Can exploring inwardly be of any assistance to the role of mothering?
During this last year working as a herbal practitioner focusing on women’s health and wellbeing many women have contacted me asking how best to support themselves during these unusual and sometimes challenging times.
The shared threads women are often speaking of are stress and feeling stretched beyond endurance. The energetic feeling I sense when listening is “who mothers the mother? “ and “ who holds the mother safely and lovingly while she is holding the children, the home and her work, all at the same time in her arms?“
The first signpost I feel to share is to soften the gaze. By this I mean, if our gaze is held tightly or we could say has a narrow focus on one aspect of this immense life we are living we limit our innate ability to discover a resolution. Another way of saying this could be, “we are only seeing a partial aspect of the situation.” As a result this inhibits the seeing of the whole picture, the true knowing of the situation.
Softening the gaze welcomes the raw, humbling exhaustion experienced by mothers. The beautiful willingness to attend to our children’s needs before our own. Softening the gaze welcomes the flow of daily life, moment to moment. The joy of witnessing our children in one moment alongside the in breath and then in the next moment it feels as if the outbreath is stretched beyond endurance. The belief that life shouldn’t be like this can arise; the thought that other mothers cope much better than us hangs around. The invitation is to discover what this raw ache of exhaustion wants.
As a collective society many people are aware of their psychological and emotional activity. Also as a society we are much more able to speak of our feelings, emotions and sometimes self-condemning thought patterns that play over and over in the mind. This is obviously of assistance compared with say sixty or seventy years ago when it was not so acceptable.
Let the beauty of what you love, be what you do.
During these unusual and sometimes challenging times of lock down, social distancing, mask wearing, schools closure, income uncertainty etc. We have discovered that sometimes simply speaking of our emotions, feelings and challenges is not always the whole answer.
Of course always acknowledging that to speak of our feelings when needed can be of immense assistance. Sometimes this is all that is needed to shift the perspective. It is not to be undervalued the blessing and gifts of speaking and expressing our difficulties to another who has ears lovingly and willingly ready to truly listen.
It can also sometimes be that the process to speak out loud and hear our own words of how we are feeling brings clarity within us. Equally the words can be written down to our self by our self in a journal, again offering the opportunity for us to see through fresh eyes.
These times have also offered the opportunity to dive deeper if you like. I don’t say this in any grandiose, way or any implication of a higher/lower game. Simply that a curiosity or a heartfelt inquiry has arisen as to how best to live life from a location within ourselves grounded in a sense of peace, a sense of spaciousness, a sense of openness. Which allows us to move through challenges without feeling psychologically frazzled and exhausted or equally of assistance our acceptance of such feelings. To discover if you like what is deeper than the role of mothering.
There has been recognition if you like that to place all our worth, all our wellbeing, all our happiness on the externals of life is precarious. A discovery that a presence of quiet and contentment is available within us, as us, no matter what our external circumstances are is being awakened.
This does not mean for one moment that we “get rid of challenges “. It is much more that we can stop swimming up stream against the current. Liberating energy that has been used previously to swim against the flow becomes available to live our life.
Ultimately Mothering is a sacred role; Caring is a quality of the heart. I am not meaning this in any religious sense, more I would say in a universal or symbolic sense. I am not inferring that womankind is of more value than any other gender. I am speaking of a universal holding of love, a holding that is available to everyone in any moment, and is not dependent on external circumstances. Resting in the arms of the Great Mother where her gaze is one of unconditional love.
The role of mothering in whichever form this arises in the world is an expression if you like of the universal Great Mothers holding. We could say the Great Mother shines through the role. Just as a wave is an expression of the ocean, arising out of the ocean. In fact the wave is the ocean in the form of the wave. So the role of mothering arises out of the arms of the Great Mothers, the role is held in the arms of the Great Mother.
Of course the role can be veiled or clouded by the conditioning that each of us experience during our childhood, teenage years and beyond. Included in the so-called seeking of what is deeper than the role, a direct experience of the underlying presence of stillness. There is a process we walk through of seeing through the veil. There is the allowing of being gently held while the raw feelings, the old conditioning arises and dances and dissolves. Sometimes completely, sometimes as in the contractions experienced during birthing over and over. We could say in the allowing there is space for the not knowing when and how it will dissolve.
So, how do you we go beyond such words to direct experience? Going beyond the words to an understanding of the potential of a universal holding. Then diving deeper into the knowing through our direct experience. Understanding, knowing and directly experiencing that all the roles we offer to the world are held lovingly in that which they have arisen from, Love.
Alongside these words there is the question “how does any of this assist me in a very practical everyday way?“
“How does this assist me in all the responsibilities within the role of mothering?“
So I return again to softening the gaze. In allowing or we could say offering the space to listen to the exhaustion, to overwhelm and also to the wanting things to be different. There is acknowledgement of the raw naked experience of mothering. We meet the experience as it is rather than how we want it to be.
When I say listen I am meaning allowing not in any kind of fatalistic, helpless way but as an acceptance, alert and full of vitality. As listening this way we directly experience a lack of identifying with the emotional and psychological content .We experience the feeling/sensations in the body, which arise, dance and then dissolve.
Most of us find it of assistance to have a signpost in some way when we are meeting a challenging situation; we could say it is an expression of care offered to our self. Signposts can arise in many forms; allow your heart to lead the way.
A few of the simplest tools/signposts available to us in meeting challenging experiences. I offer humbly not as a prescriptive formula.
- Understanding that we can step back from the busy mind and gently listen to the body. In this way we are not denying the exhaustion. We are allowing it to be expressed without identifying physiologically with it. Without grasping at the psychological dialogue or leaning into the thoughts and old beliefs. We are allowing the exhaustion to be liberated if you like, to arise, dance and dissolve as sensations in the body.
- We can use the breath to soothe and ease the nervous system. Paying attention gently to the breath allows the present moment to be acknowledged. The breath signposts us to the stillness from which it has arisen.
- We can sense the comfort and familiarity of our heart beating. Babies’ in the womb experience the safety of the mother’s heart singing to them. There is no reason why mothers cannot include themselves in this feeling/sensation of their hearts singing in every moment no matter what is occurring externally.
- We can choose to include our self in all the wonderful nourishment and nurturing we offer to our children. This may take some investigation into our patterns of behavior and beliefs particularly around lack of time. Self- care simply has to be uncovered rather than worked toward. Care nurtures, heals and connects us.
- We can allow space to stop for a moment, to breathe, to rest back from the busy mind. To rest, as awareness.
Of course there are many more tools for us to use in meeting challenging experiences/times. In the role of a herbal practitioner I would always recommend sipping a herbal infusion especially one formulated to support the nervous system. Or to rest back in a bath where the water is infused with herbs.
I would also be offering the signpost to care for the nervous system as best we can in each moment.
Take care of yourself all of you who are offering this sacred role of mothering. You are as precious as your children.