Patriarchy is a System not a Person or a group of People!

I do not remember when I became present to Patriarchy as a word but I began to understand it more deeply and fully only in 2010 when I joined the M.A in Women’s Spirituality.

The very first response of becoming present to it was ‘Intense Rage, Intense Pain and Intense Sorrow’ – I literally and figuratively felt like a Volcano with Intensely Hot Bubbling Rumbling Molten Lava inside of me in terms of  emotions of anger, rage, sorrow, pain, angst and so much more – all together harrowing deep within like wanting to Burst the limits of my body and explode and cause utter devastation. In hindsight – Volcano did explode – Mama Pele Reigned supreme and everything got burst open and brought with it in passing rebirth, renewal, growth and transformation.

Overtime I have recognized Patriarchy better. I still do not understand it origin and nor do I wish to. I feel recognizing it and acknowledging it has become more important than understanding its history.

Today patriarchy is attained new, newer and newest heights – more refined, morphed, transformed – sealed and concealed under the garbs of so many additional identities.

What is Patriarchy? That is a valid question because I feel that majority of folks are completely ignorant of the term or its meaning, and wave it off like it is a scam or something! Well, that itself is a classic Patriarchal behavior!

Patriarchy as a word comes from the greek root of patēr (meaning father) and arche (meaning domination) . It literally means “the rule of the father” or “lineage or descent from the patēr or father”. Simply put the word itself prophesies the supremacy of the father to the mother and in that sense it topples the basic balance right from the beginning of a child’s birth on the planet and messing with t

Bell Hooks defines “Patriarchy is a political-social system that insists that males are inherently dominating, superior to everything and everyone deemed weak, especially females, and endowed with the right to dominate and rule over the weak and to maintain that dominance through various forms of psychological terrorism and violence.”

For greater detail of understanding, read this article about patriarchy by Bell Hooks: http://imaginenoborders.org/pdf/zines/UnderstandingPatriarchy.pdf

Now my greatest learning is that it is time to disassociate patriarchy directly from men and women, male or female and know that both of us are equally influenced by it, victims of it, perpetrators of it and we equally, experience and embody it. Even more so, I feel its time to replace the male with “the Masculine or Logic” and female with “the Feminine or Intuitive.” Therapist Terrence Real calls this psychological patriarchy:

Psychological patriarchy is the dynamic between those qualities deemed “masculine” and “feminine” in which half of our human traits are exalted while the other half is devalued. Both men and women participate in this tortured value system. Psychological patriarchy is a “dance of contempt,” a perverse form of connection that replaces true intimacy with complex, covert layers of dominance and submission, collusion and manipulation. It is the unacknowledged paradigm of relationships that has suffused Western civilization generation after generation, deforming both sexes, and destroying the passionate bond between them.

I associate Patriarchy with the Reign of the male daemon ‘Kali’ (not the Goddess Kaali) in this time cycle of Kaliyuga. Patriarchy is stipulated to have developed over the last 5000 years and that is exact match with what we call the beginning of Kaliyuga – the dominance of the masculine egoistic male energy – not just in gender but also, in energy on the planet as well!

Some notions held high by the system of Patriarchy is….

  1. Patriarchy is the notion that certain set of people  know or have access to information and they solely reserve the right to impart that information. Mind you, patriarchy is founded in information and not knowledge. Patriarchy thrives on hierarchy, domination, separation of some and every kind.
  2. Today almost every system in the world be it school, college, university, religious organization, religion, non profit organization, business, corporation, politics, hospitals, food and medical industry, research and science – is subscribed to patriarchy by default.
  3. There is no listening in patriarchy.
  4. Patriarchy is held together by strict adherence to rules, regulations, behaviour, right versus wrong, shoulds & should nots.
  5. Patriarchy definitely debilitates the fullness of creativity, thrives on hatred, violence, wars, abuse – justifying it in the process, curbs choices and makes it available only for those it thinks will use it the way the system sees fit.
  6. Patriarchy will not let you acknowledge the  wisdom and humanity innate in every human being, and his or her ability to grow in it and make choices from that knowing.
  7. Patriarchy instills the notion that head is the Master and the Heart is the slave. Do not let yourself feel anything. Feelings are rubbish. Do not be sensitive or a wuss. Be Sensible.
  8. Patriarchy perpetuates imbalance within and without, and thrives in that imbalance.
  9. Patriarchy will not let anyone recognize that all you need or seek is within you. The outside is merely a project or reflection of your inside.
  10. Patriarchy will dissolve You in identities of a billion kind, and will keep you busy in up-keeping it while striving for more,
  11. Patriarchy will always keep one side of the Scales dipping either “Good Verus Bad”, “God versus Devil”, “Man versus Woman”, “Head versus Heart”, “You versus Me”, “Us versus Them”. There is a complete lack of the coming together of the two and integration of the two.
  12. And now for the BIG ONE, Patriarchy is also, part of the cycle of Time, recycle of the mind. It will shift and it is in the process of shifting!

NOW COMES THE BIG QUESTION:

Is it possible to unsubscribe to patriarchy right now or create a system outside of it – not influenced by it?

My immediate answer would be “not fully”!

But it is possible to begin the process such that down the timeline we can definitely birth a generation that can be free of the patriarchal mindset. It is already happening!

