#198 – The Truth of the Embodied Feminine in Motherhood with Jenna Ward

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Every single time I have these conversations, I learn more and go deeper and my conversation with Jenna Ward did not disappoint. Jenna is a feminine embodiment for women and coaches who value sensitivity and sensation, and this exchange is practical and profoundly inspiration. Listen as we discuss:

  • Catching up with ourselves, our emotional energy and all of the data and unexpressed life force that can become frozen.
  • Happy Instagram snaps and the obsession we can fall into for the bright, shiny, peak beautiful experiences – understanding that there is beauty of all shades in all seasons.
  • How we try to put an ocean in a bucket and the representation of how we try to compress our emotions and were we can find safety instead.
  • Learning about failing better at life and being okay with failing harder, better, and losing all the fluff.

This conversation absolutely lit me up and I hope it does exactly the same for you. It constantly surprises me how much more there is for us to understand around this. To find out more about Jenna I encourage you to visit her website https://jennaward.co/.

If you would like a deeper understanding of matresence and how we support women differently, Mama Rising facilitator training opens just once a year. For early offers and to join the 5 days to a motherhood revolution event before August, please jump the link below to join the wait list. https://mamarising.net/mama-rising-waitlist/


[00:00:00] Welcome to the Happy Mama Movement Podcast. I'm Amy Taylor-Kabbaz. I would like to start by acknowledging the Gadigal people of the Aura nation on which this podcast is recorded as the traditional custodians of this land. And pay my respects to the elders past, present and emerging. And as this podcast is dedicated to the wisdom and knowledge of motherhood, I would like to acknowledge the mothers of this land, the elders, their wisdom, their knowing and my own elders and teachers.

[00:00:38] Welcome back Mamas. Quite often on this podcast, we talk about the masculine and the feminine embodying our emotions and feelings, how to reconnect to our body, how to move our emotions. So many of these divine insights and practices to really help us understand who we are, why we feel the way we do and what to do about it.

[00:01:07] And it constantly surprises me how much more there is for us to understand around this. Even if you think you understand that your body is trying to tell you something and that your body stores past stories, past emotions and past experiences. It is still challenging in my opinion, and my experience to know what to do with that in the moment. In this conversation, in this podcast, I am speaking with Jenna Ward.

[00:01:39] Jenna is a feminine embodiment coach and founder of the feminine embodiment coaching certification. In the conversation you're about to hear we explore again, what it means to be embodied in our feminine. What it means to move from our head and overthinking things too deep into our body to receive, to be alive.

[00:02:04] But what I love about this conversation is the new understanding for me and perhaps for you as well, that Jenna brings to us about what our body has stored and how that shows up in moments that perhaps are not connected at all. How we can be okay with those emotions and when we can honor them properly.

[00:02:33] I loved it. I loved this conversation. It was so practical and yet deeply inspirational. I hope you feel the same enjoy.

[00:02:42] Jenna, thank you so much for joining us on the podcast.

[00:02:46] It's a real joy. Thank you for having me.

[00:02:49] Thank you for being here. I am so excited to explore the insights and wisdom that you were going to bring for us. So, first of all, can you share with us what you teach and practice as a leader in the embodiment practices?

[00:03:11] So I am a feminine embodiment coach and I use many different types of devotional, feminine embodiment practices in my own life. They are so essential to me. They keep me sane and centred and connected to my sensuality and my creativity as a woman. And I also train coaches and teach coaches in our feminine embodiment coaching certification.

[00:03:38] So I'm connected with hundreds of amazing practitioners in the realm of this embodied arts, which is a practice of really coming back to who you most sincerely are and letting those desires and that version of yourself, be more fully expressed out into the world in the way that you speak and in the way that you make decisions and in the way that you really live your life.

[00:04:08] It's such a beautiful concept to explore with you because I often feel that, one of two things can happen when we become a mother. One is we begin to become very aware of our feminine body, our feminine ways, especially if you have lived very much in a masculine way of living, as so many of us have in a world that is governed by, you know, corporate success and financial success and productivity.

