful, and impenetrable by negative energies. It's like she's her own protector and nurturer. And yet, she's also kind and soft in her spoken and body language. She's also VERY careful and on guard with how she projects her energy and how she receives from others. She's like a mighty gentle swan in appearance, but inwardly busy taking care of her mind and emotions at all times. In other words, she manages herself very well, and this management creates a brightness or glow about her.

When a man embraces both aspects equally, he is tender and soft inside, and vulnerable too, with a heart as delicate and lovely as a single-stemmed wild flower. On the outside, in appearance, he's very strong and solid in word, thought, and action. He acts quickly and takes very good care of his mind so that he's never stressed or overly worried. He's attracted to the natural world, and is revived by quietly being alone in it. A balanced bright feminine helps to nourish and refresh his inner flower heart, so that outwardly he can easily act swiftly and boldly, with love.

Essentially, when both feminine and masculine aspects are balanced, we become great managers of our emotions. Knowing which emotions to give attention to and which to let go are the basis for our happiness. Because we each have unique character traits, comparing ourselves to others is extremely disrespectful to ourselves and others too, and is a great misuse of our energies. So this emotional management must be learned on our own, by listening to our inner guidance. The more we are able to listen, the more we can learn.

"Feminine is not a gender -- it is a dimension." ~ Sadghuru

So as someone who studies the importance of honoring the feminine aspect every day, when I think about International Women's Day, I'm mostly reminded of the importance of giving proper attention to healing our relationship with the feminine aspect within each of us.

Since coming to Okinawa, Japan a year and a half ago, I've been able to connect with my mom in unimaginable ways by simply being here on the land, where she grew up. I can recognize her face in the sweet and spiritually sovereign expressions I see when talking to and interacting with the women here. I understand why she likes the food she likes. I'm getting to know the roots of her stubbornness and her love. It's been a coming to terms with all these aspects of her that I grew up with, and that are in me too, to embrace it all with love.

I think it's right to mention too that this is also the land that held and took care of my dad as a young man. I imagine him here as I am now as a kind of American vagabond, being cared for by the land and people. I imagine him, through me, being fed delicious things everyday, and being warmed by the summer's sun in March, and being greeted with an incomparable friendliness from the people. I imagine him loving being here so much that he was led to my mom and eventually married into the land's good graces.

And sometimes I still feel that pang of grief that my dad is no longer here, or for having to leave NYC so suddenly, that's like a sharp dagger to my side. But then I imagine my mom as a young woman leaving her homeland of Okinawa for the first time for the U.S. where she knew no one and didn't understand the language, and I finally find understanding and compassion through my grief. And then I see myself around the same age as a young woman coming here for a similar kind of adventure, or maybe following in the footsteps of my dad as a young man, and it all seems so circular or cyclic or maybe its a spiral on into infinity. I don't know.

What I do know is that I've never been happier, and in some cosmically mysterious way my parents paved this way for me. And the sadness of my dad's death almost 4 years ago, and the ending of my 13 year spell as a New Yorker, and all the terrible heart aches before and in between, are all transmuting into a grand symphony of peace. If a heartache was a hole or a tear in the fabric of our lives, then all those openings are now being filled with the golden rays of the Okinawan sun. And all the tears I've ever cried are now the waves of the Pacific Ocean's deep blue and turquoise waters rushing back towards me to soothe and hug me forever.

Maybe this is what being in love feels like too? I always thought I knew. But every relationship I ever had was somehow better than the one before it. And now, as I look out towards the endless sea in front of me, it feels like this relationship with myself is the best one yet. And as I've learned to let go of EVERYTHING I've ever known (including the English language!), I notice that gradually, everything I've ever wanted or yearned for with all my heart comes toward me in ways that are as delightful as they are unexpected, and sometimes there's even a beautiful bow of respect too.

And I imagine this is what's waiting for every man and woman who never gives up on love. Not necessarily romantic love, but simply love, or completion. For us who are able to somehow rise up and out of our sadness or misery bodies and move away from the parts of the mind that want only what is known: Grief suddenly becomes our friend, a kind of sword of honor even, and also a healing tool, to protect us in the dark, and guide us towards our own heaven on earth.

On the other side of this hero's journey, I can see that only now does life truly begin. And that's exciting. So I celebrate the feminine in the mother who powerfully birthed me, the feminine in the father who warmly held me, and the lovely and spirited balanced feminine in the woman that I'm becoming. And as this woman on the rise, I respectfully bow to the wise and gorgeous little girl forever within.


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