HOW TO BEGIN THIS PROCESS!
I can only share my process. It will be unique for each person.

  1. Learn about patriarchy. That will support us to Recognize it,  Acknowledge it, and Hold space for it – within and without.
  2. Yes. As we begin to recognize it – Hell will break loose in  life for sure because we will be pained, angry, sad – all at the same time with everything we see, hear, experience! Its OK because that is the process of stepping out of the ignorance of patriarchy. Now Remember: Do not get stuck here. Many do. You need to move further.
  3. We need to recognize that Patriarchy is not a person or a group of people – it is not a man or a woman. It is a notion, a belief system that is gnawing at the minds of human beings everywhere.  Anger  itself is a weapon that patriarchy understands very well so burning yourself or the other is of not much use. Although we will keep burning ourselves , we will also, in the learn, unlearn and relearn.
  4.  We will feel the need to Educate the other of patriarchy. Soon we will also learn that all one can do is educate. We cannot make anyone choose it. So we will also need to Learn to Educate and then, Ignore.
  5. Even to educate we will need different set of tools, skills, language – rooted in the infinite expansiveness and inclusiveness of the heart – to communicate with those in patriarchy. Head has to be a follower in this game – not the master.
  6. As we begin the journey of educating the other, it will become even more important for us to do our own inner work of all the shit that we ourselves carry – across lineages, across lifetimes.  And as we seek this process of our inner work, we will be guided to the only antidote to Patriarchy.
  7. Reclaiming Embodied Spirituality. Firstly when I say spirituality I do not mean the essence of all religion. We might begin from here or even get here in our journey but we Do Not stop here. We have to go beyond religion because Religion itself perpetuates patriarchal notions and is man made. Seek that spirituality which is the innate wisdom that is within each one of us – not just some. Secondly, I say embodied because I feel the body has to be part of this process. Material and Spiritual, Form and Formless, Body and Spirit – there has to be an integration – otherwise we are still leaving doorways for Kali to enter. This itself is a journey of lifetimes! Many guides will show up for us when we begin to seek sincerely. Then we need to create space for….
  8. Pause. Slow Down. Become present to your Breath. Breathe. Meditate. Make Art. Create. Play. Sing. Dance. Be bewitched by stories. Listen and tell Stories. See stories. Recognize Life beyond your limited identity. Become present to the other life – living and dying with you on Earth and everywhere. Become present to the Moon, Sun, Planets, Stars, the Universe! Become present to the Highest Truth! It is a process of renewal, relearning, reemerging, re-awakeing!
  9. Peeling peeling of layers and layers of Ignorance – conditioning, narratives, beliefs – and awakening to one’s truth! This whole process as it unveils  will awaken in us many skills of  being present, expressing and embodying in the world. We will slowly recognize the veil of patriarchy and see it for what it is – IGNORANCE. Then many will also, begin to see and recognize that ignorance. They will inspire many others to see and so on.
  10. Again and again we will need to go back to Step 8, and continue. Relearn, Re-tune, Re-sing!

Wow! Sounds so simple. It is simple and yet, complicated. It is its own journey!
Put in one word – it is a precious GIFT – gift of the journey of waking up out of Ignorance – whatever you might call it – Destination Unknown!

Begin your Journey Today!!

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Befriend Your Inner Critic…

So the boggart sitting in the darkness within has not yet assumed a form. He does not yet know what will frighten the person on the other side of the door. Nobody knows what a boggart looks like when he is alone, but when I let him out, he will immediately become whatever each of us most fears.Professor Lupin to his third year class in 1993

The Voices in our Head that only we can hear – whispers, shouts, murmurs, shrieks, screams, ridicules, warns, criticizes, slaps, reminds, remembers, blackmails, appreciates, sneers, schemes, sees, wishes, hopes, longs, desires, surrenders, falters, fails, prides, pushes, pulls, bites, punches, pinches, shames, weeps – that have lived with us, grown with us, walked with us, transformed with us, journeyed with us through our life!

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Most people are unaware of these Voices and have completely merged with them, identified with them! These illusory voices take over the reigns of their lives and they bounce of its pull and push – without ever meeting with that One Knowing buried deep within these many voices.

If I were to speak Harry Potter’s language – there is the Harry Potter and his Lot, and then, there is The-Man-Who-Must-Not-be-Named (Voldermot) and all those who fear him or love him on the other side! All these voices are the Inner Critic. Most people are so caught up in the Voldermot Voices that they never come to meet the Harry Potter within!

Befriending the Inner Critic journey is finding the Harry Potter Voice within and Separating out the Voldermots! Of course, there is no ignoring the Voldermots – because the more we choose to ignore – shove it under the carpet – pretend it is not there – the BIGGER AND STRONGER IT BECOMES!

When we are able to clearly hear the Harry Potter voice or the Wise One within, we also begin to hear the accompanying  voices of Dumberdore, Hagrid, Hermoine, Ron, Neville – the other truth speakers that walk with Harry!

When you first become aware of your Inner Critic, you realize it is crowded with voices of conditioning – perception – rules – shoulds/shouldnots – dos/donots – imparted by all those who have showed up in your life in close acquaintances – Parents, Grandparents, Relatives, Friends, Teachers, Movie-TV characters, etc- and left an impression on you! These impressions become the most popular voices of your Inner Critic, and steer your life’s course.

