Home is a subject which is close to our hearts, and something well worth exploring, as women and as mothers. The word ‘home’ conjures up all sorts of feelings and imagery in our hearts and minds. But exactly how to we achieve that sense of home. Where is our ‘home’? Does our home feel like ‘home’?  The last 9 months has seen me involved in a Red Tent women’s sacred circle. In our most recent meeting, we meditated on the subject of ‘Home’, and what I write here is taken from this group. Thank you to the women of our Red Tent (you know who you are) for inspiring, supporting, and being with me, on this journey.

Whilst there are many ways of running these groups, we decided to run ours with guidance from Goddess archetypes. From Doreen Virtue’s Goddess Guidance Oracle Cards, this is the message from the Goddess Vesta:

“There’s an undying flame within your soul, and it’s the light, seed, and spark of your consciousness. Your outer world reflects your inner world. Take a look around your home. Does it reflect warmth? If not, this is easily remedied and oh-so-important to do. It’s a simple task of using your creative imagination to add warm energy to your household, such as lighting the fireplace or some candles, adding cosy blankets and pillows, or displaying greeting cards and fresh flowers. By warming up your outer world, your inner flame responds to meet it. This increases your energy level, which automatically shifts all outward appearances toward the better. Watch how these simple steps recharge the flame within everyone in your household. This flame cleanses away negativity and brings in the new with vigour and irresistible invitation.”

I chose this card from a selection we drew before the group began in earnest, and over the next few months, I was gifted gems of information to  guide us in this exploration. I began this journey at a time when my physical home environment needed some attention, as well as my marital relationship. The next few months saw me setting those two cornerstones in order, leaving space to contemplate my inner experience of ‘home’.

The book ‘Woman: A Unique Tribute’ by Dorothy Boux is a beautiful book where the author ‘draws on her deep fund of experience and wisdom to shed light on what it means to be a woman today.’  In the section on home, she states, in lovingly crafted calligraphy:

“Deeply embedded in humankind is the desire to found a home, a shelter where one can feel safe and secure. Whether we dream of a country cottage, a mansion or a simple room, sooner or later we shall choose four walls and begin to gather possessions about us. It is in the gift of woman to endow her surroundings with beauty and peace by remembering that every task is an act of service to those surrounding her. Today, the daily round may also encompass work in city and office; nonetheless, the opportunity to connect with the subtle and spiritual worlds is ever present, and can lead… to great acts of love and compassion.”

Next I quote from Sogyal Rinpoche:

“Nature is always an unfailing fountain of inspiration. To calm your mind, go for a walk at dawn in the park, or watch the dew on a rose in the garden. Lie on the ground and gaze up into the sky, and let your mind expand into its spaciousness Let the sky outside awaken a sky inside your mind. Stand by a stream and mingle your mind with its rushing; become one with its ceaseless sound. Sit by a waterfall and let its healing laughter purify your spirit. Walk on a beach and take the sea wind full and sweet against your face. Celebrate and use the beauty of moonlight to poise your mind. Sit by a lake or in a garden, and breathing quietly, let your mind fall silent as the moon comes up majestically and slowly in the cloudless night. 

Everything can be used as an invitation to meditation. A smile, a face in the subway, the sight of a small flower growing in the crack of a cement pavement, a fall of rich cloth in a shop window, the way the sun lights up flower-pots on a window sill. Be alert for any sign of beauty or grace. Offer up every joy, be awake at all moments, to the news that is always arriving out of SILENCE.”

But what does this have to do with ‘home’. This suggests to me that home is not just about our physical homes, but about how we feel ‘at home’ with ourselves. Walking in nature, and being in nature has always brought a deep sense of peace, and feeling of ‘home’ to me, and here I share with you some wisdom about our Earth home from Satish Kumar taken from his book ‘Earth Pilgrim’. Satish is editor-in-chief of Resurgence Magazine, and as a young man embarked on a peace pilgrimage, walking, with a friend, from India to America. Here’s what he says about home:

“Economics and ecology share the same etymological roots in the Greek word ‘oikos’. ‘Oikos’ means ‘home’. ‘Logos’ means knowledge. ‘Nomos’ means management. Ecology is the knowledge of home, and economy is the management of home. To take care of anything you have to know it, understand it, and then you will be able to manage it well. If you don’t know your home, how are you going to manage it? If you don’t know where your living-room, kitchen, bathroom and bedroom are, or where your garden is, how are you going to put furniture and tools in the appropriate places? Therefore, knowledge of home is essential in order to manage it. 

