The 9th of March we celebrate International Women’s Day.   I would like to reflect on this as more than just a question of gender, but rather celebrating the feminine qualities which are potentially in all of us whether we male or female.  Whenever things are looked at from a physical level, we always categorise and divide.  So we have male, female and transgender, because that’s the way we are biologically created.  However, when we look at the individual beyond the gender barrier, there are intrinsic qualities which we all have.  We all, irrespective of gender have the capacity to love, be compassionate, express determination and courage and so on….  Perhaps the only difference is how we conditioned to express these qualities differently.  As a society we have defined roles based on gender, but more than just the role we have also defined the expression of our innate self based on gender.

Therefore little girls are taught to play with dolls and tea sets, so that they express love and kindness with that nurturing, soft quality….. As a provider of care and food.  Little boys are encouraged to play with cars, guns and balls so that they express strength, adventure and courage.  But we all know that to feel complete as a human being I have to emerge, experience and express all qualities, and we do find that expression in each of us.

We can see some qualities are of a more masculine nature, like determination, courage, fearlessness, focus and strength etc.. Other qualities are more feminine in nature, like nurturing, compassion, gentleness, humility and sweetness etc..  In the world of competitiveness, success based on materialism and consumerism, the more masculine qualities seem to be more celebrated and valued.  However, this has led to imbalances, stress and isolation in some ways, because the masculine qualities are more individualistic. Whereas the feminine qualities are more about our inter connectedness and harmonious living.

Spiritually we understand that the inner nature of the self is we are a spiritual consciousness, a soul.  The soul is beyond gender, it has both masculine and feminine qualities intrinsically.  Celebrating the feminine is about recognizing that to have a healthier society we need to challenge the stereotypes we have internalized, and bring about greater balance in our being.  Irrespective of gender of the body, the soul needs to express all aspects of itself.  Those qualities which have been suppressed and seen as being weak we need to emerge and restore a deeper respect for the feminine in each one of us.  When the individual is more balanced, and accepts the whole of oneself, then that leads to a deeper inner security and less expectations of the other.   When I am more whole within then I am able to harmonise and flow with the other.  Otherwise there is always the tug of war of expectations and disappointments.

Practice point:  For one week, make a list of the positive qualities which you may have disregarded, ignored or suppressed in yourself .  Reflect on it for some time, and make a concerted effort to find ways of expressing them.

For example: Gentleness – gentleness is a quality whose foundation is deep respect for the other.  It is a an expression of originality without wishing to impose itself.  Imagine a butterfly…. It’s touch leaves no impression yet it it offers the valuable service of pollinating the flower.  So bring gentleness into your language, speak without force, without needing to convince or assert but simply express your voice with softness.  Observe the impact of this practice on yourself and on its effect on others….