INNER ACTIVISM IS CRUCIAL, TOO.

An Open Letter to the Citizens of Our Country and Our World

In our world today, with so much abuse of power coming out into the light of day, it is crucial that we all work to help create the healthy, healing change we want to see in our world. Often, we call this crucial work “activism.”

As a psychotherapist in private practice, I am, in my own way, an activist. And I have helped other activists learn about an important part of helping our world that most of us overlook.

As I have said many times in my work – aloud and in writing – action in the outer world is very important to help create change in our world. However, there is an element that many of us overlook in our activism that is equally crucial, and must be included in our activist efforts: doing the inner work within our own individual selves to explore and heal our inner wounding. I call this “inner activism,” and it is essential that we do this inner work so that our efforts at outer change – no matter how devoted they are – are not “secretly” driven by unconscious wounding from our past which actually undermines the outer work we’re doing, and sabotages the sustainability of the changes we’re working to make in our world.  This is what we have witnessed in the civil rights movement, the women’s movement, the peace movement, the movement toward financial and economic stability, and more … Our not having done our inner healing has undermined the outer efforts we’ve made.

It is essential that we become “inner activists” as well. Especially in these times where we are called upon to yet again make important lasting changes in the outer world, but cannot do so without also making the changes in our inner worlds.

It is unfortunate that we, whether we are activists or not, are often not taught this one important thing: that if we try to simply change things in the outer world and not the inner world, too, we will then find ourselves creating the same things in the outer world all over again. If we don’t explore and heal our own wounding, we will keep recreating – and escalating the re-creation of – the very country and world we have already created.

Thank you for your own efforts to create change in our world. To help in those efforts, I would be open to exploring with you how I may offer my services and this healing message about “inner activism” to your group, your organization, your community, your government.

With thanks, hope, and many blessings …
Judith

“We Need Mothers Who …” Mother’s Day All Over the World

Countries and cultures all over the world celebrate Mother in some way.
It may be a healthy way. It may be a distorted, ritualized, or even an unhealthy way.
Perhaps it’s the personal mother who is celebrated. Perhaps it’s the idealized mother who is celebrated. Perhaps the normalized mother. Possibly it’s the essence of Mother we need.

Our mothers have an impact on us as individuals and on us as a society … whatever society we live in. Both consciously and unconsciously, our mothers have an impact on our personal lives, and an impact on the life of our planet.

There is no perfect mother. We are all human, and we all make mistakes. If someone pretends to be perfect, she teaches her children they have to be perfect. Because they never can be perfect, she teaches her children they can never be good enough. She also teaches them there is no process in life or human relationship. The mother who is human – imperfect but a good enough mother in all the ways children most deeply need – teaches her children it is possible to make mistakes and create a repair for the mistakes they’ve made. She does that with them when she makes a mistake. She helps them do that when they make a mistake. This deepens their trust with her, with themselves, with process, and with life itself.

When have you seen that from a mother in public life? From a mother or a father in public life? It is sorely lacking. Especially in these times.

Just as important as that acknowledgment of a mistake and the repair that needs to follow, is the mother who realizes she has made a mistake out of her own wounding, acknowledges it, and gets the help to do her own inner healing work instead of continuing to act out her wounding with her children, family, and others. This deepens her own and her children’s faith in real repair – for their relationship with mother and for their ability to do the same. It is a profound and wonderful role model for everyone in her life who witnesses her in the process of healing inside and out.

When have you seen that from a mother in public life? From a mother? From a father? It is tragically lacking in our world. Especially in these times.

But … I remember a time not long ago, reading about two public figures who did acknowledge – to themselves and apparently to others – that the work they did in the world was an acting out of their defenses against their wounds. It was a good example of the possibility that we may do important work in our outer world, yet it may unconsciously be a way to hold at bay the pain of our wounding as children that is still alive in our inner world.

Gloria Steinem acknowledged that “being a social activist can be a drug that keeps you from going back and looking at yourself. You keep trying to fill up this emptiness.”* How courageous! How honest! How real! And what a model for our world. Was anybody listening? Did anybody get it? She was acknowledging out loud that she invested herself in a cause in the outer world to avoid the pain still alive in her inner world.

I once led a workshop called Conscious Activism from the Inside Out on the topic of outer activism as a defense against inner activism. As people explored how they used social and political activism to hold their inner world at bay, I was also helping them realize that it is possible to do the inner healing and also help in the outer world. And that it was of great concern how frenzied and distorted the outer activism can become as a defense against the inner. All we have to do to see an example of that is to look at the political scene in the United States today.

Betty Friedan offered an acknowledgement similar to that of Gloria Steinem in a later edition of The Feminine Mystique. She wrote about her hatred for her mother, and then admitted, “It was easier for me to start the women’s movement than it was to change my own personal life.”

