The Female Power Within: A Guide to Living A Gentler, More Meaningful Life
By Marilyn Graman and Maureen Walsh
A step-by-step guidebook that features a process of deep questioning, meditations,exercises, and visualizations to access the power of one’s authentic self. This how-to manual helps women rediscover the perceptions, patterns, pleasures, and power of being female.
The Female Power Within is the first book in a series of 12 based on workshops and seminars that Graman and Walsh have developed at Life Works in New York since 1984 to help women uncover their authentic power and have more of what they want in all areas of their lives.
“The Female Power Within is a groundbreaking exploration of the nature of women’s power. It reveals that our power is in our authenticity. It is time to stop being angry with men, and stop being limited by them. As more women uncover their true natures we will, as Marilyn and Maureen suggest, transform the world.” —Arianna Huffington, syndicated columnist and author
“A Guide to a New Kind of Strength! Exercise your female power . . . You don’t have to climb the corporate ladder or close a huge business deal in order to be powerful. Strength comes in many forms. Graman and Walsh redefine power and encourage both men and women to use traditionally female characteristics, such as kindness, gentleness and cooperation, to make their lives more fulfilling. —Shape Magazine
“The Female Power Within is a beautifully written guidebook to help you tap into the inner reservoir of peace and joy that is your true nature.” —Sri Swami Satchidananda, Integral Yoga Institutes & Centers
“I know from personal experience that Marilyn and Maureen’s empowering concepts and techniques work. They’ve created an exciting and meaningful contribution to the worldwide shift occurring in women today. If you’re serious about self-discovery, read this book!” —Beth Greer, President, The Learning Annex
“Imagine a world in which every woman has the opportunity and encouragement to be herself—a world where success is not measured by how many deals you make or whether or not you have children, but by how authentically you are living.”
Thus begins this breakthrough book on discovering and living from your authentic power.
For far too long we’ve accepted that being powerful means being tough and aggressive and strong and in control, forgetting that the very qualities that make us strong as women are our gentleness, our natural inclination to cooperate and communicate, our ability to lean back, to yield, and to be in the flow of life. To prove ourselves out in the world, we have tried to blaze like men when our natural light is softer, steadier, more deep than wide.
The Female Power Within is about discovering that light and allowing it to shine. The book outlines a step-by-step process for coming to know yourself intimately and deeply and encourages you to rediscover the perceptions, patterns, pleasures, and power of being female by moving beyond your foremothers and beyond the lives of men as well.
Many women describe the process as nothing short of miraculous, as if doing this work makes it possible for life to simply align with you. You will embrace what comes naturally, what brings you pleasure, what you already do with ease, what you enjoy and what is fun. You will discover that all the power you need already lies within you; all you need to do is lean back and let it shine through.
Discover the Extraordinary Power in Being Female
Many women have achieved goals, personally and professionally, that our mothers and grandmothers could only dream of. We head corporations, compete in marathons, hold elected office, lead expeditions, write prize-winning novels, run universities, and in some cases raise kids as well. We’re so busy, in fact, that we often don’t even have time to ask ourselves, “Is this what I want to be doing? Am I happy in my life? Is this it?”
In this rich and reassuring book, psychotherapist and creator of the Life Works programs Marilyn Graman and her longtime associate Maureen Walsh give you the opportunity to ask these questions at last. You’ll look at the cost of striving for power and success on male terms and discover what a truly successful life would be for you if you could define it for yourself. In short, you will discover the incredible power of being female.
Dozens of original “uncoverings” and reflective questions will help you see how you’ve been measuring yourself by “scorecards” that don’t make sense for you and to get so clear and grounded in mind and body that the life you want just begins to flow toward you. The adrenaline rush of struggling and competing and never feeling centered and peaceful will simply lose its appeal as you open up to the magnificent power you already have within you.
As you begin to relax into your female power, you will be amazed at how much energy you liberate for making wise choices, receiving all the good there is to be had, drawing wonderful people toward you, and just plain having fun.
