"There is such an anxiety in thrusting forwards and upwards all the time, it leaves us off the ground, whereas, for me, a cyclical system is much more horizontal, this is how I see it anyway. It is cycling around and because of the interconnectedness of the circular system, there is no losing of anything.
My body is my world actually, it is my place of understanding and so, understanding the body for me is understanding everything.
Usual, social knowledge, and the collecting of information is something that I struggle with and I feel really angry about, like I am in a confined position socially. I am now grappling with it, and I want to impose a little bit more; my understanding of all things, from this centre (the body).
I have a lot of friends that are very cultured, a lot of reading, engaged politically, in terms of ‘what’s happening to us’ and knowing about all the things that are happening on the exterior to ourselves. Things that are really, in quotations ‘important’ and that ‘one must know’ to be of value to society. And so, I think for a long time I have had a sense of maybe not having value in society or not knowing where to find it, or how to express it or to ask for it‘ because bodily knowledge is under valued by the world’.
There is shame there, for me it’s the patriarchy, of course. Comparing it to the Chinese system or let’s say an Eastern system, the patriarchy is very yang and it values a certain type of power, which is exterior to us, rather than interior. It values strength and all things exterior. It denigrates the yin which is the interior, more passive energy. Rather than expansive, rather than this thrusting, rather than this linear perspective and the body is very contained and quiet, in a way.
The passive is really powerful, but it’s not seen. Particularly in our neo-liberal system where we need to be ‘productive’ in a particular way; in a material sense, in terms of the economy. We are expected to be part of that system, which is feeding hierarchy and we are pulled in by the promises of an external heaven, but actually its the system that keeps us working to fit in to it and that’s it. There is something about time; we have these cyclical bodies, particularly as females, that work as a microcosm of these macro-universal forces and rhythm.
So, we are left with a society that has no ground and of course we are suffering from unhealthy relationships to ourselves and each other, and still, we expect to find solutions from exterior sources.
Yang is open, it is expressive, warmth, heat, more moving, whereas Yin is more heavy, cool, dark. So, it is about then seeing the dynamic interplay between the two, constantly of course because these are the forces that move things along. For me, in my work, in my practice of Qi Gong, it is about balancing those forces, whereas in this society we favour Yang, over Yin.
Yang is positive and Yin is negative or seen as and we really miss a big part of health and connection to the universal force that just is. You know this is the force that creates life, it is life force that creates the cycling of birth and death, night and day. It is just there, but we are so afraid of the dark, it is very medieval. Maybe it is natural fear of the unknown, but we don’t seem to want to find ourselves in it and understand it, we are really afraid. So, we push the Yin aspect of life away and we are very deficient, in terms of how we connect with each other and how we connect with the environment and because we have had this period, the pandemic, we have been talking about it a lot, the act of coming into stillness, into the Yin. Into the Yin of a home environment, the place of centre, a coming back to self, being in the home.
Coming back to stillness and that’s it, our society doesn’t value stillness, we value movement, and driving and constant change for something ‘better’, something beyond the now. Whereas this Chinese system is more internal, a continual change, but a circular system. It creates regulation, it is always going around the same, the same, the same, but it is always changing at the same time. There is change, but regulation, it is confined, it is actually much more stable.
Qi Gong, is a meditative practice, so there is a quietening, but maybe that is the nature of just being in the body in expansive space. That when we come back to the body for that stillness and exterior to the body there is movement and activity, it is more Yin. We come in, but we are always opening out, that’s what I like about the Qi Gong practice, unlike yoga for example, it’s not just about self, it is about self in society, with others and then beyond into the environment. We work with the seasons, with the universal forces. We are always considering beyond and infinity. The micro to the macro and back. The coming out to come in.
I am now peri-menopausal, and it feels like such a powerful stage, this is where my interest in the cycle has really catapulted. The body enters this reversal of blood flow somehow. During menstruation there is this loss of blood, a downward movement. Now I feel that my womb is still alive. I have a sense of it working still in cycles, but it is like the energy, instead of being downward with that sense of loss that you can get during menstruation, that releasing feeling that you get when you menstruate, has reversed. It is almost like the blood is not going waste, it feels like it gets absorbed back into the body and it is nourishing me.
There is this rising energy, that can come, like heat and it is literally heat, like hot flushes, coming from the womb and is really hot. It feels like smouldering coals, that are sitting in the belly and there will be this rising of mist or steam or heat and sometimes it can feel more flame like, rising up and this is something noted in ancient matriarchal societies, where the menopause was really honoured. As a time where a woman was no longer losing, but being nourished by the blood and that this heat rises up through the heart and clears the heart, preparing the heart for that stage of wisdom. It is this clearing through the body, and I get this fine mist of sweat all over my body, it is not dripping sweat. It is this fine mist, and I can feel it coming up and out. It lasts only a couple of minutes; it is an opening out.
I really enjoy it, but I feel like I am lucky that I have space to enjoy it. Most women are tied economically, culturally, in terms of being valued by society for whatever reason, women working through this other rhythm that is going on in their body and medicating themselves, which I totally understand. Because menopause is big, those feelings are big. I can experience anger, like wow, this explosive anger and again I think some women can think this is or even, women are seen as witches in that stage of life. But for me that anger, is such fun. It feels very clear to me, again it is this rising and expressing. This volcanic kind of explosion of anger that ends up being quite purifying afterwards. Frustrations in the body that could be to do with relating to the exterior, it could be people, or society, that causes anger, but it cuts through and clarifies, distinguishing something in me.
There is something in this menopausal period, of becoming clearer about who I am and what my needs are, and being able to voice them more. It is more boundaried.
I think that has something to do with the closing down of a system, condensing into the body and, this rising or coming out. You go through that mothering period, which is part of the menstrual system which is about the other, about being creative with and for your children and there is a drawing in of all of that energy. There is a new spring, springing out creatively, with your own self. Knowing what my own values are, and my own principles and aligning myself with that more clearly, but that’s me personally, it has taken me that long to do that, and the menopause has helped.
Before that there is a lot of conforming, when you are mothering there is a lot of conforming to the needs of the other and I am no longer needing to conform. Condensing, I think I mentioned before that the element of metal can materialise of course as metal, but also as minerals, even the minerals in our blood and all of the minerals in our body, minerals and jewels, crystals. So those materials are very condensed. In trees in the autumn time the sap gets drawn inward, it is outward during the growth period and there is the drawing in of that sap to the centre and then everything not needed drops away and you are left with that essential structure of the tree and that takes you into winter which is a different thing. Winter is more about depth and wisdom but we are going toward that. And as women as an ideal if we are connected to our cycles, and if society allows.
I am tuned to my body and my own sense of cycling, through seasons, night and day and all those natural rhythms. We are part of them, but we are separated by what I am calling this neo-liberal, patriarchal, or Western system. In that, time is more linear, the movement is forward, it is about thrusting, driving, ambition, an upward motion. These qualities lead us out of stability actually.
There is such an anxiety in thrusting forwards and upwards all the time, it leaves us off the ground, whereas, for me, a cyclical system is much more horizontal, this is how I see it anyway. It is cycling around and because of the interconnectedness of the circular system, there is no losing of anything. Everything is held within it. This thrusting thing is like we are coming away from things all the time, like how we see the past in relation to the present like we are losing, letting go, moving forwards; it is so ungrounded.