Befriend your body. Rewrite the story of your life.

The man vs. bear debate needs one more fighter in the woods: me (and you.)

The question has been bouncing around online for some time now. The polls are closed and women have chosen the bear. But I question the question itself, and therefore the integrity of the data.

Any time there is a “this or that” question, there is always a third choice. Or five. To find the other answers requires us to peel back the assumptions behind the question itself.

This question – would a woman choose to be alone in the woods with a man or a bear – assumes that women are inherently prey animals. But last time I checked, we have a set of incisors and guts that digest animal flesh. It’s just that the bloodlust has been trained out of most of us.

Prey for Me

The belief that we are prey is a learned thing, but it’s not our nature. It’s a concept that has been socially conditioned into us and is constantly rewarded when we play into it. Sweet girls, soft girls, girls who have no desires of their own are the good ones.

Good girls are rewarded for being non-threatening in physique, intellect, and eroticism. They are held up in literature, screens, and in mainstream culture as the “right” way to be feminine. These eternal maidens are “marriage material,” good wives, and sacrificing mothers. Yet, as ample as the rewards for being a good girl are, they offer no protection when facing a predator in the woods.

But I know someone who does.

Bad Girls

If the rebel in the family – the bad girl – were walking alone in the woods, she does so with a greater sense of confidence. She knows that, if required, she could tear apart anyone who threatens her safety, or the safety of those she loves.

She may not be as easily rewarded for such behavior. In fact, she might even be cast away or told she’s too much, too strong, too wild, too loud. But I guarantee the bad girl can tell you a hundred stories about times these qualities saved her life.

When the bad girl is in the woods alone, it’s the man or the bear who should be worried.

Nervous System 101

To the untrained eye, the bad girl is a bitch. Ruthless. Relentless. But to the eye who understands the value of a fully expressed nervous system, the bad girl is one who knows what she stands for, who she must stand up to, and how to hold her body in a way that makes her unfuckwithable.

But we don’t think that her level of activation is right. Especially if we are in the healing world.

It’s true – the mainstream adoption of yoga, meditation, and other practices that train the nervous system to focus only on relaxation as the path to enlightenment has created a false belief that a healthy fight/flight expression is bad. In this view, a calm nervous system is the right one, and an activated one is wrong.

But the nervous system is meant to have a full expression. One that values relaxation and surrender, but not above the ability to fight back. One that can enjoy rest-and-digest, but not through dissociation and freezing. One who can express a soft, receiving gaze just as easily as eyes that pierce with an equal threat to one who threatens us (or has the potential to).

This is the self-defense class most of us have never taken.

The Third Option

This full expression of the nervous system is so far out of reach for most women – and so unsafe to express – that we believe if there were either a man or a bear in the woods with us, we’d only have the option of becoming a victim to one.

But of course that’s not the only option. We might fight back. We might flee. We might play dead as a wise form of protection if the others aren’t available. We might even be able to walk in the woods projecting our energy outward in a way that would make us seem like far too much of a hassle for any predatory action.

The point is, when the nervous system is trained to hold a greater range of capacity, we have more options.

How to Unlearn: The Art of Worship

To repattern the terror, grief, and outrage that this man vs. bear debate has brought up in women requires us to retrain the nervous system. We must develop the ability to hold, push our attention outward, and defend ourselves. And if we don’t want to live in hypervigilance, we must also retain and deepen our capacity for surrender and release when the danger has passed.

The Art of Worship is my newest offering for this type of retraining.

I call it art because it’s a practice of mastering graceful moves from surrender to commanding, then back again. I focus on worship because when we learn how to hold attention and gaze of the ones we’ve been trained to believe are our mortal enemies, we can stop apologizing for our existence and ask for what we want without guilt. It’s here that we become the goddesses we are.

The woods are wild sometimes. But don’t forget that you are too.

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Now accepting applications for the Art of Worship. Whether you are looking to learn how to hold magnetism and command power or learn to trust your limits through surrender, there’s a place for you here.

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“On this path effort never goes to waste, and there is no failure.”

The Bhagavad Gita 2:40