Gumbo pot- Reflections

I am writing this post as a reflection of my thoughts on some current global events / issues and some reading/listening that I have engaged in. This post is perhaps a continuation of my recent post on Feminism and what it means to be a Feminist.

I was reading/ listening to:

  • Women’s bodies, Women’s wisdom by Dr. Christiane Northrup
  • The Truth about Vaccines – This is a 7 part documentary series on the good/bad and the ugly related to Vaccines given to infants/children in the U.S.
  • The Yoga of Bhagavad Gita by Paramhansa Yogananda

Below are some of my ponderings/thoughts:

  • For any change to occur, we need more women to be aware, educated, in tune with their intuitive intelligence and more men to stand with these women.
  • If the chemicals being spread on Earth’s soil and the antibiotics/hormones given to cattle affect our health via food/water/air, then why assume that all vaccines given to babies are safe?
  • Shouldn’t I as an individual always have the ability to make a choice? What is freedom if not for the ability to make our own choices and be responsible for them?
  • Why do we believe more in pills and less in the intelligence of our bodies?
  • Any person/ medium/approach that thrives on you being fearful is not your friend.
  • We need to stand up to the Pharmaceutical industry much in the same way as we are seeing with the Pesticide and Food industry. Personal is indeed political.
  • If every single person only took responsibility for themselves including their physical, mental, emotional, relational health, that would be enough.
  • Authoritarian approaches that disallow freedom at any level need to be replaced with collaborative/consultative approaches.
  • Don’t simply follow practices/beliefs because ‘that’s how it has been’, ask why and be open to understanding.
  • It’s all connected. If it’s NOT OK for Syria to bomb its own people, it’s NOT OK for the government to issue mandates on what’s needed in my or my child’s body. Both are fundamentally related to human rights.
  • Don’t be a rebel for the sake of feeling powerful.
  • Let’s stop living in an illusion that we are separate from the Earth/Environment.
  • Invest more time/resources in improving the state of health instead of focusing on disease.

I will close it by saying; Let’s dream with our eyes wide open. Let it make us uncomfortable. Let’s feel it and then feel it again in every inch of our bodies. May we have no other choice but to move with it.

I would be eager to know if this stirs something in you.

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My take on what it means to be a Feminist

Feminism doesn’t ask you to be a man hater

Feminism doesn’t ask you to use coercion or domination as a means of influence

Feminism doesn’t ask to be expressed in obnoxious and disrespectful ways

Feminism doesn’t ask you to only care about women and women’s rights

Are you a feminist simply by being born a woman? I don’t think so.

‘It’ isn’t literal and narrow. It is about honoring that aspect in and around us which connects us to the feminine. What is feminine you ask?

I hope you do ask because we have had too much information and little knowledge about this idea/concept/construct.

Feminine is the creative force. It is open, vast, receptive , fluid and vulnerable. It is the power of intuition, emotion and nurturing. In humans, we understand the right hemisphere of the brain and the left side of the body to be working on this principle. Being born as a woman definitely gives us a biological advantage to be more in tune with the feminine but it requires awareness and acceptance to be used as a strength.

The construct of the ‘Feminine’ encompasses all creatures on Earth who depend on us human beings to be taken care of, to not be violated. This is a child, a woman, a man, an animal, plants, oceans, environment etc. ‘It’ asks for grace, compassion and empathy for another being. It evokes a power within which cannot be denied. It asks that we transcend our ego and see the world beyond the ‘I, Me, Myself’.

Any being who can be subjected to oppression, injustice deserves to be fought for. Across generations and cultures we have seen this injustice manifest the most around women and hence feminism is synonymous with the experience of being a woman today.

We know this force as the archetypal ‘Mother’.  She gives of herself to create, raise and nurture. She can protect her offspring when she senses any threat. She also feels the collective pain of any injustice.

And if we know anything, then we know that the true feminine cannot live in isolation from the true masculine. Both are needed and in balance.

Masculine is the seed force without which creation isn’t possible. It is the power of action, focus, intention. This is the ‘achieving’ energy which is logical, rational and solid/set.  It is externally focused.

