Guest blogging today is Dr. Marilyn Steele, A Jungian psychologist, dream consultant, author and artist. Marilyn is a dear friend and colleague with whom I have consulted on my own dreams, in mining for wisdom. I am so excited to share some of her medicine with you!
The Doctor Within and Wild Medicine
A few weeks ago I dreamed I was in labor but my OB-GYN, Susan Griffin, was out-of-town on vacation. After an initial moment of panic, I remembered that I had already birthed three children naturally. I know how to do this.
Although now I am laboring to birth a book The Way of the Wild Feminine rather than a baby, the dream includes three themes of my own awakening to feminine power: Dreams. The creative process. And motherhood. I had not actually planned on growing up to be a woman, since it seemed they had very small, boring domestic lives without much power or freedom in the world. But in birthing my first baby forty years ago, I felt in every cell of my body a deep love for the lineage of birthing mothers, and the shocking revelation that we were magnificently powerful. Amazed and angry, I was determined to tell a new, truer story of the self in psychology from a woman’s point of view. Along my weaving life path have been brilliant thinkers like my dream doctor –visionary, feminist author of Woman and Nature (1979). Making art and writing began to root me in my own inner authority, and helped to open a channel to Spirit. My strongest medicine came from dreams. And so became my reclamation of the wild woman.
“We begin our search for the wild, whether as girlchildren or as adult women, because in the midst of some wildish endeavor we felt that a wild and supportive presence was near…We sensed the sound of a familiar breath from afar, we felt tremors in the ground, and we knew that something powerful, someone important, some wild freedom within us was on the move.” Clarissa Pinkola Estes
Because the Feminine has been in exile for so long, we must go down to the roots, to the realm of the imaginal, mythic and archetypal unconscious to retrieve her stories, her values, her visions. Dreams are a direct pathway to this realm.
There is intelligence in the Universe- call it the Great Mystery, Spirit, Higher Power, Goddess, the holy – that wants the best for us and calls us to healing, to wholeness, to holiness. To wake up, we dream. Dreams help us grow soul, strengthen body and mind to house the bigger Self, so that we may bring a new story to ourselves and the world.
We can learn to trust, too, that the symptom or illness, the uncontrollable or irritating or even dangerous behavior has some gift to bestow. Soul speaks through the body. These are signs of a future pulling us in the direction of our divine destiny.
One of the great cosmic jokes Spirit has made through me is developing me into a feminist, an artist who loves science when I had never planned on becoming a woman, certainly not a “feminine” one, and had nearly flunked out of UC Berkeley due to the science requirement. I have learned to trust my dreams, to strengthen the dialogue between ego and Self, and to continue to find and empty those stubborn pockets of perfectionism which squelch the joy from my life.
Some gifts you can find in your dreams:
- A truthful self-portrait of your psyche
- Meaningful dialogue between Ego and Self
- Creative renewal
- Animal allies and spirit guides
- The secret wishes of your soul
- Initiation to your vocation and calling
- The playful and loving presence of the Great Mystery
The archetypes of the collective unconscious function like strange attractors in a quantum field. Our brains are like tuning systems, tuned in to our collective memory and our collective becoming. We are not our past. We are not our present. We are always in the process of becoming and we carry this process into being. We wild women carry the emerging possible.
The journey to a wild Feminine wisdom is a weaving way, a sometimes harrowing path, until we can become self-earthed, rooted in our natural feminine sourceground. We are the weavers and Wayfinders for a different kind of world, one in which it will be easier to love.
Here are some practices to reclaim your own wild feminine power and wisdom:
Welcome your dreams. Take action on them.
Walk in Nature.
Do yoga, dance, swim.
Begin each day by writing three pages.
Read inspiring spiritual prose or poetry.
Be quiet for a half hour every day to listen for the still, small voice within.
Create something, often. A poem, a song, a dance, a collage, a drawing.
Be alert to the synchronicities around you.
