We have come far-off from the age when the great-grandmothers of many of the readers of this blog were married off at a very young age. They spent most of their lives serving the family and depending on the family-head male for all key decision making. Child marriage, malnutrition, high maternal mortality rate, financial insecurity, dependence, in some unfortunate cases domestic violence, widowhood – womankind was suffering on multiple levels.
Social reformers, policy makers, and feminist alike reasoned that to elevate the status of woman in society she must be empowered by financial independence through education and employment.
Nearly a century hence of running a plethora of programs in this direction is the woman empowered?
All seems well on the outside
For a moment, let us not even consider women of the villages or less developed towns and cities in developing countries and underdeveloped countries. Let us focus on the cosmopolitan woman.
She is educated at par and sometimes even better than her counterparts. She is planning, organizing, executing, guiding in varied roles in large institutions. She has regular income, savings, investments, and retirement plans. She looks bold and strong in her fashion clothes, straight-from-salon appearance, and high heels. She is no longer silent and meek, Contrastingly though, she can be loud and belligerent in social settings. She is informed and opinionated. It seems that she has gained much through reforms in education, employment, and social policies.
Despite that, it causes as much confusion as hurt when you see such a woman becoming a subject of abuse be it physical, mental, or emotional and violence on both domestic & social accounts. Look around you, in your neighborhood or in news paper reports, you will know the solemn tragedy. It confounds me thoroughly when an arguably independent and strong woman like that sometimes suffers so much trauma that she either loses sanity or feels compelled to give up on life, sometimes literally.
Hence, I ask again, is the woman truly empowered? If not, then why? If not, then what should be done.
Appearances are deceptive
Why do we sometimes suffer in silence? Why do we give in to abuse?
Most of us will agree that accepting injustice or abuse is an outcome of weakness. In fact, superficial signs of strength are also weakness. Her labelled fashion clothes, her color-cosmetic-looks, her unnatural heels, her loudness, her belligerence, isn’t it an outward pretense, a show-off, a signal that shouts – see I am strong, I am strong.
To my ear it sounds, see I am pretending to be strong, while I might as well be unsure of myself, in desperate need of help and weak.
Weakness arises from a lack of awareness. And the highest level of unawareness is when one does not know self. We may wonder what should I know about self? But you will never know what you don’t know. So, you just need to figure that out yourself. Nobody else can!
Figure out yourself
To know yourself, you must spend time with yourself, and you must do it regularly. Whether you are a mother, a partner, or a daughter – whatever role you fit into, you need to turn your focus to yourself, time and again.
Do not lose yourself in the quagmire of your responsibilities and don’t be a fake too. First, recognize your responsibility to yourself.
Focus on your health. It will empower you. Not only will you be able to serve your own needs better you will be better positioned to meet the others demands on you too. When you have limited time on your hand and you must choose between that pending beauty-parlor visit or a meditation session or your yoga or gym session, chose the activity that enriches your body and nurtures the soul.
Choose your tool
The options are many – yoga & meditation, swimming, cycling, tennis, badminton, gym, dance, karate, kick-boxing, taekwondo, you name it and you have it. While you may choose any of the numerous methods, practices or regimes, there is nothing as wholesome as Yoga.You will select a vehicle based on where you want to reach. Do you target to trim those some extra inches or melt away those some extra kilograms or you want to explore your own possibilities fully and evolve to a higher level of consciousness? It is upto you. I am not denigrating any destination or any vehicle. I just want to emphasize that Yoga and Meditation works inside out, it works on a much larger level that most are not even aware of.
Regular practice of Yoga not only helps in improving and maintaining the physical health, but also alleviates mental and emotional well-being, there by opening-up multiple levels of consciousness for you.An empowered woman is an awakened woman. She knows herself and her true worth. Free of victim mentality, she does not take abuse and injustice lying down. She is creator, and I mean it literally, for she gives birth and creates life. That level of creativity no great architect, no great painter, no great musician can equal. She is a nurturer, for she nurtures families. That level of nurture no philanthropists can equal. In the moment of weakness she must remind herself how nature has endowed her with greater powers and capabilities. Once she realizes her own truth, there will be no need for feminist movements and empowerment campaigns.
So here’s to the empowered woman – be the ‘Shakti’ you are born to be.
Love and Light,
Manohar for Spiritual Punditz