In Buddhism, Green Tara is often referred to as the women’s ally. Her mantra is : oṃ tāre tu tāre ture soha.
“Tārā also embodies many of the qualities of feminine principle. She is known as the Mother of Mercy and Compassion. She is the source, the female aspect of the universe, which gives birth to warmth, compassion and relief from bad karma as experienced by ordinary beings in cyclic existence. She engenders, nourishes, smiles at the vitality of creation, and has sympathy for all beings as a mother does for her children. As Green Tārā she offers succor and protection from all the unfortunate circumstances one can encounter within the samsaric world”
I highly recommend to everyone – especially women – to memorise it, and repeat it to yourself whenever you can, especially in those moments when fear or anxiety arise or when one needs strength or courage. It could also be written down on a piece of paper and kept in your pocket.
I used to think that if I could ever have a superpower, I’d like mine to be invisibility. As a child, teenager and young adult, I used to imagine how much fun it would be to become invisible whenever I wanted to.
As a kid, I daydreamed of stories featuring myself becoming invisible and sneaking out of the classroom, playing tricks on people and being able to go where ever I wanted. The places varied as I grew older, but the idea remained the same : sneaking about wherever I fancied, like a ‘fly on the wall’ while being able to intervene anonymously if I felt it was needed…
Since becoming a mother, nearly 7 and half years ago, countless sleepless nights and a couple of extra waist sizes later and my wish came true.
When people file you in the “Mum” category you become invisible to most people. It made me feel like a transparent, ghost-like entity at first.
Susan Gordon Lydon describes this perfectly:
“As a child I longed for a cloak that would make me invisible. For a woman, middle age is that cloak. I hear this idea expressed in different ways: ” I have reached the age of invisibility.” “No one seems to notice me anymore.” And so on. This is both a blessing and a bane. At long last, after serving as a magnet for men and a vessel for reproduction, we finally own our lives again. We can go about our business unmolested, free to be who we are rather than who others want us to be. We are persons again, as we haven’t been since we were prepubescent girls. The disadvantage is that even when we want to be noticed, we probably won’t be.
In a culture that places so much emphasis on the attainment and maintenance of physical beauty, this can be devastating. For a woman used to the attention of men, intimate friends as well as strangers, sudden invisibility can come as a depressing shock.”
– The knitting sutra: craft as a spiritual practice – Susan Gordon Lydon.
I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t depressing at times and that my ego didn’t get bruised, but once you get over the depressing shock of it, it is indeed a liberating experience.
The advantages of being invisible outweight the down sides. I may be not so invisible yet that I can sneak in anywhere completely unnoticed (I’m hoping to get there in about 10-15 years or so), but I can sit back and observe a lot of things without being noticed. My see-through status allows me to see a lot of teenagers and young women – just like the one I used to be – being in that common situation where they become paranoid/overly self-conscious because people often can’t stop looking at them. They walk about with the feeling that they are constantly being watched and scrutinised by their peers and by men (of all ages). They haven’t found themselves, yet they put this pressure on themselves: trying to mirror back to others the reflection they want to see in an attempt at meeting their expectations. It’s all very exhausting.
Not having to feel like that is very liberating.
You realise that there are a lot of good things about ageing and (slowly but surely) progressing towards middle age which can make it worth losing your younger looking self.
Now I tend to feel more content, more at peace with myself. You go beyond the pressure I mentioned above and you permit yourself to simply be yourself and to do what you like. Like Joseph Campbell said:
“When you follow your bliss… doors will open where you would not have thought there would be doors, and where there wouldn’t be a door for anyone else. ”
Rewind a few years back when the doors of motherhood opened before you, and you became entirely of service to somebody else. Back then your world was turned upside down as you questioned every single one of your beliefs, while you were reflecting on what is essential and what isn’t and what you want to pass on to your child(ren).
Ever since that very first day you tried your best to hold it – the family – together, to make sure your kids feel that they learn to walk on a strong and steady rock and not on the sinking sands you sometimes get stuck in, in your own heads.
This practice of putting someone else before you enriches you immensely, as you get to practice true-selflessness. You’re doing your best for others, and you don’t get any praise for it. No one is looking, it’s not glorifying or glamorous to have milk patches showing through your top or to be covered in regurgitated food. It’s just you, the unsung hero, in your bare state. You carry your own struggles. You have good days and bad days. You are doing the best you can to love and give unconditionally. And patiently.
Once you can do this for your children then you can duplicate this feeling towards others.
Giving birth to your first child and to yourself as a mother is a great opportunity to experience that: for when you become a mother you truly become a woman. But something has to go, you have to sacrifice something, and that’s the other side of that coin: you have to give up your young, appealing self. You age. Real problems come up with the responsibility of having this new being’s upbringing under your care. You will have to give up sleeping, basic self-care, me time – temporarily, at least – but you will get many, many, many chances to test and improve your stress management issues and your patience skills.
This motherhood thing will push you to the limits of your own sanity. You may reach, like me, the rock bottom of post natal depression – temporarily at least.
But in doing so, you get to know yourself better, and you grow, you learn new skills, you gain confidence that you, yes YOU can do this and through all these experiences – the good, the bad, and the ugly – you become a woman and a wiser person.
If it wasn’t for ageing you wouldn’t get these golden opportunities of self-discovery and self-knowledge which are essential components towards self-liberation.
I love faces with wrinkles. A face, a body both tell a story, like an open book. A life story. A story with joy, sadness, frustration, happy and stressful times…
Picture Francois de Halleux – Pictures of his trip in Tibet.
As you age you get to fully discover who you are and what is your soul’s longings. You don’t care so much what other people may think of you. You have known enough hard times to fully appreciate when life is easier and all is well!
I’m turning 37 at the end of the week. I need to write that one down, because I never remember how old I am. Not because I am getting forgetful with age, but because it doesn’t really mean anything to me. As I got older, I started to fully appreciate my connection to womankind. Until I became a mother, I was a proudly self-proclaimed tomboy. Now I haven’t become Marilyn Monroe with age, but I’m more feminine. In a scruffy way.
So hail to ageing and invisibility!