Integrating Our Masculine and Feminine, Spiritual and Physical Selves
In embryology, there is a condition known as fetal papyraceus. This occurs when the growth of one twin fetus happens faster than its sibling’s. As it takes more than its fair share of nutrients and space, it presses the other twin up against the wall of the womb until it starves to death. As sad as this scenario is, it can be an interesting way of examining the development of the twin aspects of ourselves: the physical and spiritual.
We come into this existence as a perfect fetus, physically and spiritually. Our development has infinite possibilities. It’s been said that our purpose here is to give birth to our true selves and, in many ancient traditions, this concept is symbolized by the image of a pregnant goddess. We are spiritual beings having a human experience. This dual or twin nature of our existence has been known for millennia. It’s also been understood that to have spiritual and physical health, each of these twins must develop in a balanced way complimenting and supporting each other. Often, we can get too caught up in the seeming permanence of the physical world becoming materialistic, shallow or narrow minded. By contrast, we can immerse ourselves in spirituality to such a degree that it becomes an escape. We end up forsaking the human world, forcing ourselves to live on an ungrounded ethereal plane. Many organized religions may cause people to focus so much on the afterlife that they forget to live this one.
“Integrating our masculine and feminine, spiritual and physical selves doesn’t need to take a lifetime.”
We live in a world of opposites, up/ down, left/right, north/south, etc. While these may seem at odds, their purpose is actually to balance and support each other. This twin nature of ours is easily viewed through the polarity that most clearly divides us as humans: masculinity and femininity. Many of the roles we assume in life such as the goal-setter, warrior, aggressor and provider are rooted in our masculine side. Likewise, we assume a feminine role when we act as the nurturer, healer or peacemaker. Our masculine twin is all about doing or getting while the feminine twin excels at being.
In Western culture, it’s very easy for doingness to consume all of our energy and deprive our beingness of a chance to thrive. Workaholics are a great example. How often do you work too late having no time left to meditate, read a good book, feed your soul? Equally, too much beingness, or feminine energy, can leave us feeling stuck without motivation or impetus to move our lives forward in a physical way. Focusing on our dis-ease and not doing anything to make ourselves better hinders the possibility for our healing or ease to become reality.
Once we’re physically born, we learn to breathe into certain aspects of ourselves. These are the parts of us that grow. The less dominant or less expressed parts of our personalities atrophy, fade into the background, and end up becoming what some have called our “shadow” self. These are the parts of ourselves we would love to reveal but either ignore or don’t feel we have a right to express. Frustration is a good sign there’s an aspect of your lesser twin aching to be born. These lesser twins have been flattened and practically starved into non-existence.
Starving parts of ourselves away leads to imbalance. This can often be traced back to a parent, caregiver, teacher, clergyman or other authority figure who told us we didn’t have a right to do something or to feel a certain way. As a result, we cut that part of ourselves off from our attention and our life force. Sexuality is a prime example. We’ve all been sexually repressed to some degree. I believe that anyone who is dogmatic or fanatical in his or her religion has a closet filled with repression, sexually speaking and otherwise. Is it just a coincidence that the gay community, after decades of repression, was impacted so disproportionately with regard to HIV when compared to the heterosexual population? I don’t think so.
“Our masculine twin is all about doing or getting while the feminine twin excels at being.”
Repression of any of our divine characteristics results in imbalance and depletes our spiritual immunity. Eventually, our physical immunity follows suit and we get sick. Illness is a challenge to give birth to those unexpressed parts of ourselves. It’s a call to ask, “What unexpressed part of myself needs my attention?”
Perhaps the biggest polarity of the human/spirit experience is predetermination and free will. Do we truly have a choice in how our lives will unfold? After all, repression is almost always forced upon us at an early age, without our consent or choice. Like all balancing polarities, I believe it’s 50/50. We come into life with a certain set of “soul traumas” or an energetic signature from our family history that pre-disposes us to certain circumstances. Our free will comes into play when we decide what we’re going to DO with those situations. It may take us longer to get from point A to point B because of where we’re starting from; but, we will get there, nonetheless, if we continue to move forward regaining balance by recognizing those parts of ourselves that we’ve neglected.
Integrating our masculine and feminine, spiritual and physical selves doesn’t need to take a lifetime. It doesn’t even need to be complicated. All it takes is giving ourselves permission to be who we really are and to live our best life, learning to ignore the right things…which are usually other people’s opinions.
Dr. Habib Sadeghi is the co-founder of Be Hive of Healing, an integrative health center based in Los Angeles. He provides revolutionary healing protocols in integrative, osteopathic, anthroposophical, environmental, and family medicine, as well as clinical pharmacology. He served as an attending Physician and Clinical Facilitator at UCLA-SM Medical Center and is currently a Clinical Instructor of Family Medicine at Western University of Health Sciences. Dr. Sadeghi is a regular contributor to Goop, CNN, BBC News and TEDx. He is the author of Within: A Spiritual Awakening to Love & Weight Loss, as well as the foreword to Gwyneth Paltrow’s It’s All Good, and is the publisher of the health and well-being journal, MegaZEN.