How do you take the Steering back?
How do you find your own voice among-st all these voices?

FIRST STEP: AWARENESS
Awareness – becoming aware of it – is the biggest step. Now you can arrive at this awareness in many ways : life-altering events like near-death experience or death of a dear one or separation, arrival of a guide or teacher in your life, breath-work, meditation, or simply the flow of Grace for a lack of better word meaning It is your time to do this work!

SECOND STEP: SEPARATING FROM IT
Once you are aware of it, you are able to separate yourself from each one of these voices, see the source of its origin, acknowledge it, recognize the role it has played in your life – constructive or destructive, supportive or un-supportive, again acknowledge that because that was part of its promised existence in your life and gratefully bid it farewell, for its time in your life has come to a closure!

THIRD STEP: TRANSFORMING IT
For many voices this awareness itself might be good enough.
But then there are those hard-hitting, deep rooted impressions – usually from close family – near and dear ones!

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For those you need something more than just awareness! 🙂
Separating out and letting go is a happening. We cannot do it mentally. Doesn’t work!
Letting go and surrender has to happen at the level of the body as a somatic experience and for that we need to engage in it in a more gross kind of way! It is a happening – one moment it was there and the next moment it is gone!

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That is where I have felt that in addition to breathing and meditation, Expressive Art and Ritual have immense power. Personally, it has given me the conscious expressive way to give my inner critic a form, write its narratives, see it, enact it, speak it, and become separate from it. In doing so, I am able to clearly recognize it as separate from me, and feel the letting go and separation a  concrete somatic experience in my body. Once I know its absence in my body, I immediately become aware of its slightest nearness and can do the needful!

My own inner critic has over the years gone through so many different shapes, forms, images, voices and expressions.

I have found that as I recognize, acknowledge and come to terms with these aspects of my  inner critic, my  relationship with the source of that inner critic be it people, events or emotions – have shifted dramatically in my body in an empowering way! There is such a deep awareness around it.

That is why one of the core engagements that we do in the She Stands Tall Project in the  beginning is the Inner Critic engagement.

I am so amazed at the way my own Inner Critic form has shifted just in the last decade. Now it is most closest to my Inner Intuitive Wild Critic & Muse. I don’t always like hearing what she has to say because her words are not rooted in the rational mind and hence, many times I cannot rationally explain the whys or whynots of her voices! All I know is that whenever I have chosen  to listen to her, I have experienced the deepest fullest Me in resonance with the universe and life than when I have not.

Of course, even now the Voldermot voices do make an appearance and I have to catch myself from acting on them! This is where my commitment to Nourishing my Body-Mind-Spirit play an important role.

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SOMETHING YOU CAN DO

What-Who-Where-How-Whom is your Inner Critic!
What are its various narratives, appearances?
What belief system does it want you to subscribe to?
Where in your body do you feel your inner critic?
What is its gesture, expression?

Pick one Appearance of your Inner Critic
Color it – Draw it – Sculpt it – Mold it – Write all that it says when it shows up.
If you have a Sacred Space or Altar in your home, let is stay there.

Look at it, read it, stay with its awareness through your days engagement. See if you can recognize it when it shows up. Remember your form. How do you want to respond? Has your response shifted? How has the awareness supported you? What more does it need?

When you feel it is time, you can bid farewell to the Inner Critic.
You can take it from your altar space – keep it separately or shred it or bury it or float it  – whatever you feel you wish to do, do it!

Maybe then, it is  time for the Next Inner Critic to be Transformed!

Make life fun-engaging-exciting-expressive!

What else is there – Really!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Her Moon Rhythms – Why was I not told!!

 “Aha! What happens in the sky is related to what happens on the earth is related to what happens to me in my daily life, and I can attune to it through my body, and it can make a difference. What a miracle. How come nobody told me this before?”
– Vicki Noble, Author, Shakti Woman

In the recent decade I have learned to step into the awareness of my earth-grounded feminine intuition and importantly, to move in the world from that space of knowing. It has been a happening as I have discovered my entrainment with the moon and the earth through my blood, my rhythms, and my feminine body.

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The cross intersectionality of the earth, the seasons, the moon, the week, the day, the elements and enveloped in it are the rhythms of my blood, my life cycle, my body, my health, my day, my knowing – where one ends and the other begins is sometime hard to differentiate! The lines do blur many times…

—  Increasing  Pace, Grow, Action  —> Slowing Down, Resting, Rejuvenating —
–  SPRING   –> SUMMER        –>   FALL/AUTUMN –> WINTER      – Seasons
– 1st Moon  –> Full Moon      –> 3rd Moon             –> New Moon – 29.5 days
–  MAIDEN  –>   MOTHER      –>  WILD WOMAN –> CRONE        – Life Cycle
–  DAWN      –> NOON             –>           DUSK          –> MIDNIGHT – 24Hr Cycle
–  VIRGIN     –> OVULATION –>   WILD WOMAN –> BLEEDING – Blood Cycle

What is most profound is the knowing that I am carried in close quarters in the womb of the Mother – She is ever around me, in me, with me, for me, beside me, above me, below me – She is everywhere – I am her. The Gift that I have been given as a woman is to hold space for all of that and to be not just in the world but to be the world itself!