These were the “mothers” of the women’s movement. Their acknowledgments don’t discount the actual good done by and through the women’s movement. But they may explain the roots of some of the harms. Here’s a perfect example of no mother being perfect. But by their taking responsibility for the deep roots of their unconscious intentions, these mothers of the women’s movement … freed themselves to do their inner healing and offered a profound model to those who came after them. Who knows how few or many of the “daughters” and “sons” of the women’s movement welcomed and utilized that model in their own lives and their own activism? This brings to the foreground the understanding that the unconscious intentions of avoiding their own inner pain contributed to the unsustainability of many of the outer successes they achieved.

For example, if each of them had first worked with the young pain of not having choices over their own minds, bodies, hearts, and souls … they would have modeled for all those who worked with them and came after them to do their own inner work and then the outer work.

How many other women have made these acknowledgments? How many men have done the same? How very different our political scene would be today if both women and men did their inner work before bringing their energies to such important arenas in our outer world!

But back to mothers … and a deep hope that more mothers – both in private life and public life – will do their own inner healing work for their own sakes, for the sake of their children, and for the sake of our world.

This is my Mother’s Day wish.

This is my Mother’s Day prayer.

© Judith Barr, 2016.

* from the synopsis for the HBO documentary, “In Her Own Words,” http://www.hbo.com/documentaries/gloria-in-her-own-words/synopsis.html

WHAT YOU CAN DO TO HELP KEEP OUR WORLD
SAFE FROM THE INSIDE OUT

Whether we are mothers or not, whether we are activists or not, whether we are men or women, old or young, single or married … we all need to very carefully explore and heal the wounded currents within us that affect our lives, our relationships, our world.

This Mother’s Day, make a commitment to begin that crucial healing journey. Or to take that next big step in it. As you reflect on your own relationship with your mother – past and present – allow yourself to feel whatever arises within you … committing not to act out on those feelings but rather to feel and explore the roots of those feelings. What are the earliest feelings you can recall in relation to your mother? And … when in your here-and-now life do you feel those same feelings? About whom in your here-and-now life do you feel that same way?

When exploring, we may find we need the help of a skilled, caring therapist to truly heal many of our deepest feelings about our mothers. Even to bring into consciousness for healing feelings we can’t remember or don’t consciously connect with our relationship with mother. Commit as well to find that help when you need it.

Whether we are parents or not, we all need to do the inner work necessary to explore and heal our inner wounding…for the sake of our families, our communities, and the children in our world – and the adults they will someday become.

A New Look at Independence: True Independence

As another Independence Day has come and gone here in the U.S.A.,  I have been called again to speak a deeper voice, a deeper truth about what independence is and isn’t.  All through the weeks leading up to July 4, I kept hearing in my heart … shall I feed the illusions about independence that so many of us believe and live in? Or shall I pierce those illusions and help people part the veil to see where they are not really independent?  My life, my work, my heart is always to find the truth, to teach the truth … even though many may run from it. So this year, in the afterglow of July 4,  I am offering the truth about independence to citizens of the U.S. and citizens of the world, as well. We all need to understand true independence.

Many people believe that if they rebel against their parents, they are free.  And many believe they claim their independence by doing just that – rebelling.* But look at the dynamics beneath the outer action. Look at the dynamic that sets up for the children as they age and for the relationship over time.

Sharon’s mother wants her daughter to be “a good girl” and do what “mommy says is right.”  First of all, what is mother teaching Sharon?  Is she teaching her wonderful values? Is she teaching her to discern the truth for herself? Or is she teaching Sharon not to do anything that will trigger mommy? If the latter, what will little Sharon do? She may comply with her mother and do only what mommy wants, defending herself against mommy’s triggered reactions. Or she may rebel against mommy and do the opposite of what her mother wants, however triggered mommy gets. This may develop into consistent oppositional attitudes and behavior – overt and covert – throughout Sharon’s life, in her relationship with everyone and everything, even life itself. (We’ve seen a lot of this in our Congress for the past many years.)

Sharon may believe that complying with mommy’s wishes takes away her own young independence, while also believing that rebelling against mommy’s wishes and doing the opposite of what mommy wants gives her freedom. This reveals the underlying dynamic that so many of us – all over the world – don’t want to see. Rebelling against does not make us independent, does not make us free, does not make us grownups.  Complying with and rebelling against are both in reaction to “the other,” meaning another person.  Neither is an individuated action in behalf of one’s self.  Once you understand this, you will never be able to see independence, individuation, freedom the same way again.  You will never again be able to see someone in an adult body and be sure if that is a grown up – if that is a grownup standing in individuated truth, or if that is a child in an adult’s body rebelling against mommy and daddy.

I teach my clients this in many different ways.  For instance, if you want to truly individuate, that occurs in the context of the relationship.  It requires a relationship in which a child experiences he can have both himself and also his mother (or father or both).

