Integration: The Root Source of Health and Well-Being
Rebalance. In Functional Medicine, there is a concept known as the 5 Pillars or 5 R’s to reverse gut dysfunction and to restore health. Rebalance is the last or 5th step, and though it is last, it is certainly not least. As a society, we are way out of balance. Using the symbol of the Yin/Yang is a way to approach the conversation that Yin (Feminine energy) is out of balance with Yang (Masculine energy). This integration is important for health and well-being.
Let’s define first what I mean by feminine and masculine because I want to be clear that I am definitely not referring to gender or biological sex. I am referring to energy and principle. Feminine energy and principle are gender neutral – both female and male humans contain this energy as part of simply being human. The same goes for masculine energy. Our society has essentially conditioned children and the genetic pool of human consciousness (as in epigenetics) to program our thinking that feminine means female and masculine means male. This is not the truth.
Let’s define the principles of these energies first – this is not the stereotypical storyline that has been created by culture.
In principle, feminine, in essence, means ‘receptive’:
- It is diffuse, sees the big picture, able to see the whole more clearly and has more diversity of associations, spiritually aware.
- It is our capacity to receive and listen. To hold a space.
- It is more concerned with our feeling nature or certainly at least cares about it.
- It is more intuitive, non-linear, and appreciates humor.
- It is our source of empathy, compassion, and non-judgmental discernment.
- It sees new patterns and is our source of insight and exploring the field for transformation and evolutionary pathways.
- It is community and unity based, helps us to feel connected to others.
- It aligns with the qualities of our right-brain – it is the ‘heart’ and spirit.
In principle, masculine in essence means, ‘active’:
- It is linear, logical and linguistic. Loves to speak and help us to ‘be heard.’
- It is structured, focused and goal-directed.
- It is critical, meaning, lives in the land of polarity – ‘this versus that’ – judgmental in general.
- It ‘decides’ consciously, meaning as the word decision implies, it cuts away what it doesn’t want, ‘good versus bad’.
- It is not the big picture, it sees things and people, in pieces.
- It is individualistic – protects the identity of ‘self’. Us versus them.
- It keeps us in the 5 sensory, 3D realm; it is not intuitive. Intellect rules. And, it loves to be right and have predictability.
- It aligns with the qualities of our left-brain – it is the ‘head’.
Can you see both men and women you know who have qualities of both masculine and feminine? In fact, I see a spectrum of these qualities in every person I know. You see, we all have a right and a left-brain. The issue is that we are socially conditioned to define ourselves by a distorted definition of what it means to be male or female and what is valued and what is not.
In our society, the active is highly valued. The active principle is ascribed to male, and male in our culture is ascribed to masculine. There is an emphasis that men are supposed to be active, focused and goal-directed, and aggressive – to a fault. No time for feelings, humor, intuition or connection. Even though, the men who tap into these qualities within themselves tend to have more charisma, likeability and frankly, greater leadership success!
Women are taught that feminine means ‘passive’. Yet, tacitly, we are expected to take care of everything outside of the realm of money and power – which means we have very little time to be receptive and connected from our heart and are prone to burnout and chronic fatigue trying to be all things at once. Because we ascribe goal-oriented and focused behavior to men instead of to our left-brain masculine energy or principle, women who are exhibit these qualities are labeled as ‘acting like a man’.
Now that I’ve given some examples of these Yin-Yang, brain-based, energy-based qualities of being human, I want to relate it to health and well-being.
It is when we can freely move along this spectrum of feminine and masculine energy within ourselves, that we can become healthy and whole. That we can express our own individual authenticity while still staying connected to others in relationships that are fulfilling and cooperative. We can allow others to be who they are and still feel secure about ourselves.
It is when we can access both sides of ourselves that we can be active and receptive, we can talk and listen. We can work hard and rest. We can be goal-directed once we have had time to slow down and reflect and see the big picture. This would actually save time by avoiding needless mistakes from rushing through our ideas. We can value sleep, recreation, and restoration when we value our feminine principle. We can access our assertiveness, speak up and make clear decisions when we own our masculine principles.
Our society overvalues activity and ‘doing’, individualistic self-centered thinking, and undervalues listening, taking time to rest and restoration, simply, ‘being’. This is one big reason that there is so much depression, relationship dissatisfaction, workplace unhappiness, and all of this helps to create chronic stress and disease. Our mind affects our body and when our body is tired, ill-nourished and uncared for – it affects our mind.
Integration is about rebalancing, whatever that may mean for you, and bringing together the whole of feminine and masculine energy within us. It is about blending in an authentic way. In integrative/functional medicine, we get to the root cause of disease, not simply medicate. Yet, while it is important to focus on the gut and removing triggers and repairing nutrition, let’s also remember that our thinking, feeling and behaviors also are a part of the rebalancing and healing process.
Our lifestyle matters and what impacts our lifestyle of course, is how we prioritize. We have to care about rest, being receptive to others by listening and being present. Cultivating healthy relationship and not always needing to be right or suck all the oxygen out the room for ourselves. This not only bring about healing energy for others, it truly helps us to heal our own whole being as well. It has been shown repeatedly that there is a connection between healthy relationships and a healthy body and mind.
Accessing both sides of ourselves in a holistic way – not just piecemeal is very important for well-being. We cannot hope to live healthy, happy and productive lives while living the lie that we are who we are based on an artificial definition of gender roles or social stereotypes. It is not a matter of ‘either/or’ thinking; 21st-century skillful living requires ‘both/and’ thinking – feminine and masculine. Both are equally important.
We can not get off the merry-go-round of chronic disease only living in the land of activity and treating the body like it is a mechanical thing. We will only begin to thrive when we put the soul back into the science of our technology and access our inner superpowers of both sides of who we really are. The root source of healing is restoring this connection between the head and the heart. This will then make it much easier for your body to get on board and align with its innate source of healing power.