If you've given it a go and you find yourself getting stuck, watch this short video for tips on overcoming the blocks and allowing your writing to flow.
This article might be more accurately titled ‘how to honour the feminine’ or maybe ‘redefining feminism as a set of positive intentions’. I think labels can be unhelpful. I mean fine, stick labels on a buffet, I’m not against letting people know which bowl is the veggie curry.
However, applied to the smorgasbord of human experiences they are usually vast over simplifications, or else they are loaded with conflicted meaning and become misleading. The word ‘feminist’ is no exception.
In our world of vast and constant media, the notion of what it means to be a feminist is added to daily. Somewhere inside the world of your consciousness is big Lake Feminist. A few drops of meaning are added to it every time you hear or read about the word and at this point that lake is almost bursting its banks. Even if you identify as a feminist and define the term cleanly as ‘a person who desires equal rights for women’ the murky depths of that lake are no less polluted for you than they are for anyone else. Is desired even the right word? Can you be a feminist if you don’t actively campaign, even fight, for equal rights for women? If not, are the people failing to strive for this somehow against you? What does the loaded term ‘equal rights for women’ mean to you? If someone disagrees with you on this point are they still a feminist?
When you label a dish on a buffet as hummus, people know what to expect when they stick their celery in there. When you label a person as feminist, you attach a world of connotations and questions. Perhaps the most damaging thing is that by defining a person as a feminist, you define anyone who doesn’t fit your view of that role as something ‘other’. You create separation and difference. Isn’t that exactly what a feminist, in most definitions of the word, is opposed to?
Can we create equality by starting with separation?
Labels separate. That is exactly their purpose. Labels with any level of ambiguity, let alone decades of academic and media exploration and scrutiny, are completely unable to unify even the group that they identify. Not all feminists agree with other feminists about what it means to be one. So can it ever be helpful to identify as a feminist? I’ll leave that question open to individual consideration.
Of course, wherever you land on that question, I think we can all agree that valuing someone less – in monetary terms or in any other way – because of their gender is fairly ridiculous. I believe in reincarnation. I know I have seen from the perspective of man, woman, gay, straight, rich, poor… and I will again. By virtue of that I could be any one of you and any one of you could be me, so we are all equal. Whether you follow that belief or not we all started out with the same cells. We were all equal once. Biology and theology lead to the same conclusion. For this lifetime I happened to choose the angle of ‘woman’. Does that mean it’s ok if I am treated with less respect and valued less than the man I could have become?
Honestly, if we consider this existentially the answer could be that it really doesn’t matter. I decided to live this life, in this way at this time. I’ll get to experience existence from all angles, if I so choose. If I experience marginalisation this time around it is because I chose, before I was born, when I set my life path, to face that challenge. What does matter – what really matters to the journey of every single individual – is that they choose to meet life and everyone in it with love and respect. It is in that practice that spiritual growth happens. It is there that we create unity and it goes way beyond being a feminist. In the vast majority of situations, we can affect more change in those around us with compassion than we can with an argument.
If we all met every moment as a fresh experience and, in that moment, treated everything and everyone around us with love and respect there would be no need for feminists. In that utopia, people would naturally choose to do their best for others in every given situation. We will only ever come close to that dream when more of us as individuals choose to live that way.
Honouring the feminine
The feminine is a powerful strength that exists within each of us – male and female. Those of us who chose the female form are currently embodying that feminine strength more strongly. That should be honoured and with it, so should women. This is what I mean when I talk about redefining feminism as a set of positive intentions. We can all connect with and honour women – and by women I include all who identify as such. They are our mothers. They, when we include Mother Earth as we absolutely must, gave life to all things. Reverence of this fact does not diminish men and their role within it.
The intention to honour Mother Earth and the process of creation is central to honouring women and the feminine. If you are a woman, treating your own body with love, respect and reverence is the most powerful place to begin. How many of us, feminist or otherwise, truly do this? How many of us honour our periods and our body’s ability to create life? It is one thing to do this when you decide to have a baby but quite another to be grateful for your body’s abilities on monthly basis when perhaps you find yourself with cramps. Taking the time, in the more difficult moments, to tune into what your body is doing and how you can best support it is a wonderful practice to uphold.
Women have a special relationship with the Mother Earth. Time in nature is another wonderful way to honour femininity and creation, as is surrounding yourself with flowers – complex and beautiful natural creations. Earthing (walking barefoot outdoors) is a way to plug yourself directly into the earth’s energy and incidentally it can also help to reduce period pain. There are many other ways, lots of them routed in how you treat the people around you.