[00:04:37] And so the experience of becoming a mother can be the beginning for some of us of this exploration of another part of ourselves. And yet, on the other hand for many, it is also a time of completely losing a sense of who we really are. Of really disconnecting from our sense of self, our identity, because we've become so consumed with this new little one.

[00:05:07] I think both of those, whether it's one or the other is leading us to the same place, don't you think? Which is leading us to a place of exploring who am I now? And this feminine awareness, this feminine embodiment practices, devotions, as you call them, is the way to those answers. Would you agree?

[00:05:26] I would absolutely agree?

[00:05:28] And in my experience, when I birthed my child, there was a huge sense of a collapse of who I was and my identity as I entered that really intense phase after having and birthing her. And without a doubt, there were, as we described those feminine qualities of like hormonally, neurobiologically, but also spiritually those qualities of having to surrender to the moment and the ebb and flow of intense emotions and energies and love.

[00:06:00] And while that can be, and for me was a very beautiful experience of many of the feminine qualities. It was also really challenging because it was such a fall into the void of, well who am I? If I don't have all of the regular signals of my identity and what it means to be successful as you were describing, there can be a big question mark.

[00:06:25] And I feel for many mothers, almost like a dark night of, of losing our contact with our personal desires, because they've been superseded, as is perhaps rightfully so biologically, with purely desires for the wellbeing of whether its our newborn. And my daughter is three now and I even still see, and I'm sure for many years we will see that there is a hierarchy of desires, her desires, my desires, and where do I fit into the matrix of it.

[00:06:56] So I feel like for me, this beautiful birth of my child was in a lot of ways also the destruction of my own identity and an opportunity to redefine who I wanted to be, who I could be and to recenter what I valued in the way that I live and the way that I work in the way that I do. And also in the way that I parent.

[00:07:17] That's it, that's a very definition of matresence and how we describe it. It is the destruction of the identity you had so that you can birth the new. But in the middle of those two extremes is this space where we explore, we try and understand what's happened. Who am I becoming? Who do I want to be?

[00:07:39] And as you said, what are my desires? What am I needing in all of this? So in the three years that you have been exploring this for yourself, what has been the process of you trying to answer those questions of, of who am I and what has really abled you to, to find those answers?

[00:08:01] A few things come to mind in terms of that process of rediscovery, which I think that we go through in our entire maturation. Not so much in getting older, but in maturing as beings. I think my constantly can be in cycles of that, who am I? I was laughing as you asked the question, because I remember as my, my daughter, might've been about three or four months old and I began to feel the awakening of my desires. And the only thing I wanted was a pedicure. That's the only thing I could name that I wanted. So I went down to where I have my pedicures done and they were closed. And I just remember standing on the side of the street, just erupting into tears, because it was the only one thing that I could tell you that I wanted.

[00:08:46] And beyond that, I had no idea what I wanted anymore. So what has, so one of the practices and, and I want to also be really clear, I'm still absolutely figuring this out right now in my own life. I feel like I'm in a very intense phase of rediscovering, a lot of the creative aspects of myself. Um, but a few of the practices that have really supported me, I'm really following the breadcrumbs.

[00:09:14] So not saying no to any desire when it arises. So if it's the small pedicure. Or just having 10 minutes longer for my cup of tea in the morning, or resting with a book in this part of the day. If there's a small window of some desire or some, and I feel like desire is like, it's the spark of activity that feels like it's just really going to nourish you and make life more ravishing.

[00:09:42] If I get a sense of that, my intention, my practice, which I'm constantly trying to commit to is to prioritise that. Which can sometimes feel incredibly challenging because there is just always so much that needs to be done. So that's one of the key aspects, prioritising those tiny little glimpses because I find that they begin to, to build and grow bigger and they can become something more substantial. And the other thing that has really supported this, who am I? Which I don't know the answer to, that's all still evolving. There's two things. One is that I spend time, energy and money working with practitioners around that. So if I feel like I carry a huge amount of the emotional load for my family, often with my clients. It's like, where do I have the space to go and be a hot mess? And someone support me? Like where is the space for me to lose my S H you know what I'm going to say. And just like BMS of vulnerability. So that I think is a real gift because when I'm emotionally tended to, it creates so much more resilience and harmony in me to then bring back to my family unit where I'm, you know, supporting the emotional needs of them.