An example: If the parent sets up the relationship so the son, Sam, cannot have, be, develop into the self he is at essence … Sam will give up himself to have the parent. Or Sam will give up the parent and risk abandonment or abuse on many levels. Or Sam will vacillate between the two options one way or another – perhaps out in the open, perhaps in his own mind and heart, perhaps beneath his own consciousness. And often Sam, like many other children in the same situation, will fantasize the time when he grows up and can get away from the parent … run away from the parent … and at long last be free. Note again, that this is not true freedom, for Sam is getting away from his parent, running away from his parent.  That may be the only way Sam, with his child’s mind, thinks he can become himself. And perhaps he’s right that he will never become himself in that particular parent-child relationship. But, if that’s what Sam is living with, if that’s what Sam is growing up with, if that’s what Sam decides is the solution … deep inside his own psyche and soul, then Sam will be as tied to his parent if he runs away as he will be if he stays.  He will act this out both within himself and in the world outside … somehow … even if other people can’t see or know it, even if he himself isn’t aware of it. And he will not be able to truly individuate – become his own person inside and out — until he finds a therapeutic relationship in which he can heal the wounds that prevent him from both being himself and “having” the other person. This, of course, requires a therapist who has done his or her own deep healing work with individuation and independence.

The person who rebelled to try to get away from her parent as a way of attempting to be independent – to be her own self – will approach the crossroads of working through the childhood dilemma with as much – maybe even more – fear and defense as the person who complied and submitted and never rebelled at all.

This is all to bring us back to the truth: Are you really independent? Or are you just deluding yourself to keep from experiencing your own early pain?  And your own early longing for a parent who has done his or her own work and can both be their full individuated self while at the same time supporting you to become your self?

Sadly, what people will do – as individuals and as groups — to try to avoid this pain, while at the same time pursuing this longing, is mind- and heart-boggling.  They will abuse themselves and each other. They will abuse the earth that is our home. They will try to control others’ hearts, minds, souls. .  . and, of course, bodies. They will submit or rebel against. And while doing these things, most of the time they will be claiming, to themselves and others, that they are independent.  Most of the time asserting that they are free. Most of the time pretending they are in power, or fighting to be the ones in power.  Anyone who gets power that way isn’t really in power. Anyone who lives that way isn’t really independent.

How can people be truly independent unless they do their own work to resolve their issues from the inside out.  How can people be authentically independent if they have no willingness to be interdependent in the most healthy way?  Look out into our world and ask yourself … How much true independence do I see? Not much. How much true interdependence do I see? Not much.

How are we going to become truly independent from the inside out unless we do our own inner healing work to the root?  We’re not. Don’t be deluded or seduced into thinking otherwise.  Don’t be fooled by distorted new age spiritual teachings, or old-age traditional ones, either. Don’t be duped by personal growth leaders who haven’t really been trained to do the deep work with another’s psyche and soul, and even worse, haven’t done their own deep healing to the root.  Don’t be hoodwinked by the quick fix treatment of symptoms by techniques that may help you make believe you’re independent because you can function again, while just hiding the deeper cause and root of the symptom.

Don’t be deceived. Our real independence – individually and communally – rests on our own healing one by one by one.

These truths about real independence are reflected not only in the minds, bodies, hearts, souls, and lives of individuals, but also in those of couples, families, organizations, communities, countries, and our world at large. How often have we seen violent rebellion in which the rebel faction ends up enslaving the populace as much as the old regime did? How many times have we seen rebellious action on the part of a portion of the populace only to have their ideals and goals disintegrate, or the changes they want to enact, however lofty, fail to materialize, or even materialize and then fail to be sustained? This is a reflection of the need for each and every one of us – even the activists amongst us – to do the inner work necessary to truly make change…not out of “rebellion” against past or present authority but from true, conscious longing and commitment to heal ourselves and to heal our world.

We cannot afford any more to delude ourselves. To pretend with ourselves or others. The rich and powerful are not necessarily any more truly independent that those in their employ or those who are impacted by their actions, who are poor and oppressed.  If you have to amass limitless resources to feel secure, how independent can you really be? If you have to use your power over others or at the expense of others, how truly free and independent can you be?

Don’t be deceived. Our real independence – individually and communally – rests on our own healing one by one by one.

© Judith Barr, 2014

*I am not saying that children who are being abused – or adults for that matter –shouldn’t find their way to safety.  But there are more grounded, more truly effective ways to do so than rebellion.

WHAT YOU CAN DO TO HELP MAKE OUR WORLD SAFE
FROM THE INSIDE OUT

As we go about our daily lives – both in the afterglow of Independence Day and all throughout the year – we need to explore within ourselves how independent we truly are.

As you go through your day, explore what your early experiences with independence were. Were you encouraged to individuate, and to truly be who you are, with gentle guidance and teaching? Or were your attempts to be your true self stifled? Or alternately, were you given “free rein” with no guidance at all?

And, how did you react as a child? Did you try to do everything you could to please mommy and daddy, in spite of who you truly were? Or did you perhaps rebel against everything, the consequences be damned?

Then…as you experience authority in whatever form you experience it today, take note of how you feel. Is the feeling familiar? Can you trace that feeling back to your childhood experience? Is the feeling similar to your own childhood feelings, as best as you can recall them, in response to the authority of your parents or other adults?

