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?

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Not afraid to be ordinary

I have to admit right at the outset that ever since I was a kid I disliked anything which was ‘normal’, ‘regular’, ‘conventional’.  I would often ask why rituals are done a certain way or why do I have to follow social rules which my brother didn’t have to follow. And you know what the rest of the why’s would look like..

The story began one afternoon when I was sitting in our family’s apartment balcony and looking at what people in the apartments living opposite to us were doing( I know it wasn’t a nice thing to peek but hey..everything was too close not to watch when the curtains are open) . It was yet another sunny day in Mumbai and I had just returned from school. While I was watching,  I noticed one apartment in particular where the kids were playing and the maid was drying the clothes in the balcony. They weren’t doing anything extraordinary and in fact they were doing exactly the same thing as they did the day before and the day prior to that. It was then that I wondered:

  • Will I die one day and no one would know?
  • Will my existence go unnoticed?
  • How can I be different?

Trust me when I tell you that I was all of 10-11 years old thinking about such glum stuff. In that very moment

  • I decided to be different.
  • To not follow the routine, mundane and mechanical life.
  • To create my own rules and
  • To learn everything on my own ( this wasn’t a smart intention to set but I did set it that way)

This existential thought storm also triggered a resistance towards anything normal. If someone had a normal childhood i.e. sans any major struggles or discomfort then that didn’t interest me, two people who got married with ease didn’t give me as much a kick as did an odd couple i.e. Older woman marrying a younger man, if everyone was afraid of the walking alone in the dark then I would surely try and see what the fuss was all about. I wanted to be above the rest but not in the normal competitive manner where you tried to score better than your peer. I got above the rest using some spiritual and philosophical understanding. Being competitive also meant being normal so I wasn’t going to engage in it.

Fast forward some years and some first-hand experiences , I craved normalcy and all I wanted was a normal life. I was at a point where I was tired of ups and downs and desperately wanted the comfort of the plateau, the known. I needed certainty/ stability and thankfully I was able to achieve it after some challenges. The truth is that had I not tasted these challenges where being able to make ends meet in a foreign land was my daily concern, then I wouldn’t have been able to value normalcy. I am stubborn like thatJ

With this new found respect for normalcy and my 10 year old still inside of me, today I have reached a point where I can say that no matter how ordinary you are, there is an inherent uniqueness in each one of us which can never be suppressed (unless you choose to suppress it). You don’t have to try too hard to be extraordinary.

Accepting the beauty of normalcy takes courage. Accepting somewhere that most of life is lined with routine tasks which are not to be fought with but won over. The ‘difference’ lies in the choices we make while leading an otherwise ordinary life. There is an ease in this approach to life. An organic wisdom if you will. It is the beauty of a homemaker who sings while she cooks, the compassion of a man returning from a 9-5 job who helps a wounded animal on the street,  the courage of an otherwise ordinary bystander to stand up for a woman who is being eve teased.

In my opinion, if we can simply learn to be good at being ordinary with an elevated consciousness/humanness then we will never be ‘just another’ person who lived/died. As long as we keep fighting the normalcy, that’s what we stay busy with and staying busy in our own head doesn’t mean that we aren’t ordinary. This constant battle we create for ourselves can induce more fear in us than needed.

I am not suggesting here that you shouldn’t challenge yourself or try to grow or be complacent. If you do any of the above then you are not respecting your inherent uniqueness and not allowing it to express itself. What I am saying here is that not everyone needs to be a Mark Zuckerberg or a Bill Gates to make a difference or to live a life that has created an impact. If you live your life with authenticity then it will indeed be a life well lived. Some of us spend too much time and energy focusing on what we are NOT in this moment. You don’t have to know everything OR be restless at all times because you aren’t doing enough to get somewhere.

Affirmation- My Best Life

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My Best Life

New Hampshire

 

Affirmation- My Best Life

I am living my best life, right here, right now.

I intend and life provides.

I take the required action in faith when guided to do so by my divine intuitive self.

I love life and life loves me back.

 

Pooja Joshi

The Changing room

Past few weeks things have been changing around me. It is probably more appropriate to say  that these changes are big enough for me to notice them. I feel like I am inside a changing room trying on new clothes and find out what I like:)

Old is making way for the new. I think about the process a snake goes through when shedding the old skin and coming into its new skin. I have heard that it is painful for the snake but it happens anyways. It is natural and there is no way around it. The snake endures this process for days and then shines in it’s new avatar. The purpose of the ‘old’ is fulfilled and it has lived its course. Imagine how would it be if our skin did not expand in response to the growth occurring inside the body. When we grow physically, for the most part we are excited and even there we do experience growing pains.

