by Susun Weed
I am the sheath of the sword. I am toothed, armed, and ready to bite. I have the power to defend, to keep women safe. I am not passive, accepting, ready to be filled. I am aware, watchful, ready to reject what I don’t want and to seize what I will.
Listen to me and I will tell you how safe we are, right now, in this moment. When we are secure, I am open and receptive, moist and inviting. When we feel threatened, I become cold and hard, hot and tight, irritated, and inflamed. If the danger goes on and on, I weep, I am overrun.
In health and joy, I am a rich and thriving ecosystem: friendly yeasts, beneficial bacteria, and a generous assortment of slippery, slidey lubricants thrive in my tangy-tasting depths.
I am stretchy. I am expansive. Fill me and I yearn for more. I am yielding; I melt, I surrender. Yet in yielding, I deliver. I am the victor. I clench my fist and grab the prize. Mine.
Do you think that I drool? I do. Do you think that I dribble, leak, and flood? I do. I am messy. I push the boundaries. I am greedy. I am slick. I am sleek.
I lie between what is shown and what is hidden. I am both public and private. I am not visible, yet I am the identity of a woman. By my name is woman named. By my power is woman empowered.
Vaginal Exercises: Kegels
Do you exercise your vagina? I do!
Exercises for the vagina are called Kegels by doctors and vaginal clenches by feminists. Regular vaginal workouts not only keep your vagina healthy, they increase the strength of your orgasm and counter urinary incontinence and uterine prolapse.
To do one: clench the entire pelvic floor — the vagina, the anal sphincters, and the bladder sphincter, then let go. To strengthen fast-twitch muscles that control the bladder, hold for two seconds, then relax for two seconds, starting with ten repetitions and increasing to one hundred. To strengthen the muscles involved in orgasm, hold for ten seconds, then relax for ten seconds, again starting with ten repetitions and increasing to one hundred. I do my daily clenches while waiting at red lights or in lines.
Guided Meditation for A Secure Vagina
Vaginal problems and infections are connected to fear.
When a woman does not feel secure in her life or her home, she produces cortisol and other hormones which impact vaginal health. Unease, anxiety, distress, and alarm can quickly alter the pH balance of the vagina, causing a dieback of beneficial organisms and a surge of infectious organisms. The mucus coat which protects the vagina from colonization by septic bacteria changes under stress, thinning and offering less protection. And, when a woman is frightened, the muscles of her vagina clench, rejecting intercourse; if penetration is forced, her vaginal tissues will tear, allowing easy access to all manner of unwelcome viruses and bacteria.
This meditation is designed to improve the health of the vagina, to thicken the protective mucus lining, and restore ease to vaginal muscles. It is both preventative and curative medicine. Women who have a history of sexual abuse may wish to do this meditation in stages on a daily basis; build gradually and continue until it is thoroughly incorporated into your mind and body, psyche and spirit. Women who have chronic vaginal infections may find it useful to do this meditation every time they menstruate. Other women may use it as the occasion arises.
Preparation: Find a safe place, outside or inside, to be absolutely alone for thirty minutes. You will need a blanket that completely covers you. If you wish, you can write the statements — “I will protect you. I am holding you.” — on a card or piece of paper for reference.
Guided Meditation: Sit comfortably. Breathe out. Sigh out loud. Lower your head when you breathe out and sigh, chin toward your chest. Slowly raise your neck as you inhale. Repeat for a minute or more; then imagine you are breathing in and out of your vagina. Continue breathing, sighing, and imaging for another minute or until emotions — such as fear, sorrow, rage, confusion, joy — begin to rise.
As your emotions come on, pick up your blanket and wrap it as tightly and completely around you as you feel comfortable with. Continue to breath, but now say out loud: “I will protect you. I am holding you.” Say it again and again. Let tears come if they will. Let anger come if it will. Let ecstasy come if it will. Be compassionate with your confusion and fear.
Pay attention to the physical reactions that come with your feelings; pay none to words and stories that come. No blame, no shame.
When the surge of emotion moves, move one or both hands to your yoni. Repeat, out loud: “I will protect you. I am holding you.” Say it again and again, observing and feeling any emotions. No blame, no shame, no guilt. Hold yourself tenderly. Be the protector you long for. Breathe.
End: Carefully unwrap yourself. Breathe and sigh out loud ten times. Do not write in your journal. Do not speak about this to anyone. Stay with your feelings; let go of the reasons.
Shelia was a 33 year old mother of a nursing child with an “angry, inflamed, painful vagina,” in her own words. Her MD reassured her there was no infection, and suggested steroids to calm her pain. Since she was reluctant to do that, she asked me for help.
I, in turn, asked her to tell me what preceded the pain in her vagina. “It began after the birth,” she replied. As we talked, I realized that this was her second birth; her first pregnancy culminated in a still birth (the baby was born dead for no apparent reason).
My mentor Elisabeth Kubler Ross taught me that death brings anger before acceptance, so I asked Shelia if she had gotten angry at the first baby. After all, it abandoned her, betrayed her, deprived her.
She reacted to my question with horror. “How could I possibly ever be angry at that poor innocent baby. I feel guilty, not angry,” she said, bursting into tears.
While I believed her, I believed her vagina more, and she described it as “angry.” I urged her to get in touch with her anger, and suggested soothing remedies — yogurt and slippery elm — to ease the pain meanwhile.
Shelia visited me several times that year; each time I asked after her vagina, and her anger. After fourteen months, Shelia finally accepted her anger and we had a long talk about it. Are you surprised to learn that her vaginal pain was gone that evening?
Douching interferes with the vagina’s ability to stay healthy.
Douching makes the vagina “dirty.” Douching pushs harmful bacteria up into the uterus. Douching increasing your chances of getting a vaginal infection and of keeping it.
Women who douche weekly are four time more likely to get pelvic inflammatory disease. Unfortunately, the lower the income, the more likely a woman is to douche. Nearly three-quarters of women of color douche regularly.
Instead, practice your Kegels in the bathtub! Tell other women: Don’t douche!
Reference: “Dangerous Hygiene” Health, July/Aug 1992