Always Well Within

Calm Your Mind, Ease Your Heart, Embrace Your Inner Wisdom

Category: Spiritual Wisdom (Page 2 of 6)

What Happened to Sisterhood?

What Happened to Sisterhood?


What Happened to Sisterhood?

In college, I worked at the Women’s Center as an Administrative Assistant and Counselor.  Not a counselor in the licensed sense, but as a listening ear for women facing struggles on their college path.

I co-founded a 24-hour crisis line for survivors of sexual assault.

I participated in a feminist Consciousness Raising Group.  We read books like Sisterhood is Powerful and The Feminine Mystique to raise our awareness of inequality, awaken our power, and transform society.

I went on plenty of dates with men, but my circle of girlfriends nurtured and sustained me.  We waited tables in the same restaurant, wearing a ridiculous uniform that featured a gathered skirt and puffy sleeves.  At 2 am, after the doors closed, we took off on wild adventures like driving to the California desert for sunrise, searching for the Integratron, and then turning around and traveling miles to the coast for sunset.

After university and a few other jobs, I became the director at a Battered Women’s Shelter.  Later, I served on my city council’s Committee for the Prevention of Violence Against Women.

All this would be considered second wave feminism.  There was a third wave to come, but I missed it entirely.

The Decline of Feminist Awareness

What happened to my feminist awareness?

I entered the spiritual life. I immersed myself in Tibetan Buddhism.

From a spiritual perspective, you’re a soul, a spirit, or pure awareness that’s beyond gender.  You might be female in this life and male in the next. You might have ended up with a female body due to a karmic debt.  For example, having treated women poorly in a past life, you’re now on the receiving end.

That doesn’t mean anyone deserves to be treated unfairly, subjected to violence, or denied an eduction.  But ultimately, you can only break the cycle of rebirth in these ever-changing forms, by recognizing the transitory nature of the self and reality while also cultivating spiritual qualities like love, compassion, patience, and forgiveness.

I didn’t consciously take leave of my feminist concerns, but they took a backseat for decades.  I didn’t place my attention on the patriarchal, hierarchical, or oppressive aspects of Buddhism, which certainly exist.  I focused instead on making the spiritual teachings, which I believe to be the cause for ultimate liberation, available to others. I concentrated as well on my own spiritual evolution so I could be of service with a kinder and clearer heart.

Did Sisterhood Disappear from Your Lens Too?

Did sisterhood simply disappear from my lens only or has this occurred for others too?  Maybe I’m no longer in the right circles, but I rarely encounter discussions of women’s rights in, what some  consider, our post-feminism or anti-feminism era.

Fortunately, the movement for women’s rights in developing countries is alive, but is it receiving the attention it deserves?

It seems like priorities in the West have moved away from social action, flower power, and equality to personal concerns like:

  • Habit change and productivity
  • The power of introverts
  • The search for personal happiness
  • Simplicity and decluttering
  • Healthy living in the face of devastating diseases like cancer

Sure there was the “occupy” movement a few years ago, but where is that now?

Is It Time to Revive Sisterhood?

Is sisterhood relevant any longer?

A few months ago, I wrote about unifying the masculine and feminine for the Joyful Wisdom Circle.  Suddenly, I felt the fire of feminism alive in my belly once again.  But it took a different form.  Maybe I should call this urge something other than “feminism” because it includes but goes beyond equal rights to consider the survival of this planet.

If I attribute any specific qualities to the feminine or masculine, I know I’m guilty of gender bias.  But let’s be honest.  For the most part, men are still in charge. During their reign, the world has gravitated dangerously toward qualities like aggression, power, and unbridled consumerism at the expense of qualities like intuition, collaboration, and nurturance.

As we collectively stand at the edge of survival, I feel sisterhood is more important than ever in taking a stand against violence – just like these women said no to violence in their town.  I feel sisterhood is more important than ever for ensuring equal rights for women around the world.  I feel sisterhood is more important than ever to give rise to an earth-centered, collaborative, and receptive mode of being that may indeed save this world from self-destruction.

Coming Together As Women

However, if we wish to revive sisterhood, we need to be intentional about it.  Men gather via the Mankind Project to focus on “building and supporting the emotionally mature, accountable, and compassionate male role models that our communities need.”

How are women gathering to reclaim their power, activate their wisdom, and engage in social action  in our current times?

If we wish to reconnect with our feminine power and act boldly on behalf of this world, it’s essential to be wary of an over-focus on the self as well.  A sole focus on the self cannot bring lasting happiness.  Whereas thinking of others naturally brings our own concerns into perspective, making them feel far less consuming, far less imprisoning.

It’s not a question of spirituality, smoothies, or simplicity versus social action.  All of these can be integrated into a balanced approach, if you wish.  In addition to sitting on meditation cushions, many Buddhists engage in social action.  My friend Maia Duerr from the Liberated Life Project blends these two aspects of working for inner and outer peace well.