Change by itself is a natural and neutral occurrence. We inflict the pain/pleasure upon us by choosing to do so. We can resist change as much as we want and it will still happen.

We can exert some influence by utilizing our free will and wait for what turns up. Most likely whatever is in your best interest will come to you even if it is an outcome different than one you had visualized. At the beginning of this year I had created a vision board mentioning a specific amount of income for myself through a certain profession. The ‘what’ of my intentionality is being fulfilled and I had to adjust my sails for a totally different ‘how’. This is what was needed for me to upgrade and fortunately I was able to welcome it with open arms. I needed new hardware:) This is what I mean by using free will to affect change. And there is always an element of our higher good which is not visible to us immediately but is more of a feeling. Go with it when your heart tells you ‘it is going to be ok’.

Change is good:) This is how I choose to see it!

 

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The Bean-Chicago

 

Creating your own Ritual-fuel your intentionality

Being born in India where Hindus constitutes majority of the population, rituals were a common occurrence around me. I grew up with different ceremonies and rituals being performed at different times of the year. When you grow up with something you don’t always appreciate it and that’s exactly what happened with me. I was fascinated by the meaning and no one provided me with an answer. Curiosity persisted and I read several books, spoke to some wise friends and also followed my own intuition.

A ritual is defined as a religious or solemn ceremony consisting of a series of actions performed according to a prescribed order. You may follow the order as passed on by generations and can also create your personal ritual. It is an order that emanates from the center of your being, your heart.

I knew that the presence of all five elements i.e. earth, water, fire, air and ether always brought me a sense of purity, serenity and wholeness. Today I create my own rituals that help me uplift my mood, feel emotionally cleansed, cleansing the area I live in etc.

One of my favorite morning rituals is simply to light an incense stick after my morning meditation and also set an intention that my day be as fragrant as 

Santa Cruz - Montara

Five elements in nature

 

the incense. At times when I feel driven, I also light up candles, place a jar of water next to the candles, bring in a basil leaf(earth element) and play my Tibetan cymbals. I also incorporate dancing when I feel like itJ. This whole ritual which lasts 15-20 minutes helps me reconnect with myself and feel lighter. A very common activity that we perform everyday i.e. taking a shower can be transformed into a ritual by utilizing the power of intention. You may set an intention that every droplet of water takes away all the dirt and enhances the overall health of your body. Like any other thing when this ritual becomes ‘another thing to do’, please stop it and renew it.

Fire, water and earth seem to have some transformative properties which perhaps why major religions choose to bury or cremate bodies of individuals. Air is ever present and provides movement to any other element. I believe that rituals add fuel to setting your intentions in motion. Feel free to use it for weight loss (as mentioned by Marianne Williamson in her book titled A course in Weight Loss), attracting love, enhancing your career etc. Take practices from any religion that appeal to you and make it your own. When you are connected with your heart, I don’t know that you could do any harm or go wrong!

Affirmation-Harmony

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Affirmation-Harmony

Hit the DELETE button

You may wonder where? I am referring to our minds and the thoughts we create:)

Similar to the manner in which we delete posts, sentences and words on facebook/twitter or word documents, we can also choose to delete the thoughts we create and do not like! This perhaps never occurs to us but it is a possibility available to us. As we assume ownership and the right to manipulate the content that we want to post, we can do the same with the thoughts in our mind.

Lets take a situation: You are driving and look at a fellow driver stranded with a flat tire. You find yourself worrying if something of this sort would happen to you. We all know when we worry and right at this point, you can choose to delete this worrisome thought and replace it with a new desirable thought. It can either be connected to the event/situation you just witnessed or a random pleasant thought that you would like to have in your headspace. Mentally visualize the thought deleted as you would on a computer screen and see it replaced with the new thought. The new thought could be a visual of you always riding smooth or you enjoying your favorite vacation.

The intention here is to not avoid unpleasant thoughts all the time but simply become aware and also know that you can change the thought because even the earlier ‘worry’ thought was created in your own mind. You are the owner and you can change it:)