Emerging Energy Wisdom by Oxana Poberejnaia


oxanaWe women of this blog, of this movement to bring Feminism to Religion and vice versa, are planting seeds of a better future. One part of this future is educating young people. I do not want my daughter to repeat some of the mistakes I have done in my youth. One thing I would most certainly urge her to do would be:

Conserve Your Energy

Durga_MahisasuramardiniOne of the Foremothers of the Goddess movement said that it is very easy to observe Goddess in everyday life: just look at teenage girls. They are uninhibited, creative, playfully sexual (I do not promote underage sex here, I am just emphasising that people can be sexual in their life cycle before and after they practice sexual acts with other people). Most of all, teenage girls are bursting with energy.

The question is: where would this energy go? What would it be spent on?

We find ourselves in a situation when we have to work out new rules of the game as we are learning them ourselves. We now have to teach our daughters and/or younger women what was never taught to us.

When I was young, I knew I had all the time in the world and all the strength in the world to do anything. Due to karma, or social conditions, or both, I actually succeeded in most things I took up. As a result my certainty of my goddess-like powers was never challenged.

I wasted a lot of energy this way. I wasted time on people and situations that could not be helped or mended. In addition, I created attachments, which continued to steal my energy for decades to come. Instead of working on myself or on good causes, my life has been spent on lost causes.

The problem with having or imagining to have limitless stores of energy is that you take on projects without analysing first whether they are worthwhile or whether they have a chance at being successful.

Now I see the energy of my young years as a gift. It gave me the opportunity to break through various walls, to cut various paths to choose from. At the moment, I am following some of those paths. However, some walls were not worth breaking. Some paths led to dead ends. I understand that it is all part of the journey. However, sometimes the losses are too much and some people never recover from the wrong turns they took in life.

This is why I believe that there is a need for a new Health and Safety Guidance for young women out there. I will be talking from a point of view of a woman who had male sexual partners. I would be interested in finding out how experiences of women who love women are different.

Very often, with me and many of my female friends the main lost cause was romantic love directed at an unworthy object. Such projects are neither worthwhile nor can they ever succeed. As all-powerful goddesses we used to think that we could have anyone we wanted. We did not pay attention to compatibility between us and our “chosen one,” be it spiritual, social or cultural. We did not mind if that person was as committed as we. We chose to ignore, very often, that while we considered ourselves great, interesting and equal to men in our lives, the men were still in the grips of patriarchy and did not want to see us as equal partners in the relationship.

We need to see it clear that like in the film Matrix people, until people are disconnected from the system, they are part of that system. It is difficult to realise, while sharing intimate time with a lover, that you’re in fact in bed with an enemy, that is, patriarchy. One person does not just represent themselves. They represent and act as a system that formed them. And we have been formed by patriarchy.

It takes great energy to work out patriarchal traits within yourself and work through them. It could take all your life energy and more to try to challenge patriarchy in someone else.

In this blog, many authors spoke about billion of ways in which patriarchy presents itself daily. From big ways: capitalist economy, imperialist politics – to small ways: household duties, sexual practices, the menstruation issue – patriarchy exerts its power. We all know how demanding it is to fight patriarchy, when it is so multi-faceted and present at every level of our lives.

In this situation, it is crucial to know where and on what to spend precious energy. Unfortunately, many religious norms can urge women to overspend their energy. We need to remember that under patriarchy women almost always do double load of work.

Even if a man and a woman do work outside home, women do most of the household chores. A woman is expected to be responsible for emotional land spiritual well-being of her male partner and children, and at the same time her spiritual leaders urge her to take responsibility for the well-being of people in her community or in a troubled area across the world. A woman practices patience every day by dealing with insensitive chauvinist colleagues, and yet her meditation teacher demands even more patience.

BuddhMeditationBurnout is all but inevitable. We need to be wise and seek out those practices in our religion that allow us to build up energy, to conserve energy, to watch our energy levels. In addition, we need to find ways on our spiritual path not to feel guilty about steering clear of projects that we know would drain our energy uselessly.

While our male partners and our male spiritual leaders slowly get accustomed to emergence of Feminist consciousness and practices, it is our role to be aware of our own energy levels and of the ways we can spend it that is most beneficial for us, our loved ones, society and the world.

Oxana Poberejnaia was an Officer of the University of Manchester Buddhist Society while studying for a PhD in Government, and has been involved in organising the Manchester Buddhist Convention, now in its 10th year. Oxana is now exploring the Sacred Feminine through marking seasonal festivals, working with her menstrual cycle, frame drumming and shamanic journeying, while keeping the practice of Buddhist meditation. Oxana is an artist and an author. She teaches frame drumming and meditation. Her works can be found on her blog.

http://poeticoxana.wordpress.com  

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Categories: Feminism, Patriarchy

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30 replies

  1. What a great post. I too thought I could fix anything or anyone and was looking for love in all the wrong places. Is it any surprise that Heidi (featuring the girl messiah who saved the grandfather, the grandmother, Clara, and Peter) was my favorite book. However, it is easier to give this advice than to get anyone who is young and in love to listen to it. Especially when men who can give as much as they receive seem to be in short supply.

