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The Spiritual Practice of Mothering

Dianeah Wanicek

When a woman becomes pregnant whether she was actively engaged in seeking pregnancy or was pleasantly or perhaps not-so-pleasantly surprised by it, the new life residing within her brings immediate changes in her entire psychosomatic system. She begins growing the mother of her being while mother nature starts growing her and sometimes quite dramatically. In a very genuine way she begins to think about and have emotional sensitivity for another aside from herself. She begins on a wish-path of hopes and fears for her unborn child and for herself in relationship to this little being. She can open to the possibility of experiencing real compassion and deeper wisdom as the great changes nature masterminds take over her very body to accommodate another life. There is a gradual stepping aside from a primary self- focus to an other- focused perspective, one that includes self but integrates the other, an opportunity to experience impartial generosity and interdependence. The conscious practice of mothering is a spiritual path by its very nature whose very fruition extends beyond the mother/child dynamic to embrace a whole world needing conscious mothering

The conscious practice of mothering can begin with the first wish that invites the unborn soul in and makes an offer of love and accommodation to a new life force. Though this wish may be conscious or subconscious it is still there. The practice continues as the mother realizes her pregnancy and is flushed with hormones at the first instant of conception. Her body is being prepared by the force of nature to house and form a new being for nine long months. She gets a first rate lesson in the changeability of all phenomena as she sees and feels her self change moment by moment, adapting daily, and on good days, in balanced equanimity. In her great anticipation she strives to change some of her habitual tendencies in order to bring about optimal conditions for herself and her unborn child, watching what goes into her body from what she eats and drinks, says and thinks, reads, watches and hears. She learns to coordinate her highest aspirations for herself and her baby with the reality of her daily life, working with a sense of loving flexibility towards herself and her capacities. As the time of her babies birth draws near the mother learns fearlessness as she steps into the challenge of labor and birth and at the same time she comes to know in an deeply visceral way just how incredible the real support of another caring human can be. During the birthing process itself she is brought totally into the moment, experiencing her power, diligence and strength, and with an equal force following that peak of intense effort, she opens to the sweet loving emotionality of holding her baby for the first time, a process that can mark her heart forever.

In the weeks and months and years ahead as a woman moves along the path of conscious mothering she will experience many joys and many sorrows, many constant challenges and many moments of total peace, many dissatisfactions and many satisfactions. Times of increased energy and times of total exhaustion. She will have ample opportunity to train in patience and perseverence with an almost guaranteed decrease in arrogance as she faces honestly, guiltlessly and forgivingly all of the missteps and miscues that are bound to occur in the course of life that cares for others. As she gives of herself and of her own personal time she learns true generosity. On the conscious path of mothering a woman learns to bring her life into balance, to the center of her being as she seeks to integrate her circumstances with the great flow of existence. The path is literally pregnant with possibility.

The practice of conscious mothering, like all awareness practices, requires at least an acknowledgment that what one is doing is in fact a spiritual practice and it is worthy of valuing moment by moment. Women can begin to strengthen body and mind for the great work ahead of birthing and mothering with moment by moment awareness through the practice of yoga and meditation. These practices are excellent tools to put into the spiritual toolbox. They can prepare for those times that require flexibility of mind and body and for those moments when balanced equanimity during vigorous activity or even seeming chaos is needed. In this way a woman trains for her whole life and she has the possibility of bringing herself with all of her real and juicy experiences as a human being and as a mother on to the path of complete realization. May all mothers everywhere be happy, peaceful, equanimous and prepared.