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One of the many offerings I received as I have moved over the landscape of loss, after the sudden death of my husband, was a new level of tender compassion for myself. I was always very caring and compassionate when dealing with someone else’s suffering, but I wasn’t very patient with my own. I would often leapfrog over it to help others, not wanting to turn toward my own pain.

I think women have a natural capacity to extend love, empathy, patience and understanding to others, but we are far harder on ourselves. And we are often so out of connection with our own embodied experiences that we don’t even realize that we aren’t being kind or gentle with ourselves. We don’t miss it because we don’t cultivate it.

Psychologist Kristin Neff’s book Self-Compassion: The Proven Power of Being Kind to Yourself powerfully presents the evidence that people who are compassionate toward their failings and imperfections experience greater well-being than those who always judge themselves. Of course that makes logical sense but we need to practice this in order for it to happen. I consider Self-Compassion to be one of the core capacities of a Mysterial Woman – a simple and yet powerful way to cultivate a healthy Inner Mother.

Self-Compassion Practice

Self-Compassion: To be compassionate with your own faults, struggles and personal failings. You are able to extend kindness and nurturing to yourself, recognize your own humanity and are able to witness your negative thoughts and feelings as they are without suppressing them or believing them as truth. Extending compassion to yourself in the moment when things are difficult helps you to self-soothe – as if a healthy mother were comforting her young daughter.

When you are triggered into reactivity – anxiety, sadness, anger, frustration or wyou are just having a tough time for any reason – take a moment to lovingly hold your hands over your heart. Allow their comfortaing presence to soothe and soften you. Then say to yourself (our loud if possible):

  • (Your name), this is a moment of suffering.
  • This is hard right now.
  • Suffering and struggle are a part of life.
  • May I hold myself with tenderness in this moment.
  • May I be kind to myself in this moment

Then take a deep healing breath of Self-Compassion.

In her recent New York Times Op-Ed piece  Gail Collinsoutlined the Democratic presidential nomination challenge quite well. She laid out the dynamic tension between the staunch Feminist Hillary supporters, who line up behind Gloria Steinem, and the younger generation of women who don’t see in Hillary a role model they want to follow and are aligned with Bernie.

I see Hillary between a rock and a hard place right now. In order for her to be where she is today she had to cultivate the consciousness and capacities that I would consider more Masculine. She had to learn how to become ‘one of the boys’ in order to even play in the same ballpark. Women have been on an enormously steep learning curve the last 50 years and Hillary has stayed on that rock wall in a way that makes it possible for her to be running for president of the USA today. That is quite an accomplishment.

And it has come at a cost. My own personal experience and my leadership development work with women over the past 15 years tells me just how difficult it is for women to come out from under the weight of the Hypermasculine once they are in the drivers seat. This out of control Yang force is like a big heavy tank that just keeps rolls over the soft animal of the body and flattening the deep Feminine ground of being. It is soul-deadening, exhausting and simply not sustainable for women.

I understand the younger generation who don’t want to elect Hillary just because she is a woman. A few years ago at the Vancouver Peace Summit the Dalai Lama said, “The world will be saved by Western women.” His quote stirred up a lot of attention at the time. I believe he was saying that AWAKE women with new expressions of wisdom, love and power are needed! Gender alone will not change the world.

It will require women who are willing to do the developmental work needed to reconnect with their authentic essence and cultivate the Feminine and Masculine capacities required to show up in the world as true leaders who are a match for these complex times.

It will require women who are able to respond and not just react to the challenges of life; women who have gathered up all of themselves and are an inspiration for others to do the same. Women who are ready to upgrade their internal operating systems and start to express some unprecedented ways of living, loving, and leading. I call this next level of our development as women Mysterial.

So is that Hillary – is she a Mysterial Woman? Not yet she isn’t. But she has been willing to do the hard work required to break into the patriarchal establishment and I respect her for that. To radically change the systems and structures that are no longer serving us we will need someone who is able to navigate through those waters. And maybe once she is there she will be ready to do the developmental work required to cultivate the Feminine capacities of receiving, deep care, intuition, embodiment, flow, softness, etc. that are simply needed now to balance out the Hypermasculine.