But there’s not one right way either.  If you don’t work with your mind, social action can become a venue for negative emotions.  And secluding yourself in a three-year retreat provides value to the world in a way that may not be immediately obvious.

I don’t know what’s next for me in terms of sisterhood. But putting this question out in the world is one action I can take.  I would also like to support women’s rights in developing countries.  And I would like to be more aware of what’s already in motion when it comes to connecting with our sisters and our own feminine power.

So I would love to hear from you.  Do you think sisterhood is important?  If you’re a woman, how do you connect with other women?  How do you connect with and express your own feminine power and wisdom?

Just scroll down to join the conversation.  I would love to hear your thoughts.

P. S.  I’m grateful for my small tribe of women in the Joyful Wisdom Circle, where we explore mastering our own minds and hearts. Although I haven’t restricted the group to women, it’s naturally evolved that way.  Want to learn more?

Thank you for reading! If you have a moment, please share this article with others. Until next time, may you be well, happy, and safe. With love, Sandra

Critical Choices on the Border of Life

What choices will you make due to life-threatening illness?

The common man whose identity is based on ego will do everything to live, but the spiritual man who is searching for truth, will take every opportunity to die. What does it mean to die? To die to one’s ignorance, to die to the ego, to die to fear, to die to suffering, to die to misconception, to die to judgements so they can really wake up to their timeless reality. – Mooji

Raw.  Vulnerable.  Honest.  Those words jump immediately into my mind when I attempt to describe the New York Times Bestseller, When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi.

I rarely read books these days.  But this one traveled around my circle so I couldn’t miss it.  And, to be honest, I’m fascinated by death at the moment.

I want to know death in its stark reality so I can face it truthfully.  I want to know the myriad emotions that might arrive when death says hello – from fear to denial to great compassion to release from worldly concerns.  I want to know the gifts a prospective death promises to bring, at least to those who are willing to acknowledge and embrace it:  For example, the ability to embrace each moment fully with loving awareness.

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How You Can Help the People of Nepal Recover from the Earthquake


Nepal Earthquake, Outside Shechen Monastery

Living outdoors at Shechen Monastery

As you probably know, Nepal has been devastated by a massive 7.9 earthquake.

Thousands are dead and thousands are living outside. As the tremors continue, it’s unsafe to be inside.  Some buildings have been virtually demolished and others heavily damaged.

The people of Nepal are faced with serious challenges including maintaining an adequate supply of water and food, and restoring electricity. Medical needs and trauma also top the list.  Trauma may be compounded for some individuals due to the innumerable aftershocks which occur after a significant earthquake like this one as well as the unimaginable loss involved.

4 Ways You Can Help the People of Nepal

Naturally, we’re all shocked when such an incredible travesty takes place anywhere in the world and spontaneously want to help. Here are 4 ways you can help the people of Nepal, which includes many Tibetans who live there now after fleeing Tibet due to the Chinese Occupation.

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Live and Love Right Now

Live and Love Right Now (Sakura)A few nights ago, I slipped on our wet steps while removing a colorful rain boot and simultaneously leaning over to move a pair of shoes.  In an instant, I fell over and rolled down 4 steps, landing on concrete.

Having tumbled down an entire staircase once before, at least 20 steep steps but probably more, I palpably recalled the sense of increasing velocity that occurs with each inch.  Fortunately, this time just 4 steps flew by till I thumped onto the concrete laying heavily on top of my left wrist.

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Aging with Grace: Myth or Reality?

I sometimes see Pinterest boards titled “Graceful Aging.” They often feature stunning photos of celebrities like Ali McGraw, Meryl Streep, Carol King, Joan Baez, Helen Mirren, Sally Fields, Barbara Streisand, Jamie Lee Curtis, Julie Christie, and Diane Keaton. These icons look fabulous in the context of conventional standards of beauty. But is this what aging gracefully truly means?

I sometimes see Pinterest boards titled “Graceful Aging.” They often feature stunning photos of celebrities like Ali McGraw, Meryl Streep, Carol King, Joan Baez, Helen Mirren, Sally Fields, Barbara Streisand, Jamie Lee Curtis, Julie Christie, and Diane Keaton.

These icons look fabulous in the context of conventional standards of beauty.

But is this what aging gracefully truly means?

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The Single Most Important Insight from Tracking My Time

Autumn Trees - Change

If you’ve read some of my recent articles, you probably sense my wish to let go of the unnecessary busyness in my life life and dwell more frequently in stillness.

This isn’t a new development.

Interestingly, the first two articles where written around my birthday month, when change always seems to be the order of the day, and the third as I entered the last quarter of my birthday year.

This past week of time tracking served as a wake-up call.  It revealed activities which are not aligned with my values, priorities, and deepest goals.  During the process, I looked at each aspect of my existence and asked, “Is this in line with my life purpose?”  Time tracking also showed me precisely where I can simplify my life and stop wasting time.

Time-tracking can do this for you too.  If you would like to give it a try, you can download and use my free time tracking log.

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