But ‘home’ is not just the bricks and mortar, not just a building – it is more than purely a house. It is a place of relationships. When one says, ‘I am going home,’  it means ‘I’m going to the place where I have relations. My father, my mother, my daughter, my son, my wife, my husband, live there with me.’ Wherever your relations are, that’s your home. In the context of ecology, home is earth itself, where humans, animals, mountains and forests are in relationships. All species, humans and other-than-humans are members of this planet home, this Earth family, this Earth community.”

Again, the notion of ‘home’ is expanded from house-home to family to the Earth itself. I particularly like the way Satish brings in the idea of relationships and home, since the human experience is ultimately one of relationship. How we relate to members of our family, and how we relate to all aspects of the Earth must be considered in our exploration of ‘home’.

Finally, I’d like to share with you, these thoughts, edited from a piece by Rabbi Howard Cooper:

“What does it really mean to feel ‘at home’ in the world? Relaxed, casually, gracefully, ‘at home’ in this fractious, tempestuous, unredeemed world? Where are we ‘at home’? In our families? In our work? In our local community? In our religious institutions? All these have the capacity to make us feel at home and the potential to make us feel unsettled or alienated. None of them have the quality of  ‘at homeness’ as a given. All can let us down, just as the material world can let us down. But maybe looking outside ourselves to feel at home is looking in the wrong place. Maybe we should be asking: do we feel ‘at home’ in ourselves? Can we rest inside ourselves? How often do we feel distracted, on edge, ill-at-ease – we know so well how fragile things are inside us. Not just our body’s state, but our emotional state, and our psychological state. We know how prone we are to swings of mood, pettiness, irritation, anger, jealousy, possessiveness, envy… Are we ever really ‘at home’ with ourselves and in ourselves?”

Today, working at my children’s school as a teaching assistant, I took my regular group of children for a language enhancing session of storytelling and talk. One of the children, in particular, is often very agitated, and struggles to join the group and engage with the story. At the end of the session, I noticed that his breathing was very quick and shallow. I wondered if some deep breaths might help. And so, I introduced the ‘dragon breath’. Close your mouth, take a deep breath in through your nose and ‘haaa’ the breath out of your mouth, as though breathing fire like a dragon. Several of these later, and I had a much calmer child on my hands. I wonder, could it be this easy, just to feel a little more ‘at home’?

Going Global

So far, much of what I have written here has been about either my own personal experience, or that of mothers in my own small and unrepresentative cohort. ‘The Motherhood’, though, is all about creating a world-wide vision of motherhood. We’re wondering what it’s like to be a mother in other parts of our globe. How does it feel to be a mother in Tonga, Ukraine, Syria, Bangladesh, Norway, Japan, Canada, Indonesia, Australia, Burkina Faso, Spain, Israel, Kenya? Wherever you are, what’s it like in your country, in your city, in your village? How is it to be a mother in your part of the world? Do you know anyone who would be willing to contribute a story, and share with us their experience of being a mother? Would you have a story to share?

We’d like to know what it’s like for you, and your friends and family. Is it easy, is it tough? Are you able to feed your family? Do you have a supportive community? Do you feel motherhood is respected in your culture? What makes it difficult? What could make it better? How have things changed over the years? Is it different for you compared to how it was for your own mother? How is birth treated? How are girls raised? How are boys raised? How do you spend your days? 

It would be thrilling to create a picture of Global Motherhood so that we can start to create a future for motherhood that is better, bolder, brighter and full of hope. 

What does an empowered mother look like?