[00:10:58] And often the third piece is that I, uh, I've had a varying relationship with this, but I have at the moment a morning practice. So I wake up about 45 minutes before the kid and my partner and I have 45 minutes of devotion, to just what's happening inside me. How am I feeling what's going on? Just catching up with myself because all of us are living at such a fast pace.

[00:11:26] Often when I'm speaking with my partner, it's a transfer of facts and datas and timetables. And sometimes it won't be until a day or two later that I begin to pause. How did I actually feel about that? How did I feel about that experience? And I find that unless I create some space for catching up on how I'm feeling and to take some time, and this is where the embodiment and the devotional practices can be so useful.

[00:11:52] It's catching up to me. That's a form of, it's almost like emotional maintenance that just helps me stay buoyant in my body. And I secretly just love that alone time. So those, are the three things that I'm consistently/inconsistently practicing.

[00:12:11] I love that answer so much. I love the way you're really drawing attention to how our emotional needs are are tended to, in a safe, beautiful honoring way. I think so often we think of, uh, being a good mother, being a successful woman, being a strong woman, it's this very much stoic energy, this on top of everything all the time, consistent, steady.

[00:12:41] Other words that I often hear from Mamas is this real sense of my emotions cannot be explored out of me, they have to be kept within me. This is exactly what feminine embodiment is all about. Isn't it? Is allowing it to come up and out so that it can be tended to.

[00:13:04] Absolutely. Embodiment at, I feel, it's most primordial level is really about creating the sensitivity and the vulnerability, to meet what is arising within you? And I feel like motherhood is, is definitely a layer of life, which brings so much intensity to our inside world because we're not only tending to ourselves.

[00:13:27] We're tending to many other dynamics and beings beyond us that we're often carrying the emotional load of. So for me, I know there's times where I feel frustrated and angry and hostile and resentful, and like at the end of my tether, and it's really easy and necessary often in the moment for somebody else's wellbeing, often my child's wellbeing, to be prioritised in that moment. But if I don't then take the time to catch up with myself, all of that emotional energy, all of that data, all of that unexpressed life force can become frozen, it can become bound up. And this is when, and I've experienced this in my life and I never want to experience it again.

[00:14:16] This is when so much of that tension becomes frozen, we become somewhat numb inside. We've become really desensitised. Sure, we might feel like a little bit of happy and a little bit of sad, but like the extremes of the spectrum, like I like to describe it as ravishment. I want the intensity of life to like penetrate my heart and to pierce with the beauty and to fill me and overflow me.

[00:14:40] And if I want to feel there's ends of the spectrum, that real aliveness and beauty of life, which also sometimes can feel vulnerable and tender and painful. If I want to have those types of experiences, I can't have a whole heap of my life force, just frozen up and untended to. I have to be creating some space for myself for that energy to be able to flow, to be felt, which requires us to be vulnerable. And to kind of get back into circulation so that I can then use that for, the next tantrum or the next creative project that I want to work on or the next intimacy or adventure with my partner. And I feel like as mothers, we often have so many balls in the air that many of us are just running on adrenaline. And I would much prefer to run on a fuller sense of my life force, which to me feels almost like every action can be devotional.

[00:15:37] And I want to be clear that this is still an aspiration of mine because in every day life keeps happening. So this is, it's not like life is ravaging me 24/7. This is a practice that I want to work towards increasingly increasing my stamina.

[00:15:52] Can I ask you something there though? Do we really want life to ravish us 24/7? Maybe it's just an exhausted mom comment here after 14 years of parenthood, but I think, uh, it is that dance, isn't it? To be ravished and then to rest, to be turned on and creative and desired and desirable, and then totally surrendered soft and just in the moment. It's this divine dance that, like you, I am trying to work on every single day and I sometimes struggle as I'm sure all the women that you work with. I sometimes struggle with the, with the belief, maybe the expectation that it should feel turned on, amazing desirable, this big, beautiful, feminine, awakened life all the time.

[00:16:47] And just like we have to be okay with the dark so we can have the light. We also have to be okay when we're not turned on by it so that we can be turned on again. I'd love to hear your thoughts on that.