Women in the ancient times and even now, who live deeply in resonance with nature – honoring Her, beholding Her – understand these cycles! She understands the Source of All Her Power – within and without! Nature and She are not separate but She is Nature in all her aspects!

Today the state of the world is a reflection of the deep disconnectedness with the Nature, the Rhythms – within and without.

This deep disconnect is without a doubt embodied and expressed by and in women!
Her blood rhythms are in chaos; un-synchronized with self, with nature & with each other
She is more and more bought into the plastic world – consumerism – objectification!

Today what women need more than the Patriarch-ally derived School-education in the name of Empowerment & the Race to Nowhere – is the Gift of Embodied Wisdom – Wisdom of the Earth – Wisdom of Her Own body – Her Womb – Her Blood – Her Yoni!

Within that Cycle – the World is Born – Sustained – Transformed.
When She flow with this Cycle – the world flows through Her -with Her – in Her!

Where do we begin?
All it takes is Awareness – Tuning in – Following the Cycle – and there in that moment you are tuned back into the cyclic flow of nature – it is like having new eyes to see, new ears to hear, new mouth to taste, new hands to touch, new nose to smell!

Every Girl needs to be given this gift just a year before she begins to Menstruate so she can start beginning her journey towards her initiation into womanhood!

She needs to start drawing, coloring and recording the phases of the moon – draw and color the flow of seasons – play with the shadows of the day – record her dreams – know and honor her ancestors – walk in nature – travel on her own – listen to her body – eat consciously – dance, sing and walk her rhythm!

Imagine the entrainment that will follow her!!
Imagine the entrainment that will follow all the women on the planet!!
Imagine the entrainment that she will gift her children – her sons and her daughters!!

It is Magic – the deepest truest of all!

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Start Now!
Keep a Blood-Body Cycle Journal – Start charting your cycles with the moon – Draw the phase of the moon for that day in the book – Draw  your emotions/state of mind – Write your reflections – Note time of day – Listen to your body  – Listen to your Heart – Let the body guide you to eat – Slow down in the Waxing Cycle – Meditate – Write down your dreams – Rest as you Moonstruate – Pick up your pace in the Waning Cycle – Engage fully with and in the world – then again slow down – Flow in and with the Rhythm.

Do this for 59 days – 2 full moon cycles!! See for yourself!

It is the greatest highest blessing to be Born a Woman!
Learn it and Live it Wisely! Become who you came here to be!

“The role of women in the development of society is of utmost importance. In fact, it is the only thing that determines whether a society is strong and harmonious, or otherwise. Women are the backbone of society.”
~His Holiness Sri Sri Ravi Shankar

 

 

 

Ancestors showing up as guides!

“If we stand tall it is because we stand on the shoulders of many ancestors”
A Yaruba Proverb

Today is Karkidda Vavi or the new moon in lunar month of cancer – a day when in Kerala the Hindu community will remember the ancestors through an elaborate ritual in the early hours of dawn, and through the day. The ritual is performed at temples or areas close to a water source. Women and men both make the offering. Every “Hindu” community in Kerala has a space in and around their home for the ancestors where a lamp is lit, offerings are made.

My first visitation with ancestors in an aware, conscious way happened almost a decade away. Prior to that it was more in the dreams which was also, quite vivid.  and it helped me reach closure on many things. So here is a short story from my memory as to how I received guidance in my life from my ancestors.

In the old Marumakkathayam (matrilineal, matrilocal & matrifocal) system of Nairs of Kerala, the lineage was not just carried forward through the daughters, but the prosperity of the lineage was directly connected to the happiness, well-being, and good health of the daughters of the lineage. Within this system, the land and everything from it belonged to the daughters, and the brothers were the caretakers. This provided women and children with a lot of support and backup. Marriages as we know today did not exist. Women and men continued to stay in their respective homes following a marital relationship because they had responsibilities in their mothers house.  The most important male relationship for a woman was that of her maternal uncle, brother, and sons (hers and those of her sister), and the most important female relationship for man was his mother, his sisters, and his maternal nieces. Paternity as we know today did not exist within the marumakkathayam system. All the children born to the women belonged to her matriliny. The father of the children had no obligation to care for them. The maternal uncle fulfilled the role of the male figure in the lives of the children. The ancestors were revered and remembered in the form of maternal uncles, grandmothers and often consulted through divination when the balance of the system was affected or especially when the daughters were unhappy.

In 2008, most of the daughters and granddaughters in my matriliny were going through some challenges in their life especially around relationship. So in an effort to seek solution, my maternal aunt consulted a local shaman with divination. It came out in the divination that the maternal ancestor was not being honored or remembered. That took my aunt into further investigation mode to figure out which ancestor was not being honored as we had no idea what the shaman was speaking about. I think it was one of the best things she did because life after that has dramatically shifted for all the daughters in the family.

This investigation brought to light that seven generations in the past my maternal grandmother was adopted from another taravad into the one she was presently in. Taravad refers to elaborate living spaces of the matrilineal nairs where all the maternal kin from the same female ancestor lived together.  In old days it was quite natural that if a taravad or family didn’t have a daughter, they would bring home a daughter from one of their maternal relatives home and she would become the daughter of the one she was adopted into. At the same time, she was expected to stay connected with the taravad from where she was adopted so as to do her ancestral rituals. Although my grandmother knew about this situation and continued to secretly offer her prayers following marriage, she never mentioned it to any of her children. That was because of changing situations in the society as it was then.