How does an empowered mother look? Does she have perfect hair, well-behaved children, and a designer house? Is she an ‘at home’ mother or does she work? Does she combine the two? Maybe she educates her children herself, grows vegetables and doesn’t care too much about the state of her house? What does any empowered woman look like for that matter? We can pretty much see what women ‘in power’ or in powerful positions look like, and quite often, it’s similar to men: suits, a hectic work life and plenty of media exposure. Alternatively, how about our screen idols? Is Angelina Jolie an ’empowered’ woman, for example? Is she a powerful woman? What exactly is the difference? The  Oxford English dictionary defines powerful as, ” Having great (physical or other) power or influence” whereas ’empower’ comes up as “authorise, license (person to do); enable”. So, in a way, the two concepts: ‘power’ and ’empower’, although similar, have subtle differences in connotation. The first, ‘power’ is about influence, having power ‘over’ others perhaps, whilst the second, ’empower’, is about authority and enabling. Authority has had a bad press. I envisage hard-nosed teachers from my youth telling me what to do, or the justice system coming up with crazy acts of legislation that seem to serve no-one. This kind of authority, is one that is imposed, from without. The kind of authority that I am referring to in terms of empowerment, is from within. If you think of the word ‘author’, which is not just about writing but about being an ‘originator’. Taking the root of that word forward, we have ‘authentic’, or ‘authenticate’ which means ‘ to establish the truth’. So, could we think about empowerment as being the author of, and establishing our own truth? In which case, the question should be, not ‘what does an empowered mother look like? But, how does an empowered mother feel? 

If we accept that we all have our own inner truths to find, and our own unique paths in life, then an empowered mother, or an empowered woman could look like any of the examples above. The question is for her to answer herself. Or for you to answer yourself. Are you living in your own truth? Are you the author of your own life? Or are you living a stereotype existence? Perhaps living the life your mother lived? Or living purposefully against how your mother lived? Or copying an idol or someone you admire? But, how do we know if we are living our own truth? What this comes down to is not what’s going on on the outside: as I have already shown, there are many external ways of getting on with life, which suit each of us differently. The important thing here is the inner journey. Are we listening to the deep truths that come to us in those quiet moments? Are we allowing ourselves to have those quiet moments? Are we listening to the anger, the misery, the joy and the pain to reflect to ourselves what is working and what isn’t? Are we aware of our deep values and what has meaning for us? Do we dismiss our grand ideas as dreams and put them to one side or do we listen? Do we take notice of the small niggles of our lives, and do something about them, or do we put up and shut up? Still working on this myself, I wonder if feeling empowered is about feeling at peace, contented, effective and at least at times, connected to our joy.

Let’s have a look at what exactly an inner journey is. For many of us it is an alien concept. We live, for the most part, in a materialistic culture of outward expression. There is little opportunity, unless we seek it, for inner reflection. Those of us who do seek to engage with our inner journey may find support through spiritual disciplines such as Yoga or Buddhism; through religion, if you’re lucky enough to belong to a community with that slant; through psychotherapy or counselling; meditation; writing or other forms of creative expression; or through the vast array of self-help books on offer. Like any other part of being the ‘author’ of our lives, we must choose the method or methods which appeal to us, and which speak to our inner being in a meaningful way.  As far as our inner being goes, the inner journey means exactly that: journeying to the far reaches of your soul’s imaginings and seeing where it takes you. Accepting the greatness of your existence. Which isn’t easy – especially when you feel up to your ears in washing, children and work.  It is worth it, and it is more of an adventure than living a sham external existence which doesn’t match up to what you feel inside. We must be wary, however, of an arrogant attitude in terms of what we find deep inside. Just because we find something there worth exploring doesn’t mean we are right and doesn’t mean that we have the right to disrespect those around us, and neglect our duties and commitments. For example, we may feel deeply that we need to be appreciated and loved and feel that someone other than our husband or partner could fulfill this, but will actually acting out this impulse fulfill our other needs say, for security, or a stable family? Our inner desires may give us a glimpse into how we’re feeling, but we must tread lightly, and tread carefully.  Often, the changes that are made may look like nothing to an outsider looking in, but feel like an enormous shift for you. Our inner journeys must take place within a framework of values, otherwise it just starts to look like hedonism, and we already went there in the 1960’s. In addition, as mothers, the journey to empowerment, contradictory as it may seem, is not all about ‘us’. It is about us, our families and our partnerships. It is about listening to your innermost feelings and values, not about what you want to ‘do’, but about how you want to ‘be’, as a mother, as a wife or partner, and as a family. Mother power, in other words, means family power. Means leading your family in a way that raises you all up, and makes room for everyone to grow and develop, indeed for everyone’s inner journey: yours, your husband or partner’s, and your children’s.

Yoga gives us an ‘eightfold path’ of values which illustrate what I mean by exploring your inner journey within a framework of values.