[00:17:00] Um, what you speak about is a beautiful feminine principle, which is this principle of cycles, continuously changing. So as I look outside my window here, right now, I'm in Australia, we're in a wet season, it's going to become dry again, and it might even become full of drought. And similarly, we have these cycles within us.

[00:17:20] I feel like there is a cultural belief that it should be summer all the time. That's like you described like this peak experience all the time. And we see that so much in our advertising. Like everyone's always sharing their, like some snaps who wants to share their snaps when they're in their winter clothes or when it's dark and rainy or, and so culturally, we have this obsession with the bright, shiny, beautiful peak experience. And I actually, one of the principles of feminine embodiment is that there is beauty in all of the shades and in all of the seasons. So if I'm in a phase of, in a winter, so not being particularly creative, for example, there are still beautiful qualities within winter that I still want to be ravished by like, as you described rest. Turning inward and hibernating going really slow in my days, being tending to the very small and the simple and the routine that to me, when I say ravishment, you could substitute that word with devotional.

[00:18:27] You could substitute it with flow. You could substitute it with sweet embrace. Of what is present to be, to be contemplated and felt in that moment. And it will be different in every season. And I think there's an opportunity and a challenge for those of us who don't always live in high summer, literally, or metaphorically, or in our inner world, to rediscover and recelebrate and reembody the beauty of the full spectrum of the seasons, because we are full spectrum humans. We have the same inner seasons as mother earth does. I've just recently come out of living in the Netherlands in Holland, where it was a physical winter and I was in an inner winter. And there was, me that was a really beautiful new experience where it was an opportunity to consider,

[00:19:22] how could I let this slowness really have it's way with me? How could I let this not being cute, feeling hugely creative, not having a big output, not being able to do a lot of activities because it's winter outside. How could I let this penetrate and move me and bring more wellness into my being more?

[00:19:45] That was a very interesting few months long exploration.

[00:19:48] Yes. I love the question you've posed there. How can I let this have its way with me? Whooo that is a good question to ask.

[00:20:01] And it's a very difficult question to ask because oftentimes we might ponder it, and there may be a blank, a not answer, a not knowing how I might enter this season or this desire or this intention more fully. Because for many of us, this devotional skill of being, which is so opposite to our productivity skill of doing is a muscle within our being, which is atrophied.

[00:20:30] It's like we never take that to the gym. And yet we expect to be able to like ask the question and run a marathon. So I think there is also a lot of compassion and curiosity which is required when pondering these types of questions, because you might not discover the answer instantly, and you might have to try a few things and realise this is actually not, this is not working, this is not the path.

[00:20:53] But all of that is such valuable research. This way into a deeper inhabiting of the feminine, this deeper inhabiting of how could that have its way with me more. Just like when we're trying to project manage a project and it's a bit of trial and error as we develop those skills, it's the same.

[00:21:12] Although it's very natural for all of us to have a strong, feminine flavor. Many of us,

[00:21:17] myself included are under skilled in that aspect and in those muscles. So I think a lot of trial and error and curiosity is.

[00:21:29] I'd like to ask you a little about self-regulation. And, you know, we're in motherhood and in life, I guess, as a woman, um, I speak a lot about in my training and in my work around self silencing, this real sense of women silencing themselves, trying to really regulate their emotions.

[00:21:50] Uh, again, keeping them inside. And yet there are many circumstances as a mother where we do need to regulate ourselves in that moment. You know, we're in the middle of the supermarket. I don't even need to paint the scenario. Every single mother listening knows exactly the scenario we're talking about.

[00:22:08] What is an embodied feminine practice around self-regulation that in the moment allows us to contain perhaps what we're feeling what's being triggered, but then honor it later. How do we self regulate as a woman and a mother in these situations?

[00:22:27] Yeah.

[00:22:27] It's a really great question. And one that I would love to say I'm perfect at, I know a lot of the philosophy to share, but it's still an ongoing exploration for me as well. So I find what works very well is the recency of timing. So if something has just erupted within me and I wait 15 minutes. It's still pretty potent and active in my system.