We all feel the need to make change in our world … a world which so desperately needs change. But in order to make true, sustainable change, we need to explore and heal the wounds which prevent us from truly being independent.

HOW MANY OF US HAVE DONE WHAT WE COULD?

A TIMELY (AND EARLY) OCTOBER NEWSLETTER 

Unlike most previous newsletters, which have had a single article about one theme,
this month’s newsletter will consist of notes from my heart related to
several things going on in our world today.

IT’S 5 YEARS LATER . . . AFTER THE ECONOMY CRASHED
WHAT HAVE WE LEARNED IN THESE 5 YEARS?

We have recently passed through the 5-year anniversary of the economic crash on September 15, 2008, the day the recession began. What have we learned? What have we really done since then?

I am so deeply concerned about all that has been done in the outer world that may have helped only temporarily, and all that has been done in the outer world that hasn’t helped at all . . . by the government, by companies and corporations, by states, communities, families, and individuals.  We need to take action in the outer world. Of course we do. But if we only take action outside us . . . what is inside us that unconsciously drives us in the outer world will remain unknown, untouched, untransformed, unhealed. And as a result, eventually, whatever action we have taken will be undone, undermined, turned upside down and inside out. The consequence of what lies within beneath our awareness, in the shadows of ourselves.

There are so very many possibilities of what could be driving us individually and communally that hasn’t been tended to. Here is just one.

What about all the people in our country and our world who made an early decision in their childhoods that affects our economies today? What about all the people who decided:  I’ll never have enough? 

Their early decision could have been about something physical like food or warmth. Imagine a baby who isn’t getting enough food because he can’t keep his food down. Or imagine a baby who needs to be swaddled more warmly, and is cold all the time. The early decision could also be about something emotional, which to a baby is actually very physical. Imagine a baby needing more connection with mother. Perhaps the bonding isn’t taking place because of something going on with the mother. Perhaps she is physically ill. Perhaps she’s triggered by something about her baby – maybe a reminder of her own frightening infancy.

The baby makes a decision, which then doesn’t have words, of course. But the inner experience of the baby is of not having enough, never having enough. And later, as a child, the words that connect with the experience come, either into consciousness and maybe even spoken; or maybe only unconsciously in mind.

Maybe one baby who has made that early decision will grow up and live the decision again and again, finding him- or herself never having enough. Maybe that baby will not have enough food, or warmth, or money to purchase them. Maybe another baby with that decision will grow up and push and push and push to get enough. Maybe that second baby, for reasons yet unknown to us, will make lots of money — money to purchase food and warmth and more.  To us it would seem that person certainly has enough. But having made the early decision I’ll never have enough, that person will keep working to make more . . .

And more and more and more and more.  People may write that person off as just “greedy,” but the truth is . . . that person is just as driven by an early decision as the person who is going without food and warmth.

Do you see the impact of the early decisions we make?

So, how many of us in the US and how many of us all over the world have done our inner exploration in these 5 years to find our early decisions relating to money and the economy and to heal them – the early decision itself, the consequences that have developed from the early decision, and the roots of the early decision in childhood?

Have you?

And if we haven’t done our own inner work with this . . . how can we possibly expect anything to really change in 5 years? Or 10? Or 20? Or more?  And how can we possibly expect anything in the outer world to sustain?

*****

WE’VE HAD SO MUCH VIOLENCE OUT IN FULL VIEW IN OUR WORLD.
WHAT HAVE WE LEARNED?

9/11. Columbine. Aurora, Colorado. Sandy Hook, Connecticut. The Boston Marathon.  Washington, D.C. Navy Yard. Nairobi, Kenya mall attack.  Unfortunately this names just a few of the incidents publicly known.

What have we learned? What have we done? We can’t even claim successful action in the outer world.  We can’t even establish laws that would protect. And in the news as I write this, there was once again talk about mental health. People deem those who are violent “mentally ill” and talk about getting health care benefits for the mentally ill. There’s a controversy over health care benefits. Not that working for benefits for trauma isn’t important.  But in addition to making sure those who need help can get it, we need to also address a larger question: what kind of treatment are they going to receive?  Medication? Training on controlling their thoughts, feelings, and behavior. And nothing more? And what about the choice we need to make: whether we’re going to stay on the surface or go to the root?

Again, I am so deeply concerned about all that has been done in the outer world that may help only temporarily, and all that has been done in the outer world that hasn’t helped at all and won’t help at all, really . . . by the government, by companies and corporations, by states, communities, families, and individuals.  We need to take action in the outer world. Of course we do. But if we only take action outside us . . . what is inside us that unconsciously drives us in the outer world will remain unknown, untouched, untransformed, unhealed. And as a result, eventually, whatever action we have taken will be undone, undermined, turned upside down and inside out.  The consequence of what lies within beneath our awareness, in the shadows of ourselves.

There are so very many possibilities of what could be driving us individually and communally that hasn’t been tended to.  Here is just one.