1.     Attitudes towards others and learning to live in harmony in society (yamas)

2.     Attitudes towards ourselves and keeping our body, mind and spirit in health and happiness (niyamas)

3.     Practicing physical postures to release tension of mind and body (asana)

4.     Breathing properly in order to balance energy (pranayama)

5.     Exploring the senses in order to gain mastery over external influences (pratyahara)

6.     Developing and maintaining proper concentration (dharana)

7.     Resting in effortless meditation (dhyana)

8.     Becoming one with the infinite (Samadhi)

(Courtesy of Anne Tison, Yoga Teacher)

So, how exactly do we engage on this inner journey? And how do we go about becoming empowered? I wish I had all the answers here, and I don’t, but here are some of the things that feel good to me:

  • Meditation
  • Talking with other mothers, not just superficial chat,  but real, opening up, truthful conversations
  • Having fun: dancing, laughing, tickling
  • Writing: pages and pages in a notebook to get your inner thoughts on paper, and ‘out there’.
  • Drawing or any other acts of creation
  • Self-development courses (online are particularly suitable for mothers)
  • Self-help books which engage you in exploring yourself
  • Sleep and rest
  • Communication: learning to communicate dispassionately
  • Having courage to keep going, even when it feels hard – it’s better than feeling deadened, and periods of pain and difficulty are often a precursor to something more amazing than you could even have dreamed of.

I wonder, though, in terms of ‘mother power’ whether engaging in the inner journey is enough in and of itself? Yes, there are huge benefits: living a life of integrity, feeling at peace with yourself, inspiring your children (as Carl Jung said, “the greatest curse on parents is the unfulfilled desires of their parents”), but is that all we need to feel empowered as mothers? I would argue not.  To raise ourselves up must be our first step, as our own family units reflect the world in microcosm. If we can’t find peace and harmony in our own families and relationships, how can we campaign for it in the world? However, for me, the next step in the empowerment of mothers must be to see mothers being heard, listened to, appreciated, respected, trusted, and loved by the whole of society. Once mothers are being consulted on local and national policies, and being listened to and proactive on issues of national importance, then I will feel mothers have become empowered. Not just being listened to under the current terms, which is really about allowing women and mothers to engage in the political arena within the current status quo. What I am talking about is giving mothers a voice for the family, because what is right for our family, and for our children, is going to be right for us. And what is right for us, if we answer this question with true integrity, is going to be what is right for our families. If we are depressed, or not coping, or feel unappreciated we are simply passing this on to the next generation. If, however, we can find our way to joy, uplift and empowerment, then this is what we will pass on. I have used the example before of war. Can you imagine a group of mothers gladly sending their sons to war? Maybe if mothers were part of our decision-making processes, if they were more included, and therefore our children were more included, our world could be a more peaceful and cooperative place. This step is all about imagining. How would the world look if mothers were empowered? How would we feel? How would everything be organised? How would our families look? How would we work?

We are currently, as a global community, in an intense period of change. We are moving over from a materialistic, outward-looking paradigm to one of inner truths and cooperation. The change is somewhat turbulent. Job security doesn’t exist, values are changing, and people, women and men, don’t know what to believe in any more. If you want to talk about it in Astrological terms, we are moving from the Piscean age to the age of Aquarius (remember the song?).  Any time of turbulence is going to be uncomfortable, and the manifestation of this discomfort is first going to be in our relationships and in our homes. There are two ways of dealing with this. The first is the way of the last generation: put up, shut up, keep your head down and keep yourself busy. The second is the way of the future: explore it, accept it, deal with it and move forward  and upwards to greater heights.

Day of Rest

There’s been a bit of a hiatus in my writing (of several years, some of you may notice). Firstly, I’ve been busy: four children in 5 years, and several house moves didn’t help with that. Secondly, and actually, more importantly, I just didn’t feel very empowered myself. How could I possibly write a blog about empowered mothers? I just didn’t feel I had anything useful to say on the subject. But I haven’t been idle. I’ve been doing my research and in the interests of exploring this subject for myself, I came across ‘Be the Woman You Were Born to Be’, an online course and community, taught and hosted by the inestimable Guru Kaur and finally, I feel like I have something to say, and hope to resume blogging on a more regular basis. On your part, if you’re reading, please leave a comment. It is  totally encouraging to hear your views and comments and it would be wonderful to get a dialogue going. Anyway, here’s my offering:

Saturday, or Sunday, or maybe both are meant to be days of rest, depending on which tradition you are following, religious or secular. This weekend, I take a moment to consider my days of rest. On Saturday, I have a ‘lie-in’ til 7.30, shower, have breakfast, go shopping for a birthday present, drop my daughter off at home, take my son to a birthday party, collapse on the sofa, make lunch, clear up lunch, put load in the machine, do washing up, load dishwasher, bathe children, put them to bed and finally watch a film before meditation and bed. I won’t bore you with the details, but the second ‘rest’ day was pretty similar, although we managed a walk with friends to our village breakfast, thereby forfeiting the slot allocated to changing children’s beds, which although a truly enjoyable morning, is a little stressful as not changing sheets frequently enough in the past has led to threadworms, which is not very pleasant. I used to try to justify this lack of a real weekend in my head by considering my weekdays as my weekend as at least I have child free time and can have a bath or a walk in my free hours, but I still have to get up at 6am and don’t finish until 9pm. In other words, it’s pretty relentless and I never get a day off. I know that I need help and procuring that help is currently up for discussion, and proving to be a very revealing part of the process of self-discovery and self-empowerment.

Recently, I have let go of trying to hold everything together for the sake of… well, for the sake of what, to be honest. The family, my husband, myself, the greater good? I really don’t know. What I find interesting though, since I accepted that I’m not really happy with this ‘Cinderella’ arrangement, is that I have found many other mothers feeling very much the same. (Obviously we attract people who are resonating the same as us, but still, it got me thinking). We are all middle class mothers with all of the outward trappings of success and prosperity: the house, the children, the private school, the hard-working husbands, some have businesses or jobs as well, and yet it is not working. We are not feeling that success or that prosperity for ourselves. Our husbands are absent much of the time, and unsupportive the rest of the time. We don’t have parents around to support us, and our communities are non-existent. We take the lion’s share of responsibility for home and hearth and are driving ourselves to depression. And yet everyone gives the impression that everything’s fine and dandy, until you scratch the surface just a little, or reveal a little of yourself to someone, and find out that they’re in the same boat. 

We grew up with a background of feminism and Margaret Thatcher, individualism, and women ‘having it all’. ‘Having it all’ just means ‘doing it all’; individualism means ‘doing it all yourself’; feminism forgot that we were mothers and made the only valid option work, and Thatcher taught us, among other things, to be pseudo men, and not to bend (‘this woman is not for turning’). Since becoming mothers, we are induced to anxiety by a Freudian emphasis blaming mothers for all our ills,  and the thousands of books on parenting, which make it impossible to know if you are doing it ‘right’. So this is the backdrop to our experience as mothers which leaves us feeling unappreciated, undervalued and struggling for space to simply be.

When I first became a mother, I was absolutely delighted for the first year or so, until it gradually dawned on me, that along with what I had gained, I had lost my autonomy, my world had shrunk to a square mile, I no longer earned my own money, and I lost my connection to the wider world, which I had had through work. I believed in motherhood, perhaps I idealised it. I believed (and still do) that children are best looked after by their mothers (and fathers), and that communities are well served by women being at home. But this has become such a denigrated, and also rare, choice, that to do so and feel inspired and whole takes huge reserves of inner strength. One of the reasons I took the ‘Be the Woman…’ course was because of my belief in motherhood, and my desire to find my powerful self through being a mother. These were my words, Let’s use the power we have as mothers to empower ourselves and influence the world in a positive way for generations to come.” But how could I use a power I didn’t feel I had? I stopped writing so I could explore this, and have something to offer my readers. I feel a little closer to my goal, and I continue to be an undaunted warrior on this issue, not just for myself, but for a whole generation of women and children who seem to be living out their lives under an unspoken tyranny of isolation, denigration and subtle control. And yet, if we look closely enough, and listen very carefully, in the silence, it is us who are colluding with the tyranny and allowing it to perpetuate.

I don’t have all the answers, but I accept now that finding them is the journey and not the destination. 

The Awakening of Universal Motherhood

No-one expresses what ‘The Motherhood’ is all about better than Sri Mata Amritanandamayi Devi (Amma) (www.amma.org.uk). In this piece, I quote unashamedly from  a little booklet entitled ‘The Awakening of Universal Motherhood’. In it, she talks about women being ‘the power and very foundation of our existence in the world’ and whilst she talks about the qualities of motherhood: love, patience and compassion, she does not restrict them only to women who have given birth, but rather as a principle inherent in both women and men. I visited Amma in 2000 for one of her enlightening hugs, and this booklet came to me via a friend of a friend about 5 years later, after I had embarked on the journey of motherhood, and shortly after I had conceived  The Motherhood. I quote from this little booklet, below:

“Women have to wake up and arise! This is one of the most urgent needs of the age.”

