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My Master Cleanse experience

Coralie’s master cleanse experience…

I participated in my first master cleanse (long intestinal wash) in September last year at Mangrove Mountain Ashram. Although I’d done the short wash many times over the years I had not managed to find the space and time for the long wash. In the short wash you drink 6 glasses of water and in the longer form you may drink up to twice that amount. The long wash also requires that you rest completely for at least for 4 or 5 days immediately after and to follow special dietary requirements for the month following the cleanse. It’s a big commitment which is why it is advisable to only do the practice under expert guidance and in a supportive, natural environment.

So I joined the dozen other people undertaking the cleanse and we surrendered ourselves to the care of the ashram for the week. The night before we ate a light dinner of vegetable soup, then to bed for an early night. The next morning we were met by Rishi Hridayananda,  the veteran of literally hundreds of these parties in both India and Australia.

With yoga mat laid out I made my way to the bar to drink my first 2 large glasses of lightly-salted, warm water which were served (and duly recorded) by Rishi’s helpful, friendly bar staff. I downed the first two glasses without much trouble and hit the mat to start 8 rounds of the first of asana in the 5-asana sequence. This particular sequence of asanas applies pressure to different parts of the gastro-intestinal tract, moving the water through your gut.

Starting with Tadasana, which opens the lower oesophageal sphincter, a few modest burps later (less modest with each round) followed by the swaying palm-tree, Tiryaka tadasana which washes the water around the stomach. The dynamic standing twist of Kati chakrasana is next and I’m sure I can feel the water moving through my small intestines. Face-down on the mat for the twisting cobra which applies pressure to the abdominal area and opens the ileo-saecal valve. Finally, Urdarakarshanasana which   applies pressure to the large intestines. Keeping a cracking pace is important so I’m straight back to the bar to repeat the process all over again.

I got to 10 glasses and was just about to start on the 5th sequence when I heard the call of nature and decided a trip to the toilet was in order…..right now.

The instruction was to drink enough so that you end up passing clear fluid. That achieved, I went to lie down in a specially warmed room for 20 minutes. My arrival time was recorded and I was reminded not to go to sleep lest I develop a headache. Twenty minutes later I get the nod to head to the kitchen for breakfast.

Breakfast consisted of a porridge made of rice and lentils (kitchari) with as much ghee as I wanted but no drinks. I could have had sips of warm water if necessary. I realized later that the porridge is really only a vehicle for the ghee to re-line the gut. Also, because there is no salt in the porridge, the raised level of sodium in the bloodstream from the salty water is drawn by osmosis out of the bloodstream (high concentration) into the porridge (low concentration).   Cool huh.

With breakfast done, we all went off to our rooms to rest and stay warm. Instinctively my body felt too vulnerable to the world in general and the cold in particular to undress for a shower, so I go to bed fully clothed with a hot-water bottle and snuggled-up knowing I have no-where to go and nothing to do but rest for the next 7 days.

Over the following few days I was surprised at my level of sensitivity to my environment: light, temperature, wind, noise. We were advised to protect ourselves from the elements because of this sensitivity, which Rishi described as being like a new-born babe. This applied to our gut too: rice and lentil porridge with ghee but no salt for 2 days. Steamed veggies were introduced on the third day with no raw food or fresh fruit for the remainder of the first week.

None of this was boring or a hard-ship. I felt like I was working with a brand-new set of taste buds and everything was new. I could really taste the food. My sense of smell, which is generally good, was exceptional after the cleanse.

I felt very nurtured by the daily yoga practices that included Trataka (steady gazing) that we performed on the Gayatri Yantra (a pictorial representation, in this case, of the Gayatri mantra), daily Yoga Nidra, and Kapalbhati (a cleansing pranayama). All of which helped with  also helped to support, ‘clean’ and re-organize.

Looking back, the Master Cleanse stands out as one of those times in my yoga journey that feels especially important. By the end of the week I felt like I was starting the rest of my life refreshed and anew.