We need to concentrate on all violence, not just occurrences we consider public tragedies.  We need to focus on bullying everywhere it occurs . . . at home in our families, at school, in religious institutions, in doctor’s offices, in companies, in the military, in the Congress, all over the world in war. And by everyone who bullies . . . even parents who bully their children.

We need to understand that this kind of pervasive violence in our societies begins in our homes, begins in our childhoods. We need to know that when a child has experienced violence, that child will somehow repeat that violence . . . whether visiting it upon someone else, upon him or herself, or just carrying the potential beneath consciousness until at some point there is an experience that is “the straw that breaks the camel’s back.” At that point, the violence is enacted.  And the vicious cycle begins again. People suffer from the violence and then will carry that on with them to enact themselves at some point.

The truth is . . . we need to re-weave the fabric of our societies and help people heal their childhood wounds to the root. And we need to intervene where people are acting out their childhood wounds on others, so that the children of today and tomorrow don’t suffer wounds that they don’t heal . . . then passing them onto future generations.

There is far more violence going on in our world than we can even imagine. Than some of us are willing to know. It keeps coming out into the open, calling us to do the work to heal it. Not by fighting. Not by laws. But by healing, truly healing it.

There’s so much more to be said, so much more to be taught, so much more to be done. But the inner work of healing is the core.  It’s the heart of the matter.

Do you see the impact of the wounding each of us has experienced?

So, how many of us in the US and how many of us all over the world have done our inner exploration even since 9/11 to find our own early wounds that may have been experiences of violence or could possibly cause violence?

Have you?

And if we haven’t done our own inner work with this . . . how can we possibly expect anything to really change in 5 years? Or 10? Or 20? Or more?  And how can we possibly expect anything in the outer world to sustain?

*****

WILLFULNESS – THIS NEEDS TO BE HEALED 

There is so much willfulness out in the open in our world today.  It cannot be hidden anymore. It is coming out into the light of day where we can notice it, see it, name it, and heal it.

Willfulness:  planning, threatening, taking action without concern for potential harm to self or others, without concern for the feelings, needs, safety of self or others, the consequences be damned.

We have seen this with those who have been violent – individually, in groups, and as heads of state. We have seen this most recently in Syria, with the chemical weapons used against Syrian citizens . . . the consequences be damned. We have seen this with banks and corporations who  set the economy up to crash and individuals to lose their life savings, their homes, their jobs, and more . . . the consequences be damned.  We have seen this with people like Bernie Madoff who cheated people out of the means with which they were planning to take care of themselves and their families . . . the consequences be damned. And we are watching some members of government on the verge of creating a disaster with the US economy and the world economies . . . the consequences be damned.

Just as we need to let what’s happening in the outer world in relation to money and in relation to violence be a mirror of what we need to look at in ourselves . . . so also do we need to look at our own willfulness.

Do you see the impact of the willfulness each of us has experienced?  And the impact of the willfulness each of us has enacted or may yet enact?

So, how many of us in the US and how many of us all over the world have done our inner exploration to find our own willfulness??

Have you?

So much is happening in our world today that shows that we need to make real sustainable change . . . from the inside out. But if we haven’t done our own inner work with willfulness . . . how can we possibly expect anything to really change in 5 years? Or 10? Or 20? Or more?  And how can we possibly expect anything in the outer world to sustain?

On the other hand . . . imagine if, as part of making those changes, we all make the commitment to do the inner work we need to do to heal those wounds which are hampering our efforts at sustainable change . . . Imagine how different our world would be!

It begins with each one of us . . . one by one by one.  It begins with you.  Will you make the commitment to do your inner healing work with your relationship with money? With your relationship with violence?  With your relationship with willfulness?   Will you do your part in helping to heal both yourself and our world?

© Judith Barr, 2013

****

WHAT YOU CAN DO
TO HELP MAKE YOUR AND OUR WORLD SAFE . . .
FROM THE INSIDE OUT

Many of us are working to help bring change to our world – seeking an end to poverty, violence, abuse of power. As you help to work toward those changes, you can help your own efforts by acknowledging your own wounds, how they impact your life and the lives of those around you, and by making a deep commitment to do the inner work needed to heal those wounds in the inner world so you can help create and sustain true and lasting change in our outer world.

A good start would be becoming aware of your feelings as you go through your day. How intense are your feelings? Are they more intense than the situation warrants? If so . . . can you trace those intense feelings back into your early life? When before have you felt this particular feeling? How far back in your life can you remember feeling this way? And what situations in your early life caused you to feel this same feeling?

You may find, as you go deeper and deeper into the roots of your feelings, that you need help to tease apart the here-and-now situation from those ancient roots. You may find you need the help of a caring, integritous therapist . . . and if you do, commit to finding the right therapist for you, and working with him or her to go deeper and deeper in your journey . . . all the way to the roots!

If you’re open to sharing what this article brought up for you, I welcome your emails.