All of creation takes on different forms. None sits below the other but, instead, makes up part of one perfect whole. When we approach life from that standpoint we can all honour women and the role of the feminine in our lives. We can hold it in our hearts and approach every moment anew with this intention, finding new ways by flowing with what intuitively feels right. Call that being a conscious feminist if you like but practice it and you will probably find that it goes way beyond that.to edit.
By Gillian Torres
Originally published in 2016 by spiritualbliss.com
This short writing practice can be really cathartic and is a great way to put positive, loving energy into an otherwise difficult situation. You don't need to be ready to forgive anything in order to practice what it might feel like to do so.
If there is a person in your life that you feel has wronged you in some way, then thinking about them or what they did probably carries a charge. This person might even be you! Maybe when you think about them or the situation you feel a tightening somewhere in your body, or you think negative thoughts. Practising forgiveness, even if you tell yourself that you absolutely don't mean, may well make you feel a little better. This exercise isn't about them, it's about giving yourself a bit of loving care.
To try it, grab a piece of scrap paper. Tell yourself that you are going to tear it to tiny pieces after you finish writing - nobody will ever know what it said. You don't even have to read it back to yourself if you don't want to. You may choose to write the person's name at the top of the page or not. Then write them a letter of non-forgiveness! There are many different ways to begin but my favourites are:
'I don't forgive you but if I did I'd say....'
'I forgive myself for not forgiving you for....'
Those openings give you total permission to write whatever you like, don't they? Nobody's going to read what you write. You don't even mean it, so go to town! Practice the language of forgiveness and see how it feels. If you can, write quickly. Keep your hand moving, without giving your head time to think too deeply about your words. It can be messy. It can even be nonsensical in parts. Who cares. Just let whatever wants to come out, out onto the paper.
Observe how you feel afterwards. Has anything happened to that charge? How intense is the tight feeling in your body? How do you feel about the situation, the person, yourself and the subject of forgiveness now? You might be surprised. Words really are magic you know?
I'm hitting the road this summer, for a few festivals and a Sheffield Soul Scripting workshop.
For me, summer begins this month because I'm heading off to Conscious Camp, my first festival of the season, to share a Soul Scripting session in a Welsh valley. Bliss! A couple of weeks after that you'll find me in Sheffield for a Sunday afternoon workshop, then straight after I'm headed to the East Coast, where I'll be getting people writing at Laughter Festival 2017. We're so lucky that there are lots of amazing, conscious gatherings going on in the UK and Europe this year. I'm off to loads - teaching at some and just frolicking in a field at others.
Here's to a summer of creativity, dance, yoga, sunshine and joy! Find me at:
A healing festival
26th - 30th May
Incredibly reasonably priced tickets and festival timetable online here.
Sheffield Soul Scripting Workshop
Sunday 4th June
Get details and tickets for Sheffield Soul Scripting via Eventbrite.
Laughter Festival 2017
A gathering of positive people for a weekend of happiness, health and wellbeing.
Liverpool Soul Scripting Workshop
Saturday 17th June
Get details and tickets for the Liverpool workshop via Eventbrite.
If you would like a Soul Scripting talk or workshop at your event please drop me a line. I'm based in Liverpool but always eager to travel!
This is an exercise designed to move you closer to a place of honest, deep self love. It can bring up feelings of fear but remember, it's just writing, writing is just squiggles on a page and you can rip up and throw away that page when you've finished. This works best when you don't read it through first but, instead, follow each instruction as you go.
Begin with two loose pieces of paper. At the top of one write the heading 'Reality'. At the top of the other write the heading 'Desire'.
Start with this piece of paper and list anything that you want out of life, or that you want to be but don't think that you fully embody at the moment. For example, if you have aspirations to get healthier, earn more money, have a baby, meet a partner or anything else write that down here. Add qualities to this list as well.
Write in the present tense. So instead of 'I want to lose 3 stone' 'I will stop smoking' or 'I'd like to be less judgemental of others' make it 'I am slim and healthy', 'I am a non-smoker' and 'I view others without judgement but with love.'
Now gab the second piece of paper. Make a list of where you are now. What are the counter points to the things that you wrote on the other page? If the desire page said 'I am a non-smoker' add 'I am a smoker' to this page. Where your desire page read 'I get up early and work out every morning' perhaps your reality page reads 'I often sleep in and I work out a few times a week' (that would be one of mine!).
CHANGE YOUR PERCEPTION
Take as much time as you need to complete these lists. When you've finished, change the headings. Cross out 'Reality' and write 'Me'. Cross out 'Desire' and write 'Someone Else'. That someone else doesn't exist. They may do, at some point. They may not. Perhaps some aspects of them might come into being and others won't. Right now, however, 'Me' is who you are and what you have. So now, rip up that piece of paper with 'Someone Else' written at the top. That's not you. It's a fiction.