Find out more about the master cleanse  in a conversation between Coralie and Rishi here.

Rishi Hridayananda will be hosting her next Salt-water party at Narasoma Retreat Centre in Ubud, Bali – 24-31 August 2019

More information & bookings 

Ashram life and what comes after…

It was suggested to me yesterday that an ashram is not a home…it is the place you prepare for the next part of your journey. I had just told her that I had decide it was time to leave Mangrove and the words made perfect sense. I have tried to think about the ashram as home but it never quite felt like that. It felt more like school, in that I was constantly learning on so many levels.

Someone asked me last night what I had learned and it’s been good to give that some thought.   Ashram life has been a great setting for seeing my own ‘stuff’, what yoga calls our samskaras, deep-seated beliefs and patterns of behaviour that are like imprints on the soul. Living and working 24/7 in close community with people with a deliberate intention to learn and grow spiritually reveals the good, the bad and the ugly in all of us…and that’s good because you do have to see it to be able to do something with it.

Ashram life is like a classroom that reveals these beliefs and behaviours clearly and provides the teachings and support to choose which ones I want to keep and which ones I don’t. That said, our beliefs and behaviours tend to be hard wired  and the rewiring process is not easy which is where ashram life comes in.  The structure, discipline and being thrown into situations that trigger your ‘stuff’, all help with the rewiring.

The triggers for me were things like being asked to teach a yoga class in 5 mins, when as a new teacher I would painstakingly prepare all my classes the night before. Or finding myself cooking a meal for 120 people on my 2nd cook shift having only ever cooked for 20 people before…and the list goes on and on and on. Over time I have learned that if I allow whatever is happening, before I know it I am  on the other side, usually still in one piece, going “wow, I did it!” Or if I stuffed up nobody really cared, it didn’t define me in their eyes.

So, standing now on the other side of the last 2 ½ years I can say that I have learned to worry less about ‘getting things right’, what others will think and whether I am ‘good enough’…all my little Achilles’ heels. I have a stronger sense of being good enough and if something doesn’t go perfectly the world as I know it probably won’t collapse in a heap.

So that’s a little glimpse of my take on ashram life and I am completely and totally grateful for the gift it has been.

Now what’s next?

Like most things in my life the decision to begin the next chapter is based on trust and faith. Although I am clear that it is time to move on, I am not quite sure what that looks like just yet. At one time I might have said I was trusting in the universe but a dear friend reminded me recently that I am the universe so I guess it’s an act of trust in myself.

So, maybe this is the gift of my ashram stay, the opportunity to dig deep to find myself and grow in trust and love to allow this unique expression of the universe called me.

One thing I do know is that Coralie and I are taking 2WiseWomen to Bali on the 28 April to once again share the deep wisdom and practical tools of Yoga and Ayurveda. Our intention for this 7 days & nights is to uplift, inspire and empower our beautiful participants to live more consciously.

In a way this brings me full circle. The programme and the beautiful setting of Narasoma retreat centre is our way of creating an ashram like experience for you. A space to pause, reflect and reconnect for the next stage of your life journey.

xxMary

Coming back to basics -15 May 2016.

I am finding myself in a bit of a post adventure slump at the moment. The last 4 months has been packed with movement and excitement and coming home has thrown me a bit. On Monday night I realised that I hadn’t done a morning practice since I arrived home over 2 weeks ago, and I knew that this was a big part of why I was feeling the way I was.

This happens to me from time to time, like most people. In the past I would give myself a bit of a hard time, however I try not to do that anymore. Instead, as soon as I see what is happening I know that quickest and simplest remedy is to come back to my basic practices.

So, yesterday I got up when I woke, scrapped my tongue, had a ginger, lemon & honey tea, spent some time on the cushion and mat, gave myself a self-massage and had a delicious spiced apple smoothie for breakfast. I also got on the phone to a friend and said I need some help, because reaching out is something else I have learned to do. Surrounding ourselves with people who are there to support us is so important it has become one of my three pillars of living well.