My maternal grandmother got married at a time when Marumakkathayam (or the matrilineal system existent in Kerala) was disintegrating or collapsing under the new laws which required marriage to be legalized, husbandry established, men legally required to care for their wives and establishment of paternity through fatherhood had become mandatory. This entire situation brought such deep pain in maternal relationships who got entangled in lawsuits, property division, intense shame and disconnectedness. So it was during these times that my grandmother got married to my grandfather who was almost twenty years older. It was his second marriage. The reason my grandmother’s maternal uncle decided to go with this alliance was because my grandfather was the karnavar (maternal uncle and matriarch) of a prosperous and wealthy taravad. What he did not know was that my grandfather was matrilineal man who considered his responsibilities as a maternal uncle to be more important over those of a father or husband. In fact, I feel that having a wife and children must have been something really new to his reality with no existent role models.

In those days, daughters never left their matriliny but my grandmother had to move into my grandfather’s taravad because my grandfather had 5 children from his first marriage, and she couldn’t care for them from her matriliny because these children were part of a different matriliny. That must have been a really challenging time for Nairs and other matrilineal communities in Kerala. As a matrilineal man, my grandfather gave away all the maternal land and wealth to his sisters and brothers without taking anything for himself. So even though he was from a rich matriliny, his children did not experience any of that richness because they were raised on his retired pension. When I think back, I feel that my maternal grandfather did not know how to be a husband and father. His children never received his love and generosity like his nieces and nephews who to this day see him as god while his own children feared him and were also traumatized by him. On top of that, my grandmother’s matriliny was caught in the middle of property lawsuits causing maternal kins to disconnect from each other, and  this was also a cause of discord between my grandparents. Being English-educated my grandfather was also, opposed to rituals and saw it as blind belief and superstition. So all these reasons affected my grandmothers and her children’s connection to her matriliny. However, she secretly sent offerings through her sister to the ancestral shrine without anybody in the family knowing.

So when my maternal aunt unearthed this ancestral taravad and the ancestral shamanic (Theyyam) ritual that happened in that taravad every year in the month of march, it was news for everyone in the family. Can you imagine this: the ancestral ritual was visited by maternal kin from across seven generations coming in from different parts of the world and my grandmother’s family was like the only one who were neither there nor did they know about it. In this ancestral ritual of Theyyam, one of our maternal uncles from 250 years in the past made an appearance in the body of the shaman, met all his kins from seven generations across, gave them counsel, addressed any issues and so on.

Without any of her family knowing, my grandmother used to send oil regularly for the shrine. Since her passing in 2000, that was not being done. Finally with this new revelation, the oil sending practice got restored. Following that, so many things dramatically shifted in the lives of the daughters of the matriliny bringing more happiness into their lives. My own life catapulted in a way that I would never have imagined to happen to me because it brought me to the doorstep of my own purpose. A series of events led me to choose M.A in women-centered spirituality at Institute of Transpersonal Psychology in Palo Alto. It was like floodgates to my ancestral realm opened up. In the first year itself, it became evident to me that I had to visit the ancestral shrine. I flew to Kerala but when the day of my visit came, I began to menstruate. I was sad because  I knew that I could not go to the taravad when I was menstruating. So here I was with my mother, sister, maternal aunt and her husband right on the land of the taravad, could see it ahead of me in a distance but had to sit in the car while the others made their way into the taravad. My heart was heavy. I was bleeding profusely, had severe cramps and deep exhaustion in the body. As I sat back in the rear seat of the car, I decided to meditate for 20 minutes. All I remember is closing my eyes, and then there was a tap on the window. I opened my eyes to see my sister asking me if I wanted some tea as they were about to leave. I blurted out in surprise as to why they were leaving so fast! My sister looked at me confused and said, “What do you mean ‘leaving fast.’ We have been here for over 2 hours.” In that moment there was a deep presence, stillness and serenity that enveloped me. I realized that I had forgotten that I was menstruating – my pain had completely gone and there was this sweet relaxedness and pleasure in my entire body like I was in heaven and back. I knew in that moment that I had the most profound meeting with my ancestors and they had blessed my journey.

Another instance was when I setup my first ancestor altar on October 31st, 2011 on the occasion of ‘Day of the Dead’ as part of my Divination class. I had pictures of my paternal and maternal grandparents, and  my recently acquired image of my great maternal grandfather. I knew what my immediate grandparents liked as I grew up knowing them. However, I had no clue what to offer my great maternal grandfather. I had no knowledge about him except for the fact that he was a well-known vaidya (physician of natural medicine) in his time. In fact, my cousin who was doing her Ayurveda was told to place the picture of any Ayurvedic ancestor on her altar to expand her blessings and knowing in the field, and that is how we all came into possession of this picture. My mother also, couldn’t recollect anything in her memory of her grandfather that would help me in making an offering. So as I learned from the class, I surrendered my request to my ancestor and asked him to guide me in what I can offer him on the altar. So as I was setting up the altar, there was this voice in my head which said, “Rekha, you have dates. Why dont you offer that?” I was not sure but offered it nevertheless because I know to trust my instincts. In my usual late night conversation over the phone that evening with my mother in India, I sharad casually all that I offered and when I mentioned “dates”, my mother almost exclaimed and said that her grandfather had on more than one occasion  brought dates for her when he came to visit and she had completely forgotten about it. She was so amazed that I was guided to make that offering. I felt so seen, acknowledged and held.

