Belief systems. Societal constructs. Morals and manners. The first part of our physical and mental creation belongs to the stuff foundations are made from. In Ayurveda, this is the earth and water part of development - it is about forming structure. As we know from the commonplace dig into childhood trauma as the basis of current behaviour, it's an important time of our lives. Biology, according to Ayurveda, states that without a robust sense of structure in the body, the wind (imagination) or fire (breaking down information) can go haywire. We rarely tackle what we believe in and whether it's valid for us today. Some of us raise children on how we were raised, without thinking about it. Others raise the opposite direction, in reaction to the way they were raised. In any respect it may not coincide with the life experiences that have come your way.
This article seeks to understand the root drive of women and how they see themselves. I hear conversations about having a partner or not / having a baby or not. Sometimes it translates to a career conversation, but even then it gets mixed into the first two. I RARELY hear conversations by women on what their dream expression could look like. I've noticed this too - not all women are cut out to have kids. Not biologically, but in what creates satisfaction - some fall into the role naturally and others struggle with what they should do. The craving sometimes doesn't turn out like they thought, and then what. Or they enjoy being a parent but may find themselves alone at an age where the children have grown and not knowing how to fill the time. As women, we have limited ourselves by how we see ourselves and what we are willing to be open to in others.
And from that limited mindset, we compete, to be the prettiest girl in the room.
The earth structure can be formed in many ways. As Dr Robert Svoboda, Ayurvedic doctor, states (paraphrasing) 'If you had a crappy childhood, change the story, but not so much that you can't remember the details.' Dr Claudia Welch, DOM, has written on the ability to change early childhood stuff by meditating and doing pranayama in the time before dawn, which equates to that time of our lives.
Point is, you can re-arrange the furniture you put the pretty flowers on.
There is a known fact, coined by Napoleon Hill called the mastermind group, that 2 or more people that believe in each other and support each other will, in turn, effect the fortunes of both. Men have figured this out. Politics performs in that way. I just had a conversation today with a (female) pharmaceutical rep that told me their end of year frivolities include a men's only golf day. Wow. Men have learned to reform their structure by SUPPORTING each other. And women have learned to support men, whether by watching their mothers' do it or by the reaffirming conversations with other women.
That said. How do we go about re-creating the foundations of womanhood? Word on the street is that there is a female way of doing things and to compete to be like a man in a man's world never really brought out the best in us - refer gynaecological issues/breast cancer/anxiety on the rise. The idea that we are only as vital as our menstrual cycle is like being treated like a farm animal. The fact that menopause becomes such a disruptor should take us back to reviewing how we got there in the first place, rather than cover it up with meds that have been tested extensively to cause breast cancer.
There is a wildfire starting amongst women groups around the world. Good stuff, however, as mentioned, fire and wind need a container to not burn too brightly or fly out of control. I am starting the conversation on how we can re-create our foundations and I have some ideas. I'm sure you might too -
Do what you love or default
Environmental influence is subtle. People will complain about the effects of the media, scantily clad women on billboards etc but it's the nature of the beast of advertising to pull at the insecurities of us, if you allow it. We can liken it to immunity care. Ayurveda sees the idea of disease a little differently - we consider that if you live a life according to your nature and keep your digestive fire strong, then you build up a resistance to pathogens. The Western mindset is that the bugs are gonna getcha, and it's a game of chance. Taking this idea of immune protection, you can also protect your vulnerabilities to the media - when you are established in yourself you are not easily influenced to veer off path. Taking this further, if you find what you love to do, and it immerses you in a state of flow, then to be pulled from that flow feels awful.
If you haven't experienced that feeling, by attempting to make it priority, then you might find yourself in a state of default, meaning at the influence of society at large and it's messages. It is a good idea to find something that makes you feel connected to the source of all things.