One Woman’s Experience
Allie, a thirty-three-year-old executive, always saw herself as a powerful woman. In fact, she used to be so focused on being powerful and independent that she pushed people away. She carried her strength with her like a badge, using it to prove she was worthwhile and to keep at bay anyone who might disagree with what she wanted. What she didn’t recognize was that it took strength to allow herself to be disagreed with, to be wrong in someone else’s eyes.
Allie was so fierce that she intimidated her coworkers, her friends, and the men she went out with. She often complained about being lonely and not having support while simultaneously bullying her way through life.
“Now I can love myself enough to be with someone who might not want to do everything my way,” Allie says. “I used to always want things my own way, and I couldn’t see others’ opinions as valid. Now I can lean back and have it be easier. I don’t have to be ruthless in trying to get what I want. I can be softer and more open, keeping my view from the crown chakra that everything is happening for the best. And this female viewpoint allows me to see that what I perceived as strength before was actually fierceness stemming from a fear of being ridiculed or ignored. I see now that it is actually stronger to lean back and receive what life is offering me than to strain forward and shout to make myself heard—and I actually get what I want more now than I ever did before.”
Allowing herself to lean back and be softer opened up the possibility for a committed relationship, and to her surprise, Allie is now married—something she never believed could happen. Like Allie, you may have areas in your life where you felt you had to be strong in ways that you can now see were actually sapping your essential energy by keeping you living from anger or fear. Now you can understand that you are being strong when you return your power to yourself, when you are being tender with yourself and available to help yourself through the hard parts, when you have a heartfelt relationship with yourself, when you can ask for the support you need, and when you can lean back and embrace life in the knowingness that you can transform what comes your way into something that you can use to learn more about yourself. That strength feels different from the strength of making yourself known by being forceful and aggressive. It is the strength that emanates from you when you are experiencing the Female Power Within.
Thoughts to Consider From THE FEMALE POWER WITHIN
Each of us now has the opportunity to become more fully, intensely, lovingly, enthusiastically, and beautifully herself. As we begin to live authentic, fully engaged lives and come into our female power, peace will emanate from each one of us. And as we change, we will change others and the world around us.
Just what does success look like if it is neither living the lives our mothers led nor living lives based on men’s lives? The answer is different for each woman. We have to be willing to move things around so that our lives work for us, and since there are few role models, we have to create the path ourselves.
You are not trying to be someone else or live up to someone else’s expectations of you; you are being you. You don’t need to compare yourself to others, because you know you are making the best use of your talents and interests in a way that no one else could.
As you begin this journey, we ask you to hold this thought: You are already as powerful as you will ever be. You may not know your power, but that doesn’t mean you don’t have it. Everyone is endowed with power. It is not something you have to acquire. All the power you will ever need is already in you. The work here is to uncover it, allow it, accept it, honor it, and move with it.
You will bring your own magnificence to the discovery of your power as you become the best and truest version of yourself you can be—and only you know what that work of art looks like.
Change probably won’t hit you like a tidal wave, but rather might gently stream into your life. Like an underground spring, it may be happening under the surface, and only a little bit trickles into the daylight. As you continue doing the Natural Power Work, the trickle may continue until one day you might notice that it has created a river.
Changing your perception allows you to have different thoughts. And having different thoughts allows for different feelings. Different feelings will often lead to different action. And taking a different action produces a different result.
As you lean back and relax into what is natural for you, you will notice that your life is blossoming on many levels. You can look forward to some of the following shifts:
- Knowing what really matters to you and having it in your life
- Living in the expectation that things will work out
- Knowing the path through difficulties
- Helping yourself through upsets and having a more easeful and graceful life • Living safely with your heart open
- Feeling powerful in the situations you find yourself in and knowing that they will work out well • Feeling good about yourself
- Living a life that needs no defending and fits you well
- Filling your time with experiences that really resonate with who you are
- Balancing all that is important to you knowing that you can depend on yourself
As each of us does the work to uncover her power, we will discover more about the nature of female power—and this discovery will add to the tender, compassionate, openhearted vibration of being female on the planet.
The process is an organic one: The more you are living a life that is authentic for you, the more you will fall in love with yourself. The more you love yourself, the more you will be open to the expression of who you are. You will be free to share your matchless gifts with the world, gifts that no one else can offer because they are the true and real expression of yourself. The more open you are to the expression of who you are, the more your world will work for you.
