The Healing Keys inside the Female Body

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Did you know that up until twenty years ago, all stress research was done on men? I just discovered this, and it blew me away. Researchers thought that female hormones fluctuated too much to measure accurately, so they left them out of their studies.

Luckily, a researcher named Shelley Taylor decided to embark upon a ground-breaking stress study - one that included women. What she discovered could have a potentially radical impact for women, especially women who are engaged in a healing journey of any kind. Taylor's studies show that the typical 'Fight, Flight or Freeze' stress response isn't the only response to stress for women. The female body often responds to stress with a flush of different hormones, including Oxytocin, which instead creates an attitude of 'Tend and Befriend'.

In times of stress women don’t necessarily move to run or fight, they reach out to protect and connect. Oxytocin is sometimes referred to as the 'Goddess Hormone', and along with the other 'Tend and Befriend' hormones, it serves as the female body's natural de-stressing mechanism, by: ~helping muscles to relax ~reducing blood pressure and cortisol levels ~increasing pain thresholds ~activating anti-anxiety effects ~and promoting the body's natural healing response.

The Healing Keys inside the Female Body - Flora Abe Happily, there are many ways to activate this 'tend and befriend' response, and all it's healing benefits, without being stressed.  Hugging a friend, cooking a meal for someone you love, petting your dog, walking in nature, and even giving yourself a thirty second shoulder rub all release a flush of oxytocin and it’s host of healing effects.

For the last five years, I've been on a recovery journey from chronic digestive pain, so I'm especially curious about the potential healing effects of this ‘Goddess Hormone’. One of the turning points in my healing was when I joined the TreeSisters team and began to connect with them in weekly team meetings, as well as taking part in the Awakening Women Institute's online women's programs.

I noticed that my symptoms were reduced both during, and directly after experiences of being in circle with women (even online ones).


Women's circles can be a tend and befriend heaven. Deep listening with no agenda, hugs, feeling 'seen' and 'met', low light and soothing music, a sense of kinship, eye-gazing, and respectful touch all activate oxytocin.

I began to ask myself: could the friendship, bonding and support within women's circles have tangible, measurable healing effects for chronic health problems? The statistics about chronic health conditions are shocking - women make up nearly three quarters of the people who experience them: ~5 million people with Fibromyalgia (80 – 90% women) ~1 million with Chronic Fatigue (66 – 80% women) ~30 million with IBS (66-75% women) If gathering together in supportive circles of sisterhood could truly activate healing for these women in a tangible way, it could be huge.

circles of womenTotally intrigued, I've decided to explore the healing potential of women's circles by launching a new project called Women's Wellness Circle.

We're researching and developing ways to gather women with  chronic health challenges together to activate the 'tend and befriend' healing response.

One of our first experiments is an online course, entitled 'Radical Self Care: Healing Chronic Illness ~ The Feminine Way' for women with chronic health challenges. To find out more about this course, please visit: https://womenswellnesscircle.lpages.co/radicalselfcare/

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Thank you for reading this. To close, I'd like to raise a toast; to sisterhood, to oxytocin, to including women in research (honestly), to the healing power of women's circle, and to our fabulous women's bodies, with all their hidden healing keys.

By Sophie Jane Mortimer

Photography and Artwork by: Emmanuelle Brisson, Flora Aube and Aubrie Woods. 

 


sophie-headshotSophie Jane Mortimer is TreeSisters' Communications Director. She is also a Yoga Instructor (RYT200) specializing in Restorative Yoga, a Massage Therapist and a Women's Temple Leader in the Yogini tradition established by her teacher Chameli Ardagh at the Awakening Women Institute.







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