Meet over activities
Gossip is literally a waste of energy and a superficial way to connect to others. Excessive talking uses up energy. It usually arises from an excess of Vata dosha. I notice this in myself - when there is too much movement (not energy) coursing through my system, it almost feels painful to contain it. Vata, when out of balance, feels a need to disperse energy and then it crashes and wants to hide away. Some might feel like they are depressed at this point but for this body type, it isn't a classic depression, it's a misuse of their capacity. From this space, quiet and stillness is needed to regenerate.
Women connect to chat and share. It's a nice thing when done in a supportive way. Traditional women have tended to come together over making things - food and crafts - which can add a different dynamic to the connection. There is a focal point that keeps the energy focused and centred. It contains Vata and excessiveness when there is something to direct towards.
Women mention how exhausted they are all the time. I would suggest connecting by using your hands.
Smile at other women, even if they look nervous
Everyone feels weird about being human. And from my experience as a practitioner, almost everyone feels alone, or misunderstood. The Buddhists have figured this out - it is a higher stage of personal development to want to help others. The moment you see yourself in another there is the pure dissolution of ego. I've always considered the talking about ego to be an irony - it is an authority telling others what to think separating the insightful from the minions (I know / you're yet to know). It seems a more inspiring message to be led, a la Mother Teresa, Martin Luther King, etc by example, to show concern for humanity outside of yourself.
I would consider a mini form of self sacrifice is to smile at others - especially to other women. And, as the Buddhists innately know, it comes back tenfold. A connection to others removes competition - smiling is like the adage 'a tide raises all boats'.
Express an opinion once/week anywhere
I have had conversations with women about their sex lives with partners. Not a lot of women are happy in this department, for some reason. When I ask whether they let their partners know what they want, I have heard (more than once), "he should just know".
And somewhere, along the line, the word "rude" became synonymous with asking for what you want. Australians (the royalists variety) consider Americans to be brash and far too open. I would suggest that the form of repression that has led to abuse and secrets held for generations is rooted in the word "rude".
We are now learning to speak up but going from nothing to putting a twitter message about sexual abuse is expression used in an extreme manner. I posit that we need to practise exercising opinion in a more regular manner so that the build up is not so extreme. Throw out demure and coy - they are useless these days - or perhaps need a redefinition to quiet self confidence that comes naturally from a sense of personal faith.
Dr Svoboda quotes his mentor as using the fire of speech in a productive way. He states that we can use speech to move feelings through, however, to be mindful, that once the energy has moved through, to then stop talking about the issue lest you start to align with the drama as your identity.
So express, and like a beautiful Buddhists mandala, let it dissolve.
Expand your horizons
There are travellers and there are tourists. You can tell someone that has travelled because they can listen to the smallest minutiae of your travel stories. They get it, because they know what it is to be in the moment in places, to take all of it in, their senses on alert. It's difficult to not want to express that feeling of wholeness when you're a traveller. A tourist skims through, checks off. I know this because I've been both.
It's a good thing to stretch your boundaries, literally removing ideas you hold about yourself, your country, your belief in God. It's a nice thing to be wrong because you are more open to alternative ideas. It ultimately leads to a more well rounded individual, with a lot more interesting things to say.
There are more unique ideas out there for travel these days. You can do yoga retreats, art retreats, white water rafting, cycling tours. It used to be, at a certain age, that if you wanted to do a tour you might get on a bus and someone would talk about the history of a place, you get off the bus and take a photo. At the other end of age spectrum, you get on a bus, get drunk, get off the bus, take a photo and then get drunk (again) and find the nearest remotely attractive person.
There's got to be more to life and a way to self inspire and get some great ideas to take home. Travelling can open you to new possibilities, when done right.
Be around wise elders
Dr Svoboda tells us, and many others, that if you want to attain certain characteristics, you must present yourself in the environment of those characteristics. People tend to determine their goals materially because it's an easier thing to do. However, we rarely consider how we might grow older. I had a personal experience of a woman in her 70s tell me that it was all downhill from menopause because you become invisible (to male attention). I found that kind of information to be poison. We are all mentors to women younger than us. Whether you might be aware of this or not, we are all looking to see what's coming in terms of aging. It gives us a sense of hope and vitality when we meet someone older that looks happy and well. They pave the way. And you're paving the way for women younger than you.