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    • Dear Carol, thank you so much for your reading and commenting. Exactly. I too feel that it would be difficult to turn the tide right here and now. However, as Russell Brand said in his Trews recently (I don’t know if you are aware of him, but he is this controversial British comedian, who seems to have seen the light since he went sober), you need social environment that supports your best instincts, not the worst ones (as capitalism does). So this blog here and other venues provide space for us to mull about these issues, to carve our own position and to formulate it better so that it can be passed on to younger generations. And then perhaps it will become more natural for young women to be mindful of their energy and for men to give as much as they receive.

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      • I am not sure what capitalism has to do with the myth of romantic love, or do you mean that advertising and popular culture support it?

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      • Yes, sorry, I was not clear. That video by Russell Brand was too fresh in my head and I assumed prior knowledge on your part. He was talking how capitalism is advancing the worst instincts of human nature, such as greed and egocentric, and how a different social model is possible, which would nurture and bring out the best in people: empathy and cooperation. So I was just saying that the overall social climate is important in forming one’s attitude. A culture that is respectful of women and treats women’s energy as valuable might turn more women to more mindful attitudes about their energy.

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  2. Thanks, Oxana! Your thoughts and the Buddhist illustrations are fascinating. I once did some research on why the bodhisattva has so many arms. The answer referred to the different objects in each of the hands and which represent myriad forms of compassion or ways of dispelling delusion. Regards your meditation teacher, my life coach also demands ultimate patience, but the training is invaluable because it helps one get through all the other stuff.

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    • Hello, Sarah! Yes, that’s a great observation. Thank you for reading!

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    • Thanks for the info on bodhisattva’s many arms. Here I was thinking she was just really good at multi-tasking….

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    • The first illustration is Hindu, not Buddhist. Interestingly it depicts Durga in the process of killing Mahisha, the buffalo demon. For me this is an amazing synchronicity, since right now I’m preparing a keynote that includes the story of Durga, but I’m telling it from a pre-Indo-Aryan perspective, where no battle takes place. i don’t want to give up Durga, a pre-patriarchal goddess whose power is protection, but I don’t like the stories that the Brahmans wrote about Her as She was assimilated into the Sanskrit tradition. So in the tradition of Charlene Spretnak’s _Lost Goddesses of Early Greece_, I’m using my research about Durga and the societies that predate the Indo-Aryan migration/invasion (which on is controversial) to retell Her story.

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      • Hello, Nancy! Yes, I thought I’d used that illustration to refer to the Goddess’ overcoming patriarchy.

        This is so cool about your research – I am so interested in pre-Indo-Aryans! This is one of the prevailing topics curently in my life. Is there any way I could access you research/keynote? Thank you very much!

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      • I don’t write out my keynotes, but I could send you the notes. But they wouldn’t include the stories, since I learn them orally. So…if it’s recorded, I could send you the DVD. But I’m sure that we’ll do that.

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      • It should be noted that Buddhism was originally an offshoot of Hinduism and it borrowed over many of the Hindu deities, except it transformed them all into bodhisattvas. There are no gods in Buddhism, even Shakyumuni the founder of Buddhism is revered as a “buddha,” or enlightened being, but not as a god. The bodhisattvas in Buddhism with all those arms imitate Hiinduism, but thel multi-tasking is interpreted differently in terms a profound outreach of wisdom and compassion, not a show of power-over.

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  3. thanks for this timely post -a reminder to conserve and reserve our beautiful energies indeed!

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  4. Thanks, Oxana, for this post. Your succinct paragraph (copied here) says much.

    “It takes great energy to work out patriarchal traits within yourself and work through them. It could take all your life energy and more to try to challenge patriarchy in someone else.”

    I, too, found that way too much of my energy was drained by attempting to “make things right” once I realized how pervasive the system of patriarchy is. I learned (over a period of way too much time) to state my position, live accordingly, and not overly engage with the patriarchal system, manifested in many individuals with whom we daily interact. That, in itself, takes focused energy, facilitated (I’ve found) through meditation and yoga.

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    • Dear Esther, thank you very much for your thoughtful comment. Your praise means a lot to me. Exactly: one would think that it would the most obvious and simplest thing to do: to conserve one’s own energy. And yet, as you say, it takes years to realise just how pervasive patriarchy is, and it takes a lot of effort and targeted spiritual practices to start taking ownership of our own energy! When we discover things like this, we can see just how unnatural and deceitful the whole system of patriarchy is: it puts us completely out of touch with ourselves!

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  5. Sometimes I feel the person teaching me the most about patriarchy is my daughter. She is very strong willed and constantly points out the ‘sexist!” behavior of her brothers. She has made me more mindful of how I treat the boys, even small things like, “Why do I always have to set the table? Why can’t he do it?”. I guess I’m saying, yes it is about teaching the girls, but it is also training the boys to not be patriarchy enablers.