We can help create sustainable change in all areas of our lives and the life of our world . . . if we are open and willing to devote our time and energy, our mind, body, heart, and soul, to exploring and healing our own inner worlds.

IF WE STAY ON THE SURFACE . . .WE END UP SUFFERING AND CREATING MORE SUFFERING . . .

I have been writing about the consequences of our staying on the surface in the outer world and not doing the deep work in the inner world from which what occurs in the outer world springs.

From the responses I’ve received, it seems to be such a difficult thing for people to look at, take in, acknowledge, and commit to working with. As a result, starting this month I am going to begin teaching in relation to a few arenas in our world where the interplay between the inner and outer is more obvious than others. This month’s theme is that of women.

Part 1:  Women

The efforts to make things better for women in our world have been widespread, courageous, and impactful. They are even celebrated internationally in March with International Women’s Day on March 8. And we need to be thankful for every woman – and every man – who has participated in helping women toward claiming and living their rightful places in society.

We also, at this point, need to do two other major things in this journey for women – two things in our inner worlds:

First, we need to grieve that in our world there even needs to be a journey toward women’s living as the equal beings they already are.

How can we only focus on the advancements and not also honestly look at the places we lag so far behind . . . even the places we have fallen behind once again (like right here in the US)?  In some places in our world the oppression of women is seemingly subtle; in some places open and blatant. In some arenas it is right out in the open; in others, behind closed doors. There are some locales in which the oppression of women is preached, advocated, and bragged about openly; and others in which it’s whispered, a hushed secret. In some areas that oppression is psychological and emotional; in others it is visible and physical in addition. In some localities it takes place in the board room; in some, the office; in some, the streets; in some, the living room; in others, the bedroom. There are places where the oppression of women is fought against; there are places where it is simply accepted; and there are places where it is fought against on the surface but simply accepted beneath the surface. In some places, the oppression of women is done under the guise of law; in some, under the guise of cultural custom; in others, under the guise of religion . . . and in some, under no guise at all.

That warrants our grief. That calls for our mourning. That insists upon our taking seriously the bereavement that is within and amongst us. And if we deny this, we are only harming ourselves, our families, our communities, and our world.

We may have a lot to celebrate in terms of our progress. But just like everything else that we refuse to really grieve, the lack of a true, full grieving process ends up haunting us and holding us back from the kind of progress and success we could really accomplish and create. When we avoid what’s within us, like our grief, we may do some good things in the outer world, but we create unconsciously from the inner world we turned our backs on. This is a common theme in our world. This is a common theme in our country. And as a result, this is a common theme in my writing. For example, I have written numerous times on the consequences of our failure to grieve after 9-11.*

Even some of the leaders of the feminist movement in the US have acknowledged this in their own way. Recently, in a documentary on Gloria Steinem, she acknowledged that … “being a social activist can be a drug that keeps you from going back and looking at yourself.”**

Think of all the activism that is taking place today all over the world – but especially in the US both during and in the aftermath of the 2012 elections. The activism that is occurring against women – known during the election process as “The War Against Women.” And the activism that is occurring in behalf of women . . . by more and more women, more and more men, and more and more belonging to all political affiliations, as a result of the bizarre, cruel, and out in the open efforts during the campaign to deny women their rights. It sure makes a conscious, reflective mind and heart wonder what inner issues these men and women were revealing – without being aware of it themselves – when they said things like no child would be conceived during a ‘legitimate’ rape, an invasive transvaginal ultrasound would be required before an abortion,  states should be allowed to ban all contraception . . .

In the field of healers – medical, therapeutic, and energy alike – a foundational guideline is “physician, heal thyself.” Unfortunately that is not practiced by enough healers. Too many go out to heal others instead of healing themselves, with dire, destructive consequences. Nevertheless, the guideline is filled with wisdom and necessity . . . not only for the healing professions, but elsewhere, as well. For example, still, in the US, there is no Equal Rights Amendment. In our country, our supposedly civilized country, time ran out and women still do not have equality under the Constitution. Women still do not have full equality in America. We go all over the world claiming to help others have equality – women with men, citizens with rulers, one faction with another – but where is the equality at home? There is no equality of women with men . . . among many discrepancies in equality. No matter how much progress we’ve made . . . no matter how far we’ve come . . . and no matter how equal women truly are to men . . . we need to grieve for the lack of full equality legally and culturally in our country. And the grief is mammoth!

If we don’t grieve what has occurred and not occurred in the outer world . . . we miss a huge piece of the puzzle. If we only grieve what is visible in the outer world and don’t grieve what occurs and doesn’t occur in our inner worlds . . . we miss another gigantic piece of the puzzle.  By doing so, we tie our own hands in the journey.

Grief is a cauldron of feelings that gets stirred up within us when we experience a loss of some kind – any kind – including the loss of our basic rights as human beings . . . the right to our dignity; the right to respect; the right to be taken seriously; the right to be viewed as an equal human being, not an object and not a toy; the right to fulfill our true potential as human beings; the right to equal pay for equal work; the right to equal protection under the law . . .