The more you practice the more you can begin to trust and be peaceful, rooted in the faith Spirit will let you know what needs your attention, what is flourishing as well as offering creative possibilities for your future.
About the Author
A Jungian psychologist, dream consultant, author and artist for over thirty years, Dr. Steele has taught extensively in the Bay Area and abroad on women’s psychology, the wisdom of dreams and the essential role of the wild and sacred Feminine archetype in the evolution of consciousness. Her office is in Lafayette, and she consults via telephone and Skype.
She has published creative nonfiction and spiritual memoir in numerous journals and anthologies such as Psychological Perspectives: A Jungian Journal, SageWoman, Zone 3, and Left Curve.
In 2012 she published a deck of Wild Cards, poetry to empower and awaken women. A memoir, The Wild Feminine: Stories to Inspire and Embolden, was released in May 2013 and recently chosen as one of The Spirited Woman Foundation’s Top Book Picks. A second book, The Way of the Wild Feminine:Tell a New Story, Draw a New Map for the World, is forthcoming in 2016.
For further information, go to theWildFeminine
I’m so happy to have Jennifer Kreatsoulas, PhD, guest blogging on Yoga and Recovery! Read on to discover how yoga can be a different kind (it has kindness) of mirror than the judge-ing one of the Eating Disorder:
The yoga mat is commonly described as a mirror that reflects our reactions, habits, strengths, and weaknesses. As the metaphor goes, what shows up in our lives plays out on our yoga mats.
For a long time I resisted this metaphor. After all, mirrors could never ever offer the safety, solace, and freedom that my yoga mat provides. My mat is home base, a playground for creative and physical expression. When I am on my yoga mat, I tend to forget I have an eating disorder. On my mat, I am me, just me. That other part, the illness and tireless efforts of recovery, is quiet. My mind and body are at peace.
Mirrors, in comparison, have been a source of angst and duplicity. More times than not I stared back at a self filled with doubt, unease, and disgust. Amid all the panicked body checking and countless wardrobe changes the mirror could never provide comfort. It only fed my irrational need to scrutinize my body nearly to death.
Years of yoga and recovery have both fostered in me a steadfast practice of svadhyaya, the Sanskrit term for self-study, which means turning inward and observing your actions, reactions, emotions, and habits. From the awareness born out of self-study we can tap into insights about our relationships with ourselves and others. In this sense, the self-study we do on our yoga mats is deep, true reflection, making our mats figurative mirrors. The body scrutiny we do in front of the mirror, however, is not reflection; it’s compulsion and self-mutiny.
In my experience, self-study can help us redefine our relationship with the mirror–yes, that very same mirror that has appeared to be the enemy all this time. As we stand in front of the mirror we have a ripe opportunity for self-study instead of body-scrutiny. Our habit is to despise, disdain, and be cruel to ourselves, but if we can catch ourselves body checking or spiraling into self loathing, we can than begin to study those responses. In other words, we can literally push pause on these highly charged habits (or rituals) and reflect on what beliefs are driving those behaviors.
Some questions to jumpstart your self-study might be
- Why am I obsessing about my body right now?
- What is this body checking really about?
- Why do I feel “X” right now?
- What does berating myself in front of the mirror get me?
- How can I be more kind to myself?
Once we pull back from the reflection in the mirror and turn inward, we neutralize the mirror and it’s power over us. We literally turn away from that version of our reflection. We shift away from body-scrutiny and practice self-study, and we re plenty strong to handle what we learn about ourselves.
Jennifer Kreatsoulas, PhD, the founder of Chime, is a yoga therapist specializing in eating disorders. Her program Resilience Yoga for Eating Disorders™ aims to help individuals
with navigate the daily challenges of recovery with yoga. Jennifer is also a yoga therapist at Monte Nido Philadelphia, a treatment center for eating disorders. Her ultimate goals in life are to be a positive role model for her daughters and to teach them that anything is possible when we ring true (Chime) with who we are at our core and live with strong intention.
