Pelvic Heart Integration and the levels of masculine and feminine
An article on PHI by Elisabeth Renner & Dirk Marivoet
Whether we have a male or a female body, inside, we are both feminine and masculine. For example, the thrusting and penetrative quality is overtly depicted in the penis, but it doesn’t mean the masculine quality of penetrative presence cannot be as alive in a woman. Likewise, the feminine receptive aspects can also be experienced and demonstrated by men. Sometimes a woman is very driven and works in in a predominantly male environment and can identify more with the masculine aspect side of in herself. Women can also be warriors, great soldiers, think of Joan of Arc. While men on the other hand can find themselves at home in more feminine environments that are traditionally more seen as feminine such as nursing or care giving. A man can be physically a man and may not be psychologically a man; he may have a feminine psyche. Hence things become complicated.
In Pelvic Heart Integration (PHI) we view masculine and feminine both as energy qualities and/or psychological structures/dynamics describing polar forces like yin (being receptive) and yang (being active).
Every person is unique in these qualities. When we identify someone as a “man,” it means he is sixty percent male and forty percent female, or seventy percent male and thirty percent female, or ninety percent male and ten percent female. When we say “woman,” it means that the female element in her is proportionally greater than the male element. Occasionally it happens that a man is fifty-one percent male and forty nine percent female – a very minor difference. Such a man will appear to be quite feminine. Similarly, if a woman is fifty-one percent female and forty-nine percent male, she will look more masculine. If such a woman were to find a feminine husband, she will naturally take a dominant role.
In our culture we want to say that a woman is yin and a man is yang. But if a woman or a mother has only yin qualities she would not be effective as a mother who needs to be also a leader to her children and for example able to set clear boundaries. On the other hand, a man who is only in his active role as a leader or warrior is a man who is often times difficult to relate to. As father, husband or lover he also requires nurturing, and supporting qualities.
Biologically we came from a man and a woman, we are a product of a sperm and an egg and our gender, the physical body, is our primary identity. The first thing we learn is “I am a boy” or “I am a girl” and we understand quickly about what is appropriate for a boy and girl in any certain culture. What the masculine and feminine is has also to do with what our society has decided is an appropriate behavior or culturally acceptable attitude for a girl and a boy.
As we grow up we also internalise this idea of masculine and feminine based on our parents behaviour and belief systems. What we take to be feminine has a lot to do with the particular mother we grew up with and what we take to be our inner masculine is modelled on the father or a important male surrogate. Here is were difficulty starts because we are told that some parts of us are not ok “This is just for boys” or “this is just for girls”.
Elisabeth: “I remember a client who was suffering as a girl because she needed to work with her mother in the kitchen and her brothers could work with the father outside in the fields. She did not want to be with her mother in the kitchen, it was boring for her, she wanted to be free like her brothers, sitting with her father on the tractor and working in nature. Being feminine was connected for her with staying at home, being depressed and being angry with her father. When she turned 18 she bought a motorcycle, travelled to Africa rode her motocross cycle through the dessert and for many years worked as a rafting guide in Africa. Far away from home she met an influential woman who told her that she is a beautiful women. My client realized that she never thought about actually being a beautiful woman. It took her many years to open up to her feminine qualities, for example accepting to being supported, being able to receive and the ability to take energy in. This client did not like what she saw in her mother, she didn’t want to be like her and tried to be different. If we fight with the feminine or masculine outside, the fight is going on inside as well.”
So, there is value in looking at your relationship with respect to our masculine and feminine side.
Pelvic Heart Integration (PHI) explores the limitations and distortions of the subconscious masculine and feminine forces within ourselves as individuals and as a species. Our active and receptive – so called masculine and feminine – behaviours are running on old conditioned programming stored in our personal and collective unconscious and this also defines our biological condition as human beings.