How to live well is not rocket science and the practices aren’t hard…sometimes we just lose touch and forget that it’s the little things we do every day that are the real foundation of our health and wellbeing…things like scraping our tongue, taking some time to reflect and rest, moving, breathing, eating regular meals and going to bed on time. Or as Coralie suggested we try and be too clever when all we need is simple…keep it simple sweetheart!

After just one day back to my practice I feel lighter and my energy is flowing again. I was even able to hear the little voice during this morning’s mediation that told me the theme for our next 2WiseWomen gathering…coming back to basics. So that’s what we will be exploring…some of the principles and simple daily practices of Yoga and Ayurveda that keep us on track as we navigate life’s day to day adventures.

Sunday, 15 May 2016
10.00am – 3.30pm
Bhakti Tree, 410 Maitland Road Mayfield
$65 (includes morning tea & lunch)
Book here

The conversation, company, practices, chai and sesame sweeties at our last gathering were great, however we all agreed that it went way too quickly.

So this time…its longer and we’ll do lunch!

We’ll talk about coming back to basics, do some fun, simple practices, eat some delicious Ayurvedic food and of course…drink chai. A perfect day out.
Book here

Share the journey
Feel free to share this with your family and friends. Helping others access the knowledge and tools to live well is an amazing gift, and its great to share the journey. Coralie and I were talking yesterday about how great it is when couples explore together how to live well. It can be tough to make changes on your own, but it’s much easier when two people are on the same page…so feel free to bring your special someone along too. Yoga & Ayurveda are the 2WiseWomen and their wisdom is for everyone. In fact, we would love to have men and even couples come to Bali with us. Just planting a seed!

Yoga & Ayurveda in Bali
Speaking of Bali, while you are here, have a look at the courses and take advantage of 10% off the June course for those who attend the workshops!

Held in the beautiful grounds of Narasoma Retreat centre this 8 day/night course is all about the experience of Living Yoga & Ayurveda. There is so much that can be said but really nothing equals an experience, and it’s a life changing experience if you are ready to embrace what Yoga and Ayurveda have to offer.

Our intention is to create a space for you to step out of your life for 8 days and experience how to live a bit differently. The daily program is structured, meal times are regular, vegetarian food is simple and delicious, the body and mind are toned with daily yoga practices and pampered with massages, and a regular routine for sleeping and rising is established. Within that framework we share with you how Yoga & Ayurveda work together to restore positive and resilient good health on all levels; physical, mental and spiritual. The systems are simple, gentle and extraordinarily effective and in just one week we promise you will notice the difference. Your energy will flow more freely and life will feel easier.
Information and Registrations

Stay in touch
If you want to know when something new is happening and read our offerings sign up here.

X Coralie & Mary

Understanding Ayurveda: Part 2 – Who am I?

Following on from Part 1 in this series, 5 Elements & 3 Doshas”, the term Dosha is also commonly used in Ayurveda to describe the different constitutions or body types e.g. I am Vata, Pitta or Kapha. While this is only a partial understanding of the Doshas, it does provide a useful way of understanding our own unique relationship with Nature, and a practical framework for applying the principle, ‘like increases like’, in day to day life.

Just as we are a unique combination of the elements we are also a unique combination of the three Doshas. At a physical level this combination determines our physical, emotional and mental characteristics. Generally, we will experience one as being more dominate, another will be secondary and the third may seem to have a minimal role to play. This provides a range of possible combinations such as:

Pitta/Vata or Vata/Pitta,
Vata/Kapha or Kapha/Vata,
Pitta/Kapha or Kapha/Pitta,

An equal blend of Vata/Pitta/Kapha is rarely seen today although it could be seen to be a highly desirable state.