So as I said above, we also, at this point, need to do two other major things in this journey for women – two things in our inner worlds: The first we’ve just explored . . . we need to grieve that in our world there even needs to be a journey toward women’s living as the equal beings they already are.

The second, women need to connect with themselves within . . . and they need to reconnect with themselves in the places they’ve split off.

In the oppression of women, keeping them from connecting to themselves and staying connected to themselves has been both a tool or weapon in the oppression, and also a consequence of the oppression. In some families that starts very young. Think of the cultures in which girl children aren’t wanted, and those in which men are so glad they have been born male. How do you think the females in those cultures and families feel? How connected do you think they are to themselves?

Think of the societies in which females are thought of as objects – objects for the use of the males, however subtly or blatantly, however unconsciously or consciously, however intended – with or without harm. How do you think those females in those families feel – about themselves and about being female? How connected do you think they really are to themselves?

If women – and the men who help them – keep fighting only on the outer level . . . the changes will happen only on the outer level. And then even once the changes have occurred, they will disappear again because they haven’t been rooted within. If they aren’t rooted in our inner worlds, they cannot possibly be sustained in our outer world.

Let’s use the example of the U.S.A. Changes in behalf of women and their rights were fought for and won throughout the Twentieth Century. First the vote for women in 1920. Then the right to choose what happens to their own bodies – Roe v Wade 1973. Then the efforts to put in place the Equal Rights Amendment. How many of the women and men fighting for those rights were conscious of the need to not only be activists in the outer world, but to also be activists in their inner worlds?  How many of those women fought not only to determine what happened in their wombs, but also to be deeply connected to their wombs?

Not very many. I can tell you that for sure. How can I tell you? Because in the late 80’s and the early 90’s one of the ways I was helping people connect to themselves was by helping women be connected with their cycles . . . their menstrual cycles, their menopausal cycles, and their wombs. It was such a new and such a strange idea to so many people. Many women were (and still are) afraid of the work I was offering. Many just wanted to stay in the outer world as activists or in their heads as intellectuals and do women’s work from there. But the women who came to work with me on their own very personal connections to themselves through their bodies, their wombs, their cycles . . . discovered wounds to their beings that were calling out to be healed, and in healing those wounds became more and more deeply connected with themselves . . . and more and more empowered in their own lives.***

I witnessed firsthand some of what happened with the women who were afraid of the womb-work. At what could have been an amazing crossroads in their lives, many moved more and more out of their connections with their female bodies and their female selves (perhaps re-enacting early responses to early wounds) and into their minds alone (as a defense). They became less and less aware of the roots of the activism that had taken place, and took it more and more for granted. And even if only by example, they taught the women in their lives to do the same.

I also witnessed firsthand so very much of what happened with the women who committed to their womb-work. They became more and more connected with themselves as women. They more and more healed the wounds to themselves as female . . . wounds that began even in their early childhood. They more and more helped to untwist the distortions to the female in their lives and in our world. Out of that healing and undistorting came real contact with who they were as women, what their true inner power was, and how they could claim and live it in their world.

If in the 50’s and 60’s, 70’s, 80’s and 90’s even a large number of the women in that time had done their inner work . . . the eating away at the rights of women to choose what will happen in and with their own bodies would not be occurring in these times, at least not nearly to the extent it has been. Of course there would still be a backlash, but even that would be different. Once people do their inner work, the outer is created from within in a different way. A different way from just doing the outer activism and being haunted by what hasn’t been tended to on the inside. A way that helps sustain what has been created consciously through healing from the inside out.

March is one of many times for honoring women and all we have created in our journey to wholeness.  Let’s honor women and our journey this time with a commitment to do the inner work now . . . so we can sustain the changes we create from the inside out.

© Judith Barr, 2013.

* To learn more, visit
http://judithbarr.com/2010/09/10/when-will-we-ever-learn-2/
and
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/judith-barr/911-anniversary_b_956015.html

**http://www.hbo.com/documentaries/gloria-in-her-own-words/synopsis.html
Interviewed in the early 90’s when she wrote the book Revolution from Within, Gloria Steinem  said …”being a social activist can be a drug that keeps you from going back and looking at yourself.”

***To read more about this . . .

My book, A Menstrual Journey: Through the Old & the Dark to the New, the Light, & the Possibility & The Goddess Has Many Faces (Judith Barr; Jan 1, 1990) available through Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Menstrual-Journey-Through-Possibility-Goddess/dp/1886264007/ref=sr_1_14?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1361108232&sr=1-14

My audio cassette, The Call of My Blood Mysteries (Judith Barr; Apr 1990) available at my website at
http://judithbarr.com/shop/ (Click on the “Audio Tapes” tab)

The Wise Wound: The Myths, Realities, and Meanings of Menstruation (Penelope Shuttle and Peter Redgrove; Nov, 1988)

The Wild Genie: The Healing Power of Menstruation (Alexandra Pope; Dec 31, 2001)

*****

WHAT YOU CAN DO
TO HELP MAKE YOUR AND OUR WORLD SAFE . . .
FROM THE INSIDE OUT

As we approach International Women’s Day and go through Women’s History Month . . . take some time to explore your own relationship with the feminine.