It may be that you long for things that are not yet in your life, and the things you crave but don’t yet have can be an indication of what really matters to you. If you look at what you desire as a statement of what is authentic, you can use your yearnings to have more of what you want. Not everyone yearns for the same thing, so what you long for says something special about you and deserves your attention.
Having a myriad of choices can sometimes seem overwhelming and burdensome, and navigating without a map may cause us to feel uncertain, confused, angry, or disappointed. With a shift in perspective, however, we can see our choices not as burdens but as containing infinite possibilities.
As you begin to uncover what is real and true for you, you will begin to see that you are already as powerful as you will ever be.
When you begin consciously using your power for yourself instead of against yourself, you will be amazed at how much energy you have for choosing well, allowing yourself to receive, drawing good people toward you, and having fun.
If you wake up exhausted in the morning, drag through your day, and fall into bed exhausted at night, it may be because all day long you are using your energy against yourself.
It takes a lot of energy not to be the divine, extraordinary, magnificent person you are.... Remember the one who danced for everyone unselfconsciously as a child, the one who would laugh loudly or shriek in delight even though she was in a public place? She is the one who is truly you...
She is the essential energy of who you are.
Being human means making mistakes and not doing everything perfectly the first time....This is a trial-and-error universe, and there is no such thing as perfect.
We can’t change the fact that we are large spirits stuffed into human bodies destined to go through all the vulnerable, humiliating, imperfect experience of being alive. What we can do is incorporate our human condition in the best way possible so our lives can unfold and we can each become what it is we are designed to be.
When we are awake and aware in each moment, we can trust that in each moment we will make a decision that will be authentic for us. The more we can make authentic decisions, the more we can express ourselves magnificently. As we each release our completed sculptures from their stone prisons of history, identities, and defenses, we will share with the world the unique, fully expressed, authentic, tender female light of our powerful selves. As each of us releases our light, we will illuminate the world.
A Conversation with the Authors
MARILYN GRAMAN AND MAUREEN WALSH
1.What do you mean that men are a “glass ceiling”?
In our recent authentic desire to have equality and the right to fully express our talents and influence the world we live in, we looked to the people who were being powerful: men. Using them as a model for how to accomplish our goals was ingenious, necessary and important. We have mastered those skills in the last 35 years and many of us have become very good men.
Today, most women want more than that. They want to become more themselves and true to their own nature. The full, natural expression of being a woman can be quite different than a man’s.
2. What is the “Quiet Revolution”?
Simply stated, it is each woman, one at a time, taking a look at her life. For too long women have looked outside of themselves – to men, society, their women friends – to make decisions. Looking internally and relying on her own power, each woman can find her authenticity and purpose. When other women witness the resulting quiet peace, self-connection, and joy in life, they will be encouraged to examine their own natural female power. And so the quiet revolution continues...
3. You say that women and men have female power. What do you mean?
Everyone has both male and female power. Since woman are bio-chemically female, more of their authentic self would naturally be expressed in a female way. Female power is inclusive, cooperative, empowering, tender, nurturing and gives life. Men are capable of all these things when acting from their female side. Female power is subtle and most evident when missing. When a situation needs nurturing, and there is none, you realize how powerful nurturing is.
One of the intentions of out book is to shine a light on the nature of female power, and therefore making it more apparent to us all. The world needs more female power to make it a gentler, more peaceful, inclusive world.
4. You write that women of all ages can benefit from The Female Power Within, yet the experiences of a woman in her twenties and a woman in her fifties is bound to be drastically different. Can you describe how your book speaks to women of all ages?
We wrote the book for the same type of women who attend our workshops–successful, attractive women who feel something is missing in their lives, despite having achieved what they thought they wanted. Torn between career, relationships, and family, they don’t know how to figure out the best combination for themselves as individuals. Young women sense there is “something more” to life, and are confused by all the choices. Veterans of the feminist movement, who lived their lives as an experiment, are not sure what is really authentic for them.