Prakruti & Vikruti

Our unique blend of the Doshas is our basic constitution or Prakruti. Our Prakruti is an outcome of the unique combination of the elements that make us who we are, and just like our fingerprints, it is unlike anyone else’s. I like to refer to it as our unique elemental cocktail. Largely determined at the time of conception, our Prakruti is predominately influenced by the constitutions of our parents and their state of balance or health at that time. In the same way that the basic nature of a parent/child relationship remains fixed throughout life, our Prakruti remains constant throughout our life.

Our basic constitution however, is influenced by everything that is happening both around and within us. In the same way that a parent /child relationship is influenced and changes over time. The seasons, our lifestyle and diet, mental and emotional stress, life stages, basically everything we experience on a day to day basis, affects the Doshas. This fluctuation in the Doshas, or our state of balance at any point in time, is known as our Vikruti.

The concepts of Prakruti and Vikruti are a way of understanding our relationship with nature and the basic premise of Ayurveda – that is ‘like increases like’.

For example, a person who is generally very slim with dryish skin, tends to sleep lightly, feels the cold, and is prone to bloating and constipation is strongly influenced by Vata energy – the qualities of Vata being dry, light and cold. Based on the concept of ‘like increases like’, giving this person food with those same qualities such as dry crackers, cold drinks and salads will further increase this Vata energy and exacerbate the symptoms. Instead, to help balance and pacify Vata they would benefit most from foods with the opposite qualities of warmth, moistness and heaviness such as grains, stews, porridge and soups.

Our unique blend of the Doshas are the qualities through which we interact with the world. Predominately Vata types tend to believe that it is normal to always be on the move and that to be any other way is just odd. For forward looking Pitta types, strong determination and ambition are part of the usual mode of existence and they find someone who lacks these qualities difficult to understand. Kaphas can experience love, serenity and contentment by staying right where they are. Taking things slow and steady is normal for them, so they might not understand the ambition of Pitta or the way Vatas are forever in transit and looking for new projects.

Just where a healthy balance lies is different for each person. Each person achieves their own beauty when they take advantage of their unique qualities and find good balance with the others. While Pitta traits of ambition and drive are considered admirable in our society, they are not so attractive when they turn into ruthlessness and hardness because of a lack of Kapha compassion and serenity. Vata types are vivacious, quick-witted and charming, but without the caring, openheartedness of Kapha, gossipy jokes can turn ugly. Although brimming with new ideas, a Vata may never turn a single one into reality without some of the stability of Kapha and the drive of Pitta. Kapha with its solid foundation may never get started without some of Vata’s enthusiasm and Pitta’s determination.

Understanding yourself

Understanding your special Dosha mix is a fantastic tool to getting to know you better. Self- knowledge fosters self-acceptance. Knowledge of the Doshas helps you identify and appreciate your positive traits and take responsibility for your less desirable ones. Accepting your fundamental nature gives you a realistic base to work from and supports you as you grow. The aim is not to create a new you but to become the best possible you – your version of happy, joyful and vibrant.

Understanding others

A basic understanding of the Doshas also allows your compassion towards others to grow. When a Vata finds out that her couch potato house-mate is predominately Kapha, she understands why he chooses to stay in every night. When a Pitta realises that his colleague is strongly Vata, it’s easier for him to understand why she lacks the follow through to close a deal. When a Kapha grasps that her Pitta husband has hardly any Kapha, it’s easier for her to understand his lack of patience in listening to her troubles and desire to ‘fix’ her.

Next in the series, Understanding Ayurveda: Part 3 – Vata/Pitta/Kapha Unveiled plus a constitution assessment you can download to understand your Doshic blend

Understanding Ayurveda Part 1: 5 Elements & 3 Doshas

Understanding Ayurveda: A 4 part series explaining the Elements, the Doshas and the Ayurvedic understanding of the disease process.

The 5 Elements

In Ayurveda the key to understanding our own unique state of balance is based on the five elements and their qualities and the principle that ‘like increases like’.

