Being A Woman: No One Told Us What Empowerment Is About

Being truly herself is the most empowering, enriching and loving experience that a woman can have (we can add “a man” here too). And at the same time, it is something that we need to learn. It may sound strange to think about “learning to be yourself” because one is supposed to be oneself all the time, right? But because we are not fully aware of this, let´s step back and start from the beginning.

Should I learn to be myself? I believe, yes since we don´t live alone in this world. We live in a community with other human beings, we have a dependent existence (we need from others things that we cannot do or get by ourselves alone), and we relate to each other in layers that are, many times, profound and meaningful. We also share this existence with nature, living beings that are non-human and play a fundamental role in this world. Considering these basics, it´s not difficult to accept that the main reason of caution and carefulness on “being myself” is that what I do affect others, what I do has consequences, and can change lives (mine and others’ lives).

In this path of “being yourself” we often face many obstacles and challenges. Our beliefs are tested, our core exposed, we experience vulnerability, ignorance, certainty, doubt, love, fear, criticism, hate etc. On a sociopolitical level, we may be mad at a world that imposes on limits and prohibitions (especially for women); we fight to gain more freedom, we raise signs and share content on social media, we participate in protests and develop initiatives to gain more rights, more space, for women. And while we fight in the outer world, there is another battle that we need to fight in order to gain freedom. The inner battle: the fight for being yourself.

I believe that this freedom, I dare to say “true freedom”, has to be earned, not given. We earn the right to be fully ourselves when we learn to live without hurting others. That´s the condition of our freedom, the responsibility that freedom carries. If “being myself” implies that you hurt others with your short-tempered nature, your reactivity or ego, then you haven´t earned the freedom to be yourself and you are living creating chaos in your life (extreme case of this is ending up in a jail due to untamed violence). And if this is like that, then empowerment has a tight bond with freedom, and it´s an inner job too.

Violence and care are two faces of the same coin. Whenever there is violence, not only peace is needed, but firstly care. We apply care to zones in ourselves that are wild, even chaotic. Care is also a loving form of paying attention, of giving. We do this towards ourselves and we observe how we are, the things that we do without judgement, lovingly, and we educate ourselves by taming those areas that need more work than others (it all comes down to work on our reactivity here…). We learn to pay attention to ourselves by practicing mindfulness, by watching our thoughts and emotions passing by without engaging with them, noticing and recording the experiences we have during meditation in an environment of acceptance, knowing that there is nothing wrong, just things that need to be noticed and later on, changed or tamed, if necessary. This exercise brings self-development in many, many ways.

Women Empowerment and freedom go hand in hand. There is no way in which I can feel empowered if I don´t know that there are options available for me to respond to the world; if I don´t know that by educating myself and bringing out my own wisdom and intuition, I can do better in the same stressful circumstance; if I ignore that I am capable of doing for myself the things that I do for the ones I love (in other words, that I can love myself the same way I love others); if I never realize that by knowing and being responsible for myself, I am being truly free, truly me.

It´s the fire in my eyes, and the flash of my teeth, the swing in my waist, and the joy in my feet. I am a woman phenomenally.” Maya Angelou

Let the flower bloom!

Image: https://www.pinterest.cl/pin/492581277974846531/

A Few Questions To Help You Care For Your Mind

Inner Peace Time

Our human elements need maintenance. Meditation theory understands that we, as human beings, are composed of body and mind that relate to each other as the hardware and software do in the computer.  And we know that if we don´t pay much attention to any of those elements, illnesses arise and our decaying process speeds up. Our body needs care – water, clothe, shelter, exercise, and nourishment. And our mind, our inner world, our consciousness, needs proper care too. This type of care can be called Mental Health, or, Psychological Care.

In order to sensibilize ourselves about our own health, we require experiencing ailment. There is no other way. Experiencing both sides of the coin gives us knowledge, and by getting sick we understand that we need to take care of a certain aspect of our health to which we didn´t pay attention before. In our body this is easy to see, few days with flu are uncomfortable enough to pay more attention to its causes and take some actions to prevent the same experience in the future. For our minds, when we are burnt out, when we are stressed out and collapsing, creating chaos in any aspect of our lives, is when we realize that we need to learn how to take care of it.

Meditation is one of the most effective ways, a good medicine, to heal our mind from stress and related illnesses (this Harvard Health post talks nicely about it). Relaxation is a key part of the process, it´s actually the foundation of our meditation practice because it is by relaxing that we learn to unload our mind from worries, problems, heavy emotions. Those things are a part of our daily life. Left unsupervised, they cause stress, anxiety, emotional problems, insomnia, digestive problems etc. The list is long.

Medicine is as important as prevention. The cycle of knowledge is not complete, the lesson remains unlearnt until we not only heal but also learn to manage and prevent the same unfortunate experience. We examine the causes and act upon them. If we know that A creates B, and B is not something that we want to experience too often, we develop strategies to prevent A. If I discover that I´m allergic to lactose, I check the sources of it and avoid them, or, if I can´t help it, I take a pill to decrease and manage the symptoms. As simple as that.

What we can do for our psychological health is to ask a couple of important questions in order to check how everything is going. These questions are not exhaustive (there are more that you can try), but these are a good starting point:

  • What gives you mental clarity and inner peace?
  • What stresses you out?
  • How do you relax after a long day?
  • How do you take care of your mind?

The answers to these questions are key to your psychological wellness and can help you a big deal to clarify where to act on to take proper care of your own mind. After all, the things that weigh on our minds have a great impact on the way we deal with our job/studies, relationships, duties and life in general. They can create chaos or peace, it´s up to us.

“Clouds come floating into my life, no longer to carry rain or usher storm, but to add color to my sunset sky” Rabindranath Tagore

Self-Care over Social Work – Why it is Important to Put our Well-being First.

Being involved in social change is a very rewarding job. Having the ability to help others in their times of need not only makes a difference in their lives but can make a tremendous difference in our own. However, social work and social justice can be extremely taxing on our mental health over time. The stress of serious situations or disasters, the demand for aid, and – at times – the inability to do anything other than the bare minimum; all of this can lead to extensive stress on our minds and our body. Continue reading “Self-Care over Social Work – Why it is Important to Put our Well-being First.”