Apr 15

Honoring Mothers and Motherhood

“Mothers are the core and center of human life on Earth and are precious human life’s first teachers.” ~ Gena McCarthy

Gena McCarthy RN, MFT, a Tara Mandala Sangha Organizer, offers this blog post “Honoring and Supporting Mothers as Practice in our Sangha Communities” – an inspirational look into the importance of Mothers, and how in honoring Mothers, our internal and external world flourishes with love, joy, peace, and nobility.

Gena is offering the “Honoring Mothers in the Refuge of Practice and Sangha” Daylong Virtual Retreat on Saturday, May 13. We welcome all those who identify as people mothering or grandmothering, for a time to deepen our ability to rest in our meditative practice, bodies and the earth, to be supported, seen, and heard, and to return to our lives Renewed. To learn more and to register, click here »

Honoring and Supporting Mothers as Practice in our Sangha Communities

I am a birthkeeper – someone who protects and honors all the beings involved in the journeys of the Sacred Act of Birth. I have had the privilege and honor of supporting many mothers, babies and parents through Integrative Perinatal Health Services and Program Development. I know the love power released into our world when we honor and support Mothers, Babies and Families through right action.

Do we perceive mothering as it is – two beings in relationship with each other whose relative and absolute realities converge in their bodies during gestation and Birth?

Mothers midwife and nourish Spirit into embodied form and into our world.

Mothers are the core and center of human life on Earth and are precious human life’s first teachers.

If we did perceive mothers as they are, how would that change the way we interact with them in practical, community-building ways?

How can we honor and support them on both inner and outer levels? If we are mothers and parents, how can we honor ourselves and cultivate inner and outer support in a culture which does not honor life, parenting or the earth?

How have we as Buddhist community members arranged our sanghas to support and honor mothers and parents as core and central to our path? What would that look like? Meals for postpartum parents…kindness to pregnant people and parenting people…running errands for mothers…helping with childcare so they have time to meditate…?

Buddhism spends a lot of attention on death and preparing to die in an awakened state for the benefit of all. Birth is no less important. Birth is where our original lifetime subtle prana body patterns are formed. These are the patterns that affect what we will open or close to – including our spiritual practice and very much our death. We know these patterns – spiritual, psychological, neurobiological – can be addressed and transformed if they are patterns of encumberment.

Giving birth and mothering/parenting can trigger trauma: intergenerational, lifetime and reproductive. When we address those patterns pre-conception or while pregnant, we increase our possibilities of feeling safe to give birth in a way where we and our babies experience a template of love with awareness and bliss. If we have not experienced births like this (as is the case for many of us today) or we have issues with mothering or our mothers, we still have the capacity to heal these experiences at any time. We have practices from our lineage as well as other community resources to support our healing. For example, Feeding Your Demons, the Dakini Practice and the Ally Practice of asking for advice can be very healing in moments of trauma or when applied to any past experiences including during the prenatal, birth or postpartum periods. Clearing trauma opens our relationships with ourselves and our spiritual practice and heals the triggers of shame and guilt. It also opens our relationship with our children.

We have the capacity to honor and celebrate new parents when they are first pregnant. We can give them showers of love, kindness, prayers, affirmation, offerings of tangible support and Ceremonies! Ceremonies, welcoming them to the sangha as new parents, witnessing and affirming their already existing strengths as parents, expressing the community members’ offerings of support to them, recognizing the amazing and profound sacred rite of passage they are in. Ceremonies can also be offered for when the mother/parent is close to birthing and when she is postpartum, there can be welcoming ceremonies for the new mother, new baby, new family to the community.

In The Tibetan Art of Parenting, Anne Maiden Brown describes Tibetan Buddhist ceremonies that are still practiced in some places now for every stage of parenting: pre – conception, implantation, pregnancy, birth and postpartum.

Traumatic births and isolated postpartum experiences with accompanying depression and mood disorders are on the rise in our world. We can make a difference to reduce this suffering and reclaim our innate physiological capacity to birth with love and pleasure. As Buddhist sanghas, we can honor and support mothers and parents in their rightful place. In doing so, we walk our talk and support birth and death as times of awakening.

This upcoming retreat for Mothers and people who mother will offer opportunities to connect with inner allies and be affirmed and witnessed. We will build our inner “Refuge Tree of Support” (Lama Willa Blythe Baker). There will be a healing renewal ceremony to give care to what is calling for it at this time and afterwards to rest and integrate with meditations of letting go into the earth and Metta.

May this article inspire you. May you come to the retreat and experience being honored and supported. I look forward to hearing what is touched in you by these words.

Lama Live! With Gena McCarthy and Dorje Lopön Charlotte Rotterdam

Sunday, April 23

Free Online Livestream Event

Join Dorje Lopön Charlotte and Gena McCarthy on Sunday, April 23, 9am PT as they discuss honoring and supporting Mothers and motherhood. There will also be a guided meditation and time for Q&A during this livestream event.

To access this Lama Live! event, visit the Tara Mandala Facebook page, or the Tara Mandala Youtube page, on the day and time of the event.

Tara Mandala Facebook page – click here »
Tara Mandala Youtube page – click here »

Honoring Mothers in the Refuge of Practice and Sangha

Saturday, May 13

As mothers, aunties, grandmothers, caretakers and meditators, we are the core of our families and communities. This workshop is designed to offer a place of rest and transformation within the embrace of our practice and community. By taking time to care for ourselves and witness the gifts we are offering, we will fortify our connection to ourselves, our families and our communities … Read more »

About Gena McCarthy RN, MFT

Gena McCarthy RN, MFT is an EMDR certified perinatal psychotherapist. She is the founder and developer of the Birth Spirituality and Healing Network, the Contra Costa County Perinatal Depression to Wellness Network and developed two local HMO Perinatal Integrative Health Programs. She co-founded the East Bay/ SF Peer Perinatal Professional Ceremony Circle. Gena is a long-time Tara Mandala sangha member. She has been trained in cross cultural shamanic, Buddhist, Cherokee peacekeeping practices and perinatal psychology.

Photo Credits: Three Women @ Tara Mandala (Deborah Howe)
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