Everything that physically exists or is manifest in this world is comprised of the five elements – Ether/Space, Air, Fire, Water and Earth. Each element has its own unique qualities, and it is the infinite variety of combinations in which they come together, that make us who we are, and everything else in the universe. The real science of Ayurveda is in understanding these qualities and how they manifest and interact in the physical world.

Elements

The elements are present and function in our bodies as follows:

Space is present wherever there is nothing else e.g. the hollow of our bones, channels such as our nostrils. Space is that part of the body that everything else passes thru – even our nerve impulses.

Air is the element responsible for movement in the body; the flow of fluids, the vast communication network of the nervous system supporting the flow of nerve impulses and the removal of things from the body such as wastes, menstrual bleeding and the birthing process. It is also responsible respiration and the flow of breath into and out of the body.

Fire is the element responsible for transformation in the body. Every process that causes one substance to change from one form to another e.g. solid to liquid and liquid to gas is related to fire. This is predominately the process of metabolism, digestion as well as every chemical reaction that creates, repairs and destroys our cells.

Water is the element that makes up the majority of our physical body – 90% in fact. It gives us softness & fluidity. Water provides substance but has no form of its own – just like water in a balloon takes its shape from the balloon.

Earth is the element that represents everything solid in our body and the tissues that give us stability and form e.g. bones and muscle. It is substance with form.

The 3 Doshas

The elements combine and function in the physical world as three fundamental energies or forces known as Doshas – Vata, Pitta and Kapha. Each Dosha has a predominance of 2 elements as shown below, and the qualities of these predominate elements underpin the role each Dosha plays in the body. The three Doshas act as forces that govern all the biological, psychological and physiological functions of the body, mind and spirit. When they are in balance they support and maintain health and when they are out of balance they contribute to the disease process. In fact, they are named for their tendency to come out of balance because the Sanskrit word Dosha means ‘that which becomes imbalanced’.

doshas 2

Vata is that which moves things and exists as movement in the body – nerve impulses, breathing, contraction and extension of muscles, natural urges and heart-beat. It is also responsible for the movement of Pitta and Kapha which are immobile in themselves.

The elements of Space and Air combine to create Vata. Space is inert and so it provides the space in which Air moves. Vata is the flow of life, and if blocked decay sets in. Equally if the flow becomes frenetic, energy is lost and fatigue sets in. Like the air element it contains, Vata expands into empty space, and so bloating is a typical indication of excess Vata that is blocked.

Pitta is that which digests things and exists as metabolism in the body. It is responsible for body heat and temperature, skin colouration and the transformation activities of digestion, absorption, assimilation, metabolism and chemical reactions – both physical and mental.

Pitta is the force that brings Fire and Water together and makes them co-operate to perform these processes. Within nature Fire and Water are naturally antagonistic to each other, as too much of one always overpowers the other. Too much Water and Fire is extinguished, and if Fire predominates then Water evaporates. All the ‘Fires’ in the body contain Water and Water in the body contains ‘Fire’ e.g. stomach acid.

Kapha is that which holds things together and is the force of cohesiveness in the body, holding all the elements together and giving the body substance. The principal activity of Kapha is to build. It creates and heals tissues and the fluids that lubricate and support the body, enables physical growth, maintains the body’s physical environment and is the source of strength and immunity.

Kapha is comprised of the elements of Water and Earth which in Nature have no real desire to connect- when mixed they immediately try and separate e.g. sand and water. So Kapha is the force which works to make Earth and Water interact and combine in the proper proportion. Too much Water leads to disturbances like oedema. Too much Earth increases solidity and reduces flow leading to obstructions like gallstones and cysts.

The next article in this series, ‘Who am I?’, will look at the Doshas as a way of understanding our individual body type and relationship with Nature.

