Struggle with Patriarchy
Many of my clients, both men and women, come to me with problems regarding a sense of failure and an inability to move forward in their lives. It is as if there is an undertow that keeps sabotaging their efforts to become who they really are and to live a more fulfilling life. The work of addressing this aspect of the self is a psychological process as well as physical one which reflects the maturation and alignment of natural body as well as neurological and spiritual processes relating to one's self-ownership and maturity. The patriarchal values which deny the body, women and feminine values based more on being than doing, which relates to the superiority of the head, logic, rules and rightness, sabotages a slower and deeper self of the body's natural wisdom, natural organization and alignment, and even heart space. What's more, the inner voice condemning your life, your body and your most innate self will be projected into your relationships with your spouse, partner or significant other, your children, your employer/employees, your government, and the other important people and teachers in your life. This voice goes undetected and is buried so deep in the core tissues of your body that you are unable to even detect it. It has been operating so long in our culture and lives that we do not even know that as men and women, children and elders, that we are being ruled by values, thoughts and nervous system patternings which denigrate our lives and innate biological functioning. Since the self is a reflection of a spiritual energetic soul AND THE BODY WHICH HAS MANIFESTED THIS SOUL, by working directly with the innate aspects of the body we are able to begin to restructure a self which is intrinsically in alignment with its own soul, its own sense of rightness and direction of real and spiritual life.
Sidra Stone, PhD has named this voice "the Inner Patriarch". Her book, The Shadow King: The Invisible Force that Holds Women Back is a very constructive psychology book to help both men and women understand the values of our culture and the voices which are at play in our many psychological selves. Hal and Sidra's books regarding relationship, autonomy and voice dialogue continue to help me explore my own work which relates the psychological processing to the body from which it arises. I went through about 8 years of serious therapy, analysis and healing work as I became a healer and while the talk therapy approaches clearly helped me understand the dynamics operating in me and helped my "unloved child" grow up some, it wasn't until I delved into the physical bodywork and alignment of Structural Integration based in the Ten Series of the late Dr. Ida Rolf that I began to truly walk my walk and stand up for my own self. I found other body movement therapies along the way as well: authentic movement and continuum, core energetics therapy, yoga, tai chi, and now Pilates and Tango. I delved into depth studies regarding sexuality and the child-parent triangle which sabotages correct inner development and impedes natural sexual development. I studied more about religions, both the positive and negative or shadow values which might undermine autonomy, natural sense of personal power, and integrity of self. My work continues to embrace the energetic realm of the body and hence soul as well as a very intuned work with the body itself, meaning its muscles, its fascia, its viscera (organs), and the ever present coordinator and communicator: the nervous system.
To unwind the voices of judgment, criticism, devaluation for your life, anger and hatred, and other inward responses to your self begins with actually getting in touch with the body itself. The Patriarchal values of our culture and globally reflect superiority of the mind, "mind over matter", of rules and logic and numbers. The voice of the "Inner Patriarch" will tell you that if you are a woman that you are inferior and a failure no matter what you do. You will find a certain hardness operating in all of the men you meet, a certain hard edge of self-justification and rightness. It's not exactly wrong. For men to be able to provide and protect for their families and also survive themselves, they must own a sense about what is right and wrong for life. Each man and our own inner maleness has a sense about the right direction in life which arises as well from an inner soul decision and from the body's natural alignment as well. The problems arise when this sense of rightness is out of balance with the feminine values of beingness, of life itself, and of a woman's right to her own life.
As Dr. Sidra Stone relates, the patriarchal values have been passed down from the mother more than from the father. As mothers we try to protect our daughters from the hardness of our culture and this underlying tone which often we are unable to name. Many men come to me who also reflect about the hardness of their mothers whose hearts seemed cold, domineering and unfeeling. I comment on this on my article on relationships and the struggle of us all to mature. The relationships we experience in life are mostly based on child psychology and we keep recreating the mother-to-son and father-to-daughter configuration which keeps a person from ever truly growing up into adulthood. So few of us have cleared this stage into a maturely sexual functioning that we do not really ever know this innate mature self. We get involved in pair bonding relationships based on the unfulfilled and unfinished psychological and body-physical patternings that we recreate the very wound we keep trying to heal. Since the pattern is part of the body and its neurological patternings, you cannot help but project that outward into life and hence attract a partner who fits the pattern. Its like your body is the key hole and you find just the right key. In my work, I am changing the "keyhole" so that you are reflecting more maturity and true alignment to self, hence you attract increasingly better life situations to yourself.
The psoas muscle and other core functioning muscles which stabalize the torso and connect the limbs to the torso, is an instinctual muscle (see Liz Koch, The Psoas Book for further information). The fight and flight nervous system pattern of response is embedded in the psoas muscle. This muscle is one of the largest in the body being 16 to 18 inches in length, originating in or at the conjunction of the diaphragm (T12) and attached to the lumbar vertebrae. It runs slightly laterally and anterially to the spine, crossing over the hip joint and attaching to the lesser trochanter of the femur. All movement of the legs in walking or running or dancing, etc. originates at the origin of the muscle. It relates to our breath since the psoas morphs into the diaprhragm itself, meaning the muscle group is contiguous with the diaphragm muscles and central tendon. The musclature of the arms and shoulder girdle also relate to the diaphragm, and hence we find a constant inner communication with all movement and intention to move through the core of the body where the psoas connects to the diaphgram. The nerve complex of the solar plexus is embedded in these muscles. Hence every signal of stress which instinctually impels a person to fly or fight is found patterned in the muscles and fascia of the muscles. When these patterns are habitual given stressful life situations, often found during gestation and through childhood and adolescence, we find that the body cannot stop "flighting and fighting" until something actually breaks the physical and neurological patterning.