This book announces a turn in the road. We hope to show them through exercises and internal searching they already have all the answers they need, that there is a way to develop greater ease, grace, richness, fullness and happiness. We want to bring more female power into a world that needs it, changing lives and therefore changing the world, one woman, one person, at a time.
5. Do you believe the proliferation of depression and anti-anxiety drugs factor into the discontent women feel?
In our opinion, drugs cover the deep-seated dilemma women find themselves in today. We find ourselves with too many choices, no road maps, staying too long in a career or lifestyle, not feeling the right or know-how to make changes, not balancing home and work, and generally feeling over- extended with no time for ourselves or hopeless that life can ever get better. With the information and exercises of our book, woman will be empowered to make the changes they want and need and will not need drugs to get them through their day. The deeper issues that cause the need for the drugs will be addressed and healed in our book.
6. The Female Power Within is filled with exercises to help women discover their true, authentic selves. Can you give an example?
Our participants tell us they find one exercise particularly valuable. We ask them to bring a photo of themselves from childhood. Referring to the young child as “she” rather than “I” helps to separate the child from the adult. Consequently, they learn to identify responses from childhood to adult situations. The photo exercise also helps women get back to a time in life when life decisions were made to feel good, but no longer serve. As children we enjoyed what we enjoyed without
the influence of society, culture, or other people. We had joyful curiosity and experimented with abandon. Looking at their childhood selves can help women find the courage to experiment and bring back what is delightful to them.
7. You encourage working with the charkas. What are they and how does this work help empower women?
Chakras, an ancient Hinda teaching, are the body’s seven energy centers, located from the base of the trunk to the space just above the crown of the head. Each one serves as a window to our innermost being and to the universe:
The root (or anal) chakra offers the capability of groundedness,
The sexual chakra is the seat of creativity and nurturing,
The solar plexus chakra connects us with our psychological selves, our memories, and our emotional traumas,
The heart chakra confers compassion, forgiveness, gratefulness, generosity, inspiration and love, The throat chakra gives voice to our authentic expression,
The psychic chakra puts us in touch with intuition,
The crown chakra relates us back to the wisdom of the universe.
The power of using and understanding the chakras allows each woman to see her humanity in a way that provides more compassion and more access to female power. It helps her to know that she is greater than her responses to day-to-day living and assists her in being able to make decisions from a place that asks “Is this good for me” and “Is this right for me.”
8. In the book, you say women often choose negative, self-defeating criteria when gauging where they are in life. You call these criteria “scorecards.” Could you tell us a little more about these?
Scorecards are the criteria we judge our lives against, the ways we assess whether things are going the way we want. With this book, we want women to understand that the lens they look through causes the experiences they have. The idea of scorecards helps.
For example, a woman in a lower level corporate position decides that success for her is “becoming vice president.” That is her scorecard and she feels defeated every day because she sees herself falling short of “the goal”. However, if that same woman chose her success scorecard to be “Am I enjoying my work” or “Am I learning every day” she would undoubtedly feel more empowered and able to see opportunities to achieve.
Simply stated, if we view our lives in terms of quality, we will live quality lives on the way to reaching our goals. The key is not to judge.
9. Can your program really change a woman’s attitude towards life?
Yes! This book came out of our Life Works workshops and on-going groups. We’ve worked with thousands of women through groups and retreats to help each woman uncover her magnificent, authentic self. These women have come to know that along with the ability to choose their own path, they are already as powerful as they need to be.
Now, the practices and exercises we’ve used for so many years are able to reach beyond our doors. Women everywhere can find ways to create lives they want to wake up to and embrace.
10. What your vision of the future?
The possibility is a future where each person wakes up to a life in which she is happily doing what is authentic, satisfying and natural. A world where how you say something matters just as much as what you say. A world where compassion is just as important as strength; where attracting things to you works just as well as making something happen; where decisions are based on the good of all rather than the survival of the fittest; where nurturing is equally powerful as force; where process is as important as the result. To quote the last paragraph of the book:
“As we each release our completed sculptures from their stone prisons of history, identities, and defenses, we will share with the world the unique, fully expressed, authentic, tender female light of our powerful selves. As each of us releases our light, we will illuminate the world.”