It must be part of the cosmic joke that our liberation lies in the last place we’d think or want to look – our pain.

Humans fear pain almost as much as we fear death. Fear and pain are two alleys we’d rather not walk down.

But if you take a closer look, and see fear (other than the kind of instinctual fear which signals real danger) as just an avoidance of feeling (fight or flight), and pain as just an accumulated avoidance of feelings, fear and pain become less mysterious and more approachable.

The thing is, the longer you avoid feeling, the more pain you acquire – which is why we’re so afraid of it. Because most of us have been avoiding feeling and acquiring pain for many lifetimes.

You can’t get rid of pain, but you can suppress it – which means storing it until you’re ready to deal with it –– like you do your taxes. You suppress this pain in your body, which is the storehouse of your subconscious mind.

You experience this unconscious pain (or accumulated avoidance of feelings) as depression and other chronic conditions, that make you feel even more helpless.

But what if you could change the way you think about pain?

What if you could reframe pain into something good and valuable? What if you could turn your emotional and physical pain into your ally, rather than just your enemy?

What if you understood pleasure and pain not as opposites, but as one in the same -that your pain was actually the shadow of your denied, suppressed pleasure -and that by meeting it, breathing into it and embracing your pain, you could unwind it back into its original empleasured self?

What if you could see your pain for what it is – just dense, unrealized energy, tangled up with unrecognized events, unprocessed emotions and unconscious beliefs – like a giant rubber band ball?

What if you could recognize your pain as the voice of your shadow, your unknown self …

… and see it as a teacher, who could teach you the language of your subconscious?

Imagine how empowered you’d be to not have to push anything away -how much more open to life you’d be-how much more energy and joy you would feel.

In my work with women, myself included, I’ve come to almost enjoy looking for what I call the “pain trail” – like a detective solving a mystery. Though going into our pain may initially take us in the opposite direction of where we want to go, I find it’s always the most direct path to liberation.

Shadow work is the process of following our pain…

… connecting the dots, from the situation on the outside to the sensations and emotions on the inside, from the patterns in the present to the imprints from the past, from the upper body to the lower body, from conscious, rational mind to irrational, imaginal realm of the subconscious.

These interconnections always fascinate me – like how, for example, a woman came to me because she had lost her singing voice. Since she was a performer, her voice was her life. She had been seeing both a vocal coach and a psychotherapist, for several months, but nothing seemed to help.

In our few sessions together, we moved quickly from an old wound of self doubt that she had been carrying in her throat to a deeper wound of guilt that was she had buried in her yoni, and the connection between the two. Her guilt was not only tied to her feminine sexual being, but to her incarnation and right to exist. Through simple exercises combining visualization, breath and sound, she found her voice again and with even more range.

Connections between a woman’s sexual health and her creative expression voice are common.

Although holistic methods like EMDR and somatic therapy have brought the body more into psychological treatment, sexual embodiment practices have been, for the most part, left out.

As a woman who has spent the last twenty years of her life tracing her depression and self sabotaging patterns back to early sexual violation and the death-wish that was both triggered by it and in her to begin with from birth trauma, I can attest to the power of sexual healing practices, like yoni massage, and quantum connections that happen when we include them in our personal growth work.

I see many of the challenges that women face today tied to sexual issues …

… including our own beliefs around our feminine bodies, sexual being, desire and pleasure – all of it tangled up with patriarchal conditioning.

Yes, keep marching. Sign petitions. Volunteer and send money to organizations, like Planned Parenthood that help women. But ultimately, women’s liberation requires each of our own inner activism.

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