In introducing this month’s Butterfy Effect theme of CONNECTING, I am honored to share an interview by the founder of Recovery Warriors, Jessica Raymond, MS. Recovery Warriors is a multimedia resource hub for hope and healing from an eating disorder. Here is a link to the podcast: RecoverywarriorsPodcast
The desire to become a mom can be a motivating factor in eating disorder recovery. However,the challenges of pregnancy and the postpartum period mirror the early stages of recovery. Both pregnant and new mothers and women recovering from eating disorders experience anxiety, body image distress, difficulty sleeping, hormonal changes, appetite changes, and ambivalence/excitement/distress around cultivating a new identity. In this episode of The Recovery Warrior Show, expert Dr. Linda Shanti shares personal and professional stories of recovering from an eating disorder and entering into motherhood. Listen in regardless of where you are at in the biological cycle because there is much to learn.
What You’ll Learn
- Why people don’t talk about miscarriages
- How pregnancy is similar to early stages of recovery
- Why you need to be proactive in seeking professional help before having a baby?
- Why how a mother eats affects her child
- Is there a right time to have a kid
The moment a child is born, the mother is also born. She never existed before. The woman existed, but the mother, never. A mother is something absolutely new. -Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh
Advice to Former Self
You’ll get through this honey, you will. It’s going to change you and it is changing you and that’s ok; that’s the way it’s supposed to be. There’s no parallel life that you’re supposed to be leading; this is it, this is not a detour. Just because you’re suffering doesn’t mean you’re on the wrong path; you’re absolutely on the right path. Keep going.
Definition of Recovery
Taking care of yourself physically, emotionally, psychologically, and spiritually. Not engaging in behaviors that hurt me. Moving toward growth edges. Accepting my body as it is. Allowing and inviting all feelings. Lowering the bar on perfectionism. Thinking in the rainbow between black and white. Listening to my heart and connecting with a larger purpose.
As I’m wrapping up this month’s theme of CREATIVITY, I’m reflecting on some of the fabulous resources I found for recovering women, moms, people who think-they-are-not-creative, and mommy-preneurs (which I’ll share at the end of this blog).
One of those resources was The Right Brained Business Plan by Jennifer Lee (Novato: New World Library, 2011). In it, she offers all kinds of creative tools for entrepreneurs, mommy-preneurs, and people recovering from vagueness in their finances and their visions (which is a lot of recovering people!).
One exercise looks at the values you want to embody, and that you want your business to stand for. As I started to collage this, I realized the best way to image it was to use the thank you notes I have accumulated from clients over the years. These expressions of gratitude most clearly vision WHY I do this work and feed the values I believe in, and want to continue to cultivate in being a therapist:
Listening to your Heart, Trusting your Body, and Finding your Recovery Voice
Mostly I want my clients to know: YOU CAN DO THIS. I believe in you. It is possible to recover. I am so grateful to have been given the gift to be of service to help women on this journey. As they say in recovery, You can’t give it away unless you have it, and you cant keep it unless you give it away.
Stay tuned for lots of fabulous GUEST BLOGGERS as this month’s theme is CONNECTING.
In the meantime, here are a few fabulous creativity resources for recovering women, moms, and mommy-preneurs. (This is by no means an exhaustive list):
- The Artists Way or The Artists’ way for Parents By Julia Cameron
- The Creative Journal (or anything else by) Lucia Cappicione
- Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert
- Bird by Bird, Operating Instructions, or Help, Thanks, Wow by Anne LaMott
- Soulcollage Evolving by Seena Frost, MFT
- How to Make MeCards: Creative Expression for Children and the Grownups in their Lives by Nancy Weiss, Jane Raphael
- The Right Brained Business Plan by Jennifer Lee
- Momosas: Fun Alcohol-Free Drinks for Expecting Moms (and those that are sober) By Paul Knorr
- Color with Me, Mom! Color, Create, and Connect with your Child by Jasmine Narayan and Hannah Davies
- Between Mom and me: Mother Son Journal by Kayie Clemons