Honor of the Feminine, the Mother principle: She who holds life close to her breast without recoil from incarnation.
Incarnation: literally means embodied in flesh or taking on flesh. It refers to the conception and birth of a sentient being whose original nature is immaterial.
prefix in- means “in” and carne means “flesh,” so incarnate means “in the flesh.”
This Mother’s Day at Garden Street I hosted a one day meditation retreat. Several lovely Yoga friends graciously allowed me to compete with all the other things they could have chosen to do on a Sunday in May, not to mention Mother’s Day Sunday.
We spent the day together in a generous pocket of silence, breathing, doing Yoga, meditating, resting, rejuvenating and honoring "the Mother".
I like looking into celebrations like Mother’s Day and bringing them alive for myself and hopefully for others as well, finding inspiration below the sometimes-plastic surface of holidays. Mother’s Day has become, for me, a day of honoring the Mother principle - the Sacred Feminine - in men and women alike. On Mother's day (and all year long, truth be told) my interest and teaching work is aimed towards practicing and living in ways that honor incarnation, binding me to the work and complexity of life on planet earth. Earth school is a hard school! Life will most certainly break your heart if you stay alive long enough. It is not so easy or casual to stay present and open-hearted to all that life incarnate sends my way. And as I get older, it is becoming stronger work to keep loving, wholeheartedly, when I am also in the gradual but inevitable process of letting go of life and loved ones and my own incarnation too. And yet, I DO want to love more fully and love with arms wide open. In this way, I can honor and draw nearer to the blessing force called "the Mother": She who holds life close to her breast without recoil from incarnation.
Fear of, or recoil from, incarnation leaves one hovering above the messiness and inevitable heartbreak involved in being human. This hovering creates a kind of unease, dis-ease; a feeling of lostness and disconnection. The medicine for this ailment of lostness is to dial up more courage, dive into incarnation more deeply and bind myself more fully to life: "Down and in" to life as it is, as I am, nothing added. "Just this" in all its glorious mess. To do this, I must bring my head-brain down and in to my flesh and bone, body incarnate. Until the idea of honoring earth and the feminine is in the body, in the meat of life, it remains just an idea.
All of this takes a courage and a fierceness that is a part of the energy of Mother. It is sometimes terrifying to do as the poet Rilke urges: Let everything happen to you...Beauty and Terror.....just keep going...No feeling is final. Or, as Mary Oliver wrote: Hold on to life. To live in this world, you must be able to do three things: to love what is mortal; to hold it against your bones knowing your own life depends on it; and, when the time comes to let it go, to let it go. ~~Mary Oliver
The day of practice on Mother’s Day was a day of physical practice (Yoga asana) as well as meditation: 5 mandalas or circles of practice, each of which consists of breath-work (pranayama), asana, meditation, savasana, a short break and then we begin again. By practicing together, the potency of the practices is amplified. We honored the essence that is the Mother, the sacred Feminine, in ourselves and in the world, by tethering the seated, eyes-closed practice of meditation stays to the flesh-and-bone eyes-open practice of the ordinary, daily magic of incarnation.
Below is poetry and inspiration to celebrate the Feminine and the Mother. Enjoy. Thanks for reading!
Stand still. The trees ahead and bushes beside you
Are not lost. Wherever you are is called Here,
And you must treat it as a powerful stranger,
Must ask permission to know it and be known.
The forest breathes. Listen. It answers,
I have made this place around you.
If you leave it, you may come back again, saying Here.
No two trees are the same to Raven.
No two branches are the same to Wren.
If what a tree or a bush does is lost on you,
You are surely lost. Stand still. The forest knows
Where you are. You must let it find you. -- David Wagoner
BUGS IN A BOWL by David Budbill
Han Shan, that great and crazy, wonder-filled Chinese poet of a thousand years ago, said:
We're just like bugs in a bowl. All day going around never leaving their bowl.
I say, That's right! Every day climbing up
the steep sides, sliding back.
Over and over again. Around and around.
Up and back down.
Sit in the bottom of the bowl, head in your hands,
cry, moan, feel sorry for yourself.
Or. Look around. See your fellow bugs.
Say, Hey, how you doin'?
Say, Nice Bowl!
Excerpts from The Duck by Donald Babcock
………. a duck is riding the ocean a hundred feet beyond the surf.
There is a big heaving in the Atlantic, and she is a part of it.
She can rest while the Atlantic heaves, because she rests in the Atlantic.
Probably she doesn't know how large the ocean is.
[But] what does he do? She sits down in it! She reposes in the immediate as if it were infinity - which it is. She has made herself a part of the boundless by easing herself into just where it touches her.
The Quiet Power by Tara Mohr
I walked backwards, against time
and that's where I caught the moon,
singing at me.
I steeped downwards, into my seat
and that's where I caught freedom,
waiting for me, like a lilac.
I ended thought, and I ended story.
I stopped designing, and arguing, and
sculpting a happy life.
I didn't die. I didn't turn to dust.
Instead I chopped vegetables,
and made a calm lake in me
where the water was clear and sourced and still.
And when the ones I loved came to it,
I had something to give them, and
it offered them a soft road out of pain.
I became beloved.
And I came to know that this was it.
The quiet power.
I could give something mighty, lasting,
that stopped the wheel of chaos,
by tending to the river inside,
keeping the water rich and deep,
keeping a bench for you to visit.
Message from the Council of 13 Indigenous Grandmothers
As you move through these changing times ... be easy on yourself and be easy on one another. You are at the beginning of something new. You are learning a new way of being. You will find that you are working less in the yang modes that you are used to.
You will stop working so hard at getting from point A to point B the way you have in the past, but instead, will spend more time experiencing yourself in the whole, and your place in it.
Instead of traveling to a goal out there, you will voyage deeper into yourself. Your mother's grandmother knew how to do this. Your ancestors from long ago knew how to do this. They knew the power of the feminine principle ... and because you carry their DNA in your body, this wisdom and this way of being is within you.
Call on it. Call it up. Invite your ancestors in. As the yang-based habits and the decaying institutions on our planet begin to crumble, look up. A breeze is stirring. Feel the sun on your wings.
May 12th, 2019 - the GLOBAL STANDING WOMEN event!
DECLARATION OF STANDING
We are standing for the world's children and grandchildren,
and for the seven generations to come.
We dream of a world where all of our children have safe drinking water,
clean air to breathe, and enough food to eat.
A world where they have access to a basic education to develop their minds
and healthcare to nurture their growing bodies.
A world where they have a warm, safe and loving place to call home.
A world where they don't live in fear of violence - in their homes,
in their neighborhoods, in their schools, or in their world.
This is the world of which we dream.
This is the cause for which we stand.