Free to be me…Shelly’s story

How many of your life challenges have come from trying to bend yourself to other people’s view of the world…or to meet your own expectations based on who you think the world wants you to be?12744649_962774923804552_271646333272514075_n

When I saw this picture I immediately thought of Shelly, a participant at last years course, and sent her a copy. This was her reply,

Thank you Mary, I think the fact that all my life I have fought this reality, tried to live within other people’s ideals… is why much of my journey has had challenges… Now, for the first time in my life, I am living a life true to who I am, who I should’ve always been and yes, I am free to be me, a wild, wild woman! Thank you for helping me to believe in myself and to be proud of who I am!”
X Shelly

I was intrigued by Shelly’s comment that she felt that many of her life challenges had come from resisting her own truth. It started me thinking…

Why is it so difficult to be ourselves in the world?

Where do we go when we aren’t being ourselves?

How did we lose ourselves in the first place?

What are the consequences of living this way?

When I reflect on my own life journey and the stories of hundreds of women I have worked with over the years the following insights go towards answering these questions…

Why is it so difficult to be ourselves in the world? Because we often don’t feel ‘good enough’ or even ‘enough’.

Where do we go when we aren’t being ourselves? We live behind a mask, feeling like a fraud and hoping no one finds out just how ‘not good enough’ we really are.

How did we lose ourselves in the first place? As little children we are like a sponge and form our perception of the world and ourselves based on what we observe and experience. Some of those perceptions are helpful and some aren’t, case in point, ‘I’m not good enough’.

What are the consequences of living this way? We waste precious energy trying to hold up the mask, we eventually make ourselves sick and most importantly, we miss out on living ‘our’ life.’

The majority of my work with women over the last 10 years has focused on supporting them to find their power and come home to their own truth. I love being present for the light bulb moment when a woman begins to:

  • Realise that she IS ENOUGH
  • Find the power to step out from behind the mask and be herself.
  • See and question the beliefs that up to now have informed her life choices, and choose to let go of the ones that no longer serve her.
  • Finally start to live ‘her’ life, making choices that support her being a better version of herself. A version in which she feels, happy, healthy and fulfilled.

Shelly is one of these women. When she arrived at a 2WiseWomen course in Bali last year, her 2nd abusive marriage had just come to an end, she was grief stricken and depressed, overweight, broke, and she had never sat on a yoga mat or meditated before. Talk about stepping out on limb.

As a single mum with 4 young children she felt lost and completely overwhelmed by what life was serving up. Well meaning people around her had tried to discourage her from coming saying…”she couldn’t afford it, it wasn’t the right time, what about the kids“. However, despite the opposition Shelly said she knew in her heart she just had to come. So, she organised the kids, borrowed the money and gifted herself the opportunity to pause, reflect and reconnect for the first time in her life.

It’s now 8 months since the retreat, and in that time Shelly has taken her life into her own hands. So what’s changed?

  • By exploring and understanding the subtle, and not so subtle, beliefs that had been informing her life choices, she is now beginning to make better choices.
  • Instead of allowing her life to be driven by circumstance, she has created a vision of the life she wants for herself and her children, and it’s coming to fruition in ways she couldn’t even imagine.
  • Despite being a highly qualified registered nurse, Yoga and Ayurveda have given her insight into what it really means to eat and live well. Her physical and mental health is improving as she consistently makes better day to day choices.
  • She is maintaining a regular meditation practice, learning to ignore the naysayers and trusting herself and the universe.

Shelly tells everyone that her life turned around in Bali when she discovered that she could choose to live differently.

“My experience at the 2015 retreat in Ubud was an absolutely life changing and enhancing experience!! An amazing personal transformation from a perception and life experience of sadness, grief, depression, addiction, loneliness, anger, regret… to a whole new amazingly wonderful life filled with hope, faith, love, happiness, gratitude, dreams, endless opportunity, values and beliefs. DREAM BIG = BIG JOY!

Shelly’s experience is the reason Coralie and I have created the 2WiseWomen courses. To share the wisdom of Yoga and Ayurveda, so that you can create a life that supports you to be the best version of yourself.

I think that’s all any of us really want…to be free to be ourselves and enjoy the ride!

