Listen and Be Heard

written for nurturers at Mothering in the Middle, March 2013


Women – nurturers – are the most resilient beings in the Universe. Yet, no matter if you are in an aesthetically pleasing state, at the top of your career, happily mothering, or within the most profoundly loving relationship, you may tell yourself otherwise.  Most likely, you tell yourself that you could be more or do more.

I know this because I shared this affliction. Raised to believe that I was never enough, I strove every day to be more than enough.  It was not until my knees met the earth of my temporary dwelling place – a damp and musty basement – that I experienced an awakening. An old soul with cells full of trauma, I came to this place in wonder. Had my time expired? We all have these moments, if only we move out of the mind. If only we pause to notice our own heart beating… or breaking… and if only we listen.

Today I stand before you – a late-twenties Mama, eyes full of life and laughter, belly rounded with child. When I practice alongside you on the mat, my body aches too.  We both share the experiences of life and motherhood. And while I express postures on the yoga mat which cause me no harm, in this beautiful shared space I feel full both joy and sorrows.  I am blessed with a wild and healthy toddler.  Yet, as I nurtured him through survival to thrive, I lost the connection with my inner voice… and, as I sat in a hospital bed, physically alone for the first time in more than a year, I also lost the connection between my feet and the earth.

I believe that you know what I mean; I believe that you have been here, too. Our struggles may be slightly different, but as nurturers we are all the same. It matters not if the reflection on the pond is of a pretty young duck or of a wise older swan – both life and water run through our bodies the same. And roaring sounds of rushing breath and water emptying into the hands and hearts of those around us make our own voices inaudible. This becomes our normal space – to give and not receive.

I offer myself as a reflection of all women – all who mother. We are a resilient breed. When we step away from the lure of silence, we often find that our presence, our being, and our relationships have all been only half-seen or heard. Walking each day with unconditional love of both others and self, we all have the opportunity to connect with our own inner voice. And once YOU find it – the one that isn’t snickering at you beneath a pile of mixed-messages, the one that isn’t saying you are not happy, healthy or whole – you begin to recognize your own worth.  I stand here in testament – your voice can shape your path – “Be the best nurturer that you can be… by giving to yourself, first.”

Affirmation/Mantra: A daily affirmation or mantra leads to an inspired life. “Universe, please fill up my cup so that I may bless those around me.”

Yogic Wellness: Your body manifests all that is unseen – including each thought and action which does not serve your Highest Purpose. Practice Breath of Joy, finding your voice in loud exhales as you stand, breathe in, and reach for the sky. Allow your body to fall forward, arms flowing down and back by your sides. If you have any disharmonies of the head, face, eyes, or neck, including high blood pressure, take a simple child’s posture on the earth. Kneel, bring your sit-bones to your heels, and bow forward, head resting on top of fists. Breathe in deeply and sigh loudly with each exhale. A blanket, pillow or bolster may be used between sit-bones and heels should there be space.

Mindfulness Mechanism: Then next time that you are asked to give something of yourself, check your cup. If it is full to the brim, water those around you. If not, use your voice. Speak your truth. Say no to requests or ask others to wait. Follow this up with an action to self-serve or soothe. It may be as simple as sitting down on the floor to reconnect with the present moment, or as elaborate as a planned day spent only with yourself.

Living Yoga with Children: Allow your own children to bear witness to your resilience. In your most trying moments, the beings you care for will see you. Your response to adversity will help shape theirs. Use your words to briefly illustrate the situation, without requiring anything of them. “Mommy is frustrated right now.”

Should questions arise – such as in the never-ending why phase, elaborate. “Mommy is frustrated because she lost her keys.” Pause, close your eyes, and breathe deeply. Little eyes are always watching… little ears listening.

Imagine being a child yourself. Your impression of the world is the same as that of those who care for you – whether you are an infant, waddler, toddler, tween or teen. The body language of your nurturer teaches you to either love or fear the world. In this space, you will either learn peace and presence or you will learn fight and flight.

Sharing Yogic-Life: Allow yourself to be fully present within your relationships. Whether the relationship is with an elder, parent, colleague, spouse or dear friend, your presence as a nurturer is impactful. Not every person you connect with will bring greater joy into your life; you can still bring greater joy into theirs. Share time without wandering through the mind. Be in your heart, visualizing a two-way street from your soul to theirs. Along this street rushes wishes of perfect happiness. Though you may not physically speak anything here, know that your inner voice only needs to be heard by you and the Universe. Here you fill up all cups. No one goes thirsty.

Always remember that as a nurturer, you bring greater love, light, laughter, joy and bliss into the world each and every day. There are zero degrees of separation between you and the Universe. The Universe is irrepressible, as are you. In living out loud, you are giving back to self. Self-affirm. Pause, look, listen and express. Hold on to the beautiful, perfectly imperfect humanness of caring for others.Let go of all that no longer serves you. Make room for all which will allow you to best serve. And when in doubt of your own resilience, find your voice. Then, stand in witness and listen.

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