Truth & Bones

“The modern woman is a blur of activity.  She is pressured to be all things to all people.  The old knowing is long overdue”   [Introduction: p4 Clarissa Pinkola Estes]


Women Who Run With The Wolves (WWRWTW), from which the above quote was taken was recommended to me more than 20 years ago – before my eldest daughter was born.  It was suggested to me by my wonderful yoga teacher.  What I didn’t know at that time was that it would become ‘the book’ that gave voice to so much of my inner being and helps me to convey the message I want to express right now.


Speaking your truth – easier said than done at times.  Currently there’s a television programme, “Kings and Queens of Speech”, in which children are given lessons in the art of debating, but, more importantly, providing them with opportunities to express themselves, their inner voices and become more confident.  (It’s incredibly moving at times).


I know for some, I may come across as being ultra-confident and somewhat fearless with my voice, but that’s not the whole story.  I have a deep fear of speaking what’s real for me at times and had noticed that this was becoming increasingly harder, especially over the last few years as other things started to change for me as a woman.

 


It was something that I had the fortune to consider, in depth, on a recent intensive training on Mindful Self-Compassion.  I discovered that I couldn’t be heard by others if I wasn’t even listening to myself and then being able to give voice to my needs and truth.  By listening to myself on such a deep level, I have started to re-discover and re-connect with my authentic voice.


At the same time, I have been reconnecting more with sound, in particular chant and mantra.  "Understand as you repeat and meditate with mantra, you are moment-by-moment, breath-by-breath, aligning yourself with your divine core..." [Sally Kempton]

 

This piece of writing isn't just about speaking your truth, it's also about rediscovering what gets lost along the way too.

 

So what are these losses?  Women's losses can be a felt sense of invisibility, not being needed (empty nest syndrome), unsure of what we want or even need, yet knowing that something is missing.


Estes describes it in her book as...”Feeling powerless, chronically doubtful, shaky, blocked, unable to follow through, giving one’s creative life over to others, life-sapping choices in mates, work or friendships, suffering to live outside one’s own cycles, overprotective of self, inert, uncertain, faltering, inability to pace oneself or set limits.”  [Singing over the Bones, WWRWTW]


This faltering and lack of vitality and loss is played out in our bodies as well.  The late Emilie Conrad was a pioneer in helping people regain and maintain their ‘fluid’ body.  She also discovered that sound could invigorate this fluid system.  She noted that specific sounds stimulated tissues that resonated with emotional desires, needs and expression.  Interestingly, she saw a strong connection with women experiencing osteoporosis and a loss of voice.


Losing our bones and our voices?  No wonder as women mature that feeling of becoming invisible manifests in so many ways.  She literally starts to disappear!


Loss of bone density – osteoporosis – is quite an accepted process for women, but does it have to be?  Many of us immediately conjure up images of something dry, brittle, lacking vitality or bleached white.  Hardly the image we want to embody as women.


But this needn’t be the case.  Women have this amazing ability to be able to regenerate, given the right conditions.


“A healthy woman is much like a wolf: robust, chock-full, strong life-force, life-giving, territorially aware...Yet, separation from the wildish nature cause’s a woman’s personality to become meagre, thin, ghosty...”  [Singing over the Bones, WWRWTW]


Unlike Estes, I am far from being a Jungian analyst or a cantadora (storyteller), but I endeavour to inspire a journey to wellness and empowerment through my teaching and sharing of what has enriched my life.


In the telling of the story La Loba (wolf woman), Estes writes of the woman who has the ability to find and preserve whatever is in danger of being lost.  She is a collector of bones – wolf bones – and it is said that when she has found every last bone, she sings over the bones in order to bring about / reclaim their sense of vitality.


Our bones, for La Loba, are our life-force.


According to poet Tony Moffeit, our immune system may be strengthened or weakened through conscious thought, which is really important, as often we impose restrictions on ourselves and also deny what we truly want.  This then shapes and manifests not only within the body but in our outer world.  How do we strengthen our bones and our heart’s desires?  What do we need to do to re-member?  Perhaps we need more opportunities to sing over our bones just like La Loba?


The wonderful gifted Carolyn Hillyer, (whom I have journeyed with many times over the years, as well as using her music for inspiration) refers to this time in our lives as midwoman.  She says in ‘Sacred House, Where Women Weave Words into the Earth’...

 

“The intent of midwoman is to achieve or accomplish menopause, so that it will neither overwhelm and cruh us, nor pass us by ignored and therefore wasted” [p96]


In her song, '(A Touch of) Menopausal Anarchy', Hillyer writes...”I cannot be silent even when I should hell!  I must speak my mind, I’ve had enough!”


Sadly for many, many women, they find it difficult to speak their mind or even to ‘give voice’ to how they feel inside.


So many of us retreat within, we may turn to support from HRT or antidepressants (or both).  Rather than finding a renewed inner strength, we descend into despondency.


We have, I’m sure, come across the phrase ‘feeling it in my bones’ – but what / how are we actually feeling?  This could be part of the intrinsic, developmental process that many of us will not be familiar with (unless of course you are an embryologist).  Cells that form our original ‘midline’, become a canal through which fluid moves.  Cells that originally formed this midline (also known as the primitive streak), go on to form every structure in our bodies – our bones and our gut.


Therefore this ‘gut feeling’ also relates to our bones, as they are all formed of identical cells.


Our bones are sacred – importance is placed on them when they turn up at construction sites or through archaeological digs.  We study them and can learn so much from those who have gone before.  This surely gives us license to imprint a full and vibrant life on our bones while we are alive?  They need not dissolve or become fragile, but can be revitalised through movement and sound (agreed that some conditions are severe and also hereditary).


Re-membering – gathering all our parts back together again – gathering our bones.
When a woman’s sense of self starts to fade as she enters menopause, it’s a wonderful chance for her to reclaim aspects of herself that have become buried with the busy-ness of her life.  The constant round of caring for others, it can mark the point in time where women can find their own inner voice again – no longer the voices of her children, partner, family or career that have moved and changed.


If we consider the maturation process, as young girls, our voices are very ‘light’ and this is reflected in our bones.  As we mature and our bones ossify and become stronger having been informed by our movements, our voices strengthen too.


The heat of hot flushes in menopause could be our inner calling back to our own inner fire...


“...a woman must be willing to burn hot, burn with passion, burn with words, with ideas, with desire for whatever it is that she truly loves.”  [Nosing out the Facts – WWRWTW]


The re-membering process of our original ‘fluid’ form is vividly bought to life by both Estes and Hillyer...


“Come to this river because there are stories buried along the banks for you to find.  They will guide you, like maps and memories for your journey.”  [p101 Hillyer]


“Each woman has potential access to Rio Abajo Rio, this river beneath the river.  She arrives there through deep meditation, dance, writing, painting, prayermaking, singing, drumming, active imagination, or any activity which requires an intense altered consciousness.”  [The Howl, WWRWTW]


In essence, these are the qualities I am striving to offer through the Women’s Wisdom classes which will be re-launched in September.  Not simply an offering of yoga, the classes will be a rich blend to help women re-engage, re-connect, re-member and re-voice.

 

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