By Sareanda Lourdes
The wild feminine, though easier to experience than to define, is the unbound, untamed landscape of our true nature. As people of all genders open to this feminine essence, we begin to rebalance ourselves and our communities, expanding the range of human expression. We learn to move not only from our logical mind, but from our root source. Our bellies and pelvic bowls hold extraordinary intelligence, if we only learn to listen.
Researchers are studying the web of neurons lining the intestinal tract as a sort of second brain: consciousness rests in the belly-bowl as well as the head. This innate consciousness has a more receptive, intuitive sensitivity, integrating experience and knowing the connectedness of the whole rather than controlling or categorizing experience. As Philip Shepherd puts it, "If cranial thinking sets us apart from the world, the thinking in the belly joins us to it. If the cranial brain believes itself surrounded by a knowable world that can be controlled, the brain in our belly is in touch with the world's mystery."
Fine-tuning your attention to the sensations and information found through the belly and bowl can support your sense of love and connectedness, prevent illnesses, and treat imbalances of the digestive and reproductive systems.
How do you do this? First of all, relax. Really. Take some nice gentle breaths ... rest your hands on your belly ... let your belly expand and soften ... allow your eyelids to droop as you gaze into space. When you relax, blood that's shunted away from your belly-bowl during times of stress naturally flows back in, bringing life-giving oxygen, nourishment, and hormones to your tissues. Additionally, practicing doing nothing gives you space to soak in the quiet, voluminous, and delicate language of your belly-bowl.
Another great way to love your belly-bowl is through movement and alternatives to sitting: Use a physio-ball at your desk and roll your pelvis in nice big circles. Bounce! Pretend you're a belly dancer during your breaks, make space for regular walks in your day, and stretch a little when you wake up in the morning. If you like, try eating in a wide squat with pillows under your heels: the pose supports modest food intake, great digestion, and good circulation. Take a yoga class for your pelvic floor and practice relaxing your pelvic floor muscles.
Your belly-bowl consciousness finds opening through touch as well: from your own two hands or those of a loving friend or a therapist. Belly massages may help you release emotional tension and improve your digestive and reproductive health. Women, your pelvic bowl also thrives on regular release of emotional and physical tension: Gently massage the muscles and tissues of your vagina and pelvic floor with a finger or two when you're in the shower or bath. As you do so, breathe deeply, relax, and envision your favorite plant growing from your root and flowering at your heart.
Two touch therapies I practice for myself and others beautifully support the blooming intelligence of the belly-bowl:
• The Arvigo Techniques of Maya Abdominal TherapyTM enhance respiratory, digestive, and reproductive function in both women and men through abdominal and lower-back massage. Wise techniques for daily self-care include botanical medicines, castor-oil packs, pelvic steam baths, plant-spirit bathing, and the use of a faja, or a soft, wide belt to support and warm the uterus.
• Holistic Pelvic CareTM for women balances and restores the pelvic musculature and refreshes circulation to the pelvic bowl through gentle internal work and self-care. Releasing trigger points, softening scar tissue, smoothing fascia, and guiding a woman's deep awareness to her pelvic area help a woman holistically tone and heal her vagina. This work improves alignment and function of the ovaries and uterus and revitalizes a woman's energetic, intuitive, and creative potential.
These sister therapies are like two sides of the same leaf; both help prevent and treat digestive and reproductive imbalances, while inspiring a deeper connection to the wise belly-bowl consciousness. Both address numerous concerns: digestive issues; reproductive concerns and fertility care for women and men; pregnancy, birth, and postpartum care; menarche, menstrual pain, and cyclical concerns; menopausal symptoms; hemorrhoids, uterine prolapse, rectocele, and cystocele; sexual and pelvic pain; physical, sexual, or emotional trauma; and post-hysterectomy healing.
I recommend the book Wild Feminine, by my teacher Tami Lynn Kent, who also developed Holistic Pelvic Care. Her phenomenal text guides women into finding power, spirit, and joy in our root physically, energetically, and spiritually. Philip Shepherd is opening people to a more compassionate world through belly-bowl healing via workshops and his new book, New Self, New World.
Taking care of your belly and pelvic bowl is a kindness to yourself and your loved ones. It enhances the warm, intuitive intelligence found in your belly-bowl and roots you in the vast landscape of the wild feminine. From the deep sense of relaxed connectedness that results, anything is possible. Women, join us at our Sisters of the Seasons healing retreat this November to relax more deeply into the divine wild feminine.
Sareanda is a mama, wildcrafter, and a midwifery-educated nurse at AMRITA Women's Health. She will lead a class at GreenStar on Wednesday, Oct. 23 (see page 6 for more details of this month's GreenLeaf). AMRITA offers two free sessions each month to low-income women, women of color, and single mamas. Visit www.amritawomenshealth.org, call 607.280.4977. To register for our upcoming restorative women's healing retreat, November 22-24 at Light on the Hill in Van Etten, New York, visit www.sistersoftheseasons.com.
By Kristie Snyder,
When Pam Wooster’s daughter came home from school and asked her if she knew that the kids used disposable styrofoam lunch trays, she was appalled. She knew that after their 20-minute useful lifespan was over they would just end up in the trash, so she decided to take action. Two years later, the Ithaca City School District’s (ICSD) Food Service Program has switched to compostable trays and reduced its trash by 73 percent.
The new trays, made of sugar ca...