If you are a woman . . . how truly connected are you with yourself as a woman? With your womb and with your cycles? Are you doing the inner work to truly heal your relationship with your own feminine self, on all levels – physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual?

If you are a man . . . have you explored your deepest feelings about the feminine in all aspects of your life? Are you doing the inner work to explore and heal your relationships with the power of woman? And . . . have you explored and healed your relationship with the powerful feminine aspects within yourself?

Whether you are a man or a woman . . . Explore within yourself your feelings about women in general. What feelings come to you when you contemplate the women in your life and in our world? Can you trace those feelings back to your early experiences of and about women in your past?

We have much to be thankful for this International Woman’s Day and this Women’s History Month . . .  and much work left to be done. We, of course, need to work in the outer world . . . but we also need to do our own inner work if we are to make lasting sustainable change in the status of women in our lives and across the globe.

ARE WE GOING TO PUT OUT ANOTHER BRUSHFIRE? OR . . .

TSA screenings and pat downs.
Our civil rights.
Wikileaks leaks.
North Korean nukes.
The economy.
Jobs – no jobs.
Houses.
Big Pharma.
Drug firms paying doctors.
Food safety.
What to do about Iran?
Social security.
Medicare.
Taxing whom?
Cutting taxes for whom?
Who gets the next bail out?
One election begins right after the previous one takes place.
Republicans or Democrats?
Right or Left?
Far left or Tea Partyers?
Women forced to wear red bracelets when menstruating!

One after another, we put out brushfires, trying to make everything better in our world.
We ask  . . .
our doctors to do this for us
our teachers to do this for us
our clergy people to do this for us
our congress people to do this for us
our governors to do this for us
our presidents to do this for us
our media to do this for us
our military to do this for us
our money to do this for us . . .
and on and on and on.

When are we going to realize that at this level of our evolution, the only thing we can do in the outer world is put out brush fires . . .
and that we will be putting out brush fires forever, if we don’t take a leap of faith in our development …
if we don’t deal with the real cause of the forest fire that lives within each of us.
The forest fire of our own fear of our feelings, our own defenses against our feelings, our own denial of our feelings,
and our own wounds, both conscious and unconscious, burning to be healed.

© Judith Barr, 2010

HAITI . . . AND YOU, ME, ALL OF US!

Haiti —
A tragedy has occurred in Haiti.
A 7.0 earthquake that has destroyed homes, hospitals, whole towns . . .
has broken hearts . . .
has rent daily life in a million pieces.

It is very real.
People are dead, missing, hurt.
People are frightened, lost, at a loss as to how to take care of themselves
and their loved ones.

Those of us outside Haiti are having our own responses.
Thank goodness . . .
so many are feeling deep compassion,
so many are feeling sorrow for those affected,
so many are called to help.
We need to feel compassion and sorrow.
We need to help and they need our help.

But even with the call to help, even with the actual movement to help,
even as we feel the very real here-and-now pain of loss,
we need to look within and find out what is being triggered in us by this tragedy.

We all, once long ago, as babies, had something akin to this painful experience . . .
perhaps it even felt like an earthquake to our young selves and our young lives.

We all, once long ago, as babies, had something akin to this painful experience . . .
whether for a moment, a few minutes,  hours, days, weeks, or years.
We all once felt unsafe . . .
even if it was as we were coming into this world,
even if it was when our mother had the flu and couldn’t get to us when we were hungry,
even if it was when one parent yelled at us, followed by the other rocking and comforting us.
We all once felt powerless . . . even if it was when we cried and cried and couldn’t get anyone to come to take care of us
for what might have only been minutes, but seemed to us like forever.

We all once felt scared about our future . . . even if it was our future at a time we couldn’t even say the word ‘future’
or a time when a few moments felt like an entire future.

What I’m saying is this.
What is happening in Haiti leaves us with much here-and-now pain and fear.
What is happening in Haiti also touches something in us all from long ago that we know . . .
even if we don’t consciously know we know it.
And what we do with that “touching” is very important.

Our reaching out in this time of need is a wonderful thing…but we should not stop there.
If we just let those moments long ago be touched and reach out to the people of Haiti to get away from our own experiences,
we do a great disservice to everyone – the Haitians, ourselves, anyone close to us, and anyone in the future who triggers those
same feelings in us.

If, however, we let ourselves reach out to the people of Haiti and also explore the roots of our own similar experiences,
we can help our world in ways we might never have imagined.

Every one of us who explores the roots of our own feelings of powerlessness, loss, fear, and unsafety …
working through and resolving those experiences from long, long ago …
has a new kind of power, power from the inside out —
power to help us respond to danger in new, more creative, more inspired, more conscious ways —
and power to help create safety in our world today and tomorrow.

(c) Judith Barr, 2010