“Who should awaken woman? What obstructs her awakening? In truth, no external power can possibly obstruct woman or her innate qualities of motherhood – qualities such as love, empathy, and patience. It is she – she alone – who has to awaken herself. A woman’s mind is the only real barrier that prevents this from happening.”

What does it mean to be awakened and to arise? It means to be connected with her deep self, to value herself, to feel she has power within her own existence, to feel joy and connection and love. If our mind is the only barrier that prevents this from happening, how can we achieve this state of grace? We have to focus on it! In our transactions with our families, friends, children, and most importantly ourselves (from which the rest will follow) we have to feel this connection and to court joy. Are there any methods to achieve this state? We will not find it in the mind. Here we will find the shopping list, the to-do list, and a myriad thoughts which prevent us from becoming still, hearing our inner voice and being in the precious moment. There are many paths to the truth, but essentially they are all one. All advocate coming to an inner peace, a quietness, and allowing God/Goddess/Universal Truth, or whatever you may know it as to slip in between the gap. The following is a meditation, from the Kundalini Yoga tradition which is very simple, yet very powerful. If done for 40 days it can bring great change to your consciousness. It is the ‘Grace of God’ meditation, although I practiced it myself and found ‘Grace of Goddess’ worked better for me. To me, the God of my childhood, and of my subconscious was punitive, angry and judgmental, and these are the qualities I began to exhibit after 30 days of the meditation. After changing it, I found I had a different experience altogether. See for yourelves!

Grace of God Meditation

The Grace of God Meditation is designed exclusively for women to self-adjust negative habit-patterns of the personality and to give her the power to look deep inside her innermost being and define her own self. This is empowerment! This meditation has been known to assist women to regain a positive image of her infinite potential, promote inner grace and strength, as well as, outward radiance and physical health. Part One Lie down on your back and fully relax your entire body. Inhale deeply, hold the breath in and repeat silently ten times, “I am the Grace of God”. Exhale entirely, hold the breath out and again repeat silently ten times, “I am the Grace of God. This is one cycle. Repeat this cycle 5 times. (It can be helpful to move the tips of a finger or thumb to count a repetition.) After the five cycles are completed, relax for a few moments. Part Two Sit in easy pose (cross legged) with your eyes closed. relax your right hand in gyan Mudra (the thumb and the index finger create a circle, other fingers straight) on your right knee. The left palm faces forward at the level of the shoulder with the fingers straight. Breathing is relaxed. Bring your concentration to the fingers of your left hand: – Tense your small finger, or Mercury finger, which influences your communication. Now repeat five times alound: “I am the Grace of God” while meditating on transforming your communication. Relax the small finger. – Tense the ring finger, or Sun finger, which influences your physical health, and beauty. Now repeat five times aloud: “I am the grace of God” while meditating on transforming your physical self. Relax the ring finger. – Tense the middle finger, or Saturn finger, which influences your emotions and karma. Now repeat five times aloud: “i am the Grace of God” while meditating on transforming all challenges. Relax the middle finger. – Tense the index finger, or Jupiter finger, which influences your wisdom and ability to expand. Now repeat five times aloud: “I am the grace of God” while merging with your inner wisdom. Relax your index finger. – Tense your thumb, which relates to your ego or identity. Now repeat five times aloud: “I am the grace of God” and expand yourself to your Infinite Self. Rela your thumb. -Lower your left hand into Gyan Mudra and sit quietly for a few minutes. Enjoy your Grace and Radiance of being a Woman. You can practice this meditation at any time of the day. For the optimum effect, practice twice daily, at sun-rise and at sun-set. Source: Shakti: the sacred essence and power of a woman. Yogic Teachings for Women by Yogi Bhajan, PhD, Edited by Sat Kirpal Kaur Khalsa, PhD., pp. 195-196

“Real power and strength do not come from the outside; they are to be found within.”

