I’ve lived a lot of my life as a “should-er”:
“I should drink warm water with lemon when I wake up in the morning.”
“I should go to bed at 10pm and wake up at 6am.”
“I should meditate and practice yoga every morning.”
“I should eat an all-organic, vegan diet.”
“I shouldn’t drink coffee, eat sugar, or drink alcohol.”
Yes, I have (and to a certain extent still do) live this way. Heck, I even wrote a book advocating these “should’s.”
But I’m noticing something as I work with more and more women. These “shoulds,” which have a place in our lives, can become rigid and—worse—they can disconnect us from our intuitive instinctual natures. When we become too disciplined with our spiritual and wellness regimes, we end up stuffing the very source of our true power: our feminine intuition.
When we try to be healthier and happier, too often these can become moral absolutes — we really want to be “good,” “perfect,” and or “in control”.
By following external expectations and instructions all the time, we can lose touch with our own inner teachers. These soul guides are always trying to tell us what we most need and want in order to feel more alive, feminine, and content.
If you find that you’re sometimes being strangled by your practices, your diet, and your ideas about what you SHOULD be doing, here’s what I recommend. Following these five vices can help us re-discover the middle womanly way—of living neither too tight, nor too loose, but more humanly at home within ourselves and our lives. (And the great things about vices are they never have a “should” around them!)
1. Be slothful.
If you’re tired and cranky, embrace your inner sloth. Go to bed earlier. Sleep later. Take a nap. Take a day off. Call in sick. Block out a “bed day” to stay under the covers for as long as you want. Practice yin or restorative yoga. Take a slow walk outside. Or do nothing at all. Be laaaazy.
As women, our intuition speaks to us most clearly when we’re rested, quiet, listening, and receptive. When we’re in a “being” state, more than a “doing state.” The new moon and/or your first few days of menstruation are the best times for this. Also, after having a baby, a divorce, a big move, or other life transition, you need to rest, replenish, and rejuvenate. You need to rest. Go to the dark, still places within yourself. This is where you’ll find the authentic (non-pushing, non-striving) energy that will effortlessly fuel your next steps.
2. Eat meat.
Two years ago, a Taoist nutritionist strongly advised me to start eating meat. After having been a vegetarian (or a vegan) for 15 years, this was a huge shock and challenge for me—at first. But I was ready to rectify my long-time digestive problems and chronic coldness during the fall and winter months, so I tried it out. My energy increased and my digestion improved dramatically.
Now, for most meals, I eat (organic, sustainable, local, cage-free) meat and vegetables—and hardly any grains or legumes (my food staples before). If you’re always feeling cold, gassy, and spaced-out, consider cutting down on raw foods and adding some more meat to your diet for warmth and grounding. It’s a very personal decision to make, so weigh your health concerns and needs with your lifestyle preferences.
3. Stay up late and party.
Fun, play, silliness, and laughter must be part of your spiritual practice, too. Just as you make space for rest and silence, take the time to go out into the world and blast through your comfort zone. Dress up in fishnets and stilettos and go dancing with your girlfriends (or your boyfriend, husband, girlfriend, or partner). Wear red lipstick and take yourself out on a date to a trendy restaurant. Go to a concert, sip a martini at a swanky bar, stay up past your bedtime every now and again.
4. Have more sex.
Need I say more about this one? Have more sex with your partner, and/or with yourself. Get those pleasure hormones flowing, even when, at first, you don’t feel like it. Ease into it, like you're stepping down a staircase. Start with some light touch, some gentle hip sways, some teasing kisses and hair tousling and progress from there.
Your rigidness and taking-yourself-and-life-too-seriously-ness will dissipate once you let go into your sexual energy. The surrender, receptivity, and mind-lessness of sex lands you in your feminine center faster than anything else can!
5. Don’t shower, brush your hair, wear make-up, or clean the house.
This is for those days when you’re not feeling well or are really tired. When you’re on your moon cycle. Post big business launch or presentation. After a long flight. Or for those mornings after you’ve stayed up past your usual bedtime having fun. Forget about the chores. Forgo the primping. Let everything go for a day, or two, or three.
Here’s to lightening up, ladies. Here’s to the softness, humanity, and feminine wisdom that comes when we allow ourselves to loosen up into “being” by giving as much space to our “vices” as we do to “virtues.”