12311330_890772334376240_8810177591851239559_nSo here’s your chance. Are you ready to say yes to discovering how to be the best version of yourself possible?

We know you will come away a better you…we have seen it time and time again…you just have to come.

Subscribe to 2WiseWomen offerings so we can let you know when there is something new on the plate.

Our Guardianship Role

This article is about finding our role as women, not just for ourselves, but for the world.

A number of times over the last few weeks I have found myself thinking about the state of the world and what needs to happen to get back on track. You have to admit a world where we hold babies in refugee camps for years, a world where Donald Trump stands a real chance of becoming president, and a world where corporations can legally poison people because it is profitable, that world is in a bit of trouble.

My sense is that women not only hold the key, but also have a greater vested interest in altering the direction we are headed. Why? Because we hold the power to create life, and I believe inherent in that power is a responsibility to safeguard life and what sustains it. There is very little that is sustainable about the way life is lived in this world today and it occurred to me that maybe it is time to remember and re-establish our guardianship role.

As women, we know that we are powerful, and the cornerstone of the ‘equality for women’ movement has been about recognising that power and being heard. I am not sure however that the way it is playing out now is serving us as women, or the world. I see us as being grudgingly allowed on the field to play, but the rules and the goal of the game didn’t change. Our unique strengths aren’t necessarily recognised and in many ways we are unwittingly participating in the very things that are not so slowly destroying our world: competing for power; accumulating material items; and undervaluing our unique strengths as women, particularly the power to create life. I guess what I am trying to say is that I believe we have a more important role to play than accumulating stuff and competing on the corporate ladder and maybe now is the time to get to it.

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I have come across two things recently that inspired me with a sense of what this role is. The first is a description of a constitution known as The Great Binding Law of Peace used to govern a league of Native American tribes. Wikipedia suggests that the League originated around the 11th century and that it still exists today. The highlights are mine and aim to capture the importance this society placed on women as the custodians and guardians of life.

In our society, women are the center of all things. Nature, we believe, has given women the ability to create; therefore it is only natural that women be in positions of power to protect this function….We traced our clans through women; a child born into the world assumed the clan membership of its mother. Our young women were expected to be physically strong….The young women received formal instruction in traditional planting….Since the Iroquois were absolutely dependent upon the crops they grew, whoever controlled this vital activity wielded great power within our communities. It was our belief that since women were the givers of life they naturally regulated the feeding of our people….In all countries, real wealth stems from the control of land and its resources. Our Iroquois philosophers knew this as well as we knew natural law. To us it made sense for women to control the land since they were far more sensitive to the rhythms of the Mother Earth. We did not own the land but were custodians of it. Our women decided any and all issues involving territory, including where a community was to be built and how land was to be used….In our political system, we mandated full equality. Our leaders were selected by a caucus of women before the appointments were subject to popular review….Our traditional governments are composed of an equal number of men and women. The men are chiefs and the women clan-mothers.As leaders, the women closely monitor the actions of the men and retain the right to veto any law they deem inappropriate….Our women not only hold the reigns of political and economic power, they also have the right to determine all issues involving the taking of human life. Declarations of war had to be approved by the women, while treaties of peace were subject to their deliberations.

As I write this I have a deep sense that our survival as a race will depend on women returning to this guardianship role and fulfilling our responsibilities as custodians of life on this planet.

The next inspiration was a short video by Dr. Jane Goodall, an activist renowned for her work with chimpanzees. Titled a Message to Humanity, Jane starts this video saying: “I am Jane Goodall. I am 80 years old and my job is to give people hope“. Jane will turn 82 this year and as far as I am aware is still hard at work giving hope. This is a woman who has dedicated her life to her guardianship role, a woman who innately understands her connection with Nature and is prepared to fight ferociously to protect Mother Earth. You can watch the video on Facebook here or if you don’t ‘do’ FB then I made a transcript below of what Jane says.

