In my work I often hear women express that they don’t actually get what they deeply desire in their intimate relationships. They don’t feel seen. But what does it actually take to be seen? What does it take from us as women?! What do we need before we can think about how our partner must change so we feel seen and loved? Vulnerability! Only if we show ourselves fully, only if we reveal our deepest truth, with our heart’s desire, our human needs and feelings, we will be seen and potentially given what we need – connection and love.
As most of my generation, I grew up in an environment in which girls were not encouraged to show their emotions – to be with the natural flow of feelings coming and going, at least not if anyone else could feel affected or disturbed by it. Expressing our true feelings rather led to labeling of either being petulant, bitchy or hypersensitive.
I personally learned pretty early to shy away and hide my feelings, and ended up spending much more of my life time on my own than I wanted to. As a child, adolescent and young woman I longed for deeper connection, playful sharing and joyful laughter with friends and family instead of actually living it abundantly. A sense of not being right and not belonging was omnipresent during those early years.
In the beginning of my twenties, living in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, I luckily got to know a lot of gifted, open minded people. One of them was my first yoga teacher a lovely, caring and strong woman from India, who embodied that yoga was more than some physical exercises. In our introductory meeting she talked about how yoga is an approach to life, that cares for the body as much as for the mind and spirit. The biggest lesson she gave me, was the advice to choose well the people I surround myself with to be supported in living the life I desired.
I started to read any book on personal development and spirituality that I could get hold of in our international community to find love within me. Those years studying and working in Tanzania allowed me to experience community in a very nourishing way.
And I found it’s so much easier to break with old patterns and be who we truly are when we meet people that we’ve never met before, in an environment that is far away from familiar, inviting us to be open and vulnerable to create connection. It is such a natural human need, which may even feel more essential when we are in a foreign culture.
The more I became aware of a repetitive pattern of withholding that didn’t allow me to share my truth and other people to see me, the more I recognized over the years how that had become a curse in my life. It had also made intimate relating on a conscious and sustainable level almost impossible. My intention had been to avoid the pain of being rejected to protect myself but the result was isolation. And in fact I felt as often hurt and disappointed in my early adult relationships as I did in my early childhood and youth.
It took me quite a while to understand that my survival mode of withholding wasn’t of any benefit to me and the people around me. If I didn’t want to miss out on deeper love I would have to stand up for my truth and my values.
We have all been conditioned by our up-bringing and have adopted behaviors that aren’t actually serving our desires and life’s destiny, but here’s the revelation … We are not obliged to stay loyal to those behaviors that served us in early childhood.
It is not until we realize that we have the freedom of choice, that we have the power to change our life’s path! We have the choice to take conscious decisions every day, in every moment, either from a place of fear or from a place of love to get into alignment with our deepest longing.
Think of any situation that you find challenging right now, as you’re relating to a close friend, your beloved or your child. What would love do? Which doors would open if you allowed yourself to be vulnerable?
When we invite radical honesty into our life, it is inevitable to evolve deeper love within ourselves and within our relationships.
I admit it isn’t necessarily easy as at the beginning we’ll often have to move out of our comfort zone. But believe me, it is worth it!!
Let me share what made the change for me!
Several years ago when I heard a woman pointing out that most Eastern spiritual practices that we’ve adopted in the West were invented by and made for men I started to inquire my own practice, which had been mainly Hatha Yoga, hours of sitting still on a daily basis, for 15 years by then, since my early twenties.
I had to admit that my early spiritual path was still in some way serving that part of the “Withholder“. Learning to simply observe and be aware of thoughts and feelings, and not reacting to them, definitely brought inner and outer peace – on some level; but at times in day-to-day life life I would still get triggered in my relationship. I would feel misunderstood, rejected and unloved, and all the spaciousness immediately transformed into a sensation of constriction in my heart. I made my human experiences as everyone else and that included not only being happy and peaceful, but feeling disappointed, angry, hurt, basically all that is not love.
But these feelings and emotions can’t be talked or meditated out of existence. Whether we get ourselves distracted or comforted with the little pleasures of day-to-day life, there is a time when we can’t avoid the pain anymore. We have to face and own our shadow if we want to receive the abundant beauty of life and love. The contraction within us, as we’re trying to neglect certain parts and suppress specific feelings, will affect all areas of our life. As soon as we embrace all of us, those parts will serve us as a powerful teacher.
For me the key was to find a feminine way of a spiritual practice supporting me to be peaceful and happy in my everyday life, a practice that allowed me to feel and express, instead of suppressing. As we are wired completely different from men, physically, emotionally, mentally, we also need our own way of an embodied spirituality. If we drop deeper into our bodies and use them as a gateway to connect earth and spirit, we will experience feelings arising and passing without resistance, as a natural expression of being a woman.
Allow yourself to connect to your body whenever feelings arise. Embrace it all! Dive deeper without trying to understand who or what caused your feelings, thoughts, physical sensations. Be present with what is. Take space. Move. Use body, breath and sound to express, and see what happens!
Whenever you feel emotionally charged, start doing this practice in a space where you feel safe.
See what happens when you drop the story that you associate with a certain feeling, and give yourself permission to simply flow. The story is just a point of view. Own the feelings arising with it, and they will be transformed, as they come and go constantly. If we don’t resist the feeling we are free to be who we truly are.
Doing this practice on a regular base you’ll very likely experience yourself as being more centered, less charged, communicating more clearly and loving, and connecting more deeply, and last but not least opening up your creative flow.
Once you get used to the practice, take some courage and do it in the presence of your partner in the same room, asking him to be totally present with an open heart. Flow (with or without music), neither holding back, nor blaming, simply expressing yourself without words and showing who you truly are, that what touches and moves you deep inside. It will be very revealing and opening up a space of intimacy and deeper connection within yourself and with your partner.
Allowing vulnerability is the only way for your partner to really see you and meet you where you’re at.
There are a lot more practices to share for a couple to create deeper intimacy. But the one above is definitely one major gateway that has allowed deep transformation. It has changed the way I perceive myself as a woman. It allowed me to deeply drop into my conscious feminine, and thus live intimate relationship based on radical honesty and a commitment to deeper love. I’ve been using this practice for many years now and have seen how it has been of benefit to countless other women.
May your journey to fully embody all aspects of being a woman be blessed and deeper love guide you!