Yes, I am scared too sometimes, and it can take me a bit to realize each time that there’s actually no reason for it. I mean there are reasons, it’s really legitimated to be scared these days. I’m reminding myself to ask myself though: “Am I really insecure?” (which I learnt from Vedanta-philosophy classes). And am again and again figuring that I’m not.
In contrast, it looks like this period seems to help people to come to the essence. Or, as the manager of the hotel I’m staying at says: “What needs to die, will die, what lives, will live. What is important, is the presence.”
What also helps me these days are some jewels I picked up in a training I took two weeks ago, called “Well Woman Yoga Therapy Teacher Training” (earlier it was called Womb Yoga. Womb = uterus). High time to write about what I’ve taken away from there:
A woman’s womb = the world, the origin
The Sanskrit word “yoni” means womb (and vulva and vagina), but also sacred vessel, source, origin. Acknowledging thereby that a female body has the capacity to create life. And that death and life are inseparable in a woman’s body. (In average, a womb experiences as much death as life, if not more – but nobody speaks about the death part).
So, this world can be seen as a womb, in fact. And just as usual life comes to a halt these days in many parts of the world and many of us get to the essential, a woman can draw a lot of wisdom from her womb – if she brings awareness to it. For example, just the simple observance that “life is much more about rhythm than about a linear timespan,” as teacher Uma Dinsmore-Tuli mentioned during the training.
Which is why “Womb Yoga” practices –that honour the female cyclical nature – focus on rhythm, lots of circulations and undulations as well as breath. (Breath connecting the mere physical body with life energy).
Acknowledging life’s cyclical nature…
The training was so much about seeing that every stage in a cycle has its power and beauty. Not only of the menstrual cycle, but of any cycle in life. To help us understand that, we set the menstrual cycle in relation to the seasons (and to any of life’s cycles):
- Bleeding can be related to winter (needing rest, turning inwards and so on),
- Pre-ovulation is seen as spring (as sense of blooming, creativity and playfulness…)
- Ovulation as high summer (lots of energy, focus on the outside…)
- Post-ovulation as autumn (feeling sad, vulnerable, confused, maybe depressed…).
We learnt: Honouring life’s cycles means better health. Another womb yoga teacher of mine has once put it beautifully: “Many of us have an attitude towards ourselves which is as if we’d expect a mango tree to bear fruits all the time. All year round. Isn’t it obvious that if that would be the case, the mangoes would be fewer and less nutritious?”
…and its many stages
Many of us of course do not like pain, confusion, depression and other physical and emotional states we label as negative. We reject them and want to get rid of them (for example, with the contraceptive pill, or when we shut down our emotions) – which of course can be very harmful if not in the short, then definitely in the long term.
To prevent that, Uma Dinsmore-Tuli suggests connecting any experience typical of a woman’s life (menarche, orgasm, pregnancy, etc.) to a “Great Wisdom Goddess” (Dasa Mahavidyas). These ten Goddesses are worshipped in some regions of India and stem from the “Shakta Tantra” tradition.
The goddesses represent any possible emotion and stage in life.
- There is for example Kali: In her closeness to death and darkness, she shows us the necessity for self-acceptance and surrender.
- Or Matangi, the outcaste poet at the edge of society: Free from social constraints, her power is creativity.
- Headless Chinnamasta breaks open the limitations of who we think we are: A deep but sometimes terrifying freedom.
- Bagalamukhi, the “paralyser”, represents the power of clarity and understanding that arises out of confusion.
- Dhumavati is a widow and alone. She is the other wisdom goddesses’ wisest ancestral guide and teaches discrimination through suffering, showing what really matters in life.
- Sodasi, the “sixteen-year-old” embodies the power and wisdom of innocence and trust. She might be unaware of this power, but its force is of cosmic proportions.
Just to name a few. There are many more beautiful depictions of the goddesses…
Welcome them all!
I know painful situations are here to grow. To appreciate them in the moment though, is another story. Having a picture of the goddesses or seeing life’s cyclical ups and downs as inherently natural, helps me to deal with them.
So: Welcome! Welcome to vulnerability, innocence, outcaste-ness, confusion and the unknown. A warm, rhythmic and circulating welcome. 😉
Thank you Ariane for editing and Zoe for the photo!! ❤️