Another post brought to you by -
|heart's ease - sneaking joy and beauty into a lawn near you|
This is a long, rambling and rather personal story. It's going to touch on some 'female issues', so if you're a squeamish guy, you're excused. And it's going to push some buttons about feminism too, so if you're a sensitive type about that, you're excused. (Or you can stick around and voice your objections in the comment section. I'd feel like a real blogger if once in a while someone would do that.)
Oh yeah, and if you have notions about hippies being dirty and lazy, you are definitely excused. Maybe I just spent my early years with the right crowd of hippies, but they were neither dirty nor lazy, in fact they were some of the wisest, most grounded people I have ever known. Also? They smelled fabulous. Gawd I miss sandalwood soap ..
Still with me? Cool.
This begins yesterday with a shopping trip to Pembroke, about 45 minutes from here. I decided to wear jeans. In recent months, jeans have caused me some real difficulties if I wear them while sitting for long periods in the car. Even my most comfortable jeans cut me off at the middle and I can end up with really nasty discomfort in the abdominal region, as though my internal organs are slightly displaced. Like "is this an inguinal hernia?" level discomfort with some highly suspicious swelling in that area, which is where I was at by the end of the day. (In case this ever happens to you, try gentle massage of the abdomen with comfrey root tincture. Swelling disappears and everything goes back into place.)
It hurt. And shit like that is scary, right? I knew I was over reacting - because one does when something that weird is going on and there is no reliable medical care available - so I opted to take some heart's ease to calm myself down. Now normally, I like to keep my tinctures in those little dropper bottles and measure them out by the drop. But my heart's ease tincture is still in the original jar, so I use a 1/2 tsp measure and take about half of that .. well I accidentally used a tsp, not a half and I used the whole thing - that's about 4 times as much as I would normally take.
Yeah, I got high! Very pleasantly so, too. I learned that heart's ease works on the chakras, it started out opening the one at the top of my head, that energy then tugging on and opening the lower chakras, one at a time, like flowers. Man, it was delicious. Meanwhile, I was of course extremely relaxed, and once the energy reached the abdominal area, my belly was more relaxed than it has been in a long, long time. It was similar to experiences I've had on the acupuncture table, but I was moving around while it was going on.
I took more just before bed (although not nearly as much), as well as another massage with comfrey, just in case, and some evening primrose and yellow dock to keep everything moving in there.
Once again, in the morning as I was rising out of sleep, came the 'voice' of that flower, asking me: "why do you torment yourselves so?"
Now that's an interesting question, isn't it?
Torment? I knew what she meant. She meant the torment of worry and fear. I - like so many others - often attend to the least weird thing that goes on in my body with great worry and fear. That comes, in part, from the afore-mentioned lack of medical care. But more than that, it comes from the greater malaise that we all have, our addiction to fear. You might not think you have it, but I invite you to examine your thoughts. You will find it there, probably under the surface of what you think of as sensible precautions. It is the Western way, fear, and yes, we torment ourselves with it.
What do we fear most of all? Not fitting in. We may 'pride' ourselves on being a society that embraces diversity, but we pride ourselves on a lie. Diversity within certain norms is fine, anything outside of that and we're sticking out like sore thumbs.
Which brings me back to wearing jeans that day.
Jeans have caused me issues for decades. I actually took scissors to all the jeans I owned when I was in my 30's, just to stop myself from wearing them. In those days they seemed to be the culprit in my recurrent yeast infections and difficult periods. In my 40's, when I was cleaning rich women's houses, it was important not to alarm the homeowner by not looking like an ordinary cleaning lady so I mostly wore jeans for work; then it was hip and back pain. But in some houses, where the client was more enlightened, I was able to work in a dress; those days I was pretty much pain free.
In truth - and this is where my hippie friends come in - long dresses are where it's at for me, and as far as those Wise Women I used to hang out with, all of us. Jeans, or indeed any tight clothing, (bras!) are just not good for women's bodies. We need to flow, whether you think of it physiologically, in terms of lymph, or in Eastern terms, qi.
When I stick to long, flowing dresses (in winter I layer them) I have no back or hip pain, no abdominal pain or constipation, no yeast or other 'female' issues. I also have less anxiety, naturally enough. My creativity and intellect do better when I dress this way too. Living in a small town, where all the women keep their hair cropped short - like men - and wear clothes from Walmart - dressing the way that's best for me gets me .. looks, you know what I mean? These looks are not necessarily disapproving, but I feel like I'm sticking out. And that can be uncomfortable.
But gee whiz, the physical and therefore 'energetic' repercussions of dressing to conform to social norms are a lot worse than sticking out like a sore thumb. Yet I still find myself trying to fit in, wearing clothes that aren't good for me.
Feminism is such a fail. (In so many ways, but today we're talking clothing) We're still dressing to conform, no longer to conform to modesty of course. We dress in ways we're taught to believe will attract men (but not too much, feminists do not want to be objectified, which seems odd considering how fashion is all about bringing the attention to our tits and asses but I digress). In actuality the clothes - and makeup and hairstyles - we wear do not attract men, they just keep us spending money. And, I believe from years of going back and forth, they affect our health badly.
My old pal Siwi (Anne), the Medicine Woman, taught me that anything tight around the waist, restricting to the breasts, or even a hem above the knee, will cause restricted flow of blood, lymph and qi., and cause alternatively chills and overheating. These, in turn, will lead to issues with circulation, blood pressure and the heart, the kidneys and the joints. The women I know who still dress like hippies into our granny years are free of most of the problems faced by the rest of our sisters.
As you know, I ramble in the woods and fields. I scramble up hills. I get down on my knees in the garden. And yes, I can do all that in ankle length dresses. Most of them are sleeveless, and that means I get plenty of sun, and as I generally wear nothing underneath, I am cooler in summer than I can ever be in shorts (TMI? Sorry) In winter, layers keep me toasty warm and I am still not restricted. Granted, I still haven't tried snow-shoeing in a dress ..
I just have to keep learning this lesson over and over again, to stop caring if I look different from the other women in the damn grocery store. It's silly, right? But we all do it, in one way or another. We bite our tongues in conversation - or in our blogs - we dress or eat or read according to what is normal or acceptable.
There's good reason for that, we're humans and humans are tribal. To be outside the norms of the tribe used to mean Big Trouble for the whole tribe. We've carried that too far now though, let's face it, it troubles no one if I dress in ways that suit me. You could too, but it would take courage to ditch the office-lady look. Those women who burned their bras just went out and bought more (and breast cancer is big business, but again I digress ..)
BUT - and this is for the men, too - if your heart is taking the lead in your life, you can expect more inner battles for a while, not fewer. Your body is going to speak up too. The whole You of you has ideas that you kept caged up like a good member of whatever strata of society you inhabit. They are going to make themselves known, and you're going to have to assess them, one by one. For some, your life has revolved around rebelling for rebellion's sake, and as the heart takes the lead you might be astonished to find yourself actually more conservative than you used to be.
It's a wild ride for all of us, believe me.
My point today is, conformity to outside societal forces is a con. It keeps us from feeling what we really feel. It keeps us unhealthy; physically and emotionally (Prozac anyone?) and spiritually. And it IS a form of torment, one we've volunteered for, and for so long we don't even notice it any more.
We blame our fear or illness or emptiness on many other causes, and for each of us those causes will be different, that's the beauty of individuality. But don't overlook this possibility. Where do you conform? How are you being conned?