[00:22:53] If I wait 15 days, it's more challenging for me to come back into contact with that, which wanted to move from my inner world, through my body, into the outer world, as a way for it to shift from an internal sense to a flowing sense. Something that is free to be with my body. So this requires this recency of time.

[00:23:18] Meaning if we can get to it quicker, it's going to be easier for us to shift it. Now that will be compacted by the frozen tension that we have stored in the back. So if our ancestors or in our own lifetime, if we've hit the pause button on that 20 times out of 20. When we contact that immediate situation in the supermarket, the intensity that we feel, it may be disproportionate to the current experience, if we've got a whole heap of previous stuff stored, so that can impact it as well.

[00:23:53] Often we can feel like our responses are disproportionate or unreasonable. We might be gaslit by people around us telling us like calm down. Don't be such a crazy woman. It's not that much of a big deal.

[00:24:03] But if this moment is activating all of the past data that you've got stored around every other time that was frozen. Yes.

[00:24:13] That's the body's way of bringing to the surface that which needs to be resolved. So your body's not going to bring up more than you can handle, which is a great thing for us to remember when we're feeling something intense, our bodies on our side.

[00:24:28] It's not some crazy emotional, hormonal thing that you can't trust, which is what many of people in many cultures have been indoctrinated to believe. It's on your side, it wants to work towards you towards resolution so that you can just be free for more of your life force to flow. So if it's too much or too intense to deal with in that moment, then save it until you have a quiet, safe space. Vulnerability creating vulnerability with what is arising within us is done most easily when we feel safe.

[00:25:00] So, if that means going to your car where you can close your four doors, that means going to your bedroom. If that means standing in the shower, which is the only place that you get to be alone, if that whatever makes you feel safest, those external resources of safety, that's something that will support your nervous system to know.

[00:25:19] Ah, this is the moment where I can begin to just let go, but it's also useful for us to unpack. I think as mothers out time scarcity, because I know I have been that woman in the supermarket with a child melting down and there's a lot of internal narrative that it's not okay for this to happen here.

[00:25:39] I don't have the time for this. I can't let my child see me upset. And I don't know if any of those factors or other associated ones are an absolute truth. I'm okay to be the Mum that needs to like sit down on the ground in the supermarket and just say to my little one, can you just come give me a hug? You've just stood on my toe and bruised it for the 50th time.

[00:26:01] And I'm about like, this is what my internal dialogue is. This happened yesterday. I'm about to lose my, so let's just take a moment to all feel, come back together, let this flow and just to be with what you're feeling for a few moments. Those would be like a few of the key foundation pieces. The one piece that I'll add on to that, which is more from an embodiment perspective is that when we are stationary in our body, so holding our body still our internal world can, that is our emotional world.

[00:26:36] Our, our, inner knowing our heart's desire. It can move and it can erupt and it can shift. But if we're like a rigid statue on the outside it can be a little bit harder to come into contact with that, which is moving and dynamic. It's almost like you're taking the ocean that wants to ebb and flow, and then you put it in a bucket and it's like, well, there's not so much ebb and flow when you've put this rigid body around it, this rigid structure. So sometimes it can be useful just to move your body a little bit. If you're feeling a tendonous in your heart, put your hands there, move your chest space. Not in some pose of like, oh, I need to open my heart, but just in terms of how would my heart want me to move?

[00:27:19] How am I feeling? Am I small? Am I big? Does this feel like I need to rub my head? Or like, does it like, how would my body move if it was to embrace what I was feeling more fully. That's a practice that again we can be like, oh, well, I don't want to be the crazy woman, waving her hands in the supermarket. And it's actually like, well, isn't this just part of being a human, having an alive internal felt sense.

[00:27:45] Like, what is wrong about allowing other people to see that we are alive inside and not just some robot. But everyone's at a different point with that, I'm an embodiment professional. So I may be a bit more loosey goosey than the rest. Maybe your car feel safer for you. So go hang out there and do it.

[00:28:04] I have been practicing embodiment practices, meditations and my version of some Kundalini meditation for many years. And I always knew in my experience throughout my life, that it was when I started to bring in that movement, that things finally began to shift. I was always intellectually understanding what I needed to understand in the moment and what the right things to do and how to move through it.

