“Ohhhh, mom! That’s beautiful!” My young daughter said, holding my freshly Henna painted hand. Admiring the detail and intricacy, my daughter’s eyes widened. The night before, I was part of a women’s circle where a local Henna artist painted on our bodies as we gathered together as community. It was a divine experience.
“Mom,” my daughter asked, “Would you paint Henna on me?”
We didn’t have any true Henna paint and I am hardly an artist. But that didn’t matter to my young daughter. She ran to get her markers. “Here, mom, paint on my hand,” and she handed me a marker.
My mom came in as we were painting. “What are you two doing?” she asked.
“My mom is painting Henna on me! Isn’t it beautiful?” my daughter said to my mom, showing her hand.
It was hardly true henna, I thought, a bit embarrassed at first. But I realized that even without true Henna stain, whether I was an artist or not, we were embodying the essence of what I feel Henna is about – women gathering together, slowing things down, abiding with each other in a sensual and embodied way, admiring and adorning each other’s bodies with art.
So three generations of us – daughter, mother, and grandmother – spent the morning in repose, in a feminine embodied experience of admiring, contacting, and adorning each other’s bodies. My daughter drew all over my mom’s hand and leg. We took turns drawing and lying in repose. It was divine.
At the end of that day, I thought about how we as moms, daughters, and grandmothers rarely pause like this to gather, nourish each other, and adoringly touch and regard our bodies. I thought about how hungry we are for sacred spaces of such feminine, embodied, sensual ways of being together and bowing to the Divine beauty within each other. I thought about the Women’s March on Washington — and all of the world. These communal gatherings are an expression of our longing for such sacred spaces on a daily basis.
I thought about what it does to a young child in our current culture to often have the exact opposite of such an experience. Our children’s bodies are often rushed, hurried, and disregarded. I feel the hunger in our children to slow down, to be seen, to be regarded, to be touched tenderly in such embodied, nourishing ways.
Our bodies – our children’s bodies – are aching for such sacred spaces and to remember what it feels like to be treated as a temple in our everyday lives.
I thought about how our girls – and women — are often sexualized very early and socialized to be pleasing to others. We’re socialized to dismiss the wisdom of our bodies, which, as a somatic psychotherapist, I have seen how this leads to girls, young women, and women disregarding what feels uncomfortable or even dangerous in order to “play nice” or “not make a big fuss.”
I thought about how many religions have feared a women’s body and have regarded her sensual, sexual, creative, and intellectual power as sinful and have tried to suppress it…for centuries.
I laid there, frustrated and angry. I thought, “I don’t want my daughter to grow up seeing herself through the lens of our culture.”
Right now, I have a daughter who loves herself. She sees herself through the lens of our love and our small circle of family, friends, neighbors and teachers. She sings and plays on the piano and drums, making up her own songs. She does flips on the couch and imagines being an American Ninja Warrior. And she believes she can do it.
And deeper than being an American Ninja Warrior, my daughter sees God in Herself.
So I asked myself, “What do I want for my daughter?”
I thought about all the moms I see in psychotherapy and Coaching who want their daughters (and sons) to grow up to love and regard themselves. I thought of all the moms who are awakening to their own inner beauty and power and beginning to “do” the healing work of loving themselves. I thought about the millions of women who gathered around the world.
Instantly I heard from within me, “I want my daughter to see and regard her body (and herself) as a temple.”
Yes. That’s it. A Beautiful. Powerful. Sensual. Sacred space for the indwelling of the Divine.
And for her to CLAIM that and EMBODY that!
I want all our daughters to see and regard their bodies and themselves as a temple – this beautiful, powerful, sensual, sacred space that holds the creative force of the universe, the power of the stars, and the magnificence of the Beloved – WITHIN them AS THEY ARE.
What would happen if our girls – and all of us moms and grandmothers – began to treat ourselves as a temple?! AS WE ARE – IN OUR VERY FEMININE BODIES!
Think about that! A temple! A sacred space in feminine form, potent with creativity, juiciness, strength, compassion, tenderness, and fierceness. THAT is powerful.
And that’s the kind of power many have feared and so they try to keep women down, keep women bickering between each other and tearing each other down, keep women tearing themselves apart and keep women busy correcting and “improving” themselves.
Enough of us believing we are liberated because now we can wear pants and run ourselves ragged in a patriarchal “culture of busy” on steroids.
