[Ashley] in Paris: Tapping into the Divine Feminine
At the beginning of 2020, as many can probably resonate, this year felt super hopeful! I, back in February, went on this exceptionally spiritual trip to Thailand, to mark my 30th birthday. I knew I was going to be a spiritual healer, develop my social media following, be a yoga teacher, a content creator, writer, create massive impact, and eventually move to Paris, (from London), to live my best life. Little did I know, when COVID happened, the disease would reach London, and the rest of the world, like it had. It had reached Thailand by February, but again I travelled, I cleaned my plane seat, and I thought, “meh, this would eventually disappear like the hype with Y2K or Furbies.” #millenialreferences. I had so much excitement and a sense of direction for the year ahead, and my life in general.
Again, this was going to be my year! Right?!….well, kinda.
The quarantine hit and as someone who hated their job; at first, it was a blessing. I didn’t have to interact in an office that I dreaded coming into day in and day out. I got to work on personal projects all the time and I just became really focused. I worked every day on my spirituality, created long and short form content to build my creative portfolio, I worked out twice every day, I ate healthy, I took my vitamins, I worked on my Yoga Teacher Training program, I etc., etc. I became one of those annoying people that says, “if you haven’t started a foundation, wrote a book, got a Masters, in the time of quarantine, what are you really doing anyway?” Insert: rolls eyes emojis. I was a strong force to be reckoned with, driving and pushing myself to complete everything I set out to do this year, despite current circumstances. But that driving force hit a wall around May / June, where things started to go left.
Three months into quarantine, George Floyd was murdered. There were protests all around the world. I was emotionally drained from the incessant and loud reminder that racism is still alive and well all across the world, particularly, in my home country, the U.S. The fact that this was the third murder of a black person in 3 months, during a lockdown, was not lost on my emotions either. Added to the stress, I was tired of having daily petty battles and no support at work, and feeling completely and unequivocally unfulfilled. And, frankly, at this point I was over-working myself everyday with no breaks besides the odd Netflix binge. And even then, I applied limits to how much I could consume in a period of time. I was emotionally spent and all that freedom of being in isolation alone, really was getting tiring and daunting. I wanted to date, go out, have fun. I wanted a drink I had not bought from the grocery store. I wanted to get back to some normalcy. (I’m sure, relatable content.) What ended up happening: daily migraines, panic attacks weekly, and a further lack of motivation in my day job.
My response to this: more structure, more work, and more drive. If only I could get to Paris, change jobs, I thought the panic and anxiety would stop. I thought I was emotionally, mentally, and spiritually spent; not because I was completely overworked and ignoring myself. It was because I hadn’t gotten to where I wanted to be just yet. I hadn’t gotten to Paris, I hadn’t changed jobs, I didn’t have any physical support around because… lockdown. So, I thought I had to work harder, push further, and drive these outcomes. The fear of failure was getting increasingly too strong to ignore. Not to mention the fear of being looked at as someone who failed and what people might think of me; and more importantly, how that would have shaped the way I thought of myself. And lastly, but certainly not least, I had an ongoing fear of being stuck in a job I literally dreaded going to everyday. So many fears, so much anxiety. And with every day, driving and pushing, these fears continued to mount. It left me feeling like I was stuck in fear and couldn’t find my way out.
It wasn’t all doom and gloom however. Being a control freak who relies on an overzealous approach to literally everything does have its advantages. I decided that my anxiety was getting the best of me and precluding me from reaching my goals. I sought out therapy, and started to understand a lot of my fears and ways of being stemmed from caring an awful lot about other people’s opinions and beliefs about me. Through the incessant and unrelenting daily practise of yoga, I came to learn that even though panic and fear resided in me daily, I could control it a bit better than I had done before. (Or, at least, for the length of time I was doing yoga; because during those times, I was focused on getting a pose right.)
Even though I had this sense of clarity that things were going down a dark path, several things hadn’t dawned on me just yet. My incessant need to control, drive, and have an authoritarian approach to structure had its limits. Despite needing to control everything, I was still losing significant control over myself, mentally and emotionally. It always felt like I was holding on for dear life, and if anything arose that was unfavourable, I could break, at any moment. It didn’t occur to me that some things in life take a bit of surrendering to the unknown and acceptance, allowing plans and opportunities to take shape organically. It didn’t occur to me that with the daily practice of yoga, I was actually not practising authentically. I practised for the sake of practising, completing my training, or getting to a place where I could do the splits on Instagram. I was trying to reach a spiritual and physical outcome, not a state of mind: compassionate, present, and mindful of each passing moment.
Feminine and Masculine Energies
Everyone has feminine and masculine energies. These energies exist everywhere and can / should exist in everyone, no matter of sex or gender. Feminine energy is usually associated with emotion, nurturing, acceptance, surrender, and receptivity (Lena Schmidt 2019). Masculine energy is associated with drive, ambition, reasoning, strength, and action. (Lena Schmidt 2019) Though we should all have a balance of both energies within us, like Ying and Yang, we tend to value the latter in our patriarchal society. We all have heard, “hard work pays off”, “if you do not do, you do not get.” These common phrases like so many others, have led us all to believe that the constant and unrelenting need to assert oneself and be doing something, is the only way to achieve and get anywhere in life. Our life depends on whether we fulfil outcomes and goals; instead of accepting the life we are currently living. The value of success is often set by specific goals we’ve met. (Amanda Ruggeri 2017). We quickly move away from a balanced masculine and feminine equilibrium, into a toxic, self-serving, hamster-wheel mentality, which leads to imbalance. (Amanda Ruggeri 2017) This imbalance can cause one to place value on the following:
- Tenaciously pursuing what you want
- Putting personal restrictions on how a project can formulate
- Uni-focus on outcomes
- Relying solely on the individual and individual achievement as separate to the collective
- Creating emotional blocks in order to accomplish goals
(Lena Schmidt 2019)
What this absolutely can preclude is the following:
- Healthy and harmonious connections with the collective that can be loving, compassionate, and empathetic
- Free creative and emotional expression
- Gratitude and acceptance for one’s current circumstances, or situation in life.