My entire masters thesis at that point was slowly beginning to unravel and I knew it had to do with grandmothers but had no clarity on it.  I woke up the next day following my first ancestral altar and offering – with the topic of my research written in my mind like I could read it clearly – “Rising Daughter, Silent Mother, Fading Grandmothers”. I knew it was another gift from another dimension, and I was filled with deep gratitude.

In 2012 I attended the Ancestral ritual with my mother, sister, maternal uncle and aunts for the first time. In fact, it was a first time for everyone and it was in that theyyam ritual that I found the first grandmother to interview for my research. She was the wife of the oldest karnavar in the family. I also, met my 250 year old maternal uncle in the body of the shaman that night. It was an experience beyond time and space! Well, More about that in another blog entry!

Remember your ancestors! Offer your deepest gratitude to them.

We have received much from them. They can guide us in becoming more aware of our deepest blocks, acquired patterns, impressions, our strengths and weaknesses so we can work on it and become free of it. As we deepen and expand, our ancestors benefit too. They receive the merits of our meditation, growth and spiritual expanded-ness!

There is so much that we do not know, and just because we donot know doesnt mean it ceases to be!

 

 

 

The Silence of the Sacred Yoni!

This journey is Born out of my own exploration of reclaiming my relationship with my sacred yoni, womb, and my feminine self in a way I was never taught .. held … or acknowledged. I bring the initiation and exploration to you through the Sacred Yoni Mandala Workshops. To know more: http://imojo.in/yonimandalaonline

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As we are entering into the phase of increasing Darkness in the Northern Hemisphere, we are also in the phase of entering into the Dark womb – the Sacred Yoni of the Great Mother – the dark cave of deep rest like the one we were all submerged in a looooooooooooooooo ong time ago!

Cozily hanging inside the Yoni chambers of our mother’s womb –  suspended in time – waiting to emerge into light – slowly through the passages of her tubes, her walls and through her Yoni Gateway reserved for “my” exit alone – we made our entry into the world – forgetting – all that passed before – until then! Life in the Sacred Yoni became a forgotten reality that never ever happened – not even a memory remnant!!

Oh! Today the most savaged, abused, broken, wounded, ravaged is the Yoni – in her body – the woman = the daughter = the mother = the earth! Do you know how a Woman feels about Her! The only way she functions is by looking away from Her. For to even acknowledge Her presence in her life is to open the flood gates of personal and collective trauma of years of oppression, pain, wound, rage – overpowering emotions!!

I was there once.

Then two years in a row participated in Vagina Monologues as a student at Institute of Transpersonal Psychology – Palo Alto, CA!

Every monologue was listened to with deep attentiveness – No, not by the ears!

She showed up in every monologue like a deep resonance from within – I knew it!
“I relate to that – Oh! My God! It is not just her story but mine too!”

“Have you seen her lately …. with a mirror?”
What!     Really!       Wow!

She is everywhere – valleys, mountains, trees, caves, fruits, flowers, beings, nuts – She is everywhere!

How did I not see her!
Then I never knew how to even recognize her – how did She look?
Nope. Never saw Her before!

She was in my body and yet, I just strayed & stayed away from Her!
Somewhere far away like She was never there – the wounds, the visuals, the sensations, the pain, the shame were too overpowering to engage!

Then, looking at Her, knowing Her, engaging with Her – was releasing, letting go, emerging, remembering, re-membering, restoring, reviving, resting!

Then Art happened – Creativity flooded out!

Voice began to emerge! Did you know – my lips are like Her too!

Fear somersaulted to Love!

Intuition was restored!

Worship began!

Goddess revived!

Then I though to ask about Her to her and other women….
“What is your relationship to the Yoni?”
Listened. Echoing Back. Deep silence of the Yoni – Her disappearance!

“Yoni, what is that!”
“Could you explain?”
“Eh! Do you mean the Vagina?”
“I don’t want to talk about that”
“What relationship? Its there. so what!”
“What is there to talk about it”
“Are you talking about sex?”
“I am not even aware of it”
“To have kids maybe and, I am not interested in having kids. So ….”
“I remember seeing pictures in my sex ed class”
“Is it masturbation you want to know?”
“That’s un-spiritual! I have overcome that relationship”
“That’s shameful! Who talks about that!”
“Seen her? Yuck! Why do I need to see her!”
“I have no time for that”
“Yeah! She pleasures me!”

Now more than ever before
Silence of the Sacred Yoni is Echoing Louder and Louder – Are you listening!

Not outside – inside of you ….. dearest Sister!

Disconnected we have lived for a looooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo ooooooooooooooooooooo……………………………..oooooooooooooooooooooooooong time!

Unaware … Not knowing to hold space for Her …
Unsacred-ly neglected we have existed … not wholly … partly …
We have kept ourselves busy – many guises – disguises – empowerment … identity … accomplishments … independence… sex…. pleasure …
outwards… outward …. out ….. moving more and more …. pulled out….
Away from Her sacredness….
away from Her bliss…
away from Her wisdom!