We know this force as the archetypal ‘Father’. Quite naturally, the masculine force provides the seed and the feminine nurtures it to life. Masculine provides and protects.

In schools, offices, governments, families, we are taught to recognize and bolster the Masculine but seldom talked about is the Feminine power.  I suspect that this is because we only believe what we see with the limitations of our physical eyes and the faculties of our rational mind. I am happy to see an increase in the ‘mindfulness’ trend in schools. Practices like meditation, mindfulness, art connect us with this power which lies within untapped.

As for a man vs woman debate, I have seen many men who are securely in touch with their feminine side and I have seen many women who aren’t. I know the corporate driven achievement oriented culture doesn’t give much of a chance to stay connected with our feminine side and neither does a culture where a girl is not free to exercise her freedom which stems from simply being alive.

In majority of the cases, women leaders and the men who find a way to honor their feminine side do tend to think long term and in terms of a larger balance. Here I would like to draw your attention to the women led Icelandic bank which was the only financial institution to survive the financial crisis in 2007-2008. Auður Capital is a financial services company founded by two women who formed feminine values as the basis of their institution. Halla Tomasdóttir who is one of the founders of this bank said that if we want to see a change anywhere, we must include atleast 3 women on the board because one is token representation and two is a minority.

I was thrilled to learn about several initiatives in European nations and some other countries where as a society, balance, harmony, sense of community are highly prized values and are seen integral to improving performance. These initiatives are in the direction of healthcare, education, child care, environment protection, animal rights, parental leave, vacation time etc. The ‘softer’ side of running a company and a society.

An example of honoring the feminine around us was in 2013 when New Zealand granted legal personhood to Te Urewera National Park and Whanganui River and its tributaries. This speaks volumes in terms of respecting and protecting the intrinsic rights of this earthly body. It is recognizing and protecting the rights of an entity which cannot speak for itself and calls upon us human beings to do so.

So, what does it mean to be a Feminist?

  • Being aware of the most obvious and subtle forms of injustice
  • Speaking up against injustice as and when you can
  • Taking action at an individual and or collective level in a collaborative manner

Thoughts?

Solitude

It is often when we are alone that our faith gets stronger

It is often when we are alone that our fears crawl out into the open

It is often when we are alone that we are silent

It is often when we are alone that we do take a deep listen.

 

Being by yourself is no easy task and avoid it, we must at all costs

For one who learns to cherish solitude taps into her higher self

Needs no one to tell her who she is

What would then ‘they’ do if she doesn’t need them anymore?

 

Free and wild she soars in the sky

Talks to the winds when she needs advice

Hugs the trees when she needs comfort

She leads the way for another who searches for her highest truth.

‘I’ ness to ‘We’ ness

‘We’ ness i.e. Inter-dependence is a stage where I believe I am today and I still am a work in progress. For most of my 20’s I have been independent in terms of earning money and making life choices based on what I deemed was right for me. Although it sounds great I believe while I was being independent I missed out on some valuable suggestions and advice that was being offered to me at that point. This period covers a few odd times when I would allow people whom I considered to be mentors nudge me towards a certain path. And that was just that. I have mostly been a person who did things based on what she ‘felt’ was right for her.  I believe it is certainly a much needed attribute while you are finding yourself and creating your sense of identity. Being autonomous is certainly a trait that most people in the Mental Health field would admire in anyone.

Following your journey as a child in a average Indian middle class family, you would be lucky if elders were even remotely interested in hearing what you had to say. Elders are meant to be respected and they ‘knew’ it all. I was fairly lucky because my parents did allow me a certain amount of freedom to decide for myself. Given this socio-cultural context, a lot of children do struggle to become truly independent. I believe I did attain a slightly above average level of autonomy which has helped me until today.

As life would have it, the past few years I have been presented with situations where if

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Autumn

I had chosen to continue to be this self-deterministic person, I would have lost some good job opportunities or relationships. There was a point where I had to learn to truly receive inputs from the people around me.  Spiritually I see it as growing beyond the sense of “I” into a secured sense of “We”. It is stage where you are so secured in who you are that you can listen to others even if they have opposing views or suggestions that do not favor your ideologies. This is also something that one can learn only through relationships and through the act of ‘relating’ to another.