We still put everyone else first. We are still talked over in the boardroom. We still fake it in the bedroom. We still neglect our own self-care. We still avoid “making a scene” so we “don’t make” anyone uncomfortable. We still tear each other down. We still say “sorry” and step back from standing in our power and shining our brilliance and light. We still turn on ourselves and think there is something wrong with us. We still “put a lid on” our sensual expression. We still turn to things like food, excessive exercising, and constant self-correction out of a self-loathing that we have LEARNED.
And yet, so many of us are RISING! We are saying, “Enough!” We are waking up and we are continuing this revolution of love that comes from treating ourselves as beautiful, sacred temples! And then from such self-love and regard flow from us as blessing and offering to those around us.
And so, I have this radical, possibly even far-fetched hope that our daughters will grow up to believe in their inner goodness and treat themselves as sacred space. I imagine a world where girls and women awaken to their brilliance and see themselves as loving, embodied expressions of the Beloved.
As I laid there the other night looking at the “henna” on my feet drawn by my daughter, I thought of these Eight Feminine Embodiment Blessings for Our Daughters to Love Themselves as a Temple:
1. May our daughters trust their bodies. May we treat our daughters’ bodies with such regard that they have such a deep love and regard for their bodies. May we model to them how to pause and listen to the wisdom of their bodies. May we show them how to trust their instincts and gut knowings, even when there is a power-differential and especially in the presence of what they perceive as dangerous.
2. May our daughters fully embody their power. May we feel into the power of being fully embodied in our feminine form so we empower our daughters to do the same. May we embolden them to shine their brilliance in the world, lead with authenticity and speak their truth – in an authentically divine feminine way.
3. May our daughters embrace the full range of their emotions. May we begin to see anger as a creative lifeforce energy that calls us to truth and authentic expression so that our daughters learn to honor and befriend their anger as a gateway to deep creativity, truth-telling, and authentic expression.
4. May our daughters know that they do not have to make anyone feel comfortable. May we speak and live our truths so that our daughters learn to honor their own voices. Whether in a conversation, boardroom, or bedroom, may our daughters speak and act boldly even if it makes others feel uncomfortable.
5. May our daughters remember that they are not responsible for anyone else’s happiness. May we communicate to our daughters that they are not responsible for their parents’ happiness – nor the happiness of their partner, friends, coaches, or teachers.
6. May our daughters know that their pleasure matters. May we make our pleasure a priority and create space for our daughters to feel connected to their sensuality and love their bodies so deeply that they believe their pleasure matters – yes, sexually, but also the “everyday pleasures” that run countercultural to the busyness of our society such as slowing down, resting, giving time to their dreams, gathering with other women, and nourishing themselves with spaciousness and pleasure.
7. May our daughters develop a healthy relationship with food, exercise, and sex. May we heal our relationship with food, exercise and sex. May our daughters see themselves as worthy of loving their bodies with the kinds of food, movement, and touch that are truly nourishing.
8. May our daughters go about their day in a way that honors the rhythm of their bodies. May we begin to radically shift how we go about our day so that our daughters learn to honor their own inner rhythms. May they see the monthly fluctuations of energy that go along with a woman’s cycle and season in life as an invitation to listen to their bodies and what they need, instead of disregarding the wisdom of their bodies. May they rest when they need to rest. May they move when they need to move. When and if they decide to have children, may they not try to keep pace with the world but instead honor the season of pregnancy, birth and motherhood in ways that resonate with and regard their bodies, minds, and souls.
How do our daughters begin to embody these “sacred embodiment blessings?”
It starts with us learning to live like we are beautiful temples and living these blessings for ourselves. And we have to be in this together!
I have been listening to my heart and my clients, my readers, and my sisters in the world. I have been holding space for women to connect to, awaken, and embody their birthright to be ever so gentle, tender, and nourishing with themselves. I want to continue to support each and every one of you to treat yourself as a beautiful temple.
If you are a parent, a professional, or a person who influences the life of a child, check out Regarding Our Children, my online, on-demand course. This is all about setting our children up to thrive. I bring in my clinical, trauma-informed expertise working with clients; my decades of mindfulness; and my experience being “in the trenches” as a mom to share with you researched-backed ways to instill a sense of resilience in your child, empathy, compassion, a growth mindset, and how to support them to be “leaders of their own lives.”
Do feminine embodiment practices really speak to you and you want to share them with your daughter? Check out my on-demand course, Regarding Our Girls.Blessings,