By changing ourselves, we can change the world. Oft-quoted from Ghandi, “Be the change you want to see.”  Myself and my family were having lunch with friends at the weekend, and my friend,  mother of 3 beautiful children, had had a recent epiphany, and was oozing positivity, calm and power. She had realised that no-one is responsible for her enjoyment of her life, except herself. She has made the conscious decision to quit moaning, and appreciate every moment of what she has.  It was such an inspiration to me.  I was uplifted, inspired and empowered by her presence alone.

“In ancient India, the Sanskrit words that a husband used when addressing his wife were Pathni – the one who leads the husband through life; Dharmaptathni – the one who guides her husband on the path of dharma (righteousness and responsibility); and Sahadharmacharini – the one who moves together with her husband on the path of dharma.

One of the challenges of being a woman is to maintain empowering, nurturing, and fun relationships with our partners. This attitude can be found personified by the wonderful Regena Thomashauer, aka Mama Gena (www.mamagenas.com). She teaches that the role of the ‘dutiful wife’ has had it’s day, and teaches us to grab the bull by the horns (if you’ll excuse the expression) and drive our relationships and our lives, rather than be driven. Putting our pleasure top of the list, she describes how by appreciating our men and allowing our desires to be the thrust of our families, we can lead our entire families to a more uplifting and joyous life.

“The principle of motherhood is as vast and powerful as the universe. With the power of motherhood within her, a woman can influence the entire world.”

Women do not gladly send their sons to war. The strength of feeling the motherhood principle inspires can change the world. In Liberia, civil war tore the country apart for twenty years until a group of women approached the government and put a stop to it (see the film ‘Pray the Devil Back to Hell’ for more about this). In Northern Ireland, many women spearheaded peace initiatives. Aung San Suu Kyi, Burma’s democracy leader and Nobel Peace laureate peacefully protested and spent over 15 years under house arrest in order to improve the situation in her country. These are but a few examples of how the strength of women’s feeling brought change in their countries.

“When women are undermined, their children become weak as well. In this way, a whole generation loses its strength and vitality. Only when women are accorded the honour they deserve, can we create a world of light and awareness.”

This gets to the crux of what ‘The Motherhood’ is about, and why it is so important for us to find our power for ourselves, because we then have the power to create something wonderful for the next generation.

“The quality of motherhood is the foundation of a woman.”

I like the way this talks about the quality of motherhood, again emphasizing that there is no need to give birth to exhibit these qualities. And there is no need to mother only those to whom we have given birth. A cup of tea and a biscuit for the builders, listening ear to a friend, shopping for a neighbour, can all be an expression of the quality of motherhood. Any action which springs from our well of loving-kindness counts!

To finish, I offer you more from Amma, which I really cannot expand on. She says it so perfectly.

“Women hold the reins of integrity and unity in the family and in society. “

The power of a woman’s innate motherhood helps her to find a deep sense of peace and harmony within herself.”

“Only love, compassion and patience – the fundamental qualities of women – can lessen the intrinsically aggressive, overactive tendencies of of men. Similarly, there are women who need the qualities of men, so that their good and gentle nature doesn’t immobilize them.”

“Women are the power and the very foundation of our existence in the world. When women lose touch with their real selves, the harmony of the world ceases to exist, and destruction sets in. It is therefore crucial that women everywhere make every effort to rediscover their fundamental nature, for only then can we save this world.”

“The responsibility of a mother, when it comes to influencing and inspiring her children, cannot be underestimated. There is much truth in the saying that there is a strong woman behind every successful man. Wherever you see happy, peaceful individuals; wherever you see children endowed with noble qualities and good dispositions; whenever you see men who have immense strength when faced with failure and adverse situations; wherever you see people who posess a great measure of understanding, sympathy, love and compassion towards suffering, and who give of themselves to others – you will usually find a great mother who has inspired them to become what they are.”

“Mothers are the ones who are most able to sow the seeds of love, universal kinship, and patience in the minds of human beings.”

“Woman is the creator of the human race. She is the first Guru, the first guide and mentor of humanity.”

The Plan

When we become mothers, we are excluded from our commerce-driven culture, sidelined and considered unimportant. Interacting in our culture is disempowering to mothers: the medicalisation of birth, the lack of communal life, long working hours for fathers, even the width of pavements is not conducive to family life! And in our part of the world we are exceptionally lucky. Motherhood is the most important job in the world and is overlooked in all but a few small corners. Many mothers are struggling to feel vibrant and alive at home on their own with children. How demoralising it can be with only soft play and toddler groups as light relief. We, as mothers need to feel connected, stimulated and engaged.