Listening to her speaking though adds another dimension, so listen to it if you can. Come back though to finish the article and share your thoughts.

“My name if Jane Goodall, and I am 80 years old. My job is giving people hope.

I learned for my mother the importance of support because when I was a child my mother supported my crazy love of animals. When I said wanted to go off to Africa at the age of 10 and everbody laughed at me, she supported me and she simply said something that I took to heart and have repeated again and again…”When you really want something you have to be prepared to work very hard, take advantage of every opportunity and above all never give up.”

In my life right now I am 80. There is so much left to do, so I would like to go back and give myself a bit longer. I don’t know how much longer I have to live, but certainly every year takes me closer to the end, whenever that is.

So there is this feeling of desperation, so many places I want to go to, so people I want to talk to, so many hearts that I want to reach. And I am just me and I try and use this electronic stuff and it does work to a certain extent but it is not the same as being there and sensing a person and trying to get in where it seems impossible to do.

Education is not the education we think about when children go to school. I think education is learning from experience and I think we continue to be educated throughout life. Every day brings its own kind of education, and we can learn from it if we keep our eyes and ears open and think of every day as an adventure, then every day will bring us a lesson.

I have many kinds of happiness. I am completely happy when I am alone in nature. I love to be alone in nature it makes me really happy. I am really particularly happy when I sit around with friends in the evening, particularly around a campfire and we can tell stories and drink a bit of red wine. I am totally happy when I am walking with a dog, because dogs make me really really happy, you can just be yourself with a dog, and a dog is always be himself or herself with me.

In fact, when I was a child my great teacher was a dog, a dog who taught me that we are just part of the animal kingdom. That we aren’t the only beings with a personality and minds capable of reasoning, and certainly not the only beings with emotions like happiness, sadness, fear, despair nor are we the only beings capable of giving and receiving love.

The biggest problem we have as environmental activists is to fight the power of money. Because there is absolutely no question that there are people in government who agree, when I sit and talk with them, that this mine shouldn’t be opened or this dam shouldn’t be built or that Monsanto shouldn’t be allowed to test seeds here. It’s corruption really, the might of money, the corporations who hold governments in their hands because of lobbying power…it’s really frightening.

If I am allowed to change a few things, if I had this magic power then:

  • Without causing any sadness or suffering I would like to reduce the number of people on the planet because there are too many of us. It’s a planet of finite resources and we are using them up and that is going to cause great suffering in the future.
  • I would like to alleviate poverty, because when you are poor, never mind the individual suffering, you are destroying the environment because you have to. You have to cut down the last trees to try and grow a bit of food to feed yourself and your family or make a bit of charcoal. Or you have to buy the cheapest food, even if that causes horrendous suffering to animals or supports slave labour somewhere else
  • Maybe the hardest of all, but what I would really really really like to change…is the unsustainable lifestyle of everyone else, we are just greedy. I always think of what Mahatma Gandhi said, “This planet can provide for human need but not human greed”, and that is so right.

Powerful stuff. Jane’s words and the Native American tribe’s constitution give me a glimpse of what is important and the direction I want to walk in because as always the starting point is with me. To quote Gandhi once again…”be the change you want to see in the world“.

This doesn’t involve giving up our day job. The Vaidyagrama recipe for life is enough:
Live simple, Live well, Live healthy, Live Happy .
It is enough to spend time in and show respect for Mother Nature, to eat in a way that doesn’t cause suffering, to give our energy and attention only to people and things that nourish ourselves and this world, to live simply – less is more, to be kind, to value community, to treat my body with respect…the list goes on.

I am feeling even more inspired now about our 2WiseWomen – Women’s Health and Spirituality course in August 2016. It will be a wonderful opportunity to gather as women and explore our feminine creative energy and inner power to heal. If you enjoyed these thoughts you can find some more information about the course here.

Please take a moment now to share below how you would like to take up your guardianship role. Let’s inspire each other…

xxMary