I love the idea of taking time out for self- growth and self- reflection. It’s part of the self-love philosophy so many of us strive for and is a mindful pathway to both connect with ourselves and to experience being present. It can happen on many levels and in many ways but this was my absolute joy last week-end; a group of women on retreat in nature finding ourselves and our truth.
We not only reflected on women-kind but the group’s composition reflected women-kind as well. Stop and think of the endless varieties of women, in stature, status, intellectuality, sexuality, interests, careers, personality – we create a rich tapestry as a whole and as individuals too as we embrace many roles as we play out our lives. I felt grateful to be a woman.
The common thread with this group of women – we were eager to delve deep into ourselves and to find our own truth and explore ways to live with it. We were prepared to acknowledge uncomfortable truths about ourselves and to open to other women’s uncomfortable truths and to support rather than judge ourselves and each other.
This was not an anti-men’s group but rather a strongly ‘focused on women’s’ gathering. Our emersion in nature brought us in close proximity with mother earth as we were safely and warmly held in its arms as we explored known and new possibilities of the nature of women and what that means in real life. The peaceful and gentle side of women was strongly contrasted with and celebrated alongside the wild and primal nature of women’s ferocious instincts, sometimes lying dormant as compromises are made and true selves hidden for convenience, for the comfort of others, fear, for the sake of peace or for any other number of reasons.
Many questions were asked and given during the course of our time together. I felt pure gratitude for the opportunity and a deep sense of feeling very present as mundane matters were put on the back-burner. I felt a deep sense of the magnificence of women and our many facets that sometimes beam brightly, at other times gently, reluctantly, in sorrow and in joy. I discovered parts of me that had lain dormant and opportunities to celebrate myself – so many layers to acknowledge and explore.
Not everyone can or wants to devote a week-end to self-exploration for any number of reasons but self-reflection on any level is useful and essential to each person’s spiritual journey. I love and fully endorse this quote from Carl Sandburg:
'It is necessary ... for a man to go away by himself ... to sit on a rock ... and ask, 'Who am I, where have I been, and where am I going?'
There is an opportunity to make a genuine start with this type of enquiry on any level. How and where you do it and how much time you can devote to it is part of each person’s reality but it is possible to engage on the smallest level to make a difference and is our right as individuals to make time for ourselves.
As a parent, I urge you to embrace the idea of making time for self-reflection part of your parenting plans. For children, you could begin by using a simple question like, “How am I feeling right now?” It can happen randomly or once or twice a day, timetabled like swimming training. It can happen once a week or nightly as part of family reflection time. It can happen whenever and however you think appropriate for your own child and their own situation and maturity but I believe it can and should start young! It then becomes a natural part of life, one they can continue throughout their lives. The ability to connect with your inner self is a gift that we can foster within the hearts of the children in our lives both by giving them the opportunity and by living the example. Let them know you are having some quiet reflection time, give them the modelling that this is a worthwhile part of feeling comfortable with ourselves and that you and they are worthy of taking the time for self-reflection.
Being present in this way is a gift for everyone – create the opportunity and feel the satisfaction and contentment it brings.