What does this mean with respect to your personal subconscious? It means that every experience we have ever had that our nervous system and our awareness could not fully process will remain alive just below the surface of our conscious awareness, in our personal subconscious, and it will shape your body, influence our mind, feelings, actions and thoughts. For example, if your mother was deeply disappointed in her relationship or marriage because she did not feel supported by her husband it is possible that you will search for a man who seems to be supporting you at first, but then turns out to manifest the opposite: a man that is not available to you. It is possible that you will search for many reasons then to be angry with him which ultimately may leads to new disappointment. Unless your anger is fully received and you feel a real support you will not be satisfied.
Another interesting example is about a 70 year old man who grew up without his father who died in the war when he was around 1 year old. As a little boy, at the age of 5, he watched his mother secretly in the mirror while she was getting undressed. The boy saw his naked mother while being completely innocent in his sexual curiosity. As his mother realised that he was watching her she got angry and punished him. When he was 10 he moved to town to live with his aunts house to and attend school. One day he and his female cousin also 10 years old, were cuddling in bed because they liked each other. HIs aunt was embarrassed and decided to send him to boarding school. When he grew up and got to know his wife she did not allow him to make love before marriage. He waited 3 years and then he realised that she did not like to make love at all. After he separated from his wife he met a woman who was open for sexual intimacy and love making and then he realized that he could not hold his erection as soon as it came to penetrating the woman. This is an example of how sexual dysfunctions develop when we are not mirrored or supported in our sexual development between the age of 3 to 5 years old from our parents and kinship.
There are so many life experiences that we make throughout our life by watching our parents, friends, teachers or grandparents that shape our subconscious and influence who we are and behave in the here and now.
In order to move beyond our subconscious conditioning, it is necessary to know ourselves as consciousness; fully aware of self. This means starting to see and feel that we are not our stories, our bodies, our histories, or our experiences and that, as consciousness… we exist before and beyond all these phenomena. To make this possible we need go deeper into our feelings related to stories and deeper into our pain and become conscious of our distortions. We then can claim our feelings, learn how to fully express them and integrate them to find new balance in ourselves and reconnect to what we reallyare beyond our stories. Many New Age Healing modalities encourage people to breathe in love and breathe out the pain. As Body Psychotherapists we suggest to do the opposite. If you feel pain claim it fully as your pain as there is no use in breathing it out. Embrace it, welcome it and embody the pain and in this way it will become less and eventually dissipate. PHI is an excellent tool in supporting this process as it works very well with the subconscious and deepens self awareness in releasing pain.
Pelvic Heart Integration as you may have understood by now, helps you to confront your defense mechanisms in a respectful and loving way and helps you to embrace your unresolved and undigested feelings in order to explore the pure essence of female and male (active and receptive) qualities within you. In PHI we are interested in a supportive and cooperative relationship between masculine and feminine, whether it is within us or in a relationship. If we stop fighting within we stop fighting without.
Once we transform our pain and become conscious of our distortions the natural flow and wisdom of who we are in our feminine and masculine essence reveals itself. Then a stream of self love and self empowerment can follow thereby balancing inside and outside. We acquire a sense of wholeness and harmony in addition to peace and completeness because the masculine and feminine are working together and finally unite forces.
As a whole person we are free to play, to enjoy, to interact and to work with another whole person.This is not an easy road to take because we don´t typically have a lot of role models who can show us how to do this. It just needs our willingness to dive deep in our subconscious and confront our fears. The breath cycle we use in Pelvic Heart Integration® helps us to get reconnected with the feminine (the earth) and with the masculine (the cosmos) which allows us to feel the meaning of both powerful currents in our own bodies. The breath allows us to return to the natural flow of energy and we can celebrate the connection with others in an intimate relationship between a man and a woman, man and man or woman and woman. Our natural state is an ecstatic experience that has been covered over by body amour and mental activity. Just by breathing, every cell can become orgastic, this is why we say “let´s breathe and open up for the breath of life”!
Elisabeth Renner & Dirk Marivoet,
Practitioners and Trainers of Pelvic Heart Integration®