It's time to learn to love 'Me'. The things you have written on this list are the aspects of you that need the most love. Only by owning, embodying and offering compassion to every aspect of ourselves can we begin to heal and change. So take each aspect in turn. Can you love this aspect of yourself? Can you love who and where you are? Can you perhaps even find gratitude? Meditate on each one without judgement and without trying to throw it away or change yourself. Maybe choose one point on this list and attend a Soul Scripting workshop with the intention to heal anything that needs healing in relation to it. There are lots of ways you could go but simply bringing yourself to this point and showing loving kindness to yourself while you're here is an important step.
'While even good advice can feel overwhelming at times, the loving presence of another person will almost always provide comfort and the opportunity for personal growth. It is worth reflecting upon this simple, powerful act with gratitude.'
I wrote this article during a stint as a guest writer for spiritualbliss.com last year. Click here to visit Spiritual Bliss and read the full piece.
This is a great exercise to try before you begin any period of rest and relaxation - such as right before you leave the office for the week or before you head to the airport for a holiday. I also tend to begin Soul Scripting workshops with this exercise because it helps people to clear out anything they might have been carrying around in their brain but they aren't going to deal with during the session, leaving them with a little more head and heart space, as well as clearly marking the writing session ahead as time for creativity.
How to de-clutter
It's quite simple really. Grab two pieces of paper. At the top of the first write 'To do list'. Yep, you're literally going to start by writing yourself a to-do list. This is arguabley the most simple of all writing exercises but its power should not be underestimated.
Begin to list anything that's taking up space in your head that you really don't want to forget but that might detract from your r&r. There is only one major guideline - try to make this a list of positive actions. Things like 'buy dinner on the way home ' and 'pick up the kids at 6pm' go on this list. Items that start with 'don't worry about...' 'try not to think about...' and the like are negative actions. Leave them off. We'll deal with them with list number two. Make your listed items as humble or as grand as you like.
The purpose of this list is to ensure that the things you can't afford to forget are committed to paper. Once they are you won't be worried about the possibility of forgetting them but they'll be recorded in hard copy so you can clear that head space. And don't try to clear the head space. The act of writing the list out by hand will accomplish that - you'll find that I actively discourage thinking of any kind during in all Soul Scripting exercises. Give your brain a rest. You need it a lot less frequently than you might think. Once the list is complete you can leave it on your kitchen table before heading to the airport, on your desk before leaving the office on a Friday, or just to one side as you begin your Soul Scripting practice, safe in the knowledge that it will be there for you when you need it. In the meantime, forget all about it's contents.
List number two is a list of anything taking up space in your head that isn't serving you. If it has no positive action attached to it but you are worried about it, get it down on this page. Let's say, for example, that you just went to an interview and you're waiting to hear whether you got the job. Try not to give yourself instructions like 'don't worry about not getting the job'. Your brain will read 'WORRY'. Instead, be candid about what you are actually feeling. Admit what is present so that you can unburden yourself. Write 'I am worried that I won't get the job. In fact I'm worried that I won't get any job and I'll lose my house'. Writing it might feel scary but, believe me, the scarier it feels on the way out the better it will feel when you destroy this list! By writing the worry you might identify a positive action attached to it, so maybe you go back to list one and add 'follow up with the new company on Monday'. The important thing is to separate the worry from the positive action. Write the action on the 'keep' list because that could serve you well. The concern is doing nothing for you, so let's get rid of it.
Once all the worries that come to mind are listed - and they might include anything from the state of your health to the state of world politics - tear that list to shreds and throw it away. You might even choose to burn it, if you can do so safely. Release your worries like the outdated baggage they are and move on to what's next.
That's just a little taster. If you're about to take a break or start a creative practice of any kind it's a nice way to begin. If you'd like to try Soul Scripting check out what I have coming up. I run regular workshops in the Northwest of England. You can also contact me to schedule private, group or corporate sessions in person or via Skype - gill @ diddid.co.uk.
I started a YouTube channel and from now on I'll be uploading Soul Scripting exercises to it from time to time, so you can work through them yourselves at home. My first attempt is far from expert but if I waited until it was perfect I'd never have got it online. So here it is - my first introductory video, explaining the concept of Soul Scripting - Writing for Wellness.
I'm really pleased to be running my next Soul Scripting workshop at Be Yoga in the beautiful seaside location of Waterloo.
Join me at this gorgeous studio in Sefton for a Sunday afternoon of mindful writing, to get in touch with your inner voice. Whether you write every day or haven't written more than a shopping list in years it doesn't matter - you won't be asked to share what you write so just come and have a play!
1-4pm, Sunday 20th November @ Be Yoga.
For full details and to book visit Be Yoga's online booking system here.
Join the event on Facebook here.
Just a little bit of what's going on.