The silence of the Yoni has spread…
The deep truth telling of the oldest order has left our lips….
for that flows from Her chambers – down there….
Without Her dark rhythmic mysteries I am not a woman…
I don’t even speak Her Language…
embody Her Language…
walk Her feet….
Without Her guidance
I am some other – Masculine embodied woman…

Yet

She is right there… down there….
Sacred gateway… waiting to open… to worship.. to know… to embody!
She is the Protection …  Protectress…  Protected!

Her doors are calling you in.
Explore
Listen
Learn
Initiate

Her doors are calling you in.

Come.

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12799356_1337306242964685_4487028475035161128_nRekha Govindan Kurup is a social artivist, spiritual feminist and co-director and founder of She Stands Tall Project LLP. She has a M.A in Women’s Spirituality from the Institute of Transpersonal Psychology in Palo Alto, California (one of the only two schools in the world that offers a academic pedagogy in women’s spirituality and both are located in Northern California).

 

Do you exercse ‘No’ enough?

Just as we have lost sacredness around body, sexuality, yoni, sex, lust and are conflicted about its expression and embodiment in our lives, we are also, conflicted in the expression and utterance of the powerful word ‘No’ when it comes to embodying and expressing our body and sexuality boundaries to others.

“No” is a more powerful utterance than “Yes”, and there are places that we need to reinforce its usage especially when it comes to the personal space of body and sexuality!

I feel that we have some distorted notion that it is disrespectful and “unspiritual” to say ‘No’. Maybe it h

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as something to do with the notion of not being in the YES Mind when saying No! What people don’t understand is that all ‘No’s are not conflicting with the YES! mind, and all ‘Yes’ are not rooted in the ‘YES’ mind.

We can say ‘No’ with a YES in the mind, and we can say ‘Yes’ with a NO in the mind.  The YES in the m

ind is responding from a state that is rooted in a deep space of love, synchron

icity, compassion, and human values! Sometimes the only way to sustain that state of our mind is by saying a ‘No’. Otherwise, that very space that we intended to foster is deeply violated.

ABUSE AND UTTERANCE OF “NO”

The feminine in the bodies of women and men, girls and boys go through sexual abuse everywhere – in  families, in  neighborhood, in workplaces without every uttering the word ‘No’, and when it is uttered the masculine other doesn’t hear it, value it, acknowledge it or even, know how to hold space for it. In the Suryanelli rape case in Kerala, where this young 16 year old girl was rapped by over 40 well-reputed men from the community as she was moved from one place to the other, the question that came up in the court was  “Why couldn’t the girl say No through all this? Why didnt she get up and run away.” 20 years later she is still waiting for justice! As sickening as it may sound, it is the judgement projected by men and women alike. But anyone who has ever been in a victim state of abuse knows that ‘No’ is the most difficult word to say sometimes when the abusers are people you are taught to trust, value and feel safe with!

In my own experience, I learned that it was easy to say “No” and stand up for my personal body when it came to the matters of  strangers, classmates, college mates but when it came to the matter of love and the one I would most trust, there was immense guilt involved in saying “No”. As I engage in gloriaimagesmore conversations, I realize that most women in intimate relationships with another, find it difficult to say “No” when it comes to matters of their own body without feeling guilty.

In India especially, I find that generally women (and girls) go through all kinds of discomforts, body touching, leaning, and every possible violation of personal space by just going through it or physically moving away from it but never responding with “Please donot lean on me”, “Please could you go back a little”, “Please stand a little aside”, “Please do not touch me” or “I am uncomfortable”, or “No, I do not want to do that.”All these are powerful “NO” statements.

Girls grow up listening to ‘No’ all the time everywhere on the planet.
No, you cant do that. You are a girl.
No, give it to him. You learn to give.
No, you cant play with boys.
No, you cant stay out late.
No, cover yourself up.
No, you cant drink because you are a girl.
No, you cant smoke because you are a girl.
You never say ‘No’ to your husband.
And if you say ‘No’ to an older person because they make you uncomfortable, you will be the one seen as the problem. I remember when I first returned to India, my experience with saying ‘NO’. I was at a bank teller counter. It was my turn and there were all these men literally crowding around me so close trying to get the tellers attention when it was my turn. I was the only woman. I turned around and said, “Could you please go back a little?” I was looked at like I was the accused. Of course, it has not deterred my No but I realize that it is so painful in India to exercise No as a woman or girl.

Somehow through all these negative reinforcements, as women, we learn to associate guilt, and  the feeling of being the accused with the word “No”.

Now let us look at our sons.
Do  our sons hear the word said ‘No’ enough times in their growing up (of course, as long as the sons pursuits are masculine in nature. Sons who are drawn towards feminine traits, hear No enough times.).
Do our sons know to honor the ‘No’ said to them?

Now Reflect upon this:

When Women donot know to say ‘No’ when it comes to the matter of their personal body space; and When Men donot know how to hold space for the word ‘No’ when it comes to personal body space of the other – We have a disastrous situation!

Definitely, Women being the one who takes things into her, she needs to have the freedom to exercise her ‘No’ when it comes to her body and sexuality space in all its aspects – from touch to penetration.

Men on the other hand, need to understand to honor the ‘No’ when it comes to a woman’s body space. Her ‘No’ needs to be heard, acknowledged and honored!

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So I leave you today with these words.