    I also think the men have a different sense of time. Like it or not, some women do have a biological clock ticking and there is only a certain window of time in which to become pregnant. Men don’t have this same time pressure. They don’t mind being alone because they will wait for what they want. Far too many women ‘settle’.

    Enjoyed your post made me think a lot. Thanks for sharing.

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    • Thank you very much, nmr! You have also made me think and taught me things from your experience. At the moment, I only have a daughter, and I agree with you 100% that educating boys is just as important. yes, men can afford to be fairly relaxed about time. Their concerns are more of an economical nature (like paying off mortgage), rather than biological. Thank you for reading!

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  6. This is a beautiful post, thank you. I like how you said:

    “However, some walls were not worth breaking. Some paths led to dead ends. I understand that it is all part of the journey. However, sometimes the losses are too much and some people never recover from the wrong turns they took in life.”

    Indeed! I believe we can help young women by sharing our own stories. So much of the time, all they read/see are stories by celebrities or famous people, giving the impression that “average” people’s experiences aren’t valuable. Stories share one’s personal journey and the lessons learned along the way, instead of saying “do this” or “don’t do this.” But stories require time, stillness, listening … all in short supply in our rapidly-moving world and, as you say, the abundant energy of youth! Nevertheless, we must keep trying, yes?

    And, yes, recovery can be difficult. Especially when, during that recovery, if we *do* conserve our energy and create personal space (levels of which are relative to each woman’s nature, of course), we are often cited as being “selfish.” Because I don’t live close to my nieces (15 and 19 years old now), when we do get together, I ask them about their lives, what are their stories, and share bits of mine with them. Because I often wish my mom and my aunts had shared real stories from their youth with me (ones that I only learned about later), I try to share more, now, when it might help them not to fall into that “never recover” category. It’s also the main reason I am writing and publishing my stories in increments — to share them with my nieces.

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  7. Darla, this is so great! Thank you for your kind words about my post. I have looked at your blog – it is beautiful.

    Exactly. True words you have said. No to celebrity stories, yes to our stories shared with younger women. In addition, celebrities stories are usually stories of success understood as gaining notoriety – by whichever means – and riches. Whereas true stories are about life. or, to put it in the context of the Sacred Feminine, of life, death and rebirth.

    I so agree with you that women’s stories are important. I was lucky enough to have listened to my Great Grandmother’s story of her encounter with her future (useless) husband. And it was a story of complete lack of sexual education or awareness or even knowledge of herself. These were her exact words: “I did not have a clue what was happening”. But then she felt that she had to become his wife as a consequence.

    I also have many stories of my female friends, who did not recover from various experiences in life. So, yes, little by little, but we have to build this space of sharing stories, we have to bring our stories to life, and life into the story world.

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  8. I’ve also been thinkinf about story lately, too, because I’m supposed to lead a book discussion next week of David Abram’s _The Spell of the Sensuous_ (and one of the things he talks about is story in oral cultures). As opposed to analysis or philosophy, stories place us directly in the lived, embodied experience of someone’s life. As I wrote in an article recently, “Abstract analysis has its uses – it’s good at dissecting things, categorizing them, and then examining the components for the cohesiveness of their supposed logic. But this type of abstract reasoning separates us from our bodies and as a result, reinforces the cultural dualism of body and mind. It isn’t good at discerning holistic patterns. What it leaves out is the fullness of life as a sensual experience, the sights and sounds and tastes and smells of life.” What I’m saying is that when we hear (or tell) a story we live vicariously through it. And this puts us in touch (pun intended) with the sensual world of the Goddess.

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    • This is great, thank you for sharing that! I was just thinking of proposing starting a blog or issuing a Call for Submissions for a book of real women’s stories. But then again – that would be written word. Perhaps a better way would be to gather with real women and share stories. I heard of a nice initiative like that called “Red Tent”. Perhaps I should run one like this in my neighbourhood…

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      • The red tents seem to be proliferating all over the globe. I think it’s a powerful space for women to be “heard into speech” (as Nelle Morton wrote). Isadora Leidenfrost made a movie about the movement (called the Red Tent). I met her at our Association for Women and Mythology conference a few years back, saw the movie, and thought it was great.

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    • Nancy, I would love to read your thoughts on pre-Indo-Aryan Durga (I’m writing a lot about Artemis from my intuitive sense of her pre-patriarchy), as well as your thoughts on the book discussion of _The Spell of the Sensuous_ as that book and Abram’s _Becoming Animal_ are two of my absolute favorite books. Maybe you will be sharing those thoughts either here on FAR or on your personal web site?

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  9. Thanks for this post, Oxana. It’s always a good reminder that we have limited energy, a limited lifespan, and as a result, need to prioritize what’s important to us and what to put our energy into. I used to have a quote above my desk that I can’t find anymore, but it read something like “Knowing your limitations is the first step towards wisdom.” I put this up in my 30s because I didn’t agree with it, but part of me knew that I would someday acknowledge this truth. In my 60s it’s truer than ever.

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