Emotional strength coupled with vulnerability makes a powerful combination. After my mother died, this self-portrait startled me when I found it among her works-in-progress. It showed her strength of character and her self-awareness as she faced her mortality. The portrait was a project my mother started after she survived her first battle with breast cancer, but she never signed it or left any description for provenance. I dated the work by the visual clue of her curly post-chemotherapy hair.
This week I heard stories from other daughters whose mother’s emotional strength surprised them. On our weekly conference call, women who used the envy trail exercise to make the connection found they admired their mother’s emotional strengths. One’s mother, when told she had six months left, with a horrible diagnosis, passed up chemotherapy and planted a garden. She lived two years and was able to see her beautiful flowers bloom twice. Another’s mother, facing death at 39 years of age, assured her then-17-year old daughter that she (the daughter) would be fine and strong. This daughter, a lifelong helper to many, bears witness to her mother’s truth and the emotional strength that can be passed on between mothers and daughters when we listen to and respect each other’s humanity.
For the 8th week of The Mother-Daughter Way, we explore how to summon emotional strength in the face of seemingly insurmountable challenges. As children, we expect to be coddled by our mothers, who protect us to the best of their ability. Given that loss and suffering are inevitable, as adults, we must mother ourselves by finding time, space and support.
Emotional strength can be developed. How do you do this?
- Be mindfully present and open to possibility.
- Take small steps toward your dreams when challenges pull you apart or break your heart.
- Admit that you need support, inspiration, and guidance.
Remember: It’s not a weakness to renew yourself.
Bring your attention to your breath, breathe deeply and take small steps. Focus on balancing the energy of the 3rd chakra (solar plexus) and 4th (heart) chakra. The 3rd chakra, or power chakra is associated with the element fire and the color yellow. Gifts of a balanced 3rd chakra include self-esteem, character, and ownership of your agency, or power. When the third chakra is in balance, you are true to your course. Practices to balance the third chakra include deep, conscious belly breathing, as well as bridge pose and warrior. Any time you straighten up your spine, lift your chest, and release your shoulders down from your ears, you are giving your third chakra a wake-up call. Even if you are bedridden, you can support the third chakra by placing a folded blanket or soft pillow under your back to lift and open the chest and belly.
The 4th chakra is the heart chakra, associated with the element air and the color green. Gifts of a balanced fourth chakra include beauty, energy, and love, the sense of being able to give and receive support. As with the 3rd chakra, this center benefits from lifting your chest and opening the front of your body. The three poses above will open and balance the heart chakra, as will a sitting meditation with your hands in prayer pose. Palms are an extension of the heart chakra, so the open palm is like an open heart.
Try this in a quiet moment:
- Sit comfortably in a chair, with your back straight and your feet flat on the floor.
- Place your palms together, at your chest, with the edges of your thumbs gently pressing against your sternum.
- Breathe deeply into a soft, open belly.
You have just given yourself a blessing of the heart.
May you find the emotional strength to be vulnerable, aware, and to move forward with support.
I love to hear your stories of mothers, daughters, strength, and vulnerability, so please comment below or contact me.