Being inter-dependent is being able to accept support from others when you need it and not being this stubborn strong willful person who simply wants to show others that he/she can survive alone. Being able to reflect and introspect is definitely a quality one needs to be able to admit that he/she was wrong. This also has a lot to do with you being able to trust someone else to have your best interests in his/her mind. You begin to see that you are not alone and that you are not meant to be. Even from a spiritual standpoint we all are connected but it becomes a tad bit difficult to grasp it in the human form when egos get involved in the process.

For me the first step towards acknowledging inter-dependence began with me admitting when I was wrong and accepting another way of looking at or doing something. This stage is also honestly freeing in a way that you are not supposed to be the ‘know it all’, you can ask for help and inputs. Like many other things, it is a change and our egos resist it for as long as possible. There is tremendous richness in being able to draw from this connectedness/togetherness/inter-dependence. It is a space where you continue to be YOU at the core and are able to truly appreciate another’s presence.

Fly Away!

Free as a bird who knows the strength of her wings I fly in the open sky

My wings are lighter and stronger by the burdens I chose to carry and alight

A solitary journey it is or I thought it was that I have travelled so far

My fellow travelers only hidden in the mist of my lonely flight

Our journeys so different and yet so alike

The intimidation of the vast sky now seems to only unite

Strangers we are not..sisters we are

Flapping our wings into the guiding light

Fly away!

Pooja Joshi

My Spirit wants to dance…

My Spirit wants to dance……but she will have to wait

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Manresa beach, California

My Spirit wants to dance. She knows the best rhythm and beat that would make her dance but is shying away from it. She dances on other beats too but does not shine in them. If it was only for these beats, she would have danced her way through life but it seems the flooring provided to her isn’t suiting the footsteps. The shoes are hurting when she dances on this floor yet she is trying to adjust. The beat also does not excite her right now but she fools herself by trying to believe so. I have instructed her to believe and live with some of these facts – that she will have to wait for a while…
Her care takers fail to see the glow she has when her body strikes the rhythm it is meant to serve. They want her to dance on the tunes, they had chosen for her. I am indebted to them for all the care and support they have given me through years. She does not seem to care for it and only knows her rhythm. She does not want to understand the circumstances that I am in and she does not understand any debt. She says, when you let me dance, all your debts shall be repaid. I do believe in her but I am scared that my care takers won’t understand her. If I support her, I know I will start living, for, right now I just exist. Once when she danced through me it seemed to be the best feeling ever. I did not want to stop her. I wanted that feeling of being alive each moment of my life. I spoke to them about it. Alas! They themselves were denied their rhythm. I cannot blame them for what they make her do but I feel suffocated when she cannot flow through me. For, she is sole reason for my “being”.
The rhythm of the universe keeps knocking within and I can’t open the doors. I can feel the beauty she wants to show me but cannot bear suppressing it. In moments of quiet, I let her dance. In her rejoice, then, lies my pain. I do not talk about her with others because when I did, I found myself to be foolish. Most of the seasons, I am left alone with her and she asks me, “when will you give me my wings”. I cannot explain to her the many silly reasons my caretakers load me with. When I talk to her about it, she blames me for not having the courage to keep up my promise. Sometimes, walking along some lonely streets, I witness some spirits who have found and are living their own rhythm. I keep quiet as she enviously looks at them. I fear, one day, she may stop knocking!
I know she is selfish. Much to my surprise, it is only in such selfishness that I have found veracity. It is only when I let her be, I feel beautiful and purged. She wants me to know that all I need to do is to let her take charge and the rest shall be fine. I sit here waiting for the moment when she no longer asks for my permission and storms herself through me…Possibly, I lack that force right now…
Wandering about in wasteful times, I pity my inability to live “her”. But, I want and need her in me, hence I dance with her when she is about to get into a recluse. This is how I save my Spirit and pacify her by saying, “the day is not too far when you and I shall be one”. She smiles and gives me another chance to save myself…