Feminine and Masculine Energy
How overusing masculine energy and disrespecting feminine energy can lead to mental and physical dis-ease
A few years ago, in my first session with an Ayurveda Consultant, an illuminating moment occurred when she was looking at my health history and asked if I had noticed that nearly all my physical injuries (and were a lot of them) were down the right side of my body. To be honest, I hadn't noticed, and she went on to simply state that the right side of the body is the masculine side of the body (the left is the feminine) and that this meant I was overusing masculine energy. We didn't speak about it much beyond that, but something had clicked, and I knew this was something important for me to explore. I was at a yoga retreat which gave me time to ponder this whilst also learning that yes, in many traditions all over the world, the left side of the body is the feminine side and the right is the masculine. But, what did this mean and what was I to do about it? How do you overuse masculine energy? What is masculine energy? How did that fit in with feminine energy? What is feminine energy? And, most importantly, how do I fix this and the physical injuries it was apparently causing me? It has taken me a few years to gain the understanding I now have of masculine and feminine energy, which has come through personal experience, research, and the experiences of friends and clients.
In writing about this subject I want to clarify that I am speaking about the masculine and feminine independent of gender. Whether male, female, or non-binary, we are all a mix of masculine and feminine, we all use both energies and contain them to differing degrees, and the amount and the balance between them will change for all of us in different circumstances and times. Depending on how esoterically based your thinking is, you can picture them as energies or energetic forces, or you may want to think of them as constructs, paradigms or defining categories.
First on my journey was thinking that I somehow had to embrace more feminine energy or embody more feminine energy which would then balance out the masculine -but I had absolutely no idea what feminine energy was or how to define it. I asked others but couldn't get a clear definition or tangible answers of what actions I should take (I can laugh a bit at this now because this is a very masculine way of approaching things!). I remember thinking, well maybe I should grow my hair out and wear more dresses or lipstick, and that will make me embody the feminine more. I kept meeting other women who were experiencing something similar in seeking to somehow embrace the feminine more, but often it was caught up in this idea that it something to do with appearances. Words and themes like feminine, masculine, healing between the masculine and the feminine continued coming up, even during subjects for my Master of Business Administration, and less surprisingly, in my health coach and yoga teacher training. It was in bringing these all together along with my personal experience that I started to get some understanding of not only what the masculine and feminine energies are, but also how these energies are regarded and interacted with in mainstream society.
I found it useful to look at what many ancient and current traditions regard as traits of the masculine and feminine. Here is a summary:
Right side of body
Left side of Body
As I started to assemble this list I could definitely identify an imbalance. Everything I did in my life placed importance on the masculine list of traits. I highly valued structure, achieving, discipline, independence, getting everything done as quickly as possible. I obtained one qualification after another while also working in medical and corporate careers full-time, created structure everywhere I was, and I never stopped to ask myself why I was living life like this, if it was really what I wanted to be doing, or who I really was. I had lived my life using masculine energy and avoided using or showing any feminine traits and now, apparently, it was physically being demonstrated by my body literally degenerating in nearly all the major joints on the right side of my body.
Why had this happened? To only use masculine energy certainly wasn't a conscious decision I had made when I was young. I was beginning to realise that I, as an individual, didn't have my natural balance of masculine and feminine energy sitting way over towards the masculine either. But, what was becoming more and more clear to me was that I was someone who completely relied on external validation for my sense of self-worth. As someone with a poor sense of self-worth, I constantly chased things in the external world that I thought would lead to others approving of me -just so I could feel a little bit better about myself. And what does mainstream, western society place the majority of its value and respect on? -the masculine list of traits. I had identified from a young age that to be a "success" in mainstream society was to be masculine. One of the easiest ways I believe to demonstrate and quantify this is by looking at how the feminine list of traits matches with the some of the lowest paid jobs in our workforce, like child-care, and how the masculine list of traits matches with the higher paid jobs within our workforce. You could also look at how you personally think of those who demonstrate more masculine or more feminine traits. I can honestly say that I had far less respect for those who embodied more feminine energy, holding far less respect for carers and teachers, than I did for CEOs and leading scientists.
I slowly started to come to terms with the more feminine traits that are naturally a part of who I am. I realised I was actually quite a sensitive person, despite my best efforts to hide this, and had to shift from seeing this as something shameful to something of value. I started to consciously shift my behaviours and way of life towards what is closer to my balance of masculine and feminine energies. I moved out of the corporate medical world, learnt how to rest, and learnt more about healing modalities which were more in-line with philosophies I wanted to work with. I learnt that it is okay to receive, ask for help, and not have to do everything on my own. As a consequence of these mental changes, my body started to heal. My wrist stopped dislocating, my seemingly permanent limp from hip degeneration began resolving, the bursitis in my shoulder settled, the ligaments in my foot healed. Interestingly, I have also seen this pattern of right side of body injuries in clients who have also been using excessive amounts of masculine energy. They're bodies have also be telling them in the only way they know how, to start bringing some balance back into their lives.
We all posses and use both masculine and feminine energy, regardless of gender. In constantly undervaluing and disrespecting an innate part of ourselves, it's no wonder so many people suffer from lack of self-worth and struggle to recognise the whole perfect being that are, and in-turn, be able to recognise this in others. Learning to respect feminine traits along with masculine, first in ourselves and then in others, I believe, will do a lot for not only our mental and physical health, but also society at large.
I have had a lot of wonderful responses to this article - thank you all. I hope that it has helped you in any way it can.
One of the responses was an offering of a women's wisdom lineage literature reading list from a friend of mine, Meredith Starck, of Meredith Starck Yoga.
Download the list here:
Meredith and I are running a Yoga and Embodied Wellbeing Retreat in Tuscany in 2020, check it out here:
Questions or Comments? Let me know here: