I've just finished reading a beautiful book -- a memoir called, "Returning to My Mother's House:Taking Back the Wisdom of the Feminine," by Gail Straub, a wise woman whose guidance I've been blessed to partake in over the years. Gail's book chronicles her wild and imaginative life as an international social/spiritual activist, a pioneering self-help teacher, and the daughter of a Bohemian artist who died much too young at the age of fifty-five when Gail was only twenty-three years old.
In this book, the unfolding of her life story is a gentle call to action challenging the reader to pull back from high speed living, overachievement, and "accomplishment at any cost" to a more receptive way of being that pays homage, first and foremost, to our interior lives. I like that idea -- a lot.
Over the last year I've been more focused on reclaiming a more feminine, openhearted, way of being in the world. Rather than my typical "take charge and make things happen" stance -- something I've done all my life, I'm learning to stop and breathe for a while, allowing the next step of my journey to reveal itself when the time is right. It doesn't mean that I'm giving up the pursuit of my goals but rather giving in to a new way of leading a purposeful life that feels more respectful of my soul.
The honoring of our interior lives is a holy commitment. It starts by first remembering that you have one -- a complex, rich world inside your own heart and mind that needs daily tending and nurturing. Then, as you open to this inner life, it requires a fierce choice to make this honoring a priority in your daily life by doing things like:
- Taking consistent time out for self-reflection whether through journaling, quiet walks alone in the woods, or enjoying soulful conversations with good friends.
- Staying connected to your feelings and making choices with your head and your heart.
- Exploring the rich insights that come from paying attention to your dreams by writing them down and talking about them with people who will encourage and honor your own interpretation.
- Immersing yourself in the beauty of the natural world.
- Making moments of personal prayer and silence as much of a daily priority as you do other activities like doing laundry, eating meals, or caring for your family.
The faster life moves, the easier it is to fall prey to the seduction of high achievement, busyness, and the never-ending pursuit of "more." There's nothing wrong with wanting to grow or fulfilling your intentions, but when it comes at the cost of maintaining a connection to your inner life, the successful feelings are short-lived and disappointing at best. When the balance of activity is skewed toward our outer lives, we end up overriding our deep longing to be more present to our daily experience.
In the prologue of her book, Gail writes:
"This is the story of how I returned to my mother's house and reclaimed my own female wisdom, taking back what both Mom and I had betrayed. I see now how my story is so many of our stories. It is the story of both men and women who have abandoned their inner lives, leaving behind their hearts where deep dark feelings reside; putting aside their intuitive imagination where dreams flourish; ignoring the invisible worlds where the irrational and mysterious offer their incomparable gifts; and disowning the realms of silence, simplicity, and solitude where the interior matures. Modern life rarely acknowledges or even allows space for such things. But we ignore these things at our peril, both as individual human beings and as an earth family."
This week's message is simple and important: Please don't ignore your inner life. Listen to that little voice that tells you to say "no," that asks for more time to rest, or that longs to engage in those activities that keep you firmly connected to your spiritual center. In the end, honoring the feminine returns us to the knowing that we are all connected and that our investment in our inner lives is crucial in creating a better outer world for us all.
Take Action Challenge
This week, take one step every day to nurture your interior life. Write down a dream and ponder it for a while. Set aside time with a trusted friend to talk about how you feel. Get out and take a walk in nature to notice the beauty and simplicity of Mother Earth. Or spend a few moments in silent prayer to center yourself and reconnect with your heart.