What happens in our lives is that the pattern gets established but because of rules and conscious living, a person cannot act out the stress pattern. Hence your nervous system is telling your muscles to do something that they cannot perform. This repeated stress will show up in other numerous ways such as migraines and TMJ problems like grinding teeth and mouth alignment issues. People have major strain in the neck and shoulders and arms: we are able to subvert the hidden messages by clenching our hands, tensing our shoulders and neck. These messages of hurt and the child wound with the parent and others also shows up in the hardening of the pericardium, the fascial container protecting the heart which keeps it in its soft resting space between the lungs and diaphragm. Hence our bodies are often reflecting a message to hit and protect ourselves, and to run away as well, but we cannot act on this impulse. Over time, the muscles become fatigued because they are both trying to react to the impulse and are also constrained to not act. It's like putting the gas on full throttle at the same time as braking as hard as you can. Eventually your motor is going to wear out! And this is what happens with the body. Many injuries are actually reflections of this constant wear and tear and a pattern which you are unable to release on your own.
The "Inner Patriarch" voice is a voice of stress to the body as well. I am finding that the voice is lodged in the very core where the psoas morphs into the diaphragm and in the neurological patterning at the core plexus and up into the limbic system/hypothalamus of the brain. I am also doing more work with the cranial sacral pulse to help clear and integrate my work and release deeper strain patterns throughout the whole body. I am learning more to work as well with our motor functioning and balance with the cerebellum and the processing of instinctual information in the pons. There are other aspects of the calloseum joining the two hemispheres which intrigue me so that the body itself is not divided into two brains and two different ways of thinking.
To come into wholeness of self, one cannot be fighting with one's own self and body. Disease, injury, deep sadness, anxiety, depression, allergies, dysfunction and illness are all reflections of a body which is unable to function properly due to the stress in its environment and inner self. In our culture, we are repeatedly encouraged to devalue the body and our nature. We begin this process with our birthing ways including medication and proceedures which alienate the body of the mother and infant. We have many sayings in religious context which devalue the body, the feminine and females as lower class or inferior in some way. Our school system is based more on ideas of what is right education and the proper citizen than it is truly based on listening to the body of our growing children and what the body needs to become whole, balanced and integrated. And we continue through life to receive and act on messages which just don't feel right. I am often amazed when I work with older people and sometimes younger who are taking medications that help the body by changing the internal chemistry but do nothing to really address the deeper underlying tension, stress and dissatisfaction.
Now I also know that there is no absolute and forever complete wholeness. Our lives, like in Buddhist philosophy, begin in some way with suffering and dissatisfaction. Indeed, without struggle there would be no urge to grow, change and create a better life. So our underlying dissatisfaction and pain is actually a good thing: it urges us forward to find ways that match more with our internal sense of rightness. I will point out again, however, that this sense of rightness is derived from the body itself and not from some source of intellectualized wisdom. The mind reflects what the body knows to be true. The body is part of nature and is always interpreting itself and its messages regarding what is right and good for it. If you live in a way which is always sabotaging or undermining your body's own sense of rightness, you will also find your life to be under a constant stress, fatigue and lack of harmony. This lack of harmony will eventually show up in physical injury, chronic pain, depression and anxiety, and disease. You can only split yourself off from your self for so long until your body no longer has any slack to compensate for the stress. Eventually muscles break down in strain, fascia and the ligaments/tendons tear or strain, the viscera stop functioning for the body, the nervous system is under too much strain and can no longer respond appropriately, the lymphatic system is unable to perform its functioning of immunology, and the mind begins to feel the pressure of its own split (bipolarism, schizonprhenia, mental disorders abounding!)
When we begin to touch and feel nature itself through and in our bodies, when we begin to listen to and actually work with the natural functioning of the body itself, we begin to heal from inside out. The work I am doing addresses many facets of your own self, from the spiritual complexity of an energetic being of Light to the Shadow voices of the dark that underlie and sabotage your life. I work with many physical systems of the body and the natural alignment of the body. The dreams you have and the psychological aspects of our talking reflect deeper strains in your body and I am working with those directly and energetically.
I am also a strong advocate of Pilates and hope to begin my training in that as well after several years now attending classes. My own development of core strength and self reliance, as well as the deeper feelings and strains being released as I go further into the release work and development of my core muscles is helping me bring more clear work to my clients and better living habits with all my friends. I would not say that any of this is easy because it requires a strong sense of self who can change and still remain in conscious relationship with others, which is not so easy! However I will encourage all of my clients and friends to try pilates or at least be involved in other movement work such as tai chi, yoga, dance, skiing, boxing, canoeing, hiking, other martial arts, zumba, gyrotonics . . . something that gets you out there in life moving, flowing, feeling, re-organizing musculature patterns and strengthening your body and your self.