- Simply allowing oneself to exist
Let’s take a step back…
Remember when I said I was suffering from anxiety and felt trapped? Well, it became clearer that my continuous pushing, forcing, and constant focus on outcomes was not conducive to my overall mental, spiritual, emotional, and physical health. As my deadline for my move quickly approached and I kept going and going, the metaphorical strings on the rope that was holding me together were wearing thin. I was getting less sleep and all the work I was doing was becoming draining. Creativity seeped more and more out of my body. I was becoming physically ill. My intuition felt like it was wearing even thinner than my creativity. I felt attacked by the Universe, by the world around me because I could not get exactly what I wanted, the way I wanted, as I planned, and orchestrated in my head. If a project stalled, I would lose control and panic. If roadblocks arose, I wouldn’t be compassionate or empathetic to myself, or my surroundings. I had to find a way to bulldoze those roadblocks somehow.
I made it to Paris, I changed jobs to something a lot more fulfilling, and I finished my yoga teacher training. My spiritual practice and social media presence, despite having a lull, has relatively maintained, but at what cost?
Well, when I first got to Paris, I took this imbalance of masculine over feminine energies with me. My brain was going a million miles a minute with all the things I needed to do to stay in Paris, develop my network, and build a life here. This was all in the first week of arriving. I didn’t even get the rest of my bags from London before I was already thinking about what I had to do, be, who I had to talk to, and accomplish in the next few months. The physical, mental, and emotional toll that I put on myself lead to several panic attacks within the first week. This feeling of being trapped in a madhouse of my own making continued. Trapped in the fear that if I didn’t do certain things in a certain amount of time, my dreams would be ruined and dissipate. I would then have no one to blame because as previously mentioned, this imbalance puts the focus on the individual, instead of seeking acceptance and connection with the collective.
Seeking balance between the feminine and masculine
Something had to give. Luckily, some elements of structure and control do work and I didn’t want to lose control over myself any further than I had done. I sought spiritual counsel. Messages from the 3D and spiritual worlds further reiterated that I had an imbalance of the masculine over feminine energies. I was told by spiritual healers and my Divine counsel to nurture myself and to be open and receptive to the messages happening all around. Finally, in the first couple of weeks of moving to France, as I was talking to the Divine, there was a clear message to “JUST BE”. The Type A, hyperactive, control freak that I am, didn’t exactly understand that message. So, I sought more counsel and asked the Divine more questions. I was told to “LET GO AND CREATE”. So, naturally, I kept asking more questions.
“What does that mean? Let go of what? If I don’t have my foot on the gas, can things really happen?” I thought to myself.
Sometimes, I feel like the Divine has a way of spiritually knocking you upside your head until you really get it. In the last month, Paris has completely slowed down, seemingly aligning with my arrival, but as a result of COVID. My work has also shifted to allow time for more creation. Therefore, I have the landscape to just be, let go, and create. I have taken advantage of more time to rest, meditate, not set too many scheduled outings, give myself the space to remain in the moment and enjoy it for what it is. Shockingly, as a result, my mood has shifted, my weekly, sometimes daily, panic attacks have ceased, I get full REM sleep, and I am getting more intuitive hits from the Divine. I don’t feel unworthy for creating something that may not get mass readership or engagement, because I am creating for myself. The feelings of being trapped and not able to see which direction I am going in, are slowly but surely dissipating. And, I am looking forward more and more, to see what is going to happen each day, then having a rigid plan. Essentially, I am holding space for this time in Paris to develop organically, and seeking to stay present in its development.
So all’s well that ends well like the Shakespeare play?
I don’t want to present any illusion that I am not still a control freak; and my current stint in Paris has cured me of all imbalances of masculine over feminine energies. That would be completely unrealistic and frankly, a lie. I am simply sharing this to emphasise that by working to balance those binary energies, one can feel more harmoniously, have a sense of freedom to exist, and have more control over that existence. I, of course, am still learning how to live in balance. Being uni-focused on outcomes, individual gain, and driving ambition with little to no empathy for myself was NOT working. And much like Einstein, I too believe doing something over and over again, and expecting a different result is the very definition of insanity.
If you find yourself on the self-serving hamster wheel, causing you to chase outcome over outcome; choose to work on balancing your masculine and feminine energies. Choose to allow and accept your life for what it is. Focus on creating; not for the sake of creating a masterpiece or a finished product, but to let your creativity flow. There is nothing wrong with having drive and ambition; but find times to have gratitude and compassion for yourself in the pursuit of your goals. Accept the process. Accept help. See the bigger picture. Think, what does your existence mean to and in the collective? Build connections that are reciprocal and balanced. Love and nurture yourself. Love and nurture your relationships and connections. Focus on your purpose; but, it is a life’s work not a season. Give yourself room to grow, shift, change, and develop. Be less rigid about what the future has to look like. Just be, let go, and create.