True, age doesn't not guarantee wisdom, as I discovered, so you must choose carefully with whom you might consider worthy of your attention.
Lately I have been musing on the idea of 'overcoming'. Coming into your prime of womanhood involves resilience and I find we get tested before we fully transition menopause into this space to determine whether we will find the next phase of our life abundant. The menarche passage involves a similar route, however, ideally, that is guided by an elder. By the time you're at menopause stage life has attempted to teach/taught you how to gracefully do this within.
Vata dosha plays out as we get older because our skin thins, hair thins, and our internal skin (gut lining) also thins. Ayurveda is also considered the Art of Longevity because it uses oils on the skin to feed it's tone and elasticity as well as encouraging a healthy digestive tract, which not only stops toxins from forming from the food eaten, but also helps us to process life experiences so we don't end up with mental constipation (ie depression). In essence the purpose of Ayurveda is to work in opposites, therefore, as your mind and skin thins as we get older, there are practises to thicken ourselves up.
One idea is to use preventative medicine with the type of company you keep. Look for strong minded, resilient, upstanding elderly individuals that will leave an impression of strength on your psyche so you have a gauge inscribed on your future expectations.
Find someone to show you how to contain all the energy within before you are in the golden years/reflective of your life.
Less stuff, better value, as you age
Well cut clothes. On the young it's not as noticeable but as you age and lose the natural muscle tone to hold you up (yoga exempted), we can have the pleasure of reconstructing our shape through well cut clothes. Style is created, genetics is given. We are so very fortunate, these days, that you don't have to buy into looking older. There are inspiring designs, hair cuts, glasses, that look classy and beautiful.
With a Vata frame as your thin body shape might become even more lank and gaunt, fill out with extra details in the shoulders and fabric. This body type can wear complicated patterns because of it's lack of stature. Consider clothes that stand out, not in a garish way, but add a little spice into the wardrobe. You can pull off the creative/ eccentric the best. Don't stop doing art. Add accessories. Keep your feet grounded with good quality shoes.
With a Pitta frame, your fire comes through in the eyes so get a well made haircut to bring out the brightness of your eyes - even a bit of daring colour in the hair might be fun. Adding colourful jewellery will also suit as it's an accent of spark that will show a vibrant personality. Accent is the key as too much colour will look garish. Avoid the bright red lipstick and get a bold handbag instead. Constantly teach others - your passion and curiosity doesn't ever have to die.
With a Kapha frame you might get thicker so keeping clothing light will help you to feel lighter. You can go bright in clothing colour to bring energy to your strong earthy presence. Your hair is probably still gorgeous as well as your skin, highlight them, show some skin and keep your hair long, why not? - it shows your internal strength. You do goddess better than the others so if that's your journey, go to town in all things feminine.
An analogy. In Ayurveda, we consider the role of toxins in sensitivities/intolerances. That means, for example, if you have an insensitivity to strong chemicals you have excess Pitta in your system, if you have an intolerance for wheat, you have excess Kapha in your system, and if you feel easily agitated by others, you have an excess Vata in your system. Whatever you react to, it's in you. It's your toxins trying to show you, you are in overload and your system can't take anymore.
I have found that when we can't listen to others well, we have an inability to listen to ourselves, we can have too many unresolved issues to feel we can hear another person. This can leave relationships strained with partners, work colleagues and kids. Toxins can act like a veil where it covers up the real person inside. This is where the cleansing system pancha karma can be extremely effective for relationships, when understood from the above premise.
Listening is love. I have never come across a person that doesn't want to feel heard. It is not the remembering of details as much as the feeling that people are together, paying attention.
And from this support, every woman in the room shines.
The speech below given by Meryl Streep is outstanding in it's entirety. But in correlation to the sentiments in this article, forward to around 11:30 mins into the speech.