[00:28:34] But it was never actually working. And it was only when I started moving my body and these practices that it really landed and massive shifts began in my life. I've understood that again, intellectually for a long time, but until you described an ocean in a bucket that has just made more sense to me than it has ever made before.

[00:28:56] I'll, that's why, because I have these ocean of emotions inside of me and I need to move with them to feel them, to let them ride the wave, whatever it is. So divine explanation of what that is. Thank you so much.

[00:29:11] You're sorry. Welcome. I've never used that analogy before it just came in this moment. So it

[00:29:17] Oh really? Well, we nailed it

[00:29:18] Just for you.

[00:29:19] Just for me.

[00:29:20] But it also makes sense because when we see so many types of calming stress relieving, meditation, spiritual practices, a lot of the time, the first image that comes to mind is someone seated, still, not moving their body.

[00:29:35] Or sitting, talking, having a dialogue, a conversation which can, all of that can be very useful. But we're speaking about feminine embodiment here. And when we think about the feminine energy, which has nothing to do with gender, which has more to do with the chaotic generative, emotional qualities that exist within all humans, the feminine is not still.

[00:29:57] Like when do you see mother nature? Not in some state of change, she is always changing. And so when we think of feminised versions of calming or meditation or spiritual practice, of course they would involve an organic free flowing form of movement because that's what mother nature shows us. That's the embodiment that we can really use that as a, as a reminder, and as a cue.

[00:30:26] It's really interesting Jenna, I recently did a podcast interview with a phenomenal woman from the same part of Australia as you are at the moment called Lisa Fitzpatrick. And she talks about, um, you know, the patriarchal teachings of yoga. That because of the lack of literacy in feminine cultures around the world, especially in India, we have not been shown how yoga is meant to work for a feminine energy and body. And it's been shown to me again, just the way you said how often we are taught these practices, where it is stillness and rigidity and holding and not moving. Again, wonderful benefits in that. But let's also acknowledge that there is this beautiful, chaotic energy within us that needs to be felt and moved as well.

[00:31:15] Ah, well, I think you've probably got hundreds and maybe thousands of women who are now wanting to find out what do you do and how they can do it with you, which I'll pop into the show notes. But in summary, as both an embodied feminine practitioner and a Mama of three years. What do you think motherhood is, is showing you and teaching you about yourself?

[00:31:46] Hmmmm. I feel like it is teaching me to let go of more that doesn't need to happen. Recently, I've been calling it failing better at life. It's been showing me where it's okay for me to fail harder and fail better and just lose all the fluff that doesn't matter. It's shown me where I can fail. And it's also shown me where there is opportunity for delight and for spontaneity and coming back to that conversation of how I can be ravished by that. Finding ways where I can enter that, that work for both me and for the rest of my family. Because the way that my family does play in spontaneity, sometimes doesn't suit my body and it doesn't suit my disposition. So it's been showing me what I need to fail better at.

[00:32:36] And it's also been showing me how I can partner with people to bring what they enjoy and what I enjoy so that I don't have to sacrifice, but that I can still create intimacy. Can still be together in the spontaneity and play in a way that doesn't have to dishonor me. Like I'm allowed to be honored in the equation too.

[00:32:56] That is such a good sentence to finish on. I am allowed to be honored in the equation too. Oh yeah. There's a mantra for us. Wow. It's been divine to speak to you. Thank you so much for your wisdom and insights.

[00:33:13] Thank you to everyone. Who's joined us. And thanks for having me, Amy.

[00:33:17] Thank you.

[00:33:20] I don't know about you, but I could sit in circle with women like Jenna Ward for days and days. These conversations light me up, they turn me on, they awaken something in me. And every single time I have these conversations, I learn more and it goes deeper. I hope you feel the same. Please check out Jenna's work and the school of embodied arts that she is the founder of and all of her details are in the show notes. As always share this podcast far and wide. And please leave a review on your podcast player because that's how more Mamas find us, hear about this and also change how they feel about themselves during motherhood and matresence. As always, thanks for being here with me. Until next week, satnam.

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I'm Amy.

I'm a matrescence activist - here to revolutionise the way you feel about yourself as a mama, and transform the way the world values and supports all mothers, everywhere.

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