Women have done a great job in promoting and reorganising women’s role in the workplace and in business. Now we need to reorganise and shift the focus of motherhood, and women raising their children. We have addressed ‘woman as maiden’. Now it’s time to think about ‘woman as mother’.

The entire world will benefit from shifting its focus from men and economics to women, family and community. The largely male-driven, consumer mode of being is disintegrating with many people globally suffering from poverty, hunger and disempowerment. With more balance of the male and female paradigms, we’d have more fun, be more peaceful, happier, and more fulfilled.

So, how do we achieve this? Well, since the concept of ‘The Motherhood’ was born, six and a half years ago, I’ve been a bit busy raising my children to put a plan into action. (This is probably why mothers are largely unheard – we’re just too busy!) I envisage a number of elements:

  • A club in every town with crèche, food and resources where we can congregate, learn, and support each other, without great expense and without offending other members of the public with our children (how odd that children should be offensive).
  • A PR job (Lynne Franks, are you listening?)
  • Events with awareness raising speakers
  • Fundraising to support women globally who are struggling more than we are
  • A political pressure group
  • Meditation – whichever form you choose, this is the one thing that we can all do now which will make us feel powerful, happy and good.

Power to the People

So, how do we empower ourselves? What is it that makes us powerful? What about when we feel disempowered? How do we approach that? The essential journey of empowering ourselves as mothers is a spiritual one, a journey to the core of our being, a commitment to stay true to our deepest desires. This is not always an easy path as we come up against the stuff of life. Fear and anger rear up, challenging us over and over to question who we are, where we are, and what we want from our lives. It is when we are connected to the elemental force of our inner being that the fear and anger dissipate, leaving an open way for love and life to flow. We need to work at it constantly to ensure we remain true to our selves and connected to the source of our power.  And the key to it all?  The key to that source?

Meditation, meditation, meditation…

Meditation is the freedom from thought, and a movement in the ecstasy of truth.

(J. Krishnamurti)

It is the route to stillness, serenity, spaciousness, and our inner truths. Meditation, from whichever philosophy (Buddhist, yoga, martial arts, to name a few) can set us free.

How do you want to feel? Do you want to feel put upon, depressed, trapped and deadened? Or do you want to feel free, loved, alive and passionate about life? I know what I choose. It takes constant vigilance and awareness, and opting to be conscious in every aspect of our being.

Four Truths About Becoming Conscious

(from Yoga Magazine)

The tricky part of becoming conscious is that it requires practice – you have to rouse yourself every time you fall back into the trance of unconsciousness. When you find yourself in that trance, remind yourself of these four truths:

  1. Your inner state alters your experience of external reality.
  2. Nobody else – not your friends, your soul mate, our parents, or the people who annoy you – can change your inner state more than temporarily.
  3. Your “free will” is constantly being undermined by unconscious emotional drives, by beliefs held and decisions made in early childhood, and by all the fears and traumas that you’ve been stuffing into your unconscious.
  4. The time to free yourself of all this is now.

But how does this relate to ourselves, as mothers? It relates, of course, to everybody. Specifically, motherhood gives us the opportunity to open our hearts to new and different ways of being. Each child that comes along brings us its own joys and challenges, asking more of us as mothers. We have less opportunity to seek solace in outward pursuits and distractions that can be a comfort to our ailing souls. Gone are the days of retail therapy (who wants to drag small children out with them to make the wrong handbag choice?) You can’t just take off, disappear, have a duvet day. Sometimes you can’t even go to the loo by yourself. Even comfort eating can be tricky – it’s almost impossible to finish an entire cup of tea, let alone indulge in luxurious chocolates (all the small people would want one). So, motherhood forces us to go on an internal journey. One that is, externally at least, time and space challenged.

In addition, if you care to note the mother’s role in her family, you will notice that it is she whom all others revolve around. Even if the man of the house thinks he’s in charge, it is generally the mother who impacts more greatly on the household. Observe how the family interacts when you are feeling tip-top, in the flow, on top of the world. And think about what happens when you’re feeling grouchy or resentful? Notice the difference? How powerful is that? Just think – you can affect the experience of every member of your family just by staying true to yourself, and choosing to feel happy and lovely. And all it really takes is a few minutes or so each day of internal time and space.

So, best of luck to you. Hope that helps.


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