The word mothering has different energetic feelings depending on our personal experience of the mother who raised us. But when we stretch out the meaning to include all the different forms of mother, we can be overwhelmed. My daughter, who has no natural born children, wrote on her FB page about the “Mother Heart”, which she has in huge measure. Many of her students and friends are on different paths because of her nurturing. I am the mother of six, and know that my daily attempts to be a good and nurturing mother kept my natural inclinations to a smaller circle of human beings, though I was always involved in their schools and activities. As they grew, my definition of mothering grew, too. We begin with mothering ourselves and move out from there.
I differ with the divide between mothering and fathering. Modern psychology gave us descriptions that don’t fit anymore. The nurturing qualities assigned to mothering fit many modern and beautiful fathers who, despite gender description, serve as role models of kindness and compassion to their sons and daughters. Mothering qualities are also found in male and female leaders in many fields who guide us to compassionate work and beliefs in the world.
The origins of Mother’s day are not well known. In the sixteenth century, Mothering Sunday was born. It’s a holiday celebrated since by Catholic and Protestant Christians on the fourth Sunday in Lent, a time when people would return to their “Mother Church.” They were said to have gone “a-mothering.” In modern times, this celebration changed into a day when we give gifts to mothers. But what if we take this idea of mother to a deeper and more soulful place?
I ascribe to the definition of the soul founded in the Celtic world. Modern folks think of the soul as residing in the body, and escaping from its confined space at death. The ancient way of looking at the soul was very different. As John O’Donohue, writer, poet and philosopher wrote in his book Anam Cara, the ancient soul looks like this:
The body is in the soul. Your soul reaches out farther than your body, and it simultaneously suffuses your body and your mind. You soul has more refined antennae than your mind or ego.
As a HeartMath® Trainer, I study and teach energy—the glorious magnetic energy of the heart, the energy that surrounds the body and connects with the energy of those around us and eventually with Earth’s energy. As I read O’Donohue early on, I saw the soul as a huge energy surrounding and saturating my body. This concept is not very different from the science that measures the energetic field around our brain, heart and whole body. Science says that energy projects our emotional state in a field around us. I believe that the qualities of mothering (nurturing and caring) suffuse that field. I also believe that we create whatever it is we want to send out in our field through our souls. So what does this have to do with “Mothering?”
The energy that is described as mothering is very specific. It is seen, ideally, as supportive, nurturing, loving, empathetic and, above all, powerfully felt. Something so soulful and meaningful cannot be confined to the mother-child relationship. It takes in our home, our school or work, our town, our state, our country, and—finally—the whole world. The emotional center of us may choose to contain our soul in a small box, loving only those who agree with our philosophy, politics or religion or may choose to unleash the enormous power of love and compassion into the world at large. It is a conscious choice. Once we make that choice, our lives are bent into one of two forms: rigid and uncompromising or fluid and holy. The choices we make are sacred and need to be thought about in a sacred space. This requires something that is in short supply in our society—solitude and silence.
The search for those qualities is for my next article, but we can begin right now to consider where and when we might find time for quiet and contemplation. At a specific time you choose, turn off the television, the games, the radio. In this space, we attempt to contact our souls and our purpose and ask the defining question: “Am I being my biggest heart self, allowing my soul to guide my actions? Or am I living a limited, noisy, constantly busy life that consigns my soul to a corner of the room, where it waits my awakening? As Deepak Chopra teaches us, we must get into the silence.
Silence is the greatest teacher and to learn its lessons you must pay attention to it. There is no substitute for the creative inspiration, knowledge and stability that comes from knowing how to contact your core of inner silence.
Our soul is patient—it whispers and doesn’t shout. It waits in the silence for us to discover its presence. And when we do? Guidance, divinity and the wholeness of Mother await us. Mother’s Day is not just for the presence of our physical mother. It is the presence of the Great Mother, the guidance of the soul that will help us create the life we are meant for. Happy Mother’s Day to each and every one from child to Earth to the Universe—all need our nurturing and care.