Have we taught our sons to hold space, acknowledge, understand and respond to the ‘No’ of our many daughters, women and girls?

Have we taught our daughters, our girls, our women, to say ‘No’ whenever their personal space is violated without feeling guilty?

Do we as parents honor the ‘No’ of our daughters and sons when it comes to matters of personal body space?

Do husbands know to acknowledge and honor the ‘No’ of their wives and daughters when it comes to the matter of personal space?

Maybe it is time to look at mythology, folk tales, movies, novels and other spaces which deeply violate and cloud the meaning of the word ‘No’ when a girls says it by romanticizing it.

When force of any kind is the response to a girl’s “No”, it is Rape in every form or shape or color – be it in a marriage or in a relationship or anywhere! It is not romantic even if the doer is a tall dark handsome guy!

LET US STOP ROMANTICIZING SUCH FANTASIES FOR OUR DAUGHTERS AND SONS!
TEACH OUR DAUGHTERS TO SAY ‘NO’ AND NOT FEEL GUILTY!
TEACH OUR SONS TO RESPECT THE ‘NO’ OF WOMEN AND GIRLS!

 

 

 

 

 

Stand By Your Child – No Matter What!

This blog is inspired by something my sister shared like couple of years back that all a child wants to hear from his or her parent are just two words, “Its Ok.”

Those two words make every difficult experience become “ok” in the mind for a child. Sometimes parents are so absorbed in the drama of their own ego that they separate themselves from the child and stand by the world! Even a brief moment of that response from the parent has a life lasting impact on the child’s sense of feeling a deep rooted groundedness from within. Otherwise the child never really feels ‘its ok’ inside and keeps looking for that acknowledge through his or her own life.

However, if you choose to stand by your child whatever maybe the situation – even if the child was the wrong doer – if you begin from the point of saying to the child -“Its Ok”, you will get the cooperation of the child. Because in that moment, the child feels seen, acknowledged and supported and will be more willing to listen.

I feel that till the age of 16 years if parents can create that kind of conscious empathy, love and protection for the child it can have long lasting impression on the child’s response in the world – within and without. However, most children are victims of their parent’s stress, prejudice, hurt, fears, emotional turmoils, and their own wounding by their parents.

Do not equate Stand By your child to mean Side your child‘s behavior! When you Stand By Your Child, you send the message to the child that no matter what I am with you and together we can improve this situation. It creates the space for your child to listen to you.

When a child exhibits a behavior that is seen as wrong (or destructive to self and others), there are only two perspectives:

  • the child knew that it was  wrong and still did it, or
  • the child did not know it was wrong

Either ways it is a learning moment for the child. But how do you make that a teaching moment without projecting your own insecurities on the child. For example, Say your child’s teacher or a neighbor or a relative or someone else brings to your notice something about your child that is seen as socially embarrassing, rude, destructive, what will you do?

Most parents that I have seen immediately start blasting their child – shouting, screaming, punishing, taking away incentives, time-outs! Sometimes parents start screaming at the child in-front of the messenger and sometimes they start screaming at the messenger for saying such things about their child! Both ways you are not Standing By your child.

Importantly – Never scold or ridicule your child in front of others! Definitely, do not let the  messenger scold or abuse your child in front of you! That doesn’t work either!

Now how do you make the teaching moment.

First, you have to hear your child out! Meaning you have to give your child the opportunity to explain the situation to you. The only way your child is going to come through with truth is if your child knows that he or she is going to be ok inspite of sharing it. That is when your child needs to know that you will stand by him or her whatever happens! Your love is not going to diminish! Sometimes children do not know that and hence, they will say all kinds of things to avoid telling you the truth.

Secondly, if your child’s story conflicts completely from what you have been told, then you have to share what you were told with your child, and inquire about the discrepancies – What does the child have to say about it!  You will know if your child is lying or not if you are tuned in and also, as you observe their stories over 1 or 2 such incidents.

You have to learn the skill to stand by your child without siding their behavior!

It is not easy to do because you have to put yourself aside, and be present for the child. It requires time and patience but it is worth it.

You have to start indulging in speaking to your child calmly and lovingly versus reacting in anger and punishment, and projecting your own insecurities, fear and embarrassment on the child. The more relaxed and listening you are, the more the child feels that you are standing by them, the more chances of them exploring into telling the truth! Then you can together explore the consequences of the behavior.

Don’t just say “You should not do that”, “it is the wrong thing to do”, “You have to behave properly”, “what will people say”, “you are embarrassing us” – these are vague sounding sentences which do not explain anything to the child about the consequences of their behavior – why was their behavior not socially supportive! Speak the truth. Bring real world examples Even from your own life! If you haven’t mastered that behavior yourself, then share it with your child and maybe even say to the child that together you can explore it further.

Step out of right or wrong mindset! Instead speak to the child about what serves or does not serve the child in the long run.

Children are deep compassionate beings naturally. They usually do not respond or behave in any situation without a reason unless of course, that is what they have seen you mirror for them.

Do not make a mountain out of a mole hill!

In most normal situations, your Standing By your child and talking about his or her behavior in a conscious compassionate non-judgemental way will shift your child’s behavior. It will hold space for them to come forth with truth. If that does not happen, then maybe there are deeper issues that your child or sometimes you yourself are dealing with. At that point